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DIY MFA Radio

Updated 2 months ago

Arts
Education
Books
Self-Improvement
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Take your writing from average to awesome, and learn tools of the trade from bestselling authors, master writing teachers, and publishing industry insiders. This podcast will give you tools and techniques to help you get those words on the page and your stories out into the world. Past guests include: Delia Ephron, John Sandford, Steve Berry, Jojo Moyes, Tana French, Guy Kawasaki, and more.

Read more

Take your writing from average to awesome, and learn tools of the trade from bestselling authors, master writing teachers, and publishing industry insiders. This podcast will give you tools and techniques to help you get those words on the page and your stories out into the world. Past guests include: Delia Ephron, John Sandford, Steve Berry, Jojo Moyes, Tana French, Guy Kawasaki, and more.

iTunes Ratings

51 Ratings
Average Ratings
44
2
1
3
1

Please “like” less

By Writer Roni - Mar 29 2019
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This is an interesting and informative podcast. The host is knowledgeable and asks insightful questions, and the guests seem happy to participate and open to providing substantive answers. Unfortunately the host’s overuse of “like” detracts from her side of the conversation.

Teamwork!

By #NaNoWriMo 2018 - Mar 27 2019
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Thanks for another great episode Gabriela! Listened to it (ep 245) on the way home from work today and then secured my copy of the book. Lots of great info on positive collaboration between a writer-agent-editor team that connects well. Especially enjoyed the discussion on first person narrator. Keep it coming!

iTunes Ratings

51 Ratings
Average Ratings
44
2
1
3
1

Please “like” less

By Writer Roni - Mar 29 2019
Read more
This is an interesting and informative podcast. The host is knowledgeable and asks insightful questions, and the guests seem happy to participate and open to providing substantive answers. Unfortunately the host’s overuse of “like” detracts from her side of the conversation.

Teamwork!

By #NaNoWriMo 2018 - Mar 27 2019
Read more
Thanks for another great episode Gabriela! Listened to it (ep 245) on the way home from work today and then secured my copy of the book. Lots of great info on positive collaboration between a writer-agent-editor team that connects well. Especially enjoyed the discussion on first person narrator. Keep it coming!
Cover image of DIY MFA Radio

DIY MFA Radio

Latest release on Aug 12, 2020

Read more

Take your writing from average to awesome, and learn tools of the trade from bestselling authors, master writing teachers, and publishing industry insiders. This podcast will give you tools and techniques to help you get those words on the page and your stories out into the world. Past guests include: Delia Ephron, John Sandford, Steve Berry, Jojo Moyes, Tana French, Guy Kawasaki, and more.

Rank #1: 298: Character-Driven YA and Middle Grade — Interview with Brandy Colbert

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Hey there word nerds! Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Brandy Colbert, the critically acclaimed author of several YA and Middle Grade novels. Her books include Pointe, Stonewall Award winner Little & Lion, Finding Yvonne, The Revolution of Birdie Randolph, and her 2020 releases, The Only Black Girls in Town, and The Voting Booth. Her short fiction and essays have also been published in several critically acclaimed anthologies for young people.

Born and raised in Springfield, Missouri, Brandy spent a few years living in Chicago before relocating permanently to Los Angeles. She is very active on social media and also works as a copy editor for magazines and books. She is also on faculty at Hamline University’s MFA program in writing for children.

In this episode Brandy and I discuss:
  • The inspiration behind The Revolution of Birdie Randolph
  • Exploring black friendships and experience in The Only Black Girls in Town
  • How books can functions as both mirrors and windows
  • Exploring the theme of family over multiple books
  • Grappling with race in the context of a contemporary story
  • Moving into middle grade after writing YA
Plus, her #1 tip for writers.

For more info and shownotes: www.diymfa.com/298

Mar 25 2020

46mins

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Rank #2: 234: A Master Class on Character - Interview with David Corbett

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Hey there word nerds!

Today I have the pleasure of hosting David Corbett on the show!

I know David as a highly sought-after instructor at ITW’s Master CraftFest and CraftFest, and it’s easy to see why as he is the award-winning author of six novels, the story collection Thirteen Confessions, and the writing guide The Art of Character which has been called “A writer’s bible.”

His short fiction has been selected twice for Best American Mystery Stories, and his non-fiction has appeared in several places including Writer’s Digest magazine where he is a contributing editor.

David’s latest novel The Long-Lost Love Letters of Doc Holliday (OMG best alliterative title EVER!) about the possible discovery of the most notorious love letters in American history was released in 2018.

So listen in as David and I discuss this awesome book and how to ratchet up the realness of your story’s world through its characters.

In this episode David and I discuss:

  • Choosing the right details to include that will pull your readers in.
  • How to inject verisimilitude into your story.
  • Why you should use real people as the basis for character creation.
  • Crafting deeply flawed and relatable characters.
  • Weaknesses, wounds and flaws, what they are and how to use them right.
Plus, David’s #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: DIYMFA/com/234

Jan 09 2019

52mins

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Rank #3: 145: Writing the Epic Quest Novel - Interview with Katherine Neville

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Hey there word nerds!

Today I’m pleased to have Katherine Neville on the show.

Katherine’s colorful, swashbuckling adventure novels, in the epic “Quest” tradition, have graced the bestseller lists in forty languages. In fact, her works—including The Eight which we discuss in the interview—have “paved the way” for books like the The Da Vinci Code and others in that genre.

In our interview, Katherine and I dive into her book The Eight and the craft elements she used in writing the expansive quest novel.

This episode is brought to you buy our amazing word nerd fans and supporters on Patreon. If you’d like to help support this show, hop over to patreon.com/DIYMFA.

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In this episode Katherine and I discuss:
  • How influences as varied as The Odyssey, the French Revolution, and chess inspired The Eight’s intricate plot and kept readers turning pages.
  • What defines a quest novel, and how Katherine adapted this structure in her writing.
  • Katherine’s unexpected strategy for introducing the main protagonist in chapter two, and why draws readers into the story.
  • How to hook readers and build tension with a subtle but powerful opening line.
Plus, Katherine’s #1 tip for writers. About the Author

Katherine Neville’s swashbuckling adventure novels have graced the bestseller lists in forty languages. In fact Publisher’s Weekly described Katherine’s works, such as her book The Eight which we discuss in the interview, as having “paved the way” for books like the Da Vinci Code.

Neville herself has been dubbed “the female” Umberto  Eco, Charles Dickens, Alexandre Dumas, and Stephen Spielberg. Her work has been reviewed and has received awards in categories as diverse as Mystery, Thriller, Historical, Romance, Science Fiction as well as classical literature. Despite writing across many genres and categories, Neville’s books remain hard to pigeonhole.

Katherine Neville has been an invited speaker at many universities and other venues around the world, including the Today show, National Public Radio, and the Library of Congress. In a national poll by the noted Spanish journal, El Pais, her novel, The Eight, was voted one of the top ten books of all time.She is the co-creator of several awards and grants, including most recently: Art in Literature: the Mary Lynn Kotz Award presented by the Library of Virginia and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and the Neville-Pribram Mid-Career Grant presented by the Smithsonian Libraries.

Neville resides in Washington DC and Virginia, where she is restoring a fabled Japanese house from the 1960s while writing her new novel set in the art world of the 1600s.

To learn more about and connect with Katherine Neville check out her website here:www.katherineneville.com

The Eight

New York City, 1972—A dabbler in mathematics and chess, Catherine Velis is also a computer expert for a Big Eight accounting firm. Before heading off to a new assignment in Algeria, Cat has her palm read by a fortune-teller. The woman warns Cat of danger. Then an antiques dealer approaches Cat with a mysterious offer: He has an anonymous client who is trying to collect the pieces of an ancient chess service, purported to be in Algeria. If Cat can bring the pieces back, there will be a generous reward.

The South of France, 1790—Mireille de Remy and her cousin Valentine are young novices at the fortress like Montglane Abbey. With France aflame in revolution, the two girls burn to rebel against constricted convent life—and their means of escape is at hand. Buried deep within the abbey are pieces of the Montglane Chess Service, once owned by Charlemagne. Whoever reassembles the pieces can play a game of unlimited power. But to keep the Game a secret from those who would abuse it, the two young women must scatter the pieces throughout the world.

For more info and show notes: DIYMFA.com/145

May 03 2017

1hr 4mins

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Rank #4: 260: Reading and Re-Reading Like a Writer - Interview with Mark Mayer

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Hey there word nerds! Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Mark Mayer to the show.

Mark is an author and has an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was a Michener-Copernicus Fellow, and holds a PhD from the University of Denver. He was also the Robert P. Dana Emerging Writer-in-Residence at Cornell College’s Center for the Literary Arts from 2012-2014.

His stories have appeared in American Short Fiction, Kenyon Review, Guernica, Colorado Review, and Mid-American Review.

Mark’s debut is a short story collection titled Aerialists, in which classic circus figures become ordinary misfits seeking grandeur in a lonely world. In this collection, Mark examines familiar tropes—like the strongman, the elephant keeper, the clowns—and reinterprets these myths by placing them in everyday contemporary life.

So listen in as Mark and I chat about this amazing book and how to gain a deeper understanding of a story by falling into its world over and over again. 

In this episode Mark and I discuss:

  • The intimacy of a short story.
  • Creating a unique reading experience in your writing.
  • How to use the theme of your book as a marketing tool the right way.
  • Advice on how to approach short stories of literary fiction as a reader.
  • How to use language and imagery to anchor readers in your story.
Plus, Mark’s #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: DIYMFA.com/260

Jul 10 2019

47mins

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Rank #5: 277: How to Make Your Setting Come to Life - Interview with Brenda Jackson

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Hey there word nerds!

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Brenda Jackson.

Brenda Jackson is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of over 100 novels and novellas, including two that have been turned into films—One Special Moment and Truly Everlasting.

Brenda is a recipient of the Romance Writers of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award and an NAACP Image Award nominee for Outstanding Literary Fiction for her book, A Silken Thread. She is an advocate for diversity in romance and was the first African American author to make both the USA TODAY and New York Times bestseller lists in series/category romance genre.

Today we’ll be talking about her Catalina Cove series, and its third book Finding Home Again is out now.

In this episode Brenda and I discuss:
  • Structuring a series around a setting
  • Starting with plot instead of character
  • Building a world that comes alive for readers
  • Keeping track of an evolving fictional world
  • How to make a tried and true romance plot feel fresh
Plus, her #1 tip for writers.

For more info and shownotes: www.diymfa.com/277

Oct 30 2019

52mins

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Rank #6: 216: Perfect Your Plot Twists - Interview with Steven James

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Hey there word nerds!

Today I am so excited to have Steven James on the show!

Steve is the bestselling, critically acclaimed author of sixteen novels. Best known for his psychological thrillers, he has received more than a dozen honors and awards for his books, including 3 Christy Awards and being nominated as a finalist for an International Thriller Award.He is also the author of the groundbreaking book on the craft of fiction, Story Trumps Structure: How to Write Unforgettable Fiction by Breaking the Rules, which won a 2015 Storytelling World Award. He also hosts the podcast "The Story Blender," where he interviews great storytellers from the world of cinema, oral performance, and writing about the craft of great storytelling (and where I’ve had the honor of being a guest!).

Steve’s most recent novel, Every Wicked Man, is another exhilarating installment of the Bowers Files featuring his iconic character FBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers. I have to admit, this book kind of scared the living daylights out of me and had me frantically turning the virtual pages on my Kindle.

Listen in as we chat about this awesome suspense-filled story, and how to craft a novel that will keep your readers guessing until the very end.

In this episode Steven and I discuss:
  • How to craft a dynamic relationship over the course of a series.
  • Four questions to ask yourself to help shape your story.
  • Why you shouldn’t plan out surprising twists before hand.
  • Breaking down the four elements of the perfect plot twist.
  • How to pivot your story to give readers what they want or something even better.
Plus, Steven’s #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: DIYMFA.com/216

Sep 05 2018

46mins

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Rank #7: 181: Getting to Know Your Characters - Interview with Joan Dempsey

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Hey there word nerds!

Today I am delighted to have award-winning author Joan Dempsey on the show!  

Joan’s writing has been published in numerous places including The Adirondack Review and  Alligator Juniper, and she is the author of This is How it Begins.

For this fascinating novel, that is a mix of literary fiction and mystery, she received a significant research grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation which took her to Warsaw for a month (no, she doesn't speak Polish), and to Washington, D.C. for ten days, to study in the archives at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Listen in as we discuss the multiple layers of This is How is Begins, and get some of Joan’s best writing techniques for juggling plot and characters.

In this episode Joan and I discuss:
  • Avoiding the caricature, finding your way into every character’s head.
  • Using omniscient POV in contemporary fiction the right way.
  • Staying neutral, how to keep from steering your readers to any one opinion.
  • Balancing the interplay between characters and plot.
  • Method writing, and other craft techniques from Joan to get to the heart of your story.  
Plus, Joan’s #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: DIYMFA.com/181

Jan 10 2018

47mins

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Rank #8: 201: Revising Your Book, and Getting It Right - Interview with Kimmery Martin

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Hey there word nerds!

Today I am so excited to have debut author Kimmery Martin on the show!

Kimmery is an emergency medical doctor and, like me, a life-long literary nerd. On top of being a doctor, an author, and a mom, she writes book reviews and volunteers with the library foundation in her home of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Her debut novel, The Queen of Hearts, has been named one of the most anticipated books of 2018 by Southern Living, Elite Daily, and Writer’s Digest. Set against the backdrop of hospital rounds, Kimmery’s medical knowledge and quirky sense of humor makes the story pop right off the page.

Listen in as we chat about this amazing debut novel, and get an inside look at Kimmery’s revision process.

In this episode Kimmery and I discuss:
  • Translating your real life experience to a fictional world.
  • Tips to bring your minor characters to life.
  • Why you need to find the revision process that works for you.
  • Finding the right voice for your novel.
  • How to restructure your life to prioritize (not find) writing time.
Plus, Kimmery’s #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: DIYMFA.com/201

May 23 2018

41mins

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Rank #9: 169: Boost Your Creative Mojo - Interview with Grant Faulkner

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Hey there word nerds!

Today I am delighted to have executive director of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and cofounder of 100 Word Story, Grant Faulkner, on the show!

His stories have appeared in dozens of literary magazines, like Tin House and The Southwest Review, plus his essays on creativity have been published in places like the New York Times and Writer’s Digest.

Grant’s latest collection of essays, Pep Talks for Writers: 52 Insights and Actions to Boost Your Creative Mojo, is now available and none too soon with NaNoWriMo just around the corner.

Listen in as we discuss Grant’s book and get some tips on how to push through your blocks to reach your writing goals using the NaNoWriMo philosophy.

In this episode Grant and I discuss:
  • NaNoWriMo: what it is, why you should take part, and how to rise to the challenge.
  • Why you should adopt a “beginner” mindset no matter the stage of your writing career.
  • Failing better, and how to bounce back when you stumble and fall.
  • Why you need to avoid perfection to discover your creative process.
  • What three of the biggest creative blocks are, and how to smash through them.
Plus, Grant’s #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: DIYMFA.com/169

Oct 18 2017

36mins

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Rank #10: 237: Embracing the Fear of Writing - Interview with Kevin Brooks

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Hey there word nerds!

Today I have the pleasure of hosting Kevin Brooks on the show!

Kevin is a critically acclaimed young adult novelist whose first book, Martyn Pig, was named a Publishers Weekly “Flying Start” selection. Kevin has written many books since then including Black Rabbit Summer, which was shortlisted for the 2009 Carnegie Medal, and The Bunker Diary, which won the Carnegie Medal in 2014.

His most recent novel, Born Scared, is a terrifying thriller about a 13-year-old boy named Elliot confined to his home by incapacitating fear. But then on Christmas Eve, a mixup at the pharmacy leaves him with not enough pills. His mother must go out into the snowstorm to get more, and when she doesn’t come back Elliot has to venture out after her on his own.

This book really resonated with me on so many levels and I’m sure it will resonate with many of you as well.

So listen in as Kevin and I talk about this amazing book, and learning how to embrace the fear of writing not just on the page but as writers.

In this episode Kevin and I discuss:

  • Tackling the deeply, dark reality of mental illness on the page.
  • How to deal with “analysis paralysis” and keep writing.
  • Creating drama and suspense when your character is in a very confined space.
  • The technique of shifting between 1st and 3rd person POV, and how to do it right.
  • How to use the design aspects of writing to enhance your story.
Plus, Kevin’s #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: DIYMFA.com/237

Jan 30 2019

49mins

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Rank #11: 257: Doubling Down on Your Dream - Interview with Kelsey Ramsden

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Hey there word nerds! Today I have the pleasure of hosting Kelsey Ramsden on the show.

I have long admired Kelsey’s work as she moves the earth, literally and figuratively. She has been named Canada’s top female entrepreneur by PROFIT, not once but twice. And Forbes calls her a “master builder of ideas, businesses and sky’s the limit futures.”

She has received numerous awards for her businesses in civil construction and real estate where she builds highways, airports and communities.

Her latest project is the internationally bestselling book Success Hangover: Ignite your next act. Screw your status quo. Feel alive again. and it is available now.

So listen in as Kelsey and I chat about this amazing book and how to commit to your dreams even when the world pushes back.

In this episode Kelsey and I discuss:

  • The many ways a success hangover can manifest in your life.
  • How to know when you’re stuck in the “mediocre zone”.
  • The difference between love and lust for your career.
  • Turning a sense of discomfort into a sense of discovery.
  • Why so many people fail at their goals, and the steps to take so you succeed.
Plus, Kelsey’s #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: DIYMFA.com/257

Jun 19 2019

46mins

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Rank #12: 208: A Character's Heart and Soul - Interview with Gail Honeyman

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Hey there word nerds!

Today I have the pleasure of hosting Gail Honeyman on the show!

Gail is the author of the novel Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, which hit shelves in May of last year and made a huge splash with readers. Gail’s debut novel was the star book at the Frankfurt Book Fair and was selected as an Indie Next Pick by booksellers across the country.

It soon became one of the most beloved novels of 2017, catching the attention of readers worldwide, including Reese Witherspoon, who made it one of her book club picks and bought the film rights.

The love for this book has not let up since its release, and it has been heralded as a must-read for summer by The New York Times, People, and TheSkimm. Independent booksellers were so excited about the book that many of them even participated in an “Eleanor Oliphant Day,” touting this quirky, funny, and heartbreaking novel to their customers both in their stores and across social media.

So listen in as Gail and I unpack this quirky, sometimes difficult, but always lovable character of Eleanor Oliphant, and how to craft a story that really puts readers directly into the heart and soul of a character.

In this episode Gail and I discuss:
  • Crafting a voice driven novel that keeps readers on the edge of their seats.
  • The learning curve of your first book.
  • Creating empathy for an unlikable character through close first person narration.
  • How to “feel” your way through writing and editing your novel.
  • Building a compelling character with multiple layers.

Plus Gail's #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: DIYMFA.com/208

Jul 11 2018

38mins

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Rank #13: 154: Writing from Your Heart and Soul - Interview with Sarah Dessen

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Hey there word nerds!

Today I am so excited to have bestselling author of contemporary YA, Sarah Dessen on the show!

Sarah has twelve previous novels to her name, and discusses with us here her latest teen read, Once And For All.

Listen in as we chat about the ins and outs of Sarah's writing process, and how she keeps her momentum going to create characters and stories that resonate with teens.

In this episode Sarah and I discuss:

  • How to craft a story with a balance of light and dark scenes.
  • What challenges arise after you've published multiple books, and why some books are more challenging to write than others.
  • How to use a "skeleton" of your story to draft a manuscript, and how this technique can let you know a book is not working.
  • How to craft realistic and engaging stories that keep teens coming back for more.
  • How to push through the bad writing times and forge ahead.

Plus Sarah's #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: DIYMFA.com/154

Jul 05 2017

38mins

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Rank #14: 209: The Internal Process of Writing - Interview with Maxine Rosaler

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Hey there word nerds!

Today I have the pleasure of hosting Maxine Rosaler on the show!

Maxine has had fiction and nonfiction published in some pretty prestigious markets including (but not limited to) The Southern Review, Glimmer Train, and The Baltimore Review. Her stories have also been cited in editions of Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays, and  she is the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for Fiction.

Her first published long form work, Queen for a Day, has been called both a short story collection and a novel in stories, and is available now.

Listen in as Maxine and I chat about finding the story at your core, and how to meld your unconscious and conscious minds to enhance your writing.

In this episode Maxine and I discuss:
  • A novel in stories vs. a short story collection.
  • Tricks to tap into your unconscious during the writing process.
  • Why quality is more important than quantity in what you read.
  • Discovering the right names for your characters.
  • The responsibility of a writer to turn the world’s ugliness into art.
Plus, Maxine’s #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: DIYMFA.com/209

Jul 18 2018

56mins

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Rank #15: 287: Character Dynamics in an In-Depth Scene Analysis - Interview with Kiley Reid

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Hey there word nerds!

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Kiley Reid!

An Arizona native, Kiley Reid is a recent graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she was the recipient of the Truman Capote Fellowship. Her short stories have been featured and are forthcoming in Ploughshares, December, New South, and Lumina. With the latter publication, her short story won first place in the 2017 Flash Prose Contest.

In Summer 2018, Kiley attended the Cuttyhunk Island Residency as the recipient of the Paul Cuffee Scholarship. Such a Fun Age is her debut novel, and the film and TV rights have already been acquired.

In this episode Kiley and I discuss:
  • How the idea of awkwardness and ownership inspired Such a Fun Age
  • Using the imbalance of three characters to create a charged scene
  • Creating complex and multi-faceted protagonists
  • An in-depth analysis of a pivotal scene
  • Using external and internal wants to deepen characterization
Plus, her #1 tip for writers.

For more info and shownotes: www.diymfa.com/287

Jan 08 2020

46mins

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Rank #16: 221: Empower Yourself and Your Writing - Interview with Jennie Nash

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Hey there word nerds!

Today I have the pleasure of having Jennie Nash on the show!

Jennie is the founder of Author Accelerator, a book coaching service that has helped hundreds of writers complete their book projects by giving them the sustained editorial support they need.

She has spent 30 years on all sides of the publishing industry and is the author of four novels, three memoirs, and one self-help book for writers, titled The Writer’s Guide to Agony and Defeat.

Listen in as we chat about working through the agony of writing to create a book you’re proud of, and how to make your writing a priority in life no matter how hectic things get.

In this episode Jennie and I discuss:
  • Making the right mindset shift needed to write a book.
  • How to get through the pain points of the writing process.
  • Fear of failure vs. fear of success.
  • Why hard work is more important than raw talent to succeed as a writer.
  • An inside look at Jennie’s book coaching process.
Plus, Jennie’s #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: DIYMFA.com/221

Oct 10 2018

53mins

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Rank #17: 156: Irony and Satire - Interview with Courtney Maum

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Hey there word nerds!

Today I am so excited to have Courtney Maum on the show!

Courtney is the author of I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You, and pieces of short fiction an essays that have appeared in places such as New York Times. Her latest novel, Touch, is the satirical story of Sloane Jacobson a trend forecaster who sees a move against electronics and toward in-person interaction ahead.

Listen in as we discuss the strange yet believable world of Touch, an dhow limiting our electronic usage can be beneficial to our creativity.

In this episode Courtney and I discuss:

  • Why a huge emphasis on electronics is damaging to your writer's intuition and creativity.
  • How to craft a "blind spot" for a character who's job it is to know everything, thus giving readers a reason to read on.
  • How to best research and craft a story of speculative fiction.
  • Why it is important to find friends outside the writing community.
  • How learning to write copy can help you in other writing endeavors.

Plus Courtney's #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: DIYMFA.com/156

Jul 17 2017

39mins

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Rank #18: 140: Writing Multiple POV Suspense - Interview with Jessica Strawser

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Hey there word nerds!

Today I’m absolutely thrilled to introduce you to Jessica Strawser, the editorial director of Writer’s Digest magazine, and author of the stunning debut novel Almost Missed You. As editor of Writer’s Digest magazine, she has interviewed luminaries like David Sedaris and Alice Walker and her debut novel—released yesterday from St. Martin’s Press—has already garnered early accolades from a humbling list of bestselling authors like, Garth Stein, Adriana Trigiani, and Jacquelyn Mitchard. Her second novel is slated for release in Spring 2018.

In this episode Jessica and I discuss:
  • Strategies for setting up your first chapter. Jessica and I unpack ways to craft your first chapter for maximum effect.
  • Shifting POV between multiple main characters. Picking which elements of the characters’ stories you want to show, and which you want to keep hidden.
  • Tapping your personal perspective, emotions, and experiences to help illustrate character experiences in your novel.
  • Balancing work, writing, and family in such a way that sets you up to be successful, and helps you channel the strongest emotions possible to your characters. Knowing and being clear about your priorities to meet your goals.
Plus, her #1 tip for writers. About the Author

Jessica Strawser is the editorial director of Writer’s Digest magazine, North America’s leading publication for aspiring and working writers since 1920, where she counts her cover interviews with such luminaries as David Sedaris and Alice Walker among her career highlights. Her debut novel, Almost Missed You, is forthcoming in March 2017 from St. Martin’s Press and has garnered early accolades from a humbling list of bestsellers, including Chris Bohjalian, Garth Stein, Adriana Trigiani, Lisa Scottoline and Jacquelyn Mitchard, and a second novel is slated for a Spring 2018 release. Her diverse career in the publishing industry spans more than 15 years and includes stints in book editing, marketing and public relations, and freelance writing and editing (with work published in The New York Times and other fine publications). She blogs at WritersDigest.com and elsewhere, tweets @jessicastrawser and enjoys connecting at Facebook.com/jessicastrawserauthor. Learn more at jessicastrawser.com.

Almost Missed You

Violet and Finn were “meant to be,” said everyone, always. They ended up together by the hands of fate aligning things just so. Three years into their marriage, they have a wonderful little boy, and as the three of them embark on their first vacation as a family, Violet can’t help thinking that she can’t believe her luck. Life is good.

So no one is more surprised than she when Finn leaves her at the beach—just packs up the hotel room and disappears. And takes their son with him. Violet is suddenly in her own worst nightmare, and faced with the knowledge that the man she’s shared her life with, she never really knew at all.

Caitlin and Finn have been best friends since way back when, but when Finn shows up on Caitlin’s doorstep with the son he’s wanted for kidnapping, demands that she hide them from the authorities, and threatens to reveal a secret that could destroy her own family if she doesn’t, Caitlin faces an impossible choice.

Told through alternating viewpoints of Violet, Finn and Caitlin, ALMOST MISSED YOU is a powerful story of a mother’s love, a husband’s betrayal, connections that maybe should have been missed, secrets that perhaps shouldn’t have been kept, and spaces between what’s meant to be and what might have been.

For more info and show notes: DIYMFA.com/140

Mar 29 2017

47mins

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Rank #19: 193: The Aesthetics of Writing - Interview with Michael Imperioli

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Hey there word nerds!

Today I have the distinct pleasure of having acclaimed writer and actor Michael Imperioli on the show!

Though Michael is best known for playing Christopher Moltisanti in the The Sopranos, a role that earned him an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor, he is also an accomplished screenwriter. He wrote five episodes of The Sopranos and was co-screenwriter for the film Summer of Sam which was directed by Spike Lee.

While still acting and writing for film and TV, with several upcoming projects in the works, Michael has also turned his artistic talent to novel writing with his debut The Perfume Burned His Eyes.

Listen in as we chat about this amazing book, and how to know when you’ve found the story to take all the way to the end.

 

In this episode Michael and I discuss:
  • Finding your story and taking it to the finish line.
  • Adding layers to your story with a unique narrative framework.
  • When to use an epilogue and how to do it right.
  • The advantages of novel writing vs. screenwriting.
  • The fine art of book covers and why you need the right one.
Plus, Michael’s #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: DIYMFA.com/193

Apr 04 2018

36mins

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Rank #20: 176: YA or Adult, Choosing Your Audience - Interview with Danya Kukafka

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Hey there word nerds!

Today I have the pleasure of chatting with author Danya Kukafka on the show!

Danya’s stunning debut novel, Girl in Snow, received rave reviews right out of the gate from masters of the thriller genre like Paula Hawkins and Lee Child. This achievement is made even more remarkable when you consider that Danya is only 25 years old!

After reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Virgin Suicides, Danya became fascinated by unstable teens in voyeuristic communities. She set out to explore the idea of what would happen if you had a teenage boy who truly doesn’t know if he’s killed someone. How could the reader find empathy for him?

Listen in as we tackle this question and the even bigger question of deciding where the line between YA and adult lies as we discuss Girl in Snow.

In this episode Danya and I discuss:
  • Adult or YA? Deciding which way is right for your story.
  • Writing teenage characters that feel real.
  • Knowing when to choose a multiple point of view and how to do it right.
  • Dealing with the publishing world as an editor and an author.
  • How to win the comparison game by sticking to your own writing path.
Plus, Danya’s #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: DIYMFA.com/176

Dec 06 2017

42mins

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318: Voice, Pacing, and Sensitivity: The Art of Writing a 911 Thriller - Interview with R.H. Herron

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Hey there word nerds!

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing R.H. Herron.

Rachael Herron is the internationally bestselling author of more than two dozen books, including thriller (under R.H. Herron), mainstream fiction, feminist romance, memoir, and nonfiction. She received her MFA in writing from Mills College, Oakland, and she teaches writing extension workshops at both UC Berkeley and Stanford and she is a proud member of the NaNoWriMo Writer’s Board. Today we’ll be talking about her thriller Stolen Things.

In this episode Rachael and I discuss:
  • Where she believes plot originates
  • The importance of sensitivity readers and what to ask them to do
  • How to navigate voice when writing a novel from multiple POVs
Plus, her #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: diymfa.com/318

Aug 12 2020

42mins

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317: Be True to the Character and Tell Your Truth — Interview with Syed M. Masood

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Hey there word nerds!

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Syed M. Masood.

Syed M. Masood grew up in Karachi, Pakistan, and now lives with his wife and children in Sacramento, California, where he is a practicing attorney. He wrote a few couplets in Urdu when he was a teenager, and his family still tells everyone he is an Urdu poet. He is not. More Than Just a Pretty Face is his young adult debut novel.

In this episode Syed and I discuss:
  • Why you need to listen to what your characters want as you write
  • How honoring universal experiences allows readers to understand your reality
  • Ways to keep the romance trope interesting, but also staying within the form
Plus, his #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: diymfa.com/317

Aug 05 2020

44mins

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316: Truth with a Capital T — Interview with Lauren Sharkey

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Hey there word nerds!

Our show notes are at DIYMFA.com/316 because it’s episode 316!

Also, if you enjoy the podcast, please subscribe on iTunes, GooglePlay (you know, all the usual places) and please leave us a review. This will help other word nerds discover the show as well.

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Lauren J. Sharkey.

Lauren is a writer, teacher, and transracial adoptee. After her birth in South Korea, she was adopted by Irish Catholic parents and raised on Long Island. Her creative nonfiction has appeared in the Asian American Feminist Collective’s digital storytelling project, First Times, as well as several anthologies including I Am Strength! and Women under Scrutiny. Inconvenient Daughter is her debut novel, and is loosely based on her experience as a Korean adoptee.

In this episode Lauren and I discuss:
  • Why she decided to write a novel based on her life instead of a memoir
  • How to not get sued when writing memoir
  • The process that led to creating an unconventional narrative timeline 
Plus, her #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: diymfa.com/316

Jul 29 2020

38mins

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315: From Painting to Memoir, a Visual Artist’s Journey Into Writing — Interview with Miriam Feldman

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Hey there word nerds!

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Miriam Feldman.

Miriam is a painter, writer, and mother originally from Los Angeles, California. After her son, Nick's, diagnosis with Schizophrenia more than ten years ago, she began writing to document and explore the ways this new reality affected her relationship with her children, her husband, and herself. Her blog, https://www.miriam-feldman.com, explores issues of motherhood, mental illness and the politics of our mental health system.

She is also the founder and owner of Demar Feldman Studios, Inc., a specialty painting company that focuses on architectural finishes, murals, and decorative art for residential and commercial locations in Southern California and abroad. Clients include Samuel L. Jackson & LaTanya Richardson Jackson , Wolfgang Puck, Patricia Heaton & David Hunt, Tony Shalhoub and Brooke Adams, Jay & Mavis Leno and many more. She has run the company for 30 years.

Miriam holds an MFA in fine art from Otis College of Art and Design. Her paintings are in collections across the United States.

Today we’re discussing her memoir He Came In With It, in which she chronicles her experiences as she came to grips with her son’s mental illness.

In this episode Miriam and I discuss:
  • How she chose what stayed in her memoir and what got cut
  • What her family said about the content of her memoirs
  • Her experience switching mediums from painting to writing
Plus, their #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: diymfa.com/315

Jul 22 2020

43mins

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314: Magic, Politics, and Relationships: Using Fantasy to "Literalize the Metaphor" - Interview with Django Wexler

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Hey there word nerds!

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Django Wexler.

Django graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh with degrees in creative writing and computer science, and worked for the university in artificial intelligence research. Eventually he migrated to Microsoft in Seattle, where he now lives with two cats and a teetering mountain of books. When not writing, he wrangles computers, paints tiny soldiers, and plays games of all sorts.

Today we are talking about Ashes of the Sun, the first book in his new epic fantasy trilogy.

In this episode Django and I discuss:

  • Which movie franchise inspired Django in his trilogy’s world building
  • How writing fan-fiction can be used as a tool for growing as a writer
  • His method to build an intricate and believable fantasy world
Plus, his #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: diymfa.com/314

Jul 15 2020

45mins

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313: In the Spirit of Jane Austen - Interview with Natalie Jenner

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Hey there word nerds!

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Natalie Jenner.

Natalie Jenner was born in England, raised in Canada, and graduated from the University of Toronto with degrees in English Literature and Law. She worked for decades in the legal industry and also founded an independent bookstore in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs. The Jane Austen Society is the first published novel for this lifelong devotee of all things Jane Austen and is out now.

In this episode Natalie and I discuss:
  • How Jane Austen inspired her to begin writing again after a break.
  • Why Jane Austen is an excellent influence for contemporary writers.
  • Her method for getting started on a book (hint: you can do it too!).
Plus, her #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: diymfa.com/313

Jul 08 2020

50mins

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312: Plot Twists, Surprises, and How to Keep Your Reader Guessing — Interview with Laura Hankin

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Hey there word nerds!

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Laura Hankin.

Laura has written for McSweeney’s and HuffPost, among other publications. The viral videos that she creates and stars in with her comedy duo, Feminarchy, have been featured in Now This, The New York Times, and Funny or Die. She has performed off-Broadway, acted on screen, and has sung to far too many babies.

Today we’re talking about her new novel Happy and You Know It, which is all about the NYC fancy-moms playgroup scene. 

In this episode Laura and I discuss:
  • How to keep readers guessing (in a good way!) throughout your book
  • Her method for creating multiple points of view
  • Why negative feedback can actually be a good thing
Plus, their #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: diymfa.com/312

Jul 01 2020

41mins

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311: World-Building in Middle Grade Fantasy — Interview with Henry Clark

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Hey there word nerds!

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Henry Clark.

Henry is the author of What We Found in the Sofa and How It Saved the World as well as The Book That Proves Time Travel Happens. He has contributed articles to MAD magazine and published fiction in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine in addition to acting at Old Bethpage Village Restoration, a living-history museum. Today we’ll be talking about his latest novel: What We Found in the Corn Maze and How It Saved a Dragon.

In this episode Henry and I discuss:
  • The symbolic meaning of numbers and how it interplays with magic.
  • Why a trio of protagonists creates a great dynamic for moving along a story.
  • How to use humor as a vehicle for character development.
Plus, his #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: www.diymfa.com/311 

Jun 24 2020

43mins

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310: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at an Historical Fiction Series — Interview with Pamela Taylor

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Hey there word nerds! Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Pamela Taylor.

Pamela brings her love of history to the art of storytelling. An avid reader of historical fact and fiction, she finds the past offers rich sources for character, ambiance, and plot that allow readers to escape into a world totally unlike their daily lives. A history major in college, with minors in French and Spanish, she is also a classically trained musician and believes this has given her a special feel for the rhythm, dynamics, and phrasing of the written word.

In addition to creating her own stories, Pamela is active in multiple writing communities. She is a member of the DFW Writers Workshop and is in her third year on the Judges Panel for the Ink & Insights Writing Contest. In 2018, she joined the team at DIY MFA where she writes the Historical Fiction column, “Past Perfect.” She is also a freelance editor and a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association.

She shares her home with two Corgis who frequently remind her that a dog walk is the best inspiration for that next chapter.

In this episode Pamela and I discuss:
  • Techniques to craft compelling secondary characters. 
  • How research and travel can help writers build a realistic historical world. 
  • What a style sheet is--and why it’s an important part of the editorial process. 
  • How to guide new readers into the second or third book in a series. 
Plus, their #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: www.diymfa.com/310

Jun 17 2020

42mins

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309: Experiments and Happy Accidents in Novel Writing — Interview with Susann Cokal

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Hey there word nerds! 

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Susann Cokal. Susann is a moody historical novelist, a pop-culture essayist, book critic, magazine editor, and sometime professor of creative writing and modern literature. She lives in a creepy old farmhouse in Richmond, Virginia, with seven cats, a big dog, a spouse, and some peacocks that supposedly belong to a neighbor.

Susann's first young adult novel, The Kingdom of Little Wounds, received several national awards, including a silver medal from the American Library Association's Michael L. Printz Award series. Her books for adults, Mirabilis and Breath and Bones, received some nice notice too. Her shorter work has been published in a variety of literary journals and anthologies, such as Electric Lit, Prairie Schooner, Writers Ask, and The New York Times Book Review.

Today we’ll be talking about her new novel, Mermaid Moon, which is out now and is about a mermaid who leaves the sea in search of her landish mother.

In this episode Susann and I discuss:
  • How to craft a “mood” in your story.
  • Using point of view to illustrate character and world-building. 
  • What makes a prologue “work.”
  • Why it’s so important to experiment as you write. 
  • How exploring different possibilities can be a powerful writing tool. 
Plus, her #1 tip for writers.

For show notes and more info: diymfa.com/309

Jun 10 2020

54mins

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308: Setting, Characters, and Identity: Your Story's Ecosystem - Interview with Abbigail Rosewood

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Hey there word nerds! Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Abbigail Rosewood. Abbigail was born in Vietnam, where she lived until the age of twelve. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. An excerpt from her first novel won first place in the Writers Workshop of Asheville Literary Fiction Contest. Today we’ll be discussing her debut novel: If I Had Two Lives

In this episode Abbigail and I discuss:
  • How to persevere after the ‘honeymoon’ stage of writing a book ends.
  • Ways to weave together a protagonist’s internal and external journey. 
  • Why cutting words and characters can actually enhance the world of your novel. 
Plus, her #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: diymfa.com/308

Jun 03 2020

36mins

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307: Mindfulness and Memoir — Interview with Mag Dimond

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Hey there word nerds! Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Mag Dimond.

Mag Dimond has been a world traveler since the age of eleven, when her mother took her to live in Italy. She has traveled extensively in Europe and Central America, and ventured to such exotic landscapes as India, Cambodia, Bhutan, Japan, Kenya, China, Burma, Vietnam, Thailand, and Cuba. In her seventies now, she continues traveling, the most recent adventure being to Machu Picchu and the Amazon jungle.

After a career teaching writing to college students in San Francisco and Taos, she often volunteers as a writing tutor at 826 Valencia, an esteemed literacy program launched by David Eggers. A practicing Buddhist for twenty years, she is a classical pianist, photographer, gourmet cook, animal rescuer, and philanthropist.

Today we’ll be discussing her book Bowing to Elephants, which has been honored by Kirkus Review with a starred review as one of the best Indie memoir/biographies of 2019. Prior to publication, excerpts from Bowing to Elephants appeared in American Literary Review, Travelers Tales Solas Awards, the Tulip Tree “Stories that Must be Told” awards, and the 2017 William Faulkner Wisdom awards. Additionally, she has also published essays in Elephant Journal, a prestigious online magazine with a readership of almost two million people. It is truly an honor to have her here at DIY MFA today.

In this episode Mag and I discuss:
  • How journaling can lead to memoir-writing.
  • A technique to help writers tap into their memories.
  • Why clear thinking is crucial to clear writing. 
  • How mindfulness and meditation can be powerful writing tools.
Plus, her #1 tip for writers.

Hey there word nerds! Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Mag Dimond.

Mag Dimond has been a world traveler since the age of eleven, when her mother took her to live in Italy. She has traveled extensively in Europe and Central America, and ventured to such exotic landscapes as India, Cambodia, Bhutan, Japan, Kenya, China, Burma, Vietnam, Thailand, and Cuba. In her seventies now, she continues traveling, the most recent adventure being to Machu Picchu and the Amazon jungle.

After a career teaching writing to college students in San Francisco and Taos, she often volunteers as a writing tutor at 826 Valencia, an esteemed literacy program launched by David Eggers. A practicing Buddhist for twenty years, she is a classical pianist, photographer, gourmet cook, animal rescuer, and philanthropist.

Today we’ll be discussing her book Bowing to Elephants, which has been honored by Kirkus Review with a starred review as one of the best Indie memoir/biographies of 2019. Prior to publication, excerpts from Bowing to Elephants appeared in American Literary Review, Travelers Tales Solas Awards, the Tulip Tree “Stories that Must be Told” awards, and the 2017 William Faulkner Wisdom awards. Additionally, she has also published essays in Elephant Journal, a prestigious online magazine with a readership of almost two million people. It is truly an honor to have her here at DIY MFA today.

Embed Episode Here

In this episode Mag and I discuss:
  • How journaling can lead to memoir-writing.
  • A technique to help writers tap into their memories.
  • Why clear thinking is crucial to clear writing. 
  • How mindfulness and meditation can be powerful writing tools.
Plus, her #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: diymfa.com/307

May 27 2020

48mins

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306: Recipes for Poetry and Creativity - Interview with Marilyn Singer

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Hey there word nerds! Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Marilyn Singer.

Winner of the National Council of Teachers of English Award for Excellence in Poetry, 2015, Marilyn Singer has written more than 100 books in many genres. She created a poetry form, the “reverso,” featured in three of her award-winning collections:  Mirror Mirror, Follow Follow, and Echo Echo.

She co-hosts the Poetry Blast, which features children’s poets reading their work, at the American Library Association conference and other conventions. Marilyn lives in Brooklyn, NY and Washington, CT with a dog, a cat, and two doves, as well as her favorite dance partner, who also happens to be her husband. 

On a more personal note, Marilyn is someone I consider a dear friend. We first met while standing in line for a book signing at BookExpo when I was just a newbie and I remember thinking “OMG this amazing author is talking to little ol’ me!” I’ve had the pleasure of featuring her on this show before (she was one of my very first interviews) and her books are among my children’s absolute favorites.

So it is truly a pleasure and an honor to welcome the fabulous poet and children’s book author, Marilyn Singer back to DIY MFA Radio!

In this episode Marilyn and I discuss:
  • The inspiration behind Follow the Recipe
  • Tying together the illustrations and poems
  • Structuring a book of poems
  • The reverso form
  • The power of constraint in poetry
  • How to get started writing poetry
Plus, her #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: www.diymfa.com/306

May 20 2020

54mins

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305: Adventure, Awe and Writing Practice: The Art of the Crowd-Sourced Memoir - Interview with Joe Bunting

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Hey there word nerds!

Joe is a bestselling writer, novelist, and a dad. He leads The Write Practice community, an award-winning community of creative writers. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife Talia and three kids and enjoys coffee and corpse reviver no. 2s.

In this episode Joe and I discuss:
  • The inspiration behind Crowdsourcing Paris
  • A small, but powerful trick to overcoming writer’s block 
  • Finding awe in the ordinary
  • Structuring a memoir
  • Creating risks and stakes in any story
  • Developing a writing practice
Plus, his  #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: www.diymfa.com/305

May 13 2020

49mins

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304: An Inside Look at Self-Publishing - Interview with Helen J. Darling

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Hey there word nerds! Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Helen J. Darling.

Helen is the author of two humorous women’s fiction novels: Terms and Conditions and I’ll Know Me When I Find Me. She is also the resident self-publishing expert and columnist at DIY MFA.

Helen worked in publishing for twenty years before acknowledging she’d like to write something herself. When she’s not writing or spending time with her family, she dabbles uncontrollably in hobbies from photography and painting to gardening, carpentry, and home renovations. She reads three or four books at a time. She also keeps bees. That’s why she takes so long to write her novels.

You can learn about her latest distractions by joining her mailing list or following her on social media. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children, a codependent beagle, and a cat who owns them all.

In this episode Helen and I discuss:
  • How working in academic publishing led to Helen’s writing career
  • The flexibility that comes with self-publishing
  • How self-publishing has changed
  • Why writers choose self-publishing over traditional
  • The two most important people on your self-publishing team
  • Choosing the right people for your self-publishing team
  • An overview of the editorial and publishing process
  • The main parts of a book launch
Plus, her #1 tip for writers.

For info and more notes: diymfa.com/304

May 06 2020

44mins

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303: A Survivor Story as a Middle Grade Novel in Poems — Interview with Sonja K. Solter

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Hey there word nerds! Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Sonja K. Solter.

Sonja graduated from Stanford University and earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University, with a critical thesis on writing trauma in middle grade and young adult realistic fiction.

She is currently a creative writing mentor to youth with the Society of Young Inklings and enjoys writing poetry and prose for children of all ages. When You Know What I Know is her gorgeous debut novel. Visit her website and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

In this episode Sonja and I discuss:
  • The inspiration behind When You Know What I Know
  • Plot points in a character-driven story
  • Writing a book in verse instead of prose
  • How an ensemble cast effects the main character
  • Writing about trauma in middle grade and YA
  • How attending a conference led to publication
Plus, her #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: www.diymfa.com/303

Apr 29 2020

37mins

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302: Building a Pop Poetry Empire — Interview with Jade Dee and Wilnona Marie

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Hey there word nerds! Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Jade Dee and Wilnona Marie, the “And I Thought” Ladies!

Jade is the 2019 Poet of the Year, and Wilnona is Advocate Awarded. Both ladies recently accepted the job as US correspondents for UK TV show Chrissy B on Sky TV. They recently made the list of 20 Iconic Authors according to Every Writers Resource Magazine. This dynamic duo has contributed to eleven books: The And I Thought Series & The Miss-Fit Guides.

In addition, Jade and Wilnona are the Co-Founders of The Inspirational Women in Literature Media and Journalism Awards, The Thoughtful Book Festival, the 25 Hottest Authors Magazine & And I Thought Literary Magazine. They starred in docuseries Just Writin Life about authors. They will be starring in the film Create, Aspire & Inspire.

They have co-hosted conferences on three continents. They have read poetry for loving fans in Australia, the U.K., Greece, and Canada, by Invitation for a regional poet laureate, and at the U.K. literary book festival. In July they were on their fourth European book tour reading their poetry, promoting their magazine and their movie.

In this episode Jade, Wilnona and I discuss:
  • The power of writers championing other writers
  • The myth that you’ll never make money as a poet
  • Understanding the impact of your writing 
  • Using past success as inspiration to keep going
  • Stepping into the limelight
  • Taking a piece from page to stage
Plus, their #1 tips for writers.

For more info and show notes: www.diymfa.com/302

Apr 22 2020

51mins

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301: Dismantling the Stigma of Mental Illness — Interview with Jeff Garvin

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Hey there word nerds! Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Jeff Garvin.

Jeff is an author, musician, and podcaster and his debut novel, Symptoms of Being Human has received a ton of accolades. It is an ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults Selection, Lambda Literary Award Finalist, and has garnered starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly. 

Before becoming a novelist, Jeff acted on TV and toured as the lead singer of a rock band. He has a BFA in Film from Chapman University and lives in Southern California.

Now, I have been looking forward to this episode since last July, when Jeff and I met at a ThrillerFest cocktail party. We connected right away and when Jeff told me about his new novel The Lightness of Hands I knew I just had to have him on the show. This book grapples with some heavy topics, but one in particular that really hits home for me: mental health.

I am so thrilled to be recording this interview (finally! After 8 months!) and to introduce Jeff and his moving (sometimes gut-wrenching) YA novels to my word nerd listeners.

In this episode Jeff and I discuss:
  • How real life experiences inspired Lightness of Hands
  • Living with Bipolar II
  • Breaking the stigma around mental illness
  • Starting a book with a question you can’t answer
  • Writing a character that is hyper-attuned to her inner life
  • The power of mindfulness meditation
  • The hero’s journey, applied to writing and life
Plus, his #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: www.diymfa.com/301

Apr 15 2020

1hr

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300: Meet Team Awesome — A Behind-the-Scenes Look at DIY MFA

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Hey there word nerds! 

Welcome to the three hundredth episode of DIY MFA Radio!

The original plan for this episode was to unveil our first-ever DIY MFA live event—Writer Igniter LIVE—which we were planning for October. In light of current events, we’ve put the planning  for that on hold. That said, we still wanted to honor this special milestone episode by doing something a little bit different.

To that end, I’ve gathered Team Awesome together to talk about a new approach we’ve been taking with DIY MFA. While from an outside perspective DIY MFA has been chugging away as it always has been, over the past three months the team and I have been doing a lot of internal work, getting our house in order and making key shifts to how we approach the work that we do. One of these key shifts is the concept of building mental theme parks. 

Now, theme parks hold a special significance for me. For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with theme park design. Most kids go to Disney World for the rides; I was that weirdo kid begging her parents to let her take the behind-the-scenes tour of the underground tunnels. 

When I was twelve or so, I decided I wanted to design a ride for Epcot Center. You see, while the World Showcase features many different countries, there isn’t a single one from South America. (Sorry Mexico, but you’re not in South America). I thought it was a travesty that an entire continent would be overlooked like that, so I decided to design the Brazilian Pavilion (I mean, the marketing copy practically writes itself.

Most normal kids spend their summers traveling or going to camp. I spent my summer researching 18th century Brazilian architecture, drafting up design drawings, and brainstorming possible corporate sponsors. I even mapped out a ride. I designed everything, from the menus of the pavilion restaurants to the types of souvenir shops and what they would sell. Then I packaged everything together and mailed the envelope to Mr. Michael Eisner, CEO of Disney. A few months later, I got a reply with a bunch of legal mumbo-jumbo about not being able to consider unsolicited submissions, blah blah blah. 

The result was disappointing. As a kid, I didn’t care about the money, I just wanted to see my idea out in the world and getting the envelope sent back without them even considering the concept was hard. Still, that one experience has shaped my life in many unexpected ways. I continue to be obsessed with theme parks and other themed environments (Las Vegas, etc.) and this idea of “theming” is woven into everything I do as an author, teacher, and entrepreneur.

To this day, I think of everything I build—whether it’s a book, a course, or a podcast—I think of it as an experience I’m creating for the audience (i.e. you, my word nerds). This idea of DIY MFA as a theme park for the mind has become central to our team and what we do at DIY MFA. Listen in as Team Awesome and I jam about DIY MFA and building theme parks for the mind.

In this episode Jeanette, Bess, Lori and I discuss:
  • How DIY MFA is like a theme park for your mind
  • How this DIY MFA theme park is designed and operates
  • The different roles of Team Awesome in the park
  • How we’re moving forward as a team and a business during Corona Virus and beyond
  • Team Awesome’s tips for being creative in spite of Corona Virus
  • Free DIY MFA resources to help writers right now
  • What’s ahead for DIY MFA this year
Plus, their #1 tip for writers.

For more info and shownotes: www.diymfa.com/300

Apr 08 2020

56mins

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299: Spot Your Habits and Build Your Skills — Interview with ProWritingAid Founder Chris Banks

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Hey there word nerds! Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Chris Banks!

Chris Banks is the CEO and Founder of ProWritingAid. In his varied career, he has built neural networks to model language learning, worked on the BBC’s scriptwriting product, written books, been a ski guide, and given talks on creativity, artificial intelligence, and language technologies.

He started ProWritingAid to help with his own writing, but he soon saw how useful it was for everyone else. Now, he wants to help more people put their ideas into words and those words into the hands (and hearts) of readers.

In this episode Chris and I discuss:
  • How a broken ankle led to the creation of the ProWritingAid Software
  • How ProWritingAid can help improve your writing 
  • Approaching writing like building a building
  • Taking your writing from good to great
  • How a thesaurus can be a powerful writing tool
Plus, his  #1 tip for writers.

For more info and show notes: www.diymfa.com/299

Apr 01 2020

42mins

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iTunes Ratings

51 Ratings
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Please “like” less

By Writer Roni - Mar 29 2019
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This is an interesting and informative podcast. The host is knowledgeable and asks insightful questions, and the guests seem happy to participate and open to providing substantive answers. Unfortunately the host’s overuse of “like” detracts from her side of the conversation.

Teamwork!

By #NaNoWriMo 2018 - Mar 27 2019
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Thanks for another great episode Gabriela! Listened to it (ep 245) on the way home from work today and then secured my copy of the book. Lots of great info on positive collaboration between a writer-agent-editor team that connects well. Especially enjoyed the discussion on first person narrator. Keep it coming!