Oct 5, 2019 • 43M

Episode 179 #ShouldWantCanAmWriting

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Entertaining, actionable advice on craft, productivity and creativity for writers and journalists in all genres, with hosts Jessica Lahey, KJ Dell'Antonia and Sarina Bowen.
Episode details

Not writing what your inner parent says you “should” be writing? How to get over it.

Fellow writers, KJ here. I have gathered you here today to discuss the moment last week when I sat down on my bed, surveying a pile of literary fiction, some of which I liked and some of which I most emphatically did not, and asked myself, as I have many times on other topics—should I be writing something other than what I am writing? Should I be good at something other than that which I am good at? This week, I lay it out there: sometimes I feel ashamed that I don’t write something more … serious. Then Sarina slaps me around a little, and Jess declares that even writers of serious stuff (I give her that title) sometimes feel like they’re not using their time wisely.

Episode links and a transcript follow—but first, a preview of the #WritersTopFive that will be dropping into #AmWriting supporter inboxes on Monday, October 7, 2019: Top Five Reasons to Embrace NaWhateverWriMo. It’s a good one! And I happen to know the next one’s on dictation tools and is even better. 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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Keep scrolling—there’s some cool free stuff from Author Accelerator, below.


The Snobs and Me(essay) Jennifer Weiner

From Uber Driving to Huge Book Deal(Adrian McKinty and The Chain)

#AmReading (Watching, Listening)

Jess: The Chain, Adrian McKinty, Pride and Prejudiceread by [Rosamund Pike] and Sense and Sensibilityread by [Emma Thompson]

KJ AND Sarina: Things You Save In a Fire, Katherine Center


The Flying Pig, Shelburne VT

Find more about Jess hereSarina hereand about KJ here.

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


Every episode of #AmWriting is sponsored by Author Accelerator, the book coaching program that helps you get your work DONE—and they have two free webinars coming up. Details:


Author Accelerator is excited to team up with Writers Helping Writers to showcase the NEW Character Builder tool in the One Stop for Writers software.

Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi from One Stop for Writers and Author Accelerator coach Julie Artz will be co-hosting a free Character Clinic webinar on Tuesday, October 8 at 11 AM Pacific. During the event Julie, will be coaching a writer through the character work they have done using the Character Builder.

We encourage everyone to register for the event even if you cannot attend live, as a replay will be sent to everyone who has registered.



Jennie Nash developed the Inside Outline in her work as a book coach, and it has been tested in the trenches by hundreds of writers. It can be used to help you start a book, to help you rescue one that isn’t working, and to guide a revision.

We're hosting another webinar about this life-changing writing tool on Monday, October 14 at Noon Pacific/2 PM Central/3 PM Eastern.

We encourage everyone to register for the event even if you cannot attend live, as a replay will be sent to everyone who has registered.


The image in our podcast illustration is by Markus Spiske 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.)

KJ:                                        00:01                    Hey there listeners, KJ here. In this episode, you’ll hear both me and Sarina give a shout-out to Author Accelerator’s Inside-Outlining process. The Inside-Outline is a took that helps you make sure your book has a strong enough spine to support the story you want to tell. It forces you to spot the holes in your character’s arc and your story logic before you throw 50 thousand words on the page—without being the kind of outline that feels limiting to writers who prefer to see where the story takes you. #AmWriting listeners have exclusive access to a free download that describes what the outline is, why it works and how to do it—and if you’re writing fiction or memoir, I highly encourage you to grab it. Use it before you write, while you’re writing or even as you’re doing final revisions to give your story the momentum that keeps readers turning pages. Only at https://www.authoraccelerator.com/amwriting. Is it recording?

Jess:                                     00:01                    Now it's recording. Go ahead.

KJ:                                        00:01                    This is the part where I stare blankly at the microphone like I don't remember what I was supposed to be doing.

Jess:                                     00:01                    All right, let's start over.

KJ:                                        00:01                    Awkward pause, I'm going to rustle some papers.

Jess:                                     00:01                    Okay.

KJ:                                        00:01                    Now one, two, three. I'm KJ Dell'Antonia and this is #AmWriting. #AmWriting is the weekly podcast about writing all the things, be they fiction, nonfiction, proposals, pitches, essays, freelance work. This is the podcast about sitting down and getting your writing done.

Jess:                                     01:40                    I'm Jess Lahey and I'm the author of the Gift of Failure and a book I'm just finishing, it's due so soon, on preventing childhood substance abuse and you can also find me at the Washington Post and The Atlantic and the New York Times and places like that.

Sarina:                                 01:55                    And I'm Sarina Bowen. I'm the author of 30 odd, contemporary romance novels and you can find me at sarinabowen.com.

KJ:                                        02:02                    They're not all odd. Sorry, I just had to, some of them, though. I am KJ Dell'Antonia, I always hit the softballs, and I am the author of How To Be a Happier Parent, the former editor of the New York Times' Motherlode blog, you can still find me as a contributor there. And I'm the author of a novel, The Chicken Sisters, which will be out next summer. That's who we are and we are downright giddy with joy today for Jess who is on the downhill slide, the good downhill slide.

Jess:                                     02:49                    I'm just so discombobulated. So here's where I am. The day that we're recording this, I'm 14 days out from my book deadline. I am going to make it. I'm in the stretch, I'm in that place where nothing else happens. I haven't left the house in days. I am barely getting dressed in the morning. Yesterday I wrote for 14 hours straight, literally all I stopped to do a couple of times was let the dogs out and grab something that I'd already prepared and stuck in the refrigerator and microwave that. So, I'm in a crazy space, but there's something a little fun about being in that full deep dive. Like this is all I think about and my family's being really lovely. They're cooking for me, they're doing the laundry. I've got a lot of support, so that's great.

KJ:                                        03:46                    Is this what the last deadline felt like, too? I do not remember.

Jess:                                     03:50                    Well, here's the thing, I was talking to someone about that just recently. Writing a book is like having children, you forget a lot of the worst parts because you know, we'd never have children again if we remembered it all. And honestly, I handed in Gift of Failure a whole day early. I was very proud of myself. I don't remember it being this bonkers.

KJ:                                        04:14                    I don't remember it being this bonkers for you. But I do remember all the bad parts about having children, but I'm not sure I remember the bad parts about you having children.

Jess:                                     04:25                    Well keep in mind also, I learned a lot from doing Gift of Failure. So a lot of the editing that I had to do after the fact I'm now doing before the fact. It's really funny, every time I compile a chapter in Scrivener and then put it into Word for submitting to our agent and then later on to the editor, I've got this huge list of 'Have you done this?', 'Have you done that?' So when I finish a chapter, it takes me like two hours to go through all of my lists. Like search for all recurrences of the word that, and then remove like 50% of them. Have you used a hyphen the right way? How many commas are there? You know, that kind of crazy stuff that just saves Lori from having to remind me that I overuse the word that. So, yeah, there's a lot of my launch codes that have to be run before I submit. I don't remember it being this bonkers.

KJ:                                        05:31                    This is your experience of finishing this book. Who knows? Like last time, maybe not quite like this. Next time, who knows?

Jess:                                     05:39                    It's interesting. I did learn a lot last time and I feel better about what I'm producing this time simply because last time I didn't know. I was like, I had no idea if my editor was going to come back and say this is great or this is ridiculously bad. Because I had nothing, I had never done it before, I had nothing to judge it against. So this is really a different experience for me in a good way. In that number one, she's seen chapters as we go along and I've already gotten feedback on those chapters and oh my gosh, she loves it and that makes me so happy. But she's also been able to give me feedback and I've been able to change direction. So like the chapter I handed in last night is different from the previous three chapters because she'd given me feedback on those previous three chapters, which I'll go back and fix later. But I'm able to make course corrections midway, which has been really great. It has helped me eliminate a lot of work on the other end. So yeah, it's different. The answer to your question is I think it's different.

KJ:                                        06:44                    I'm just probably different every, it's probably different every time up to a point. And now we turn to the author of some 30 odd books, Sarina. Is it different every time, up until it suddenly isn't different or is it still different every time?

Sarina:                                 07:00                    You know, I am trying to make it less the same every time. Because you and I, KJ, have spent a lot of time lately thinking about outlining. And I'm trying to shift my whole game towards becoming a better outliner so that I don't have a repeat experience, which is 'freak out about the ending on every single book'.

Jess:                                     07:26                    Well, but one thing I wanted to ask you about is you just recently had basically what I'm going through right now except with editing. And that seemed pretty intense for you. Does that stay the same or has that changed and does it depend on whether you're working with a coauthor?

Sarina:                                 07:41                    Well, I shot myself in the foot a little bit and set up a month where I had to do edits on two books in the same month. And that that was just either bad luck or bad planning, take your pick. But I find it quite exhausting to have to make everything perfect on two books in a row where you don't give yourself the fun part of drafting and inventing in between to break up the tedium of perfection.

Jess:                                     08:09                    Oh, that's a good point.

KJ:                                        08:12                    When I was doing the big edit of my novel, I couldn't draft. I thought it was going to be able to. If you go back about eight podcasts, I'm like, 'I'm going to do both. I'm going to edit a little every day and I'll write a little every day. And that lasted a week. Mostly because the editing was just more intense. Drafting is fun, sometimes. Editing is fun, sometimes. Making things perfect, maybe not so much.

Jess:                                     08:46                    Well, the 14 hours I spent yesterday were sort of a combination of the two. Mainly it was editing, which can be really tedious and all that stuff. But yesterday I did get to have one of those moments where it got a little buzzy and I was like, 'Oh, I like that.' I got to have those, even in the editing process. In fact, I changed how the chapter ended and I had one of those sort of moments where it feels like the minor chord changes to a major chord and there's that big breath you can take at the end and you're like, 'Ah, it works.' It was really a nice moment. And that happened in editing, so that was really fun.

KJ:                                        09:29                    I just don't think I have ever had an experience of writing that feels like what I hear you reflecting. So part of me is sitting thinking should I be writing for 14 hours a day? That's not something that's up. I mean, I've had a full time writing job that sometimes took that, but I wouldn't have been writing the whole time. I would've been writing and editing and screaming and coding and frantically going through the comments and all the other things. The intensity with which you are writing right now is not something that I have ever experienced.

Jess:                                     10:06                    Okay. Here's the thing, though. It's not about the intensity and it's not about the amount of time. The only, and this is really helpful information for me, the only times I have gotten this really serious - it's like a runner's high kind of thing. It's a writer's high. And the times I get it, reliably, are when I'm writing creative nonfiction. It happened when I wrote for Creative Nonfiction. That piece 'I've Taught Monsters'. It's happening in this book and the good news is that my editor is encouraging me to write more that way and less like a research paper, which is great cause I get less of it when I write that sort of sciency kind of stuff. But it's nice to know that there is this genre that gives me writer's high and it's the stuff I like to read the most. So, it's kind of like knowing what your sweet spot is. So for me it's a genre.

KJ:                                        10:56                    That is the perfect segue into the topic, which I have gathered us here today to discuss. Which is - what we write, how much we choose that, and how much it chooses us, and how we feel about it. Which is a very complicated way of saying that I had a crisis of confidence last week in which I sort of sat down on the bed, convinced that the fact that I do not and will not and never going to write literary fiction, basically meant that I had wasted my entire education.

Sarina:                                 11:36                    Well, I have a crisis of confidence pretty much every day at noon schedule.

KJ:                                        11:56                    I wouldn't call it a crisis of confidence, though. I like the book that I wrote, and I like How To Be a Happier Parent, and I like the work that I do, and I like the experience that I have doing it. But I have frequently had the experience of feeling like I should be doing something else. When I spent years writing about parenting for the New York Times, it was the gutter of New York Times writing when I was doing it. And it may be that the experience has changed, but you know, it wasn't something really important like sports. It wasn't finance, it wasn't politics, although it frequently was finance, and it frequently was politics. I just would often feel like, you know, a smart person should be doing something else. And I'm having a little bit of that same feeling, you know, contemplating my undeniably fun romp of a book, which I enjoyed writing and is exactly the kind of thing that I like to read. But, then I just sort of think you go to the bookstore right now and everything is sort of really deep, and dark, and meaningful, and apocalyptic.

Sarina:                                 13:31                    Sorry, I have some things to say. Well, first of all, my ghetto is located down the alleyway, you know, past a flap of tattered burlap, from your ghetto. Because romance writers are very accustomed to being in a ghetto that is ghetto-ier than everyone else's. And in fact, I remember this hilarious essay that Jennifer Wiener wrote for the New York Times a couple of years ago about going to the Princeton reunion as a commercial fiction author. And I remember tweeting to her, 'Well, you know, I sometimes roll up to the Yale reunion as a writer of occasionally erotic romance. And so, my ghetto mocks your ghetto. But, the funny thing is that Jennifer Wiener, I love her so much, and her favorite book of mine is a work of gay romance. So, she totally gets it. It was just a funny moment. And romance authors are very much accustomed to this idea of you're not a real author even if you're making six figures because there's a guys chest on the cover of your book. And we all have days where that doesn't seem fair or you get the weird look from the mom at the soccer game. But I always tell people who are struggling with this, that when you write some amazing line of dialogue, or that thing that happened in chapter two comes back as the perfect call out in chapter nine, it doesn't matter what you're writing that in, you feel just as good about it either way. When it works, it works.

Jess:                                     15:36                    In the end, you're a storyteller. I mean the whole point of being a writer is to express yourself in stories. And frankly, you have told me on this podcast that there are awards for literary stuff that are out there that automatically mean they're books that you're not going to like. And you don't want to be trying to write that stuff because it would stink. Because you don't like writing it, you don't even like reading.

KJ:                                        16:13                    I feel fine, I'm super excited about my book. In some ways, I'm more excited about it than I was about the nonfiction. It's funny how I think we all do this to ourselves. How I think we all have a should. And do you have a should at all?

Jess:                                     17:10                    For me, because the stuff I really like to write about has to do with children's welfare, and ways prisons could be better and help kids. I really do love writing that stuff. The problem with that stuff is not a lot of people care, even though it's about kids. You know, as soon as you start talking about prisons or something, people are like, 'Yeah, yeah, whatever.' I get upset that I don't write that stuff more, because I feel like I should. Because that feels like if I were really doing my job and using the bullhorn that I have, because I'm lucky enough to have an audience, I need to be writing stuff that's more worthy. And so that can be really tough, cause sometimes I just want to write an essay about fishing with my dad. So yeah, I feel that, too. Should I be using these words to help kids be better or do I get to just enjoy writing?

KJ:                                        18:11                    I had an idea for a new question we should ask everyone that comes on the podcast - 'What do you write when you write in your head?' You know what I mean? James Thurber used to tell, a possibly apocryphal story, about how his wife would walk up to him at parties and say, 'James, stop writing'.

Jess:                                     18:33                    It's definitely creative nonfiction. I just thought about it and yeah, that's what I'm writing in my head.

KJ:                                        18:40                    Are you writing essays or are you writing like opinions? Sarina, what do you write when you write in your head?

Sarina:                                 18:49                    Well, I always am happy to admit that I'm a little bit trapped in romance at the moment. Because I have a platform and the bigger it gets, the harder it is for me to find tons of enthusiasm for striking out in a new direction.

KJ:                                        19:06                    And you're kind of good at it.

Sarina:                                 19:08                    Well, thank you.

Jess:                                     19:09                    She's also incredibly good at YA, too. My favorite book of your happens to be a YA novel.

Sarina:                                 19:18                    I actually love YA and I would like to write more of it. The Accidentals was a really good time for me to write. But the thing about YA though is that I don't love where the market for it is right now. So very objectively, I am not sorry that I'm not trying to sell something into that space right now. I might next year, perhaps. But not because I think the market will be any better next year. I don't love the direction of the young adult market and what's happening with it. So even though I feel suited to write it, even potentially better suited than I am to romance, that would be a really tough decision to make.

Jess:                                     20:06                    KJ, what do you write in your head?

KJ:                                        20:11                    I'm not necessarily sure that the question reflects like what we've written, I think it also reflects what we are accustomed to write. I write essays in my head. Sometimes they're angry, ranty essays. Sometimes they turn into actual essays, and sometimes they turn into actual angry, ranty essays. I recently penned an epic called 'Why Salad Is Just Too Hard'.

Jess:                                     20:47                    I'm not going to talk about the details, but on the personal side, besides writing this book, there's a lot that's going on right now in my life. There's a lot I want to remember about what's going on in my life right now. There has been some funny and tragic and weird things that have happened. And it's been really frustrating for me not to have the extra time to sit down and write a lot of that down, so I've had to just jot down notes. But that's the stuff I've been writing in my head because I need to process that stuff. And the way I process is by writing creative nonfiction essays about it in my head. So, it's really weird. It's sort of like I'm constantly sorting through the weirdness of my life in terms of creative nonfiction essays. It's very bizarre.

Sarina:                                 21:49                    So you're saying you have an inner David Sedaris?

Jess:                                     21:52                    Yeah, I guess I have thought about it that way and also feeling bad that I don't have time to do what the crazy manic thing he does everyday. Obsessively writing notes and then transcribing those notes, because ideally that's what I would be doing right now if I had time, because so much is happening in my personal life right now that I'm afraid I'm gonna forget. If this was a perfect world, I would have two hours a day to process my notes into writing that I would then do something with eventually down the line. But I don't have time.

KJ:                                        22:25                    I feel like you can only mentally do that if your day job is bartending or something. It's like if you're writing all day then to sit down and also write...

Jess:                                     22:40                    I'm out of words, this happened during Gift of Failure, too. Although, during Gift of Failure somehow I was writing a column every two weeks, too. I don't know how that worked, I honestly have no memory of it, I've blocked it out. Since we're talking about people who have had a crisis of confidence, I have a cool story. It's about a book I read recently. So, there was this article in The Guardian that just just killed me it was so good. It was written by Alison Flood. It was in The Guardian recently and is about an author named Adrian McKinty. And Adrian McKinty has been in the media recently because he has a book called The Chain that was really a fun listen and I really liked it. And I was curious about what this guy's all about because it turns out he's written a bunch of mysteries in the past. He's been an author for a long time, he's written a lot of stuff, stuff that got critical acclaim, but just no one else read it apparently. So there's this article in The Guardian and it's called 'From Uber Driving to Huge Book Deal: Adrian McKinty's Life-Changing Phone Call'. Get this, so Adrian McKinty has decided to give up, he's decided I can't support my family as an author, he's Uber driving, he's working a couple of jobs just to make ends meet. Even though his books have gotten great reviews and critical acclaim, he's giving up. So he had mentioned this to Don Winslow, huge author Don Winslow, at a conference. This freaks Don Winslow out because Don Winslow has been through something like this, a similar situation, and he doesn't want Adrian McKinty to give up. So Don Winslow tells his agent Shane Salerno that Adrian McKinty is giving up writing. And Shane Salerno calls Adrian McKinty and says, 'Don tells me you've given up writing and I just don't think you should do that. Have you thought about writing a book set in the U.S.?' So Adrian McKinty has had an idea for a book and he writes 30 pages of it, like bangs out 30 pages of this book that he'd been thinking about. And at around three in the morning, he hands it in and at 4:15, the phone rings. And here's what Shane Salerno,agent to Don Winslow says, 'Forget bartending. Forget driving a bloody Uber.' Salerno said, 'You're writing this book.'. And he's like, 'No, I can't. I can't support my family.' He gets an offer of some short-term financial support from Shane Salerno. He's like, 'You need some money, just to get by so you can write this thing? I'll help.' Anyway, he writes the book, he gets a huge book deal for it, and then an even huger film deal. He got a six figure deal for The Chain and a seven figure deal for The Chain as a film. So yeah, he didn't quit. It's a crazy story. It's just nuts. Well, what was cool about it is that he had this idea for these two - it's sort of like when Stephen King talks about how he got the idea for Carrie - it was these two ideas that didn't work on their own, but when they came together, bang, there's a plot. So he had this thing kind of marinating in there, but he pushed back pretty hard. He's like, 'Nope, I'm done. No, really.' And there's also a nice moment when he gets the film deal, McKinty says to Salerno, 'I said, mate, you should have told me to sit down first. Can you say it all again really slowly as if you're talking to an idiot?' So anyway, it was a cool story. You might not love it, it's a people in peril sort of story, but a very cool idea. This is not a spoiler because it's right there on the book, but essentially your kid gets kidnapped and the only way your kid gets returned is if you kidnap another kid. and so on, and so on, and so on. So anyway, it's gonna make a killer movie. It's just compulsively read. I listened and it was a great listen. So anyway, cool story.

KJ:                                        27:45                    So are we on what we're reading?

Jess:                                     27:48                    Well, I don't know. Would we like to talk about what happened with the New York Times book lists?

KJ:                                        27:52                    Oh yeah, that's right. Speaking of ghettos and having your ghetto sort of semi-recognized, but not really.

Jess:                                     28:00                    Yeah, The Times is changing their lists. Who would like to take this one? Sarina?

Sarina:                                 28:27                    My response was that this isn't even news. Because what they've expanded is that they brought back something they cut more than a year ago, which was the mass market paperback list used to be a weekly list and they also cut graphic novels at exactly the same time. So, bringing it back as a monthly is a non-event, especially because what sells in mass market paperback is a lot of romance and genre fiction.

Jess:                                     29:00                    So Sarina, for our listeners who may not be as familiar, I would say, 'Sarina, why aren't you super excited about that? Mass market means romance. Why aren't you excited?'

Sarina:                                 29:11                    Because the romance market keeps moving further and further away from mass market fiction. So they cut it at the moment when it could have made a difference and now it's just not interesting.

Jess:                                     29:23                    For anyone who may not know, what does mass market mean?

KJ:                                        29:26                    They actually haven't changed it on their website, the lists still look the same.

Sarina:                                 29:32                    Right. It says the new lists don't even hit print until the end of October. So mass market is those rack sized books that they have at the grocery store. The market for those fundamentally changed a few years ago when the distribution company that was handling most of them stopped doing their business. And then publishers began to move away from mass market paperback and into the trade size, which is the slightly larger paperback you mostly see on tables if you go to a bookstore. So mass market gets two kinds of releases. They get some romance releases, just straight up. It'll be like e-book and that. Or, if you have a mega best seller then you might also get a pocket sized release after your regular paperback release. So by adding this, it's a really strange decision because there aren't that many books that come out in mass market anymore and the romance ones are selling most of their copies in e-book form. So when I read this change I thought, 'Oh the New York Times is trying to make a nod toward romance without having to touch anything that's independently published.' They basically are holding up a sign that says 'Self-published do not apply.'

Jess:                                     30:59                    Here's a question, though. They do have an e-book list, so that wouldn't include self-published books then, is what you're saying?

Sarina:                                 31:10                    Well, the e-book, it's called combined fiction. That's the list they have. They don't have an e-book bestseller list anymore that's just for e-books. Because it would have lots and lots of self-published things on it. And they didn't like that, so they got rid of it.

KJ:                                        31:29                    Yeah, I was going to say there is no e-book list.

Sarina:                                 31:35                    Nope, there was, but there isn't any more.

KJ:                                        31:39                    Speaking of ghettos and not recognized. And I will also just note that they pulled their parenting list at the same time and they didn't even restore that one. They're not even pretending that if you don't manage to make advice and how-to (which some people do) you're just not.

Jess:                                     31:59                    That's going to affect how publishers market books, too. You know, is my next book a parenting book? Is it an advice or how-to? Well, if I'm a smart publisher and I want it to make the list, I'm gonna make sure I push it as an advice or how-to. If I go into a bookstore looking for Gift of Failure it's never in the advice or how-to, it's in the parenting section. But if I were releasing that now, I would say, 'Well, we need to really push this as an advice or how-to.

KJ:                                        32:30                    I don't think, and I could be totally misinformed here, but I think advice, how-to, and miscellaneous incorporates all the other. So it does incorporate parenting and now it'll have to incorporate sports and science, too.

Jess:                                     33:15                    Since I already talked about The Chain, can I also just mention really quickly since we're going to talk about what we're reading? So when I'm in this crazy place like I am right now with this book. It's been really hard for me to find moments to calm down and relax. And I have been relistening to Jane Austen, but specifically, I had been listening to Rosamund Pike read Pride and Prejudice, who had played the sister Jane in one of the film versions of it. But now I'm listening to Sense and Sensibility read by the actress Juliet Stevenson and it's really lovely. And the nice thing about it is my mind can wander, because I already know the stories by heart. It's like when your kids are really, really little and they love having the same story read over and over and over again. I think that's soothing on some very primal level for me, so that's what I've been listening to.

KJ:                                        34:25                    Yeah, definitely relistening is really good for that. I've been relistening to something that I have listened to twice already, partly just for that. Some of the reasons I had to listen to it was that one of my children was compelled to memorize the Declaration of International Human Rights or something along those lines. And said child required both an audience and to do that out loud, but did not actually require you to listen. So, earbuds, that's what I have to say about that particular experience. I do have some books, but Sarina, you want to go?

Sarina:                                 35:13                    Yeah, I just bought a hardcover copy of Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center. Because not only did KJ like this book, but she told me that I would love it.

KJ:                                        35:25                    That was the one I was sitting here before the podcast going, 'I know I read something I really liked recently. What did I read?' That was what it was! Found it. Now I have to change mine.

Jess:                                     35:44                    What is Things You Save in a Fire? Is it nonfiction? Is it fiction? What's happening?

KJ:                                        35:48                    It is flat out romance that has been marketed as commercial women's fiction and it is that, as well. But I see nothing about the story that violates the genre rules of romance. It is not one of those things where there are two people and only one of them gets her... We've talked about this before, the line is interesting and strange. And this one is a clear, fun, rollicking trip to the H E A. That would be the happily ever after.

Jess:                                     36:22                    So it's not going to give me any guidance about what I should save if my house catches on fire.

KJ:                                        36:27                    No, how-to and miscellaneous it is not.

Jess:                                     36:32                    Alright, sorry. KJ, what have you been reading?

KJ:                                        36:36                    That's it, I read that, I really liked it, it was really good. She has an amazing Instagram feed, too. Her name is Katherine Center and she is an artist, as well as a writer. So she paints on the books, which is killer. And as a doodler, I'm thinking I'm going to doodle on my books. I'm going to doodle chickens on my books for Instagram and I cannot wait to do it.

Jess:                                     37:00                    Oh, that's a really cool idea. I like it. I can't wait. I have a cool bookstore for this week. When we first moved to Vermont, of course I had to go looking for all the independent bookstores in the area. And I've talked about some of them, but I have not talked about this lovely little one. There is a little town near us called Shelburne that has the sweetest little town center, there's a gorgeous museum that has all these old buildings from all over Vermont and New England that have been restored. And across the street from that is this little little village, it's really cute. And in that village is a lovely little bookstore called The Flying Pig Bookstore. It is small, but it is lovely, and they really know their books. And I have been trying to order my books through there because I can ride my bike to it, which is nice. I have a little basket on the front of my bike and so I have this very romantic vision of riding to my local bookstore and picking up my books and putting them in the basket of my bike. These are the kinds of things I live for at the moment, so I highly recommend it.

Sarina:                                 38:09                    Sounds great, I think you should take us there when we see you next.

Jess:                                     40:10                    Alright. Are we good, people? Have we done our job this week?

KJ:                                        40:16                    And let me just say that if you agree and think that we have done our job, we hope you'll head over to amwritingpodcast.com and sign up for our weekly email. You get a transcript of all the things about riding around with your dog in the car and possibly some more useful things as well. And if you really love the podcast and crave more useful things, you can sign up for our writer top fives at the same place. That's a subscription service, supports the podcast, which is and always will be free. Also enables you to get our writer top five lists every Monday. Coming up, we've got top five reasons you should do NaNoWriMo, we've had top five questions you should ask your fictional character, top five reasons you should be on Instagram, we got top five ways to make your reader laugh.

Jess:                                     41:15                    The burnchart one was great. And I can say that because I have nothing to do with them, because as I may have already mentioned, I have no other time to do anything but write this book. So this is all you two and I am so impressed with what you guys have done with these top five. They've been fantastic. I've enjoyed them as a reader that has nothing to do with them at the moment, but I will.

KJ:                                        41:36                    All right, so head over to amwriting podcast.com. Check us out, support us, subscribe to us, and of course as always, subscribe to us and rate us should you care to on iTunes or wherever you listen to your podcast.

Jess:                                     41:59                    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.