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The Secret Library Podcast

Most people believe that books are created in cabins all alone, where authors pound away on some manner of keyboard. Then they hand this masterpiece off to a publisher and it feels very much like it goes down a tube and comes out the other side as a book. By speaking to authors and other book lovers, I'm diving into the mystery that is the book world today. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

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#44 Susan Orlean on Making Writing Your Career

I knew I loved Susan Orlean the moment she mentioned the Vikings. Ok, I loved her writing already. Of course. And not many people get to say they've been played by Meryl Streep. But when I saw her speak on a panel and she said something to the effect of "Everything I needed to know about writing I learned from the Vikings," she had my complete attention. In the ways that no one expects the Spanish Inquisition, no one expects the Vikings. I got her to tell this story on the episode and did a lot of listening to so many important things she shared. As smart as you think Susan Orlean is, I assure you that she's even smarter than that. Getting to discuss the reality of being a writer in a time of such change and transformation in the world of media and publishing was invaluable. The story of how she ended up at the New Yorker as a staff writer is absolutely worth the price of admission and anyone, I mean anyone, who has dreamed of being a writer as their job must listen to what she has to say about writing as a profession. Period. I haven't been the same since. You won't be either. See you on the other side... happy listening. Show notes with links | This episode sponsored by Scrivener See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.


30 Mar 2017

Rank #1

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#37 Alexandra Franzen on Hope & Making it Through

Alexandra Franzen's daily mantra is "Today isn't over yet." I wanted to talk to Alexandra because I was so impressed when, a couple of months ago, she celebrated her birthday by giving her latest novel  to her mailing list for free. It was so refreshing. It's such a great book and she had just given it away. Seriously baller. Today on the show we talk about how she wrote that book, what made her want to put it out in the world as a gift, and what she's cooking up for creative people now. It's such an inspiring conversation about why writing matters so much, why life is short and special, and how much a response from a reader can make a writer's day. We also explore the possibility that some books are meant to go wide and some feel safer when shared in a smaller way. Whether you're just get started in writing or you've been at it for a long time, this is an episode that will keep you motivated and sparkly, at a time when you need both of those feelings very badly. Full Show Notes with Links | This Episode Sponsored by Scrivener See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.


9 Feb 2017

Rank #2

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#68 Gabriela Pereira on to MFA or not to MFA

Gabriela Pereira doesn't think you NEED to get an MFA. However, need and want are two different things. An MFA grad herself, Gabriela realized that many writers struggled with the dilemma of whether to MFA or not to MFA and took her own grad school experience and created a template so others could get all the benefit of the degree with none of the loans, debt and stress that can come along with going back to school. Gabriela is a wealth of information and was incredible generous in sharing that with us on this episode. If you've ever wanted to take your writing seriously and pursue it with great focus, but believed you don't need to go back to school to become a "real" writer, this episode is going to feel like one giant permission slip. Happy listening and happy writing, for those of you who finish listening and realize you can start writing right now, degree or no degree. Show notes with links | This episode sponsored by the Central Coast Writers Counference See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.


14 Sep 2017

Rank #3

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#98 :: The Editing Adventure | Elaine Castillo

Elaine Castillo broke my brain with something she said on the show. The book she ended up publishing, her debut novel America is not the Heart, was not even close to the same length as the book she wrote. Let me say this again: Elaine Castillo sold her debut novel to a big 5 publisher and then got to spend a year and a half editing it because they believed in the book and wanted Elaine to feel satisfied by the end result.   As someone who has always felt novels got sold only when there might be an errant semi-colon or two floating around, this was nothing short of a revelation. Elaine is incredibly open and forthright in this conversation. I was delighted to really get inside her writing process, how she explored point fo view, and the way the characters came together for her. It was a joy to dive into America is Not the Heart, a gorgeous book that is already making waves with the critics. You're in for a real treat this week. Happy listening!   Show notes with links | This episode sponsored by the Secret Writeaway See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.


12 Apr 2018

Rank #4

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#122 :: The Importance of Trying | Alexandra Franzen

When Alexandra Franzen first wrote her novel, So This is the End, she wasn't ready to publish it with the wide world.   She released it as a gift - a free download she gave to her mailing list. She was terrified it really wasn't that good.   A torrent of replies came in, sharing how much the book had moved them. She got braver and put it up for sale on her site. Then, over a year later, she thought it might be ok to think about publishing it wide.   Here is the story of how her book went from something that could have hidden in a drawer forever to a book that's been optioned for a series and is coming out in hardcover. If you ever doubt the importance of trying, this is your episode. Warning: you may write like the wind without holding back after listening to this. I know I did. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.


25 Oct 2018

Rank #5

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#84 Joanna Penn on building a full-time writing life.

Joanna Penn is a prosperous writer. Yes, you read that correctly. I wanted to begin the New Year with an episode guaranteed to inspire. Once I connected with Joanna, I knew she was the one to share with you first in 2018. Not only is she day-job free, Joanna Penn makes a solid six-figure income from writing and travels extensively to places that fascinate her to research her books.   Before you glaze over, I promise you – this is far from a get rich quick scheme. It took Joanna four years to build up enough income from writing books and speaking to walk away from the job that was crushing her creative spirit. She works very hard and writes continuously to keep new titles up to sell. She has learned so much from building a business as a writer, deciding not to publish within traditional publishing and going the indie author route, and choosing to write books that are fun for her to write. This episode was like an invitation to consider what is possible to accomplish for writers.   A big proponent of developing a successful author mindset, I know Joanna will challenge you to dream bigger about living a great life as a writer. Our conversation definitely lit a fire under me and I have been writing like a maniac ever since. May it do the same for you. Happy listening! See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.


4 Jan 2018

Rank #6

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#90 :: Succeeding Slowly | Jojo Moyes

Before Me Before You sold 8 million copies, Jojo Moyes wrote three books that didn't sell at all. Jojo Moyes wrote three books that the publishers rejected before she was published at all and 8 novels over 10 years before she had a hit. Listen up to this incredible conversation to learn why she wouldn't change a thing. Her perspective on the beauty of great success that happens slowly is one you'll listen to over and over. Let Jojo be your guide to never giving up on your writing. One of my favorite episodes so far. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.


15 Feb 2018

Rank #7

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#114 :: Reading and Writing History | Diana Gabaldon

Reading and Writing History When the Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta was announced for a reprint from Penguin, I was so excited to see that Diana Gabaldon wrote the foreword. In speaking with Diana both about this novel from history as well as her experience writing fiction set in a historical setting, I was hit with a variation on the classic real estate slogan: Context! Context! Context! Just like location is everything for a home purchase, context is everything when reading and writing history. We had a juicy conversation about her writing process - one of the most unique I have heard about so far- her research methods, and what it meant to her to read The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta today in a time when there is still so much work to be done on cultural awareness and literacy for the world as a whole. Diana's take on writing and history is refreshing, candid, and straightforward. She cuts to the chase and provides thoughts and advice you can act on immediately. This is a jolt of motivation for anyone looking to write about history or who needs to research another era for their book. Such a delight to share this one - happy listening and may it spur you into action like it did for me. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.


2 Aug 2018

Rank #8

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#58: Dal Kular on being at the beginning of the writing process

Dal Kular didn't plan on becoming a novelist. After recording nearly sixty episodes of The Secret Library, I realized I had a full catalogue of interviews with experts. People who were at the end of the writing journey, in some way. They had either published books as the writer, publisher, or had engaged in the process already and were looking back in order to discuss it.  This began to feel like a disconnect between the guests and the listeners I knew were out there taking the show in. So many people write in talking about the story they are working on now, the one they aren't sure they'll be able to figure out how to finish. I knew there was a different conversation that needed to happen on the show.  Dal Kular has been my noveling winglady for quite some time. She has been a social worker, a laughter yoga instructor, and an amazing blogger before a novel snuck up on her and has been pushing her to write it every since. We check in and talk about our writing regularly and share how it's going as we inch our way along through our books. Recently, I managed to talk Dal into coming on the show so we could talk about this stage of the process- the one at the very beginning when you don't know if that story you're working hard on will ever turn out to be a real book. This conversation was such a relief to have, and I think many of you will relate to it. Enjoy listening. I felt such relief talking about the scary aspects of writing from inside the process. Here's hoping it is of use to you. Plus, you get to listen to Dal's lovely accent- a major perk this episode, I must say.  Show notes with links | This episode brought to you by The Story Intensive See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.


6 Jul 2017

Rank #9

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#93 :: The Magic of the Absurd | Lord Birthday

Chad Murphy is the genius behind Lord Birthday. He wasn't always out as Lord Birthday- in fact, he decided to start as an anonymous creator and kept up that goal even when he saw that his own sister was a fan and regularly sharing his posts. One of my favorite parts of this episode is the story of Chad having to tell his sister that he was Lord Birthday.   Just a few years after starting Lord Birthday, Chad's little project has over 180,000 followers (!!!!) and a book in the pipeline. It could be easy to dismiss this as blind luck, but talking with Chad meant I got to learn all the behind-the-scenes story. Chad started out wanting to write fiction, and struggled along in that pursuit for years before a lucky trip to an art show convinced him it might be a good idea to try something new and see what happened.   For anyone who has ever want to take a big leap, anyone who has laughed so hard they cried when reading the brilliance of Lord Birthday, and for anyone who has a dream of telling stories in a way that doesn't match up with the way things have always been done, I give you Lord Birthday. I promise you'll be smiling ear to ear after this episode, just like I was when we recorded it. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.


8 Mar 2018

Rank #10

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#132 :: Bullet Journaling for Writers | Ryder Carroll

Talking to Ryder Carroll was a particularly meta experience   As both the creator of the Bullet Journal Method and author of a book with the same title, we not only got to talk about the process of writing a book about Bullet journaling, we also got to talk about using the Bullet Journal method in the process of writing a book about, you guessed it... The Bullet Journal Method. It almost hurts my brain to think about it too much.   It won't hurt your brain at all to listen to this episode, however. Ryder gives straightforward and actionable advice to support you as you plan your writing goals for 2019 and beyond. The difference between an unachieved goal and one that you celebrate at the end of the year is often just making the steps in between manageable. I can't say enough about how this method has helped me keep track of my life and my writing.   You're in for a treat, and a big blast of inspiration. Have your fresh clean notebooks ready to go when you listen to this one – it's a powerhouse. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.


3 Jan 2019

Rank #11

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#121 :: The Library Book | Susan Orlean

When I found out Susan Orlean's latest was called The Library Book it took me exactly 2 minutes to invite her on the show to discuss it. Bless her, she said yes less than 5 minutes later. This book is SO GOOD. Granted, I am an easy sell with a podcast called The Secret Library. But this book has arson, crazy characters, scandal, history, and everything a book nerd could ever want. We discuss the process of researching and writing this book over 5 years and what it took to write it, even after Susan thought she'd never write another book again. She's pure gold, as always. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.


18 Oct 2018

Rank #12

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#60 Megan Hannum goes Draft by Draft

Megan Hannum is about to help you face your first draft without fear. Have you ever been writing away, actually building some momentum in your writing only to have these sorts of fears creep in: "Is there enough detail? I'm only writing plot, how is anyone going to know what anything looks like??" Or perhaps yours is "I need to do a LOT more research before I write this. I have no idea what the dating customs of medieval Mongolia actually are. Guess it's back to the drawing board for the next six months." I have suffered from these fears, as have the members of the Coffeeshop Writer's Group and when Megan joined us recently as a guest expert, we all started to feel a lot less freaked out by simply getting on with a draft knowing that everything will not be answered the first time around.  I had Megan on to talk about what you should worry about in the first, second, and final drafts of a project, and what you can set to the side for each of these drafts until the next time around. Finally, we talk about when it's time to get an editor involved and what you should look for when seeking one.  This promises to be an episode you can return to again and again as you progress through your projects. I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. And... woohoo for 60 episodes! I cannot believe we've gotten to such a big number. Thank you all for listening and supporting the show. It means so much that this project makes you as happy as it makes me.  Full show notes here See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.


20 Jul 2017

Rank #13

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#35 Amy Kuretsky on the Healthy Writer

Amy Kuretsky is over the suffering artist: She's ushering in the healthy creative instead.  Amy Kuretsky is a health coach for creatives and an acupuncturist + herbalist specializing in the emotional and digestive wellness. She coaches creative entrepreneurs to be their healthiest selves without sacrificing their businesses in the process. Her support is for clients who are seeking to make a deeper change in their well being – as a whole being. She's best known for helping creatives find their own brand of work + life balance. I love Amy because she's also a tarot lover, so we have been swapping readings over the past months and always discuss ways to stay healthy and sane as writers. I knew that she was the right person to talk to as we got to the end of January and some of that fired-up energy from New Years begins to dissipate. Tired of feeling tired and run down? Want to know how you can take care of yourself as you are writing like a fiend? This will have you up and running again in no time. Bonus: enjoy the soothing sounds of LA's recent rainstorms in the background.  Listen up on iTunes | Sponsored by Pretty by Post See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.


26 Jan 2017

Rank #14

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#99 :: Creating a Writing Life in France | ML Longworth

ML Longworth has one of the greatest writing stories I've heard so far.   After the tech company her husband worked for in Silicon Valley was sold in the last 1990s, ML Longworth tried something bold. Before leaving for a family vacation in France, she typed the following search term into a browser: computer-jobs-France. What followed was a series of incredible coincidences that lead to she and her husband and daughter moving to Aix-en-Provence. You'll want to listen in to hear her version.   When she moved to France, ML Longworth was not a professional novelist. She began writing about food and culture in southern France and had a novel that she hid in a drawer for years. When she was offered the opportunity to teach writing at NYU's campus in Paris, the interviewer casually mentioned that she must have a book in the works. With the promise of a job as a writing professor, the novel came out of the drawer and on to publication. Now, the Verlaque and Bonnet mysteries are a much-loved series that features the region of Aix and its food and culture as much as the mysteries that unfold there.   If you've ever dreamed of running off to another country, or wondered if you could build a career as a writer without the traditional MFA, here is a story that will fuel your wildest hopes. I know it did for me- I haven't been able to stop thinking about this conversation since we recorded. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

1hr 3mins

19 Apr 2018

Rank #15

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#136: Writing When Life Happens | Caroline Wright

When you don't sweat the small stuff and just write I was lucky enough to get connected to Caroline Wright and immediately wanted her to come on the show. She has that groovy job so many of us have dreamed of, food stylist, recipe creator and big glossy cookbook author. Swoon! However, there's much more than meets the eye to Caroline. Several years ago, she was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor and given a very short prognosis by her doctors. Miraculously, she's surpassed their expectations and is currently healthy. But what changes about your career when you've just spent more than a year setting everything aside and trying to get well. How does your work change when every day feels like bonus time? I am so grateful to have had this conversation with Caroline and I feel even more excited about it because I get to share it with all of you. Caroline really is a gift. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.


31 Jan 2019

Rank #16

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#100 :: When the Book Finally Comes Out | Sarah Selecky (+ Mary Laura Philpott Book Recs)

I don't know how else to say it. This episode is long.  But it's so good that we couldn't stand to cut anything out of it. As soon as I knew that Sarah Selecky's book, Radiant Shimmering Light, was coming out in Canada this week, I knew she was episode 100. And then I had to talk about the amazing books coming out this spring with Mary Laura Philpott. And I love talking to both of them, so we didn't cut it short. We went all out talking about everything we're excited about.  I know going over an hour asks a lot of people listening, but my hope is that these conversations are worth the time. I left talking to Sarah and Mary Laura buzzing with excitement and I expect you will, too. As always, it's a joy creating this show and it's an even bigger joy showing it off in its new home! Show Notes with Links Sponsored by Audible and The Secret Library Podcast Patreon See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

1hr 21mins

26 Apr 2018

Rank #17

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#112 :: Finding the Story of Your Novel | Lucy Tan

How I love speaking to writers who also teach writing!   Lucy Tan is that delightful hybrid: a novelist who also knows how to speak about the process of writing so clearly you can follow along in her footsteps. She is so smart, both in her writing and her advice about how to get it done.   Lucy began her novel, What We Were Promised, inside the safety of her MFA program, and was relieved to be protected from thinking about agents, publishing, and the outside world as she spent time on what was most important: learning how to finish the book and get it how she wanted it to be.   In this episode, we get to follow along in the path that she took to find the story that is the novel today. Learn how a personal experience formed a kernel for one of the main characters of her book, why she chose to use multiple points of view, and which parts of her novel were the most challenging to write. It's a thought-provoking episode that dives into culture, memory, and where stories come from. I know you will love it as much as we loved creating it for you. Enjoy! See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.


19 Jul 2018

Rank #18

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#135 :: Writer as Company of One | Paul Jarvis

Bigger isn't always better for writing. Of course, we'd all love a movie deal for our books or a huge advance, but the actual process of writing isn't about making everything bigger and better. Paul Jarvis lives in the woods in Canada and has managed to make a successful living centered around writing for nearly twenty years. In this conversation, we explore what it means to be a Company of One as a writer, why staying small lets you write more, and what caused him to go with traditional publishing this time around- it's not what you'd think! Happy listening, writers. Here's hoping this episode has you sighing in relief. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.


24 Jan 2019

Rank #19

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#55 Autumn Witt Boyd Demystifies Book Contracts

Once you sell a book, you're going to have to sign a book contract. Thanks to Autumn coming on the show, this doesn't have to be a terrifying process. Every writer who has come on the show has emphasized book contracts as something you need to understand before you sign. I don't know about you, but despite the fact that the majority of my friends are lawyers, I wouldn't feel comfortable reading and signing a contract without some help. Autumn speaks in simple language in this episode and clarifies all the areas you'd need to understand and the areas you need to consider before signing a contract.  In this day and age of eCourses, eBooks, and spin-off options for books, there is a lot more to a contract than just royalties and hardbacks and paperbacks. This is the beginning of a conversation you'll want to have with a lawyer yourself when it comes time to publish your book. This can apply as well if you're self-publishing as it's possible you will get picked up from there for print rights or if there is a movie in the offing, a la The Martian. I promise this episode is just as fun to listen to, even if the content is more practical. Autumn is delightful and very passionate about supporting authors. Get ready to feel a whole lot more confident when you sell that book one day. Hopefully, you can feel that day getting closer already.  See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.


15 Jun 2017

Rank #20