5 Favorite Serialized Fiction Podcasts

I spend a ton of time in the car since my son’s childcare is pretty far away, so I listen to podcasts to help make the time go faster. That’s how my obsession started, anyway, but now it has morphed into a general love for podcasts and I look forward to times I can listen. It’s a form of therapy, in a way.

I’ve wanted to share my favorite dramatized fiction podcasts with you for a while. I hope you enjoy these and give them a chance!

1. Welcome to Night Vale

This was the podcast that started it all for me. It’s one that I’ve been fortunate enough to attend a live showing of, and it’s the first podcast that I became a true fan of. I’m pretty behind on the episodes right now, due to the fact that I only listen to these when I can give them an almost meditative, rapt sort of attention that I can’t normally make time for these days. But I love this podcast and find it soothing to listen to.

For the initiated, this is a podcast about a creepy desert town called Night Vale, and it’s presented as if you are listening in to their local radio show. The radio host is laughably optimistic despite the weird horror-movie events that happen daily in this strange town, and every crisis is met with a sort of dry humor. It’s funny, it’s quirky, it’s weird, and there is a “weather” break during each episode where you can hear new music that you might not find anywhere else.

2. Limetown

Creepy event that causes an entire town to just up and disappear? Check. Plucky protagonist who refuses to back down from her search for truth despite mysterious enemies threatening her? Check. Edge-of-your-seat suspense? Check.

3. Homecoming

I haven’t finished this one yet, but the suspense, production, and delivery are just fantastic. This is, on the surface, about a woman who works for a therapeutic program that helps veterans adjust to civilian life after returning from deployment. There couldn’t be anything sinister about that, right?

4. Deadly Manners

Funny, suspenseful, and well-produced, this audio drama is a whodunnit that will entertain you and make you laugh. This is one murder-mystery dinner you’ll be happy to attend from the safety of your earbuds!

5. The NoSleep Podcast

I had to include this podcast, not in the least because I’ve been recently featured in it as an author! It has free content and additional stories you can purchase for a fee. These horror stories run the gamut from suspenseful to downright grotesque, if that’s what you’re into. There’s something for the horror fan in everyone! Check out Season 11 and pay for the full episode 4 to listen to my story, Edgar Falls Run.


Writing/Life Update

I’ve gotten two rejections from agents already. Hurray! That means I’ve started the process and I’m a real writer! ūüėČ I’ll be resubmitting to more as soon as possible. I also got some exciting publishing news: My first-ever horror story was published in audio on The NoSleep Podcast!

At first I thought it was odd that a piece of horror would be one of my first published pieces. Most people I know probably wouldn’t peg me for a horror author. But then I realized that it might actually make sense. I have many anxieties, so why wouldn’t I be able to communicate those in story form? Those of us who feel fear can probably write about it all day! Yay for turning negative emotions into art!

Speaking of anxieties, we’re currently trying to figure out where we want to live next, as our time in our teeny-tiny apartment may be coming to a close soon. Where is that new, bigger, place going to be? I have no idea, but the search is consuming much of my mental and emotional energy.

Til’ next time, folks! Thanks for reading this far and for your support!

I Finished my Book. I Repeat: I Finished my Book!

Today, my husband watched my son (one of many times he has done this for me) while I finished the final draft of my first novel. And, amazingly, at the end of my writing session, I decided: It’s done. It’s ready.

One caveat: I am having someone else look at it for small things and copy edits, but other than that, I’m calling it. No more tweaking, people! Hands off!

This has been about two years in the making, and during the second year I experienced a lot of changes in my life, including having a precious baby boy! One of my biggest fears about becoming a mother was losing myself and losing my writing. And so, I have clung to it tooth and nail, making sure that my writing didn’t become lost.

And I had a lot of help.

My husband watches my son often so I can write. My mom even watched him once so I could get some time in. I’ve learned to use naps and even, in the newborn stages, nursing time as writing time. Because I have had to be so intentional about making writing a priority, I think it has instilled good writing habits in me. My husband even made the comment once that I actually seem to write¬†more now that I am a mom.

I don’t think this is far from the truth. While I was still on maternity leave, I entered and got first place in a creative nonfiction contest. In October, when my son got to celebrate his first Halloween, I got to celebrate my publication in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, a fiction article I wrote during a lunch break at work.

My son has done nothing but enrich my life in a million ways since he has come into the world. He’s made me more efficient and compassionate and appreciative of so many things that I used to take for granted. And the restrictions on my time have bolstered my resolve to hold on to the things that are important to me.

Not long ago, I attended a writer’s event where someone made a comment to the effect of “So, I guess you’ll be writing again in about 18 years, huh?” and I was horrified at the implication. Who would give up their passion just because they had a child? What kind of example does that give to a child when their mother obsesses only over them and has no interests of her own?

For me, the things that used to be important to me are still important to me. The thing that has changed is that my son is the most important thing.

“No, I’m still writing,” I said to the dubious writer, and went on to give a few of the ways I found time to write.

Is my house kind of dirty a lot of the time? Sure. Does my husband cook a lot of (okay all of) the time? Yep. But am I happy and following my dreams? Yes.

Anyway, all this is to say that it has been a big year. And because of that, I haven’t written in this blog often, because I couldn’t justify spending time writing a blog post when I could be using that precious time to work on my book.

But I finished the book :).

Here’s the final shakedown of the numbers for this bad boy. For those friends who have been asking me about it every now and then, maybe you will understand now why it has taken so long, because, I’ve realized, I almost have enough pages/words for¬†two books I think.

Finished

This puppy is big. It’s so big that during the last few months, Microsoft Word has had enough of my antics and is “not responding” for a few seconds every time I try to save it. Pssh. It’ll forgive me soon, I know.

Thanks for reading. Here’s to finding an agent, pursuing the next steps, and getting to work on other writing projects!

 

 

What’s on the Fridge?: A Character Writing Exercise

man-drinking-clipart
Image courtesy of Karen Arnold on publicdomainpictures.net

A common piece of writing advice when it comes to characterization is to show rather than tell. But how do we do that? I have created an example scenario with one possible way to do this for your characters. This is by no means the only way to characterize someone, but this is one possible tool.

I was editing my novel when I took a quick trip for a coffee refill. I opened the fridge for the almond milk that I use as a creamer (See One Poo at a Time if you want to know why I use that instead of regular milk).

While doing this, I really looked at my fridge for the first time in a while. I thought about how it might look to another person, maybe somebody who didn’t know me. It inspired this character-building exercise.

Let’s look at what’s on my fridge together. I’m going to use this as an exercise to show how something as simple as this can explain so much about a character.

Things on my fridge:

  • Family photos
  • A Medela magnet that shows how long breast milk stays unspoiled at different temperatures
  • A magnet showing the poison control phone number
  • A stack of unfilled recall slips for various baby products (3+)
  • Two scanned sheets of baby food recipes from a book

I’m going to pretend that I’m not talking about myself and make up some explanations for what these things could say about me (These guesses may or may not be true!).

The family photos show that I’m a woman with a family and a child.

Secondly the Medela magnet shows that I’m breastfeeding. If you were writing me as a book character, maybe you’d think I value natural things and that I’m a little bit of a “crunchy” mom.

The poison control number posted on the fridge probably shows that I’m safety-minded. The unfilled recall slips say the same thing, except they could say something else as well, since they haven’t been filled out or sent off yet.

The fact that I’ve collected the 3+ recall registration slips means that I value safety, at least in theory. However, why aren’t they filled out by now?

Maybe I’m not very organized or I’m just busy. Maybe I hate filling out paperwork, even the easy kind. Maybe I’m extremely forgetful. Maybe I’m not actually all that worried about recalls, but I feel like I should turn them in anyway, so they sit on the fridge for weeks with good intentions but no follow-through. Maybe I’m just really overwhelmed with tasks (many new moms are!).

The baby food recipes can also tell you a few things, especially combined with the Medela magnet that tells you I’m breastfeeding. I may be an overachiever mom. The person who put these things up wants to breastfeed and make her baby’s food from scratch, which suggests she cares a lot about the way things are done in regard to her child.

However, where it might get interesting is in the speculation. Seeing the stack of unfilled forms, would we wonder if this character actually makes all of her baby’s food? Does she have time for that? Or is it just another good intention?

Now let’s put the character in a situation. Let’s say someone the character knows tries to give her baby a taste of a new type of store-bought baby food while the character isn’t around and without her permission. She finds out about it later. How do you think the character might react, just based on what you have seen here?

She would probably freak out a little, right? Based on what we know about the character being very concerned about her son’s feeding and safety?

Are you starting to see how these simple things, like the state of one’s fridge, can give insight to a character?

Here are some other ideas of things you can look for and describe in a character’s home to help characterize them. Describe the things:

  • Hung on the walls
  • Saved to the desktop of their computer (also overall cleanliness, order, or disorder)
  • On their desk (objects, style, cleanliness, order, disorder)
  • On their coffee table – also could be any other furniture around the house (objects on, tidiness, dust or shine, books)
  • In the medicine cabinet – self-explanatory!
  • In/on their front or back lawn, if the character has one.
  • Said in their¬† bumper stickers (I realized when writing this that I missed a valuable opportunity to include this for some of my book characters!)

To try this exercise out, just choose one of these areas and start describing it with one of your characters in mind.

Have fun, and if you complete the exercise feel free to share your lists in the comments!

 

 

Things that Help Me Through the Day

If you know me, you’ve probably heard about my family’s crazy days. I often end up with a 2-hour total commute most days of the week. Needless to say, our family is pretty busy! And as a new mommy, I need a few things to get me through my day and keep my energy up.

I’m going to share some things that really bring joy to my day. Even if you’re not a mom, I would recommend several of these things!

The Daily Boost

I listen to The Daily Boost podcast pretty much every week. Sometimes I listen to the podcast several times in a row, just so it can sink in. I love it because Scott Smith, the creator, always has a positive message that is also tempered with practicality. I always feel encouraged after listening and motivated to go after my personal goals.

If you’re interested in listening to this podcast, they offer a free episode every Monday.

I listen to many other podcasts since I spend a lot of time in the car, but that’s for another post.

Yoga Nidra for Sleep

Before I had a baby, I would have told you, “No, that’s impossible!” if you said I would have to learn to sleep on command. But when a newborn sleeps in short spurts and you get anxiety wondering how long you’ll get to sleep this time, you need a way to calm yourself down and take advantage of the sleep you do get!

For me, this Yoga Nidra for Sleep recording has been a lifesaver, helping me fall asleep without worrying about the next day or how soon I’ll need to wake up. Even before I had my son I used this recording, but now I rely on it even more.

I have never honestly heard the entire thing to the end, because I always fall asleep! I don’t know if it works for everyone this way, but I really can’t recommend it enough.

Mom & Baby Yoga

I have to admit that I’m a little disappointed in the lack of in-person mom and baby yoga classes. I don’t live in a big city, where I assume this sort of thing is more popular, so I went to the internet instead.

My back hurts often from nursing and carrying around my bundle of joy, but since I get to spend so little time with my son during the day, I don’t like taking time away from him to do my stretching!

Here are some videos I found that have some nice Mom & Baby yoga moves that I’ve found to be fun and safe for us.

My son likes to play with my hair as I go into a downward facing dog pose, and then he laughs when my face pops back up as I go into plank pose :). As an added benefit, I always feel a bit more calm after this!

Writing Update

I’m currently in the 3rd round of edit for my upcoming science fiction novel, with 7 out of 40 chapters edited.

I’ll have my best beta reader (my husband) read it after this round, and barring any changes he might suggest, I plan to go ahead and start shopping around for an agent after that.

My current goal is to get through 2 chapters each week.

Thanks for Reading!

Thanks for reading! Tell me in the comments: What gets you through the day? What are your favorite podcasts? How do you get yourself relaxed for sleep?

This post’s featured image is sourced from Pixabay by jill111, free for commercial use.

 

Life & Write

It’s been a while. Hey there. Here’s some updates on life and writing.

Life

I’ve cut out soy (in addition to the milk I already cut out) from my diet on the suggestion of my son’s doctor. If you’re just now hearing about my food elimination adventure, see my previous post about milk protein intolerance. Eliminating soy seemed daunting at first, but it turned out to be much easier to manage than I thought, mostly because I had already cut out so many food choices by eliminating milk that we only had to refine our shopping list and substitute a few items. It also doesn’t hurt that I have the most supportive spouse ever. He’s been crucial in helping me stay on the nursing path.

So much for being the woman who, when people asked, “Are you going to do formula or breastfeed?” replied, “I think I’ll¬†try¬†nursing, but if it’s too much work I won’t make myself crazy over it.” How carefree. How¬†blas√©! How…not how things went at all.

It was too much work. It hurt at first. It made me crazy. And, two eliminated food allergens later, I’m sticking with it. Just more proof that pre-mom me had no idea what mom-me was going to be like.

I like mom-me. She’s stronger than I realized. She also has a huge thing about germs but, hey, we all have things to work on.

Writing

It was a pretty good month for submitting stuff. I’ve been working diligently on some poetry and short stories. I’ve submitted to four different publications this month.

I’ve been working on a third round of edit for my novel, which I had taken a short break from after the birth of my son. Those I know who haven’t written books are always acting surprised that I’m still editing it. Those of you who are writers probably know…3 rounds of edit is probably on the low side ;). I’m taking it slow and steady. There’s no rush and I want the final product to be something worthwhile. I’m also allowing myself to devote some time to shorter and newer projects so that I don’t get burnt out. I do, however have a weekly chapter goal that I’m trying to stick to.

If you’ve read this entire post, thank you! There isn’t a lot of how-to information here to enrich you or anything particularly witty. Just me waving my hand through this blog and saying, “Hey. I’m still around.” Are you still around? Leave me a comment :).

We Made It!

It's a boy!
It’s a boy!

My son has entered the world! I have a beautiful, healthy, sweet baby boy. We’re so happy and grateful for our new addition to our family! I’ve been taking a break from blogging to adjust to mommyhood.

Even though it’s been quiet here on the blog, I’ve still been writing. I’m currently 10,000 words deep into a short story that I started the week before my due date. I’m almost finished with the first draft and I hope to have it done in the next few days. I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s a sci-fi story (I suppose I’m on a bit of a sci-fi kick) that will contain my first attempt at a real twist ending. How have I done this, you ask? Well, let’s just say I’m a lot better at multitasking now. And it’s completely possible to type while nursing.

Before I go I want to give a little plug for a contest I’m entering, and there’s still a day left to enter! It closes at the end of tomorrow. If you want to participate, it’s a contest for any 200-word excerpt written by you. It can be published previously or not. Join me and give it a whirl if you want! You can enter here.

 

Today’s my Due Date

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Photo courtesy of Axelle B from Publicdomainpictures.net

As I sit here, I’m writing on my baby’s due date.

I can barely believe it’s here. And yet, today is really just like any other day. Babies often don’t come on their due dates. They come when they’re ready. We’ll see what happens!

As I shrug off the anxious requests for updates with yet another “No, nothing yet [I did say I’d tell you, right??],” it’s natural to want to consider what this new change is going to mean for my life.

I know that once my son is here, nothing will ever be the same again. But I am determined about one thing. It¬†won’t mean an end to my writing. I will continue to do it, because it makes me feel happy. Most of all, it’s what brings me meaning in my life. So even if I need to slip it into little windows of time, I’m going to make sure I take that time.

I’ve spent the last few weeks of my pregnancy writing poetry and submitting to some online journals in the hope that maybe I’ll get some nice surprises during or after my maternity leave. I think there is always a way to keep doing something you love, if you want it badly enough.

I am curious about whether it really is like people say: That having a child is like discovering a room [an undiscovered capacity for love] inside yourself that you never knew was there before. If that’s true, I can hardly see how that would be a bad thing! If anything, I think connecting to a human experience like that can only enrich my writing.

And hey, I’ve even heard that people are more creative while sleepy, and who is more sleep-deprived than a new parent?

My book is still with two beta readers, and I haven’t decided whether I’ll bring in more or not yet. We’ll see!

Now I’m going to go work on a short story, because

  1. It’s going to distract me from the uncertainty of not knowing when the baby will arrive.
  2. The baby hasn’t yet arrived and that means I can still get a few more writing projects started before things get crazy! ūüôā
  3. I’m finally feeling a bit more recovered after finishing my book draft, so it’s time to start working on some bigger stuff again[besides poetry!].

Next time I post here, I might have my babe here! What a thought.

 

I have a new home

I have a new home. Two new homes, really. I’m attempting to live in both at one time.

One is this new website and blog that I’ve created after a long time away from blogging. If you’ve known me for longer than two years, then ¬†you’ll know I used to sustain a photography blog. I let it smolder and sizzle out into nothing when I decided that I wanted to talk about more than just photography and shift my focus primarily on the craft of creative writing instead.

It also took some time for me to rationalize spending time on a blog instead of working on my novel. Did I mention that yet? No? Oh, sorry. I’m working on a novel. That’s probably going to be a large part of what I discuss here, along with general thoughts on writing.

I realized I needed an outlet for my thoughts on writing when, after a particularly scintillating and life-affirming writing session, I started to write a Facebook post about my thoughts on revision and craft. It was only after the paragraphs and lines kept spinning out of me like a never-ending skein of yarn that I realized I had a little more to say than what would be appropriate for a Facebook post. I decided it would be more merciful to allow my dear friends to opt into these thoughts of mine rather than be assaulted with a block of text in their news feeds. So the post got the copy/paste treatment and was saved for my future blog rather than being splattered on the walls of social media.

This blog is one of my new homes. The other is the apartment I recently moved into with my husband, my dog, and my baby-to-be. I guess that’s another thing to tell you about me: I’m expecting a baby soon.

We moved into an apartment after three years of owning our own home, and it’s going to be a bit of an adjustment. I’m still learning the ebbs and flows of this soundscape full of crying children, heavy footsteps, and barking dogs. Sometimes I sit and imagine what the source of certain mystery sounds could be, but I can only imagine using the very limited information provided to me. I learn a little bit about the people who live around me every time I heard their sounds, but mostly I must simply imagine what (the hell!) they could be doing up there.

That is what I hope to do with this blog. I invite you to come put your ear to the drywall and listen in to the creaks and groans of my life, this writing life, and to fill in the gaps of your imagination with the few details I can give you. And maybe, by inhabiting this space together as neighbors, we can fill these pages with life. Life, and the sound of humans discussing ideas together. Online, I guess that sounds most like fingers tapping on keyboards.

Be a good human, won’t you, and leave something¬†in the comments.