Episode 184 #BeforeYouStartNonFiction
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Episode 184 #BeforeYouStartNonFiction

Every nonfiction book starts out as a glimmer of an idea. A topic. An area of interest or expertise. But you can’t just pitch a book about beekeeping, kids. You need to know a whole lot more. Is it a beekeeping memoir? A beekeeping how-to? A meditation about the relationship between bees and humanity?

In this episode, we dish about how to answer those questions, because—spoiler—that’s exactly how Jess, who just finished the draft of her second nonfiction book, has been spending her time. Well, not thinking about beekeeping, or at least, I don’t think so. She’s pretty cagey about what, exactly, she’s researching—but that’s a good thing, because this episode is about the first steps that lead to an eventual proposal and, ultimately a book, no matter what the topic.

Episode links and a transcript follow—but first, a preview of the #WritersTopFive that will be dropping into #AmWriting supporter inboxes on Monday, November 11, 2019: Top 5 Steps to Setting Up Your Author Presence on Amazon (Plus a Couple More for Extra Credit). Not joined that club yet? You’ll want to get on that. Support the podcast you love AND get weekly #WriterTopFives with actionable advice you can use for just $7 a month.

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LINKS FROM THE PODCAST

The Art of the Book Proposal: From Focused Idea to Finished Product, Eric Maisel

The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers, Betsy Lerner

Modern Love Series on Amazon

Modern Love Column, New York Times

#AmReading (Watching, Listening)

Jess: Jess has been all in this week! Katherine Center’s Things You Save in a Fire, How to Walk Away and the bridge story between those two novels, The Girl in the Plane, plus Happiness for Beginners, The Lost Husband, and Get Lucky.

Also, Ali Wong’s Dear Girls, Ronan Farrow’s Catch and Kill, and Sarina Bowen’s Moonlighter!

Sarina: The Virgin Gift, Lauren Blakely

#FaveIndieBookstore

Octavia Books, New Orleans.

This episode was sponsored by Author Accelerator, the book coaching program that helps you get your work DONE. AND—they’ve got a new program for new nonfiction projects! Visit https://www.authoraccelerator.com/amwritingfor details, special offers and Jennie Nash’s Inside-Outline template.

Find more about Jess here, Sarina here and about KJ here.

If you enjoyed this episode, we suggest you check out Marginally, a podcast about writing, work and friendship.

The image in our podcast illustration is by William Iven on Unsplash.

Transcript (We use an AI service for transcription, and while we do clean it up a bit, some errors are the price of admission here. We hope it’s still helpful.)

Hello listeners! If you’re in with us every week, you’re what I like to call “people of the book.’ And some of us book people discover somewhere along the way that not only we writers, we’re people with a gift for encouraging other writers. For some of us, that comes out in small ways, but for others it’s a calling and an opportunity to build a career doing work you love. Our sponsor, Author Accelerator, provides book coaching to authors (like me) but also needs and trains book coaches. If that’s got your ears perked up, head to https://www.authoraccelerator.com and click on “become a book coach.” Is it recording?

Jess

00:01

Now it’s recording. Go ahead.

KJ

00:45

This is the part where I stare blankly at the microphone like I don’t remember what I was supposed to be doing.

Jess

00:49

All right, let’s start over.

KJ

00:51

Awkward pause. I’m going to rustle some papers.

Jess

00:54

Okay.

KJ

00:54

Now one, two, three. Hey, I’m KJ Dell’Antonia and this is #AmWriting the podcast about all things writing – nonfiction, fiction, proposals, essays, pitches, and as we say each and every week. This is the podcast about sitting down and getting your work done.

Jess

01:22

I’m Jess Lahey. I’m the author of the Gift of Failure and a completed manuscript for book two, The Addiction Innoculation. And you can find my stuff in the New York Times and the Atlantic and various other places.

KJ

01:35

Carry on, Sarina.

Sarina

01:40

Hi, I’m Sarina Bowen. I’m the author of 30 plus romance novels and my last one was called Moonlighter and it just hit the USA Today.Best Sellers List.

KJ

01:51

I am KJ Dell’Antonia, the author of How To Be a Happier Parent, the former editor of the Motherlode blog at the New York Times and the author of a forthcoming novel that you’ll hear all about as it comes out next summer. And yeah, wows all around. It’s been it’s been a good week. I think things are going pretty well for all of us.

Jess

02:18

All of us. I think so, too. I’m finally recovered from getting the last book done and it’s amazing how much stuff a person can push off until after. And like after meant after November 1st and so now my inbox is full of things with like all different color flags stuck in it, like deal with this after November 1st, deal with this after November 1st. And it’s amazing how much stuff I actually piled on to deal with after November 1st and it’s November 1st and I’m dealing with it. Welcome to after, I’m in the after mode now. And it’s crazy. It’s really good though. It was really freeing to be able to say, ‘Just later’, but later is now here. So anyway, but Sarina the thing that I wanted to mention is a huge congratulations because this is a new book in a new series for you, right?

Sarina

03:13

Yeah. It’s a spinoff because that’s how I like to start series by spinning them off from existing characters. But it’s definitely something new. I hadn’t written a suspense plot really before. And yeah, it was hard and I really enjoyed it and I thought readers would follow me there, but of course I really wasn’t sure.

KJ

03:35

And they did.

Jess

03:35

You can never be sure, but readers are fickles and they did. And it’s really, really good. I was actually on my list of books I read, even though KJ pointed out that no one’s going to trust me when I say anything about either The Chicken Sisters or any of your books. But I did love it and I love the fact that you’re willing to push yourself to try lots of different things. And I think I even texted you earlier about a couple of the things that you’ve done that have made you nervous. When you first think, ‘Should I write this?’ And then you write it. And I’m always amazed how a) brave you are to write about stuff like a pregnant protagonist, which sounds crazy in romance. I mean, you would think that would never work, and it does, and it’s fantastic. And I just, I love the fact that you’re willing to push yourself because it would be so easy to say, ‘I’m just going to write about single, heterosexual, white people because that’s sort of the comfort zone. And yet you don’t, you write about all kinds of things and I think that’s really cool.

Sarina

04:36

Well, thank you. The truth is though if I only wrote about people like me, we’d have a lot of books about people who don’t leave home very much.

Jess

05:03

My suspense for today is if the leftover Halloween candy is still gonna be here when everybody gets home later on today. Yeah. Can we point out today is (the day we’re recording) November 1st since I already blew it and mentioned that. So that means it’s the first day of NaNoWriMo. Are we gonna talk at all about that reality?

KJ

05:32

Sure, I will. But before we do, we do have a topic for today. We have a plan – today we’re going to be talking – Jess, name it.

Jess

05:43

We are going to be talking about new projects. Because during my recovery from finishing the last book, I had no intention to have a new idea, but I did. So we’ll talk about that in just a minute.

KJ

05:58

This is going to be like the how to start, what to do before you start, that kind of thing. But meanwhile, since some of us are starting…

Jess

06:04

Specifically non nonfiction. So my thing today is going to be about what you do when suddenly you have an idea for a new nonfiction, which requires a lot of organization from day one, so that you don’t get yourself in the weeds and off on the wrong foot. But let’s talk about November 1st – NaNo. What’s happening people?

KJ

06:25

The timing actually turned out to be really good for me. So everybody knows I’ve been working on what we’ll just call novel two for the sake of ignoring the one in the drawer. Oh my gosh, my mother. Apparently I gave her my first novel, which I wrote 15 years ago and I got a text from her recently, ‘Do you remember Mud Season? I was just reading.’ I was like, ‘No, don’t read that.’ I was listening to a podcast with Grant Faulkner, who is the person who heads up NaNoWriMo right now, although he is not the founder. And he specifically and sort of narrowly described the goal, which I had forgotten, which is to write 50,000 words of a novel. And I thought, ‘Oh, well, okay.’ So I pulled out the words that I have already written of what we’re calling book two. I tossed aside all the words that I wrote around various other outlines and concepts that sort of need massive reworking. This is just the chunk that I really have and it’s 30,000 words. So you know what I need to have a book? 50,000 words. So, I started today, I’m shooting to write 50,000 words of my novel in November. It is not a cold draft, but I think we all make our own NaNo rules, but I’m sort of enjoying the fact that I’m really kind of hewing a little more closely to the NaNoWriMo rhythm than I thought I was going to be.

Jess

08:06

I’m sure there are NaNo purists who are saying, ‘Oh no, you must start something new on day one.’ But we don’t roll that way.

Sarina

08:14

That was never the rules, sorry.

Jess

08:22

I think NaNo is a great time to (as we said last time around) just to take a hold of the productivity that’s in the air, the sort of writing Juju that’s floating around in November and do with it what you will.

KJ

08:34

So I already nailed my 1600, I believe I wrote 1618 today. I’m feeling good.

Jess

08:55

So in November are your stickers the value for the words that you like? How are you stickering? For those of you who are new to the podcast, we have this thing we do call stickering. Sarina and KJ and I text each other the word sticker when we get our sticker for the day. And it is literally a sticker that goes into our calendar. In fact, Sarina gave me some llamas for this month, which was great timing because I didn’t have any stickers for this month. And it is literally a sticker that is of your own definition. Right now (as we’re gonna get into in a minute) mine are research stickers this month. But it can be anything you want. And it means, ‘Yay me. I did it.’

KJ

09:36

Yes, my stickers this month (which are coffee pot or coffee cups. Super cute little pile of stickers.) will be for 1612 words. Or, like if I decide, I may end up having to decide not to write on Thanksgiving cause we’re having a family dinner somewhere that involves traveling. So I may up some word counts in order to allow for some days off. I think the thing that’s going to be different for me – sometimes I just want to just want to get to my words. And so when I write things that I delete sometimes I just leave the words in the word count until I’m done writing. Not this time, because the goal is to actually finish this draft. The words have to be words. That kind of varies. Sometimes they can be outlining words or they can be pre-writing words or they can be other kinds of words. But this month, hear me now, they have to be actual words

Jess

10:44

And Sarina, what’s happening with you?

Sarina

10:46

Well, I have a book that needs 25,000 words, but they have to be perfect by the end of the month so I can’t do NaNo. I have to finish this project, and then make it beautiful, and that’s just how it is.

KJ

11:01

Well, I’ll be representing you.

Jess

11:04

You still use stickers during that process though, right?

Sarina

11:07

Yup, absolutely.

Jess

11:09

And during that process, are your stickers for editing, for writing, do you change it up day to day, whatever your goals are?

Sarina

11:16

Well, they’ll be writing for 1200 words. And then if I run out of book, then I’ll revisit.

Jess

11:24

Okay, sounds good. So I guess this leads us into the announcement that I have to make, which is, I already said on the podcast that I was going to be working on that novel, which sounded great when we were talking about it. It really, really did. And then I spent a lot of time rereading what I had. And thinking about what I really wanted to do and thinking about what KJ had said about what do you write in your head? And I just don’t love writing fiction. I just don’t, it’s not what gets me excited to sit down. And you know, when in On Writing, when Stephen King talks about the fact that he threw away the opening chapters of Carrie because it was really hard, that’s not what this is. I really don’t think I’m just saying I don’t want to do it cause it’s hard. It just doesn’t feed me. It just doesn’t get me excited and make me want to go to work every day. And frankly, what happened was, and I have to be super, super cagey about this because I haven’t even talked with my agent about it, but I had an idea for the next book after the addiction book. And I am so excited, at least right now for this crazy, in-depth research phase. I’ve said this before, what Mary Roach, author of Guts and a bunch of other cool books, calls her three month research flail. Where she jumps into the research and figures out what her book is. And so that’s what I’m doing. I’m starting a new proposal for a new nonfiction book and that’s what our topic is going to be about today. So, sorry to pull the rug out from under my NaNo plans, but they changed.

KJ

13:05

I think that’s really cool. And I don’t know about Sarina, but I personally had no plans to actually require you to write fiction. You’re okay. You be you.

Jess

13:18

And that book is just still sitting there. I still have an internal relationship with those characters and I don’t know if it’ll ever get written. But Jenny Nash, if you’re listening, that’s not what I’m working on this month. But frankly, whenever I get this excited about something new, I’m all over it. Our official topic for today is what to do when you have an idea for a nonfiction book and you’re starting to wrap your brain around a topic and think about a proposal. So, the very first thing I did was I took the book proposal for the addiction book, which is the long form. I think we talked at one point about the fact that if you are going to go back to your same editor that you’ve had at a publisher with a new book idea, you may not necessarily have to write the mammoth (in my case, I think it was 70 or 80 page book proposal that includes everything from the marketing stuff, and comparable titles that are out there, and who you are) that’s for a publisher that doesn’t know anything about you necessarily. But with the addiction book (simply because it’s a difficult topic and we weren’t 100% sure that my editor was going to be fully on board) my agent and I went out with a full, finished book proposal to my editor so that if she didn’t want it, we could go out to everybody, right away. It would be done, locked down, in perfect shape. We didn’t have to do that, my editor wanted it. But I also found that while it’s a ton of work, it is such a great process to have to go through with a book. And, KJ, as you know from working on the stuff with Jenny for The Chicken Sisters, you have to be able to tell people really quickly what your book is about. You have to hone your ideas about what the chapters are going to be about. And that whole process for me is really, really helpful. So, while it’s maybe, possibly more than I need to do right now, it’s really good for my thinking. I don’t know how you feel about that in terms of when you do nonfiction book proposals or your outlines, I guess.

Sarina

15:35

Yeah. Well, the thing is, if I were proposing even like a series of novels to an editor that I already knew, I don’t think I’d even want to start the project if I hadn’t done that. Like I can’t imagine committing to something without that level of … cause it’s just so much work, it’s like more than a year of your life. And I think I would want to do all of that. And in the end it would not be wasted.

KJ

16:04

Well, we’ve talked about the risks of promising to write a book that isn’t what you want to write. This prevents that.

Jess

16:12

It also helps me gauge the competition on the market. You know, I have to go out there. I’ve already started buying books and trips to bookstores. In fact, I was just in Sacramento and I came across a bookstore there called Beers Books. And it is a combination new and used bookstore. And I went bonkers. My suitcase was full of books coming back from Sacramento. It was great. And so buying books is sort of the first part of that process for me, figuring out what’s out there in the market. And so I might as well gather that information since that’s a piece of the book proposal I’m going to have to put together anyway and realizing what’s already out there. Am I competing with something else that’s better? Or am I the best person? Why am I the right person to work on this thing? And the answer may come back that I’m not. And that’s all valuable information. So yeah, I don’t have any problem working on the book proposal in-depth before anyone sees it.

KJ

17:15

So, step one…

Jess

17:16

Step one for me. So I went back to that old book proposal that’s in good shape and essentially renamed it, did a save as, went through, left the headers in, took out the text for the old book. And I don’t even know what the title for this new book is, but I have a placeholder and now I’ve sort of focused my thinking by looking at the book proposal to know what do I need to think about? Okay, well I’m going to have to think about what the chapters might be. I’m going to have to think about the competing title stuff. So the book proposal itself gives me a really good way to do that. If you don’t already have a book proposal for a previous book we have some suggestions that we’ll put in the show notes and I can’t come up with them right off the top of my head. But KJ, I know you have one of the books that we happen to love for nonfiction book proposals.

KJ

18:07

I believe it’s the Art of the Book Proposal. Yes, that’ll be in the show notes. Incidentally, just to toss it out there, head over to amwritingpodcast.com and sign up and you’ll get the show notes in your inbox every time. So anytime we say this you can just be like, ‘Oh sure, those are in my inbox.’ And you can pop in there and look and that would be very handy.

Jess

18:33

That book is really helpful, too. As is Betsy Lerner’s book, The Forest for the Trees, gives you sort of good ways to think about the hard questions. Am I the right person to write this? Is this something I want to spend the next couple of years of my life on? You know, that kind of stuff. So number one, start thinking in terms of an outline for the skeleton of the book proposal.

KJ

18:57

Wait, just to go back, one of the fun things in The Art of the Book Proposal that I think we almost do without realizing it is sort of thinking about all the different possible approaches to a topic. And I wondered, are you doing that? So you know, there’s this sort of, ‘I could write a how to about this. I could write a memoir about this. I could write a big picture research book about this.’ Is that part of it or was it super clear that if I’m going to tackle this topic it’s going to be like this.

Jess

19:27

It has not been super clear for a couple of reasons that I’ll talk about later on. But the idea of, is this a Gift of Failure type book? And I also had a really narrow focus at first, but lots of conversations with my husband (who’s my best sounding board for this kind of stuff) has broadened the focus a little bit. So trying to get at what this thing is…yeah, that book does a really good job of breaking that down and helping you look at all of the different possibilities that you may not have thought of yet. And the nice thing about also getting your hands on a lot of other books that might be in your comparable title section is that they probably do it lots of different ways, too, and makes you sort of say, ‘Oh, look at how that person did it, that’s really interesting, maybe I can borrow from that. Or I think I might avoid this way because I don’t think it works as well.’ So yeah, that’s also part of the honing process for me. What is it going to look like? And that’s been an ongoing process. So number one, look at the book proposal, come up with your ideas of approach, come up with your ideas of how you’re going to have to think about it when you read the research. Number two, get the books that are the research. You know, if you can’t afford to buy the books, go to the library. Interlibrary loan can be invaluable if you’re near a university. That’s been invaluable for me because a bigger library is always better. Simply because there could even be things that are out of print that are really helpful. And in my case there were two books that are out of print that have been really, really helpful in helping me shape my thinking on this. Number three sounds really simple. But for me this is always really, really a big deal. I made a new email folder in at my email app on my computer. (I use the mail app that’s on my Apple computer.) And having a folder that has the subject of the book is really great because I bounce a lot of ideas off of my husband. I bounced a couple of ideas off of some people I know in this field. All of those emails go into that email folder so that if I’m ever looking for the emails having to do with this topic, they’re all there. And in fact that’s what I’m doing right now, with the addiction book, I’m going back through that folder and I am figuring out what I might have forgotten, I might have left out. So once you have your email folder, once you’ve got all your books, once you’re working on the proposal stuff, I also create a new Scrivener doc. A new Scrivener doc for me just gets my brain in the right place, especially since with Scrivener you can create a new folder for each chapter. You can move them around. So Scrivener really helps me shape my thinking, it’s been invaluable for me as a tool. And then honestly, I just start trying to think like an emerging expert in the topic. I start following people on Twitter that might be a part of this topic. I start looking for the big people in the field and wondering, ‘Are these people who might someday want to blurb this book?’ Just little things – we’re talking about a book that if it even gets written isn’t going to be out there for like three or four years, but you have to start (at least I do) putting myself in the headspace of someone who’s trying to become an expert in this topic. And as you well know, Sarina, this means that I am going to over-research everything. I am going to do a deep dive into the history of the topic, but that for me is what gets me out of bed in the morning. And it’s what changed my mind about what I’m working on this month. And it’s just fun. It’s so much fun. I think it’s the reason I love journalism so much – is the idea that it’s my job to suddenly become an expert in a topic, and then write about it, and translate it for someone who doesn’t necessarily want to go and do all the research that I love doing. And that’s just really fun for me.

Sarina

23:37

Well, I’m intimidated on your behalf.

Jess

23:41

It’s so much fun. We should clarify for the listeners that we are without KJ. She lost power at her house, which is something that we actually battle with. Sarina and KJ both lost power this morning due to a windstorm. I’m still good at the moment, although it’s very windy here. It sounds like trucks are roaring by my house, but we’re just going to carry on without KJ. I think that’s really about it for me. Right now it’s all about headspace. It’s all about immersing myself in the topic and being excited. And my poor husband is going to be hearing a lot about this topic. And that’s fine cause it’s actually a topic he’s really interested in, too. So for us, that’s fun. That’s life in the geeky, Lahey household. And actually, believe it or not, my younger son (who is still at home with us) is interested in the topic, too. So it’s led to some really interesting conversations and it’s also been fun to watch him get excited about a book that he probably will not have any part in. In terms of showing up in the book, because he’s definitely in Gift of Failure, and he’s definitely in the addiction book. And I think he’s just about done being a part of my work. And of course he’s been in lots of New York Times articles. There are pictures of him in the New York Times, which he’s cool with and he’s fine with all that, but I think he’s excited that I’m working on something that may not include him as a potential topic. So there we are. One thing that was also really fun and this sounds like a really nothing sort of to-do list task. But I cleaned my office. And for me I used to do that as part of the process, at the end of every single chapter I finished in the addiction book, I would clean up because things would just get disastrous in here. There’d be piles of books and piles of research. And it was a really cleansing experience to put the research away from let’s say the chapter on peers and peer influence and move on to the chapter on education on prevention programs in schools. Because I would then put away all those books, put away all those articles, and take out a whole new stack of stuff. And it was sort of a mind cleansing thing. And so the same thing has happened. I still have all my research out for the addiction book because I’m deep into edits now. And actually speaking of which, I’m working on edits right now because I’m going to have a meeting with my editor on the 20th of November, in which I have to have my arms around all the edits. So all those papers and articles and everything are still all around me. It’s just that I’m making space for the new books on the new topic. It has its own bookshelf, I have a bookshelf dedicated to this topic. It’s still only fills one shelf, but I’m sure that will change with time. But, it’s really fun. It’s a mental shift and that mental shift is really fun and exciting. And yeah, I’m back to being excited to go to work every morning and having a vacation between the two was really good.

Sarina

26:49

That’s terrific. You just reminded me of that internet meme of the guy and the girl walking down the street holding hands and he’s looking over his shoulder at the other hot girl. Cause that’s how it feels when you have to finish up the last bits of one project, but your head is already looking at another one.

Jess

27:11

This was a first for me, actually. But you do this all the time, where you’re writing one book and editing the last. This is new for me, but I hadn’t really even thought about that as that’s something that you have to do all the time.

Sarina

27:25

Yeah, I do. If you spread it out a little bit, it’s actually kind of nice. Because then you can be super picky on one topic and sort of expansive on the other one.

Jess

27:35

Oh, that’s a really good way of thinking about it. Speaking of which (that meme about the guy looking back) I watched the new series Modern Love on Amazon. You know, adapted from the Modern Love columns from the New York Times and there is a shot that is a direct call out to that meme in one of the episodes. And by the way, the Modern Love adaptation for Amazon is fantastic, way better than I ever thought it would be. But it was so funny to see the shot and say, ‘Wait a second, that’s that meme right there. I can see it.’.

Sarina

28:08

So I heard that you had a new bookstore for us.

Jess

28:13

I do. Tt’s a bookstore I had visited once in New Orleans and I saw Anya Kamenetz from NPR, the education editor at NPR, she had a book event there for her book that was coming out (this was years ago). And it’s Octavia Books in New Orleans and they sold books for my recent event down in New Orleans. But it’s a tremendous bookstore. Curation is fantastic, people are so nice. And it’s a quaint bookstore in the middle of a lovely little neighborhood in New Orleans. So another one of those bookstores where you walk in and you just sort of feel at home. So can’t recommend that one more heartily. But speaking of bookstores, have you been reading anything interesting?

Sarina

28:58

I just read a really sexy novella that my friend Lauren Blakely finished.

Jess

29:09

You don’t see a lot of novellas these days.

Sarina

29:12

Oh, because of the holidays?

Jess

29:14

No, these days in general. Novellas are tricky. As you well know, you wrote one.

Sarina

29:18

Yeah, novellas are not my chosen length. But this book, it’s going to do amazing. She did an amazing job on it and it’s called The Virgin Gift. And it isn’t out yet, but this was one fun moment where I helped somebody with something when I wasn’t expecting to. Lauren Blakely writes so many wonderful books all the time, without any difficulty. But she happened to ask me a question about plot, just that came up in conversation, and it was one of those moments when solving someone else’s problem is just so much easier than solving your own. And I was so happy to come up with this tiny little idea that helped her finish her book because it’s so satisfying to solve that kind of problem. And then you know, your own plot problem will just grate on you for days, and days, and days and then once in awhile you can mention it to another person and get the idea you need just just by accident. So that was super fun. And then this week I got to read it and see how it all turned out.

Sarina

30:31

That’s really cool. Being a part of someone’s book from the beginning is always so exciting. It’s like when I get to read your books and I realize, ‘Oh wait, I remember hearing about that six months ago.’ I love that.

Jess

30:42

I have read so many books, mainly because I was on vacation after having finished my book and I’ve been flying a lot, which means audio books. So you people had been recommending Katherine Center’s books. Specifically Things You Save In a Fire. And so I I downloaded Things You Save In a Fire and loved it. And then I very quickly downloaded How To Walk Away, Happiness for Beginners, and The Lost Husband. And I have gone through all of them and it’s always interesting to read an author’s work out of order because she’s evolved as a writer, as we all do. Her Things You Save In a Fire is her newest, and Lost Husband is years ago, and I’m now listening to a book of hers called Get Lucky. And it’s interesting to read her evolution as a writer and she’s delightful. She’s just delightful. She’s good, the humor is fantastic, the romance is fantastic, the suspense is fantastic, the secrets, there’s lots of secrets. It’s just delightful stuff.

Sarina

31:56

I can’t believe that you’re two books ahead of me now. I’ve only read two of those four and I’m going to do a little video about Things You Save In a Fire because I love it so much.

Jess

32:05

Oh, good. So, Get this. I also listened to Ali Wong’s book, Dear Girls, which is so raunchy and so funny. It’s letters to her daughter about her life. And if you’ve ever watched Ali Wong’s comedy, either Baby Cobra or the other one that I can’t remember at the moment. You know, she’s raunchy, she’s dirty, she’s hysterical. And Dear Girls does not disappoint. It’s really, really funny. Although, how you write a book to your daughters that they can’t possibly listen to until they’re in their twenties, I just don’t even know. And listening to still more Harlan Coben. But then I also listened to Ronan Farrow’s Catch and Kill. Which was fascinating, really fascinating. And it was more than I thought it was going to be in terms of content. So anyway, it’s been amazing reading. But thank you so much for the Katherine Center recommendation. Because she’s not my normal turf reading wise and I have been sad every time I finished her books. And do we have time to really, really quickly mention the bridge thing? So on her website, you pointed out that she wrote a short story to bridge two of her novels. And have you read it yet?

Sarina

33:19

I have not. So you can’t spoil it.

Jess

33:21

No, no, no I’m not going to spoil it.

Sarina

33:22

But it is a genius idea.

Jess

33:26

How clever is that? And here’s what she does. There’s stuff in that bridge story that I would have been like, ‘Oh no, save that for the novels. That’s the good stuff.’ And she doesn’t, that story stands on its own as a really lovely piece of writing that gets to own its own turf within the universe of those two novels. And so, I loved it. It was included at the end of the audio. She reads it actually, Katherine Center reads it, at the end of How To Walk Away, I think. And loved it. So good. And that idea is great. And her website, as we’ve been saying, is super colorful and wonderful and yeah, she’s delightful.

Sarina

34:47

Keep your butt in the chair and your head in the game. Until next week.

Jess

34:53

This episode of #AmWriting with Jess and KJ was produced by Andrew Parilla. Our music, aptly titled unemployed Monday was written and performed by Max Cohen. Andrew and Max were paid for their services because everyone, even creatives should be paid.

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