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?

Podcasts, Writing

On Podcasts, Buffy, and Learning from a Master Storyteller



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.


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.


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.