A curated collection of the latest and most interesting podcast episodes about the author life.


I’m Valerie Ihsan and I love talking with writers about memoir, story structure, and finding the core message of their books. This week, the podcast episodes cover familial support for your writing, pivoting in your author business (or just riding the waves of change), short stories and how to use them in your author business, and (premonition?) endings—and new beginnings.

On another note, I’ve been a freelance editor for seventeen years and it’s been super satisfying. Plus, being a certified Three Story Method editor allows me to dive into story structure in a way I never could before. (Bonus!) In the last three or four years, I’ve started coaching authors and providing accountability for their projects, and that’s been wildly fulfilling. So much so, that—just this month—I’ve added Book Coaching to my menu of author services.

Here’s to whatever new beginnings are up your sleeve! (clinks glasses)
Happy Writing!

Top 3 Must-Listen Episodes

Writer Craft Podcast // Ep85: Partner or Spousal Support at Home

Do you have familial support for your writing work/passion/business?
What does that look like? Do you talk to your family (or friends) about your work?

My husband is supportive. Financially, emotionally, physically. But I can’t talk business with him. And he doesn’t read my fiction. (He’s interested in the memoirs, though!)

Not reading or liking your work doesn’t mean they aren’t supportive of you as a writer.
Ditto for Erick.

Authors make money, but freelancing is always fraught with Feast or Famine. And writing a book could take years. It’s entirely plausible that you could spend years writing several books and still only have a trickle of income. At some point, there has to be a conversation with the family to acknowledge that, at least, and to have a discussion about comfort levels around the finances.

• First (vital) step is communication.
• Knowing what you want is crucial.
• Having a conversation about what kind of help you need might look like: I need you to take the kid on Saturday because I’m going to write for four hours. Or, Can we move Date Night to Thursday nights, because I want to join a writers group on Tuesday nights?
• If you aren’t getting the support you need:
o Maybe reciprocity might work. “Wednesday is writing night and you have kid duty, and Friday can be poker night for you, and I’ll make dinner for everybody.”
o “Just a hobby… ”statements can be hurtful, and higher level communication may need to happen. Take back the narrative. Don’t let someone define what you are doing in a negative light.

Where are in your author journey? What do you need? How can you get it? What are you struggling with? Who can help you? Is there support you need from home from the non-writer family member?

You’ll find a harmony (with your partner), if you are looking for it.
They can’t read your mind. They don’t know what you need. Especially the non-writers. They don’t know what it takes to create story. So, know what you need, and ask for it.

Also! Even if you are just a baby writer and you hate what you wrote this morning, accept praise. Don’t question fan mail. Let your friends think you’re cool because you are a writer.

“Never question applause.” ~Nicholas Cage

More info…

Activated Authors // Ep119: J. Thorn on Change and Moving Forward

I’ve been following J Thorn for years. (Back from the very beginning of the Petal to the Metal, Writer’s Well, and Career Author podcasts.) I’ve learned from him, attended his Summit, joined his online community, had meals and meetings with him, sought advice (and kombucha) from him. So, when I saw that J was a guest on Activated Authors, I was super interested to hear what else I could learn from him.

Here are some nuggets (in no particular order):
• When asking the big ask, have a “fearless” approach—with respect. All they can say is No.
• The Writer’s Ink podcast benefits: he gets to talk to the most successful authors in the world one-on-one, and THEN, the other conversation happens, after the recording stops. “Tell me what you are working on…,” they say. The conversations and advice he’s received is priceless and has helped him in micro steps along the way.
• False starts are okay. They are just learning opportunities. He acknowledges that his earned privilege means he doesn’t need to write fiction to pay the bills, so he can be patient with those false starts.
• Regarding planning and change: have multiple revenue streams (and lots of ideas because 90+% of them will fail), and everything is a one-off project. Can’t bank on same something for five years. “I want this thing to work. If it does, great. If it does again, great. But don’t expect it.”
• Foundation income for J: small mastermind group provides sustainable income because his lifestyle is “pretty minimal.”
• Annie Duke, World Championship Poker Player, defines concept of Resulting, which means analyzing a game based on the outcome of it. But this is wrong. There are variables within the decision-making process that you can’t control, so you can’t base the quality of your decisions on the outcome. Judge the quality of decisions based on the homework you did at the time you made the decision. If you follow your own best practices, then it was the best decision, regardless of the outcome. J uses this in his whole life. Don’t judge decisions based on outcomes. If the decision-making process is solid, never second guess them.

More info…

The Writer’s Mindset // Writing and Publishing Short Stories (with Matty Dalrymple)

The universe just keeps providing. I’ve had some questions about short stories lately, and I keep receiving anthology opportunities and teachers coming my way. This episode was the icing on the cake.

Matty talks about the differences between writing short vs long (besides the obvious word count), how to structure short stories, and how to know whether what you are writing is a short story or a short novel.

She had some fabulous examples of what to do with those shorts once they are written. Including:
• launching one a month, selling them individually for 99 cents, then collecting them into a twelve-pack and selling them in an omnibus
• finding a similar author to you, writing them a story for which they can provide feedback with the purposes of using their comments as a testimonial/blurb for your other work
• anthologies (and all those benefits)
• networking with a similar author to you and writing a cross-over story that you can both use to grow your audiences (like a newsletter swap, but not)

Promoting a short story differs from novels.
• Include short story titles in back of your books in the Also By This Author section
• Link stories to a monthly theme and showcase it with that month/holiday
• Focus on promoting short fiction to current readers/mailing list

Matty wrote the book Taking the Short Tack: Creating Income and Connecting with Readers Using Short Fiction with Mark Leslie Lefebvre.

More info…

The Latest from The Author Life Podcast


This week authors J. Thorn and Crys Cain make a big announcement about the podcast.

More info…

The Real Question // Endings

Vanessa and Casper talk about endings and beginnings. The Real Question podcast was a Covid project as a “hope sustaining machine.” And now they are envisioning new projects. When you want to create something new, you want to spend the time and energy on it, to nurture it. So, Casper (my favorite host, actually) is leaving the podcast to work on The Nearness. To give space for 8-week journeys of small groups to meet and nurture sacred practice, intimacy, and spirituality.

Vanessa (an atheist chaplain) feels passionately about having a radical commitment to believing in this one life. And she started thinking, “I only have one life, and time and energy is finite, and so when should I let go of something?”

Should I Quit? is the new version of this podcast.
We often grieve that we can’t do everything. Every choice involves a loss. The power of quitting leaves space to do the important things. What values are you living in to by quitting or staying?

They also spend a few minutes at the end of the episode acknowledging that beginnings are also endings of other beginnings. Vanessa brings a clip from the series finale of Gilmore Girls to help her say ‘goodbye,’ and Casper plays a segment of Closing Time by Semisonic.

More info…

Inside The Author Life

Have a good weekend!

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