Podcasts

Happy International Podcast Day!

Happy International Podcast day!

Do you listen to podcasts? After my dear friend, Hannah, kindly showed me how to access them about three years ago, I have become a podcast junkie. They are my jam. I listen whenever I can–when driving, cooking, folding laundry, going to sleep…

If you’re interested in podcasts, but don’t know where to start, head over here to Gretchen Rubin’s site for an excellent explanation of what apps you need and how to access the shows.

I personally use Overcast because I listen at double speed and Overcast has some nifty features that allow for that.

So, in celebration of International Podcast Day, I thought I’d share my current “must-listen” list. I’m only including active shows here so my list doesn’t include podcast classics like Serial or the iconic S-Town. I loved them both though 🙂 I’m also not including all the writing podcasts that I listen to because (1) I already did and (2) we’ll be here all day.

Onward to the podcasts!

1) Happier with Gretchen Rubin

You may recognize Gretchen as the author of The Happiness Project. Her sister, Elizabeth Craft, is her co-host on this and it’s the first thing I listen to every Wednesday morning. It’s like a standing coffee date for me! I love the practical, pragmatic advice.

2) Happier in Hollywood

 

Elizabeth Craft’s spin-off from Happier features her talking about life as a Hollywood scriptwriter with her best friend and writing partner, Sarah Fain. Not just for writers though! This one drops on Thursdays so I’m always enjoying my coffee with Liz and Sarah then.

3) How Story Works

Lani Diane Rich, formerly of Storywonk, presents a free college-level seminar explaining elements of story. Not just for writers though–you’ll get a lot more out of books, movies, and TV shows after listening to this.

4) BigStrongYes

Lani Diane Rich hosts this with her friend, Dr. Kelly Jones, as they take a deep dive into three of my favorite books–Rising Strong by Brene Brown, Big Magic by Liz Gilbert, and A Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. Love this one. Get something new out of it every week.

5) Hidden Brain

 

All about the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior. Fascinating stuff. I just glommed the entire back catalog and can’t wait for more!

How about you? What do you listen to? Tell me what to add to my list!

Podcasts

My #TryPod List

I’ve mentioned my podcast addiction before on the blog. But there’s a new campaign afoot, called #trypod to recommend favorite podcasts to friends. So, since you asked(!), here are my current faves.

First, here’s some easy instructions for how to access podcasts from Gretchen Rubin’s site.

Happier by Gretchen Rubin. I love listening to Gretchen chat about happiness with her sister, Liz Craft, about happiness. I enjoy her sensible, pragmatic approach. It drops every Wednesday and I’m always listening before I start writing that day.

Side Hustle School with Chris Guillebeau. A short daily podcast about creating an income separate from your day job. I’ve also heard it described as baby steps to entrepreneurship.

The Journeyman Writer by StoryWonk. A thrice weekly (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) podcast about various writing topics. Love this one too.

There and Back Again by StoryWonk. Alastair Stephens does a series of seminars diving into various texts. He’s done the first two Harry Potters already (Dear Mr. Potter) and is now doing a deep dive on Tolkien. It’s like being back in college in my English Lit classes. I never loved Tolkein but I’m loving this seminar. And cannot wait for the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban one to start too.

The Self-Publishing Formula Podcast. Mark Dawson and James Blatch talk about all sorts of self-publishing topics. Always listen on Friday mornings.

The Creative Penn. Joanna Penn talks about creative writing. Always helpful and insightful. True confession: I’m still working my way through the multi-year archives.

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. The amazing hosts read the Harry Potter books as though they are sacred texts, applying reading traditions from all areas of faith. It’s amazing and insightful and I always learn something, even if I don’t always agree with them 100%. And they taught me an amazing word for the habit I’ve had all my life of scribbling down bits and pieces of texts into journals: Florilegia

 

There are others I love that are on hiatus (Serial), just had one season (Limetown) or just getting started (Chipperish’s How Story Works). But above are my top seven that I listen to without fail every week. How about you? What do you suggest I #trypod?

Becoming a Writer, Podcasts, Reading, Welcoming the Muse, Writing

More Top Ten Books for Authors

Last week, I discussed my favorite writing craft books. I’m back this week with a second list of recommended reads for writers.

Becoming a Writer

1) If you’re ever planning to attempt National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo). In November each year, hundreds of thousands of writers attempt to write 50,000 words in one month. Don’t go for it without the definitive guidebook from the founder of the annual writing exercise. No Plot! No Problem! by Chris Baty.

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2) Novelist Claire Cook (most famous for Must Love Dogs) recently came out with Never Too Late. There’s also a free companion workbook at her site. Great reinvention stories in here. If you ask me, the story of the table read and Christopher Plummer was worth the cost of the book. Love this one.

Never too late

3) Another novelist, Barbara Samuels wrote The Care and Feeding of the Girls in the Basement which is another collection of inspiring essays about the writing life. Stephen King coined the term the boys in the basement for the weird, subconscious mind of a writer. The romance novel version of this is the Girls in the Basement. It’s why I figured out the missing second half of the second act just as I sat down to watch the Minion movie. Successful writers learn to hone those strange flashes of inspiration and Samuels does a good job discussing it.

Basement

4) Kristine Kathryn Rush’s best known writing work is the Freelancer’s Survival Guide, which is excellent. I loved her Pursuit of Perfection though and have read it at least twice.

Pursuit of Perfection

5) And her husband, Dean Wesley Smith, also has some great writing books out there. They both have fabulous blogs also. I think if I had to pick my favorite, I’d pick Killing the Sacred Cows of Indie Publishing, but much like Rusch, you can’t go wrong with any of his titles.

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6) Larry Brooks is another author in this same category. Anything he’s written. All of it’s great. And his website is wonderful (Storyfix). I think Story Engineering is my favorite but I also laugh at Warm Hugs for Writers a lot. If I need just the right pick me up, I’ll grab that.

Story Engineer

7) Though it may seem odd, one excellent way to learn to structure novels is to learn from screenwriting. There are multiple books out there on that very subject. One of the best and easiest to understand is by author Alexandra Sokoloff’s Screenwriting Tricks for Authors. She also wrote Writing Love, which may be helpful if you’re trying to write a romance.

Screenwriting

8) Okay, so maybe it’s not technically a book (yet-I’d love for him to write one). Storywonk’s Alastair Stephens The Journeyman Writer, a thrice weekly podcast of 5-7 minutes on various writing topics, Alastair does a brilliant job of dispensing practical advice to the working writer. I seriously have breakfast with this podcast three times a week. Love it. (Full disclosure–Alastair is also my copy-editor).

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9) Jack Bickham’s Scene and Structure. This book contains the famous explanation of a scene and a sequel scene showcasing the character’s reaction and making a plan. I’ve read this one over and over and still find new insight. Definitely a keeper.

Scene

10) And my own book of writing prompts,  Welcoming the Muse. Available for less than $1 🙂

Welcoming the Muse

Next week, we’ll talk about some fantastic writing blogs.

Podcasts, Writing

On Podcasts, Buffy, and Learning from a Master Storyteller

podcasts

 

Do you listen to podcasts? I was a little late to the podcast party. Last time I tried to listen to a podcast, they were impossible to sync properly and, at the time, I had no way to listen in the car. One of my dearest friends, a fellow Outlander fan, suggested The Scot and the Sassanach. After her patient coaxing, I downloaded the first episode to listen to on my hour drive home from her house. Technology marches on and now, through the magic of Apple’s podcast app and my car’s bluetooth integration, I’m a total addict.

I’m working my way through their Story Wonk Sunday, Story Wonk Sessions, and Story Wonk Daily archives. The Story Wonk Sessions are especially fun since they focus on Pixar movies. I can multi-task and watch Pixar movies with Fox in preparation for my Story Wonk school. Win-win all around.

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Their newest Podcast, Dusted, focuses on analyzing Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Now, way back before the Pilot and I became parents to Fox, we glommed Buffy via Netflix. So far back, we had to wait for the next disc in the mail. Now, most of our television watching centers on age-appropriate TV for Fox. Am I the only parent praying for Peppa Pig to become bacon?

Anyway, I never got around to re-watching Buffy. In preparation for Dusted, I just watched the first two episodes and realized how much Joss Whedon, the genius creator of Buffy, seeded into that first episode. He hid so much in that episode that would later be key, important, or pivotal details.

For example, the opening segment shows a couple sneaking into Sunnydale high, seeking a private trysting place. The girl—dressed in a Catholic schoolgirl style—is Darla. That’s right, the first vampire we meet is Darla. That’s the very same Darla who created Angel and gave birth to Angel’s son, Connor, in an alleyway. We also run into Angel in this episode too as a helpful stalker.

Also, we meet Harmony for the first time. Harmony of Spike and Harmony fame. Harmony-the dimwitted girl who later becomes a vicious and funny vampire—is there. She only has a few lines of dialogue with Cordy in the computer lab. Blink and you miss it kind of thing. But she’s there.

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At the time we watched this (at least a decade ago), I only had eyes for Angel. And he’s cute and David Borenz’s acting’s come a long way. But Tony Head as Giles is the same age I am now (43) when Buffy began. And that Giles is awful cute with that accent and the Harry Potter glasses. How did I not notice that before?

One of my favorite things as a reader is being surprised when a tiny detail later becomes monumental. JK Rowling is a master at this and so is Whedon. As a writer, I know some of this is accidental or at least subconscious. For me, I’m looking at this wondering how I can integrate the big important details into the early scenes of my story to provide this same kind of reader surprise.

When I watched Buffy the first time, I mostly just watched for the story. But this time, I’m watching as a writer and taking notes. Then listening to the Lani Diane Rich and Alastair Stephens of Story Wonk help me break it down. Because part of being a great writer is learning from the master. Joss Whedon? Definitely a master.