"I'm glad I'm not competitive," Elizabeth Gilbert said when listing her dear friend Marie Forleo's assets and calling her a "quintuple threat" before adding how incredibly loyal, decent, and giant-hearted she is. It's with that kind of feel-good sisterhood that we kick off this first episode of the Beautiful Writers Podcast for 2021. Two #1 New York Times bestselling authors, celebrating their healing from the same major surgery, their recent paperback releases (Marie's Everything is Figureoutable and Liz's City of Girls), jaw-dropping manifestation tips, warp-speed book proposal-wrangling, and a chopping-block editorial practice that Marie's book and Glennon Doyle’s Untamed benefited from that may leave you sprinting for your delete key. You mean there are secrets to opening your page-turner? Holy smokes. But don’t take my word for it. “Auntie Liz” is layin’ it down and you'll want to take notes.
Also to be had? A whole lot of laughter, good-natured swear words, and light-hearted wisdom. Because it's a new year, and isn't it high time for lightness and brightness as you communicate with “the soul of your book”? I thought so, too. Amen, and happy 2021!
Linda (aka Book Mama) xo
For more info, go to BeautifulWritersPodcast.com
It's here—our 4th annual Beautiful Writers Podcast "Best-Of" episode! Just in time to save your creativity in the New Year from all that binge-watching and doomscrolling. It's been a year—2020 (hence why this Summer episode's dropping in Winter). I don't have to tell you what kind of havoc the pandemic has unleashed on our best-laid writing plans and schedules. Fortunately, my interviewees dish all about their time and focus challenges and share their best workarounds. Okay, not Deepak Chopra. He meditates practically all day and has penned ninety books, so whatevs. But the rest of us mere mortals could use a Writer's Survival Guide.
We've got mega-bestsellers, often paired with their dear friends, even besties. Cheryl Strayed & Nia Vardalos. Terry McMillan & Laura Munson. Humorist Joel Stein. Dr. Jane Goodall & Keely Shaye Brosnan. Dani Shapiro & Gabby Bernstein. Sue Monk Kidd & Ann Patchett. Anita Moorjani & Kelly Noonan Gores. Poet Laureate of the U.S., Joy Harjo. Deepak Chopra & his former book publicist, author Arielle Ford. And Random House publisher Chris Jackson, and one of his "superhero" authors, Valarie Kaur.
Just because we're living in urgent times doesn't mean we let go of our dreams. No! They're more critical than ever. For that reason, I've broken the show up into three parts—Time, Habits, and Vision—to help you get your head on straight and move through this upcoming year living like you mean it (I'm quoting Terry McMillan here).
This episode is a big one, clocking in at two hours (it's been a while, and I've missed you). But it may just be my favorite one yet. These authors are too good to cut; you can only imagine how long this episode was ten edits ago! Take your time. Listen in sections. Savor them. A whole lot of love went into making this for you. I can't wait to see the beauty you create.
Two of the top-selling YA Fantasy authors of ALL TIME give us a master class on earning, output, and living as epic a life as the stories they’re writing. On this fifth birthday of the Beautiful Writers Podcast, these #1 New York Times bestselling novelists—Nigerian-American Tomi Adeyemi (Children of Blood and Bone and Children of Virtue and Vengeance) and her dear friend and mentor, Pakistani-American Sabaa Tahir (An Ember in the Ashes series)—astound with their frank, nothing-is-sacred admissions. Still only in their twenties and thirties respectively, these women have nevertheless learned to stay disciplined and committed to a story long after it’s lost its spark, faced brutal rejections and failed deal-making, and even stared down the “evil eye,” giving them fierce determination. Homeschooling during a pandemic while on deadline? No problem. Who says you can’t write a battle scene while setting the table and yelling at the kids to wash their hands?
TIME Magazine’s list of “100 Best Fantasy Novels of All Time” includes two books apiece by Tomi and Sabaa. Imagine that! Keeping company with titles that go back as far as the ninth century (The Arabian Nights) and include classics like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Mary Poppins, The Fellowship of the Ring, A Wrinkle in Time, and several of the Harry Potters, our guests, with their black and brown heroic characters—created long before the Black Panther movie electrified audiences—have written stories that will stand the test of time.
Tomi and Sabaa tell us what it’s like to write a series where girls in their ancestral countries finally feel seen; how they feel deserving of making seven figures, and what it takes to embody the courage to walk away from major publishers or movie studios if the soul of their stories is compromised. They reveal whose music pumps through their veins on the regular to enable them to wake up every day and be their own heroes.
However, that doesn’t mean that Tomi and Sabaa don’t have to rest up and HEAL from all their epic world-creation. Or that dating is easy when you feel the need to hide what you do from strangers. Or that being black or brown at this time in history doesn’t bring radical weight and urgency. World-changing is never uncomplicated. But when film companies like Paramount (which first optioned Sabaa’s books—she’s since changed course in a “secret,” exciting development), and Disney/Lucasfilm (which are developing a franchise from Tomi’s books—only the third one after Star Wars and Indiana Jones), it’s the little things that keep them grounded: the puppies, chocolate, the welcome interruption of UPS deliveries. Of course, kids, siblings, and parents pulling focus and busting their chops always remind them of what matters—and that even characters fleeing a maniacal king or empire still need to eat and sleep and will laugh, have crushes, fall in love, and be annoyed with the person they love.
This is an episode I’ll go back to again and again when I need a shot of confidence. This is the show I’ll share with my grandkids. “Oh, you think you can’t do that thing you want more than anything? Listen to this!”
Chris Jackson, legendary publisher and Editor-in-Chief of One World, an imprint of Penguin Random House, is here with Valarie Kaur, one of his star authors—or, as he prefers to see his writers, who include Trevor Noah, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jay-Z, and Mira Jacob, “superheroes.” After all, changing the country is not for the faint of heart, and Chris looks for formidable fighters. Kaur’s unique superpowers as a civil rights activist, lawyer, filmmaker, and author—with degrees from Stanford, Harvard, and Yale—have helped her win policy changes on the multiple fronts of hate crimes and racial profiling, immigration detention and deportation, solitary confinement, surveillance and Internet freedom, and more. But it was her speech in Washington DC at the Metropolitan AME Church in the wake of the divisive 2016 election—a speech where she invited us all to midwife a new nation waiting to be born from the darkness—that catapulted her into the spotlight. It garnered 40 million views and led to this stunning new book, See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love.
What an incredible read! Van Jones calls it “a miracle, a blessing, a new paradigm.” Elizabeth Gilbert says: “In a world stricken with fear and turmoil, Valarie Kaur shows us how to summon our deepest wisdom.” I couldn't agree more and couldn’t put it down.
Chris Jackson’s list at One World includes some of the most talented writers, humanitarians and activists in the world, including numerous National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winners. His mission is to bring to the forefront novelists, memoirists, journalists, poets, and artists whose fresh voices challenge or even subvert the status quo and help us reframe how we see our rapidly transforming world. Chris's own writing has appeared in The Paris Review, Callalloo, The Atlantic(.com), and other outlets.
You could call Chris and Valarie literary soulmates. Their story, which you’re about to hear, will be a soothing balm for any writer feeling alone and unseen—wondering if and when the rest of their superhero team will ever hear the call. In fact, Valarie had been writing this book for nearly two decades before meeting Chris and had a truckload of journals to prove it. As you’ll see, it was worth the wait!
This episode is all about love: Love of ideas. Love for our histories and education—even when interrupted. Love for the systems that support us. And the ones that need to change. It’s also about taking action, even when we’re deeply afraid. Even when all we can do at the moment is love ourselves. Valarie now leads the Revolutionary Love Project, whose aim is to reclaim love as a force for justice in America. I can’t wait for you to get to know her and Chris. My guess is you’ll feel the love.
PS. To close out this episode, a big thank you, Ani DiFranco and Righteous Babe Records, for allowing us to use a song they produced for this book and the Revolutionary Love movement, coming this fall. It’s aptly called See No Stranger and features Ani DiFranco, Justin Tranter, Ivan Neville, Milck, Raye Zaragoza, Zoe Boekbinder, Princess Shaw, and Gracie and Rachel.
PSS. For more information & episodes, go to beautifulwriterspodcast.com. xo
The world feels like it’s exploding. With Covid-19 and anti-racism protests both raging through our streets, I had a sensitive, maybe even a bold question to ask Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Patchett, two longtime literary idols of mine. How are a couple of white women so audacious as to write books where the majority of characters are not their race or gender? How does a woman, sitting alone in a room, put her mind and heart into the soul of a man? Or an African American (enslaved, or modern-day). Or an Amazonian tribesperson. A Japanese business mogul. A Peruvian general. A terrorist. An American soprano. A brother and sister over the course of five decades. Or—as in the case with Sue’s new book—the wife of Jesus? And, in today’s tumultuous times, amid discussions about cultural appropriation, would they even attempt to tackle these topics if they were starting over?
Do you remember where you were when The Secret Life of Bees came out (Sue’s first novel that sold 6m copies and became a film starring Alicia Keys, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, and Dakota Fanning)? I’ll never forget being glued to my couch for two days. Bees was my gateway drug to Sue’s memoirs, including the revolutionary, Dance of the Dissident Daughter—a beautiful unfolding of a woman’s spiritual life in a most feminine way. She’s currently on tour—from her house—for The Book of Longings (on the New York Times bestseller list now). Perhaps you heard Ann and me chatting early last year when she was here (where we discussed several of her incredible books: Bel Canto, State of Wonder, and Nashville among them). Since then, Ann has released the New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the PULITZER PRIZE, The Dutch House, plus, Lambslide, for the kiddos.
Like these ladies, this is a deeply FUN and rich conversation. I loved hearing about where they get their audacity, and empathy, to write about lives so far removed from their own. Also, where they write, how they write (about others), researching strategies, thoughts on social media, and my favorite question of all: how they STEAL time away from loved ones to get ‘er done. We have some laughs about that one.
I’m so glad you’re here!
Jane Goodall, Ph.D., DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, and UN Messenger of Peace, is with us from the UK for a special eco-edition of the Beautiful Writers Podcast. I’m excited to celebrate the release of the Nat Geo film The Hope—showcasing Jane's lifetime of jaw-dropping conservation—with the use of stunning audio from the movie.
Joining us is our longtime mutual friend, Keely Shaye Brosnan, a fearless activist. Like Jane, Keely has been a leader in conservation for decades—involved in some of the most dramatic environmental wins of our lifetime (think Dolphin Safe Tuna Act, for starters). Excerpts from Keely's latest offering—the award-winning film, Poisoning Paradise (illustrating how agrochemical companies are treating the islands as pesticide-testing grounds for genetically engineered crops)—help bring this interview to life.
If you're like me, you fell in love with Jane as a kid, watching her climbing trees and grooming (and being groomed by!) wild chimpanzees in the Gombe forest like a female Tarzan. I felt similar magic the first time I met Keely. While profiling her over twenty years ago for my first book, she and her husband, actor Pierce Brosnan, showed me devastating film footage taken from a hidden camera onboard a fishing vessel. While I would never unsee the massacre of dolphins en masse (schools of tuna often swim under pods of dolphins, leading to all sorts of excruciating, high-stakes tragedy), Keely had my heart. Not only does she not look away, but she stands up and puts up one heck of a fight.
Both women are extraordinary writers. Jane's books are some of my all-time favorites: Reasons for Hope, Harvest for Hope, and Seeds of Hope, among them. While Keely's most known for her television writing, her book on gardening (in the works) is a poetic masterpiece—you can quote me on that. I loved hearing details of their passion for words, how they bust through writer's block, and get in flow.
As we all hunker down due to Covid-19 shelter-in-place orders at the time of this taping, Jane's viewpoint is unique. Her Roots & Shoots programs are global (with 2,000 groups in China alone!); she's intimately aware of the dire effects of the wild animal trade. But, as I anticipated, Jane continues to hold onto her signature hope for a better future. My hope is that we take this profound opportunity to reimagine how we want to treat our Earth Mother. We can't all be bigger-than-life eco-heroes, but we can all live #alittlegreener.
Until next time, stay safe, plant a tree, and write on!
In THE interview of my life so far, Joy Harjo, Poet Laureate of the United States (the nation’s “official” poet!) is here. She’s the first Native American to hold this position, and I’ve been a weepy mess since she agreed to chat with us. As someone who lived on raw land in Northern New Mexico and studied with Native Americans, I'm deeply moved by her talent and activism on behalf of tribal peoples and vulnerable female populations. For some reason, I had a strong intuitive sense that Joy would have a perspective on the global Corona pandemic currently sweeping the globe that would bring a higher vision and comfort—and boy, did she! Her thoughts on this topic surprised us both and remind me why I love talking with visionary creatives; you never know what magic awaits!
Joy is the author of nine books, including one of my favorite memoirs, Crazy Brave. Her many honors include the Ruth Lily Prize for Lifetime Achievement from the Poetry Foundation, a PEN USA Literary Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She's also an award-winning musician with five CDs of original music. Throughout this episode, you're going to hear snippets of her performance for the Library of Congress the night she began her formal duties as Poet Laureate. Her musical talent, paired with her spoken-word performance, is spellbinding. If you're not yet a fan of poetry, I'm telling you, that's about to change.
Joy does something else on this episode we've never done before—she reads a piece she's currently working on for her new memoir. And here's the thrilling part—you get to hear her EDITING it in real-time as she reads, crossing out words and replacing them with others. You might feel like you're watching Michelangelo paint, while at the same time, getting the gift of seeing that we're not so dissimilar in how we must labor to string beautiful words together.
Joy's mother was Cherokee. Her father Muscogee (Creek)—the 4th largest native population of more than 500 tribes in America. Although my experiences are with Cherokee, Suquamish, Navajo, and Tiwi peoples, Joy has my heart, as you'll see. This interview feels like the culmination of all I've ever wanted—to meld my tree-hugging environmental work and my writing with my affection for Native American culture. It's hard to put it into words, so I'm going to stop trying. Hopefully, this episode will speak for itself.
Except to say that reaching out to Joy, when I was terrified to do so, has taught me something valuable. It's made me realize that if we can't commit now—at least internally—to our deepest longings, when will we?
Stay safe wherever you are.
These New York Times bestselling authors on tour meet here for the first time. Laura Munson is promoting her first novel, Willa's Grove, while Terry McMillan is about to share with the world her tenth or eleventh novel, It's Not All Downhill from Here. (She doesn’t keep count—“They’re not like children, you know.") Both women have decades of butt-in-chair know-how with which to enlighten us and make us laugh.
When I say enlighten, boy, do I mean it. Does anyone else need to learn how to put healthy boundaries around their writing practice—like, for instance, to keep family and pets at a respectful distance during storyline crunch times? Terry doesn't mess around, which is probably why long-term publishing success seems to come so easily to her, both on the page and in the hit movie adaptions of her books. (#StellaGotHerGrooveBack #WaitingToExhale …) You might want to take notes. I did.
Terry and Laura also share other similarities. Both novels find their lead characters in a midlife shake-up. As they ask themselves the BIG questions, thankfully, their posse of wise (and wisecracking) girlfriends is ever-present.
Listen up for behind-the-scenes details on daily practices. Dealing with distractions (omg). Mental toughness. Commitment. And, writing retreats. (Yes, Laura hosts popular retreats in Montana, and Terry's been to mine in Carmel. We chat about the importance of getting away. But. I also share my best DIY tips for creating your own writing retreats for free—tried-and-true strategies for any writer, anywhere, that have helped a lot of people get 'er done.)
Get ready to fall in love with these two if you haven't already. And, if you've got kids nearby, please God, get out the ear muffs! Terry just might drop an F-bomb or two (and, who am I kidding--it's not like I can be trusted in that arena).
Whoops! Keepin' it fun, y'all. That's why I do this. 'Cause it's fun!
Write on. xo
In this “What would they do?” episode, I ask Oscar-nominated screenwriter, actress, & bestselling author Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Instant Mom) and #1 NYT bestselling memoirist and Oprah book club pick Cheryl Strayed (Wild and Tiny Beautiful Things) writing & career questions that stump me (and maybe you, too!). Idols to the rescue! What a comfort to learn that they still struggle in many of the ways I do—and what a relief to hear their best workarounds.
I don’t have to tell you we’re living in crazy times. If you're reading this with one ear tuned to news of the dumpster fires in Washington, and/or other noisy alerts, alarms, and amusements, stay close.
I fell in love with Cheryl and Nia together after seeing the stage production of Tiny, Beautiful Things in Pasadena. Nia was playing the lead role of Sugar—Cheryl's advice columnist alter ego—and although Cheryl's book was one of my favorites, I was wholly unprepared for experiencing the material live. And, can you believe it—these ladies are just as wise, funny, and profoundly open-hearted as you’d imagine or hope for after experiencing their work.
All three of us, as you’ll hear, are currently in the thick of creative blocks. Doing our best to find our way. And yet, it feels like the writing gods were smiling on us as we hashed out our processes on air. (Well, the tech Gods were a little harder to appease. You'll notice a few scratchy cell-phone reception moments, but we do what we can, people, from our homes and in our pajamas.)
I feel like the luckiest person with a call-in conference line and a dream. And, triply so because I get to share these once-in-a-lifetime conversations with you.
Humor writer and journalist Joel Stein has kept me laughing for over twenty years with his brilliant columns in Time magazine, the LA Times, Entertainment Weekly, and more. With his hilarious and insightful new book, In Defense of Elitism: Why I'm Better Than You and You are Better Than Someone Who Didn't Buy This Book, he's got me nerd-crushing on his battle to wrestle back honor to the intellectual elites from the populists.
In it, Joel, a self-confessed elitist, travels to a conservative small town in Texas to find out what's going on in the minds and hearts of the county with the highest percentage of Trump voters to impart a little wisdom their populist way. Instead, he becomes a translator of sorts, for both sides. As Joel writes, "Populists believe our complex society is so secure that disaster is near impossible no matter who is in charge. Elites know it's not. Most of our [elitist] work is calculating risk and planning for contingencies. We invented reinsurance, and if you give us a few years, we'll come up with re-reinsurance."
Joel and I are liberals, in case that's not abundantly clear. But my Republican friends laughed as hard as I did while reading this book. (Yep, in a courageous, or incredibly stupid move, I force-read chapters to them, and as you'll hear, they still like me. In fact, I think they think I'm a little cooler now.) It's no secret there's a great divide happening in America, but not around my campfire. Joel's book is so smart and entertaining that I just had to bring him here on the show. You're welcome, humanity.
Find out why legends like Walter Isaacson, Jimmy Kimmel, and Dave Barry rave about this book—and also, what Joel thinks about getting your famous friends to rave about your book. (Omg. Did he really admit this about blurbs/testimonials on air? Publishers might die. #FakeBlurbs.)
Along with hashing out and then healing the political divide (phew! problems solved!), we dive deep into the mind of a funnyman writer and his best advice on morning vs. night writing (and why working at home is a "huge mistake," especially if you have a refrigerator). We cover getting paid to write, even when you have no idea what the hell you're doing. How the magazine and book industries are changing (and why spitballing for each other is a Godsend, even for an atheist). Why you MUST read your work out loud or risk kicking yourself later, and the art of pitching yourself relentlessly, even though it sucks. All while using the biggest words we know. Because nerds have the best words.
Welcome, Joel Stein. I'm so happy you're here.
What's it take to make a story go viral? Global? To top the charts as word-of-mouth carries your tale far and wide—for days, months, or even years? There's no one formula. But certain things help stack the odds in your favor. Like novelty (a unique idea). Grabbiness (where your reader is instantly pulled in). Brevity (requiring no significant time commitment—at least not to get them hooked). Universality (people see themselves in your story). The urge to merge (large numbers want to share your work, and do!).
Chart-topping is something my guests for today's Beautiful Writers Podcast episode know well. Kelly Noonan Gores is the director, writer, and star of the global phenomenon, the HEAL documentary, now out in book form this month. She's joined by Anita Moorjani, who you may know of from her gob-smacking miraculous healing story. (Riddled with cancerous tumors, Anita walked out of the hospital cancer-free following a near-death-experience.) Her New York Times bestselling memoir, Dying To Be Me, inspired millions, including being the impetus for why Kelly finally made the film she'd been dreaming of for nearly a decade.
I LOVE this conversation—especially hearing about the magical way in which both women were “discovered” by publishers, just as they were finally feeling ready to be seen and heard in the world, after years of resistance. (Funny how the universe knows our innermost thoughts.)
As Kelly points out in HEAL, nearly half of Americans—more than 133 million of us—lives with a chronic disease. Close to 80 million of us have multiple conditions. If you're suffering or love someone who is, I believe these women will make you feel a renewed sense of hopefulness. Hope about the body’s innate ability to heal. Hope about how you were born to have a life you love. And hope about how to follow their lead to create a unique, grabby, universally beloved story of your own.
I'm so glad you're here!
For more information, go to beautiulwriterspodcast.com
Bestselling besties, Dani Shapiro & Gabby Bernstein, are all over the media with their current bestsellers, Inheritance and Super Attractor. Perhaps you’ve heard them here, on past episodes for prior books. But what you’ve never before witnessed is the two of them TOGETHER. Despite their close friendship and longtime desire to share a mic or stage, this is a first. (Happy dance!) The part of me that lives for literary matchmaking is in full swoon right now.
That’s what these two New York Times bestselling authors (of 17+ combined books) do best—raise the bar on what’s possible. Each time I see them hit a new life or career goal, it’s not long before they seem to exceed it—permitting us to follow suit. That doesn’t mean life doesn’t have its hardship, but if you’re buoyed by grace, gratitude, and good cheer, they’re your people.
I trust this conversation will make you feel all kinds of hopeful as Dani and Gabby reveal real-world writing strategies with out-of-this-world processes. Feel reassured as they talk about how they tap into their book titles. Pace and format their books. Overcome resistance to create multiple streams of income. I believe you’ll become inspired as they explain how they work within time to EXPAND it (doing less to attract more). And delight in their devotional habits that access magic.
Coaxing angelic support might be mentioned, too (wink, wink), including a personal guardian angel story I relive that's REALLY out there. (Shocking, I know.) Gabby's on a first-name basis with the Archangel for Creativity and Communication, and invites you to be, too! All helpful, because as Dani says, "You have to believe you're a writer before the world concurs.”
I mean, do you have a better strategy than reaching for the divine? I didn’t think so.
Welcome to woo. We're so happy you're here! xo
He’s authored 90 books. A Fellow of the American College of Physicians. Teaches meditation (with Oprah!). Been a husband for 49 years. A devoted father and grandfather. And he's beloved by Lady Gaga. So, other than his daily coffee, yoga, and more cushion time (“Om”) than a geriatric dog, what more could a guy want? Plenty, it turns out. Nothing short of enlightenment. And not just for himself, if humanity’s going to make it. Good thing he’s written the book on that.
I feel ridiculously blessed to welcome Dr. Deepak Chopra on the Beautiful Writers Podcast today. It’s his FIRST tour stop for MetaHuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential, which pubs next month via Harmony Books. Our mutual friend, Arielle Ford, is our special-sauce guest co-host. She’s widely credited with making Deepak a household name back in the day as his longtime book publicist. (Arielle helped facilitate the rapid growth of self-help, launching clients like Marianne Williamson, Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer, Neale Donald Walsh, and her sister, Debbie Ford, before authoring eleven books herself.) Deepak and Arielle are like family, the kind forged over lifetimes, she says. Doesn’t sound too farfetched after hanging out with them.
No stuffed shirts here! As Arielle promised, Deepak is delightfully FUN. Sure, I couldn’t get him to complain or gossip—not even about politics (well, he did mention some “thugs"). But girlfriends had to break it down, and Arielle and I got our fix at the end once he hung up. Here’s to hoping the big D is too busy contemplating the universe (or lack of one—just wait) to care that we closed the show talking about him behind his back. Just balancing the scales, Deepak. You drew first blood with those names you called my girl at the top of our show. (Smiley.)
We’ve got a lot to cover, including how haters caused Deepak to take the MD off his books for a time (say what?!); ways in which meditation increases our creative genius, and his especially enlightening answers to our rapid-fire Q's. If you’ve ever hoped to get off the rat wheel (BEYOND the wheel), you’re going to love this new book, as well as his advice for accessing "the window of infinite creativity.” We talk silencing the inner bullies in our heads, and his favorite author & book, which I ordered immediately.
Of course, he’s got a meditation schedule you’ll never in a million years be able to replicate, but may find wildly entertaining. Pretty much the same thing for his nighttime sleep rituals—how can anyone remember all this stuff, much less implement them? Ahh. A girl can dream. Or, go beyond the dream. Isn’t that the point? I mean, it’s all an illusion, right?
All I know is the guy’s voice makes me happy. “Like champagne bubbles in my head,” Arielle says. Hear, hear. Drink up.
Hello, beautiful writer! This is my favorite time of year—when I get to dive back into past episodes of the #BeautifulWritersPodcast and release our annual “Best-Of” show. (We’re on #3, in case you’ve been keeping track.) I’ve had a blast curating a wide variety of my favorite clips from summer 2018-19, and hope you enjoy revisiting excerpts you’ve already heard but may have forgotten, or meeting some of these bestsellers for the first time. (I’ve also pulled snippets from Marianne Williamson’s episode from our archives—since her presidential debate performances have her front-and-center in the news right now and likewise on my mind. God, she’s prolific—and generous with her writing wisdom.)
Our line-up for today’s episode is, once again, jaw-dropping. I feel like the luckiest girl at the party. Curious to learn what motivates Lee Child to continue racing to finish the next installment of his billion-dollar Jack Reacher series year after year? Great. He’s about to get vulnerable. Or, details of how Catherine Oxenberg used the power of her pen to write in real-time to save her daughter and take down a terrifying cult? Yep. She’s here too. As is Abby Wambach, Seth Godin, Ann Patchett, Meg Wolitzer, Austin Channing Brown, and Steven Pressfield (again, yay!). Plus so many others.
Thank you for being here! And for sharing your enthusiasm for this show. I love hearing about how you binge listen, take pages and pages of notes, and look forward to the book (I’m working as fast as I can—promise:)). You and your writing needs are on my mind and in my heart as I strive, always, to keep bringing you the best of the very best.
May your writing journey be as light and easy as a summer breeze.
PS. Subscribe here and be the first to know when a new episode airs. Of course, you can find all our interviews below and over at www.beautifulwriterspodcast.com.
Guilty on all counts! For a mom fighting to take down a terrifying cult and free her daughter, India, there are no sweeter words. Just last week, mother, actress, royal, and first-time author Catherine Oxenberg saw the fulfillment of her years-long campaign to stop Keith Raniere and his organization, NXIVM (pronounced nexium). A New York jury took less than five hours to render Keith guilty of charges that include sex trafficking, conspiracy, racketeering, and possession of child pornography.
This is not the norm, by the way—to bring down a cult leader, much less his entire world, before a mass type of Jim Jones tragedy unfolds. And it’s not the norm to pen a book in real time as it’s all happening. But what’s a mother to do when she's convinced her daughter is a victim of sex slavery and could be murdered or influenced to commit an “honor suicide” any day as the group's leader becomes increasingly erratic? Is she supposed to stand by idly as law enforcement fails to take her fears or evidence seriously? Not if you’re blessed with a platform, as Catherine has been since her 80s Dynasty fame. Not when you have a particular skill for gathering evidence, rallying the media, and writing a detailed, riveting account of the play by plays.
The book, Captive: A Mother's Crusade to Save Her Daughter from a Terrifying Cult, is truly CAPTIVATING. And, in a move her publisher (Simon & Schuster) couldn’t have predicted when they banked on this new author and purchased the proposal for this story without an ending, the guilty verdict would come out a week before the release of the paperback.
I always told her she was magic. I always told her she was otherworldly. I always told her she was powerful and courageous. I even wrote those words to describe Catherine Oxenberg over twenty years ago in my first book, where she shared the story of her own abuse. But I never could have foreseen how my friend would have to depend on those traits to save India's life—and the lives of countless women by leading the charge to bring their perpetrator to justice. It’s the bond Cath and I have from raising Indie and Tosh together that brings a depth and humor to this conversation that I cherish. I think you’ll find it surprisingly fun—and insightful about the writing process, too, especially if you're interested in working with a co-author.
But most certainly if you’ve got a burning desire to share your story and have an impact. Captive is a living embodiment of the term "power of the pen." And isn’t that why we write—so that our stories change the world?
Throughout this fight, people called Catherine crazy. They called her paranoid. They called her desperate. I call her the Erin Brockovich of sex trafficking and cult-busting. I couldn’t be prouder of this real-life princess warrior, and can’t wait to share today's conversation with you, including a super sweet message from India at the end of the episode.
Acclaimed bestseller Meg Wolitzer joins me today on the Beautiful Writers Podcast! Her TWELFTH novel, The Female Persuasion, is now out in paperback—a story perhaps even more relevant today than when it was released in hardback. When Meg started writing the manuscript, she, like many of us, believed we were about to swear in our first female president. We all know how that turned out. But did you ever stop to think about how authors scripting characters in books at that time had to revisit their storylines following our election's unexpected outcome? Hmmm.
Meg’s work is especially hot right now for several reasons. First, a book she wrote fifteen years ago, The Wife, garnered an Oscar nod and a 2019 Golden Globe win for Glenn Close (for Best Actress in a Drama). Glenn’s not-a-dry-eye-in-the-house, standing-ovation acceptance speech was a rallying cry to women everywhere to own their power and FOLLOW THEIR DREAMS. Something Meg saw her mother—also a critically acclaimed, bestselling novelist—model powerfully at home and in the publishing industry. Second, with various projects in different stages of development in Hollywood (including The Female Persuasion being co-produced by Nicole Kidman for Amazon Studios), my guess is that Meg is far from done suiting up for the red carpet.
I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed having this conversation and how excited I am to share it with you. I know you’re going to get valuable tips from Meg’s vast experience, especially if you’re struggling with procrastination or need inspiration to Marie-Kondo your files or writing space. I believe you'll love what she has to say about the highs and lows of doing this work—and how she gives us a little window into her celebration rituals upon finishing yet another book.
Ahhhh… finishing! Now, there’s an especially hot idea.
Butt in chair, my friends. These chats always remind me to sit down and get back to the page. Butt in chair, fingers on keyboard.
PS. Subscribe at BeautifulWritersPodcast.com to be the first to hear our episodes when they drop:).
You know Abby Wambach as a soccer legend—a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist. But do you know how she makes all those countless travel hours on the road and in the air, less grueling and more grounded? You know Abby as a two-time New York Times bestseller. But do you know how she and her wife, bestselling author Glennon Doyle, hit the pause button and re-energize and reconnect after especially busy months giving us so much of themselves? Martha Beck (my guest co-host today) is unscripted here as well. This Harvard Ph.D. and former professor may surprise you with what she really thinks of the “need” to get your college degree. (Hint: cover your ears if you’re sensitive to swear words.)
Welcome to a super fun, intimate conversation between friends, including key advice Martha gave to Abby and Glennon when they first started dating, and how this podcast was part of their love story! (Whaaaat? I know. I couldn’t have dreamed up that storyline.) Even though Abby’s new book, Wolfpack, is a New York Times bestseller and she’s currently white hot on the media circuit, you’re about to hear additional things you haven't heard Abby share before. But be forewarned. You might feel a sudden urge to ditch your cell phone for prolonged periods (detox anyone?) while more fully merging with your pack. Here’s hoping your pets won’t mind when you break into spontaneous howls.
Because, people. It's time to change the game. Put me in, Coach Abby! My inner wolf and I are suited up, ready to play.
For more information, go to beautifulwriterspodcast.com
Oscar-nominated and 5-time Emmy-winning star of Murphy Brown turned New York Times bestselling memoirist (twice!), Candice Bergen is in the house! And she is every bit as irreverent and funny and whip-smart as you’d hope. Joining us in today's guest co-host chair is someone we both adore, the legendary book editor Betsy Rapoport, who edited Candy’s second memoir, A Fine Romance, and who I’ve been lucky enough to call my mentor for the past eighteen years. Despite being the highest paid actor on television for a long time, Candice is exceptionally humble. But Betsy and I manage to get her to share gold about her creative process. From her erratic work ethic; what it was like being the first female to wear the 5-timer jacket hosting for Saturday Night Live; and how she’s embraced Instagram, nearly “breaking the Internet” posing for an eclipse photo with her Book Club cast-mates Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, and Mary Steenburgen. Unlike many of our guests who became household names before the advent of social media, Candice relishes posting pics and scripting funny captions for her feed.I don’t know if it’s easier or harder not to take yourself so seriously when you were born into Hollywood royalty. Some speculate that Candice’s humility is a byproduct of being the daughter of Edgar Bergen, a famous Vaudeville ventriloquist whose dummy, Charlie McCarthy, was beloved by millions and had a bigger room than Candice did in their home. Her first memoir, Knock Wood, is a candid portrayal of a little girl trying to earn a father’s love. Candice has always been a writer—starting with magazine work for Esquire following her first movie at nineteen. We cover so much in this chat, including what makes a good book title (poetic, evocative, counter-intuitive), and why sometimes the publisher decides to forgo all that to bank on clarity. We talk about how bloody hard it can be making the audio version of your book—but how it’s a good excuse to order comfort food. Candice shares the anxiety she feels when writing memoir, and the role of an editor (in this case, Betsy) to help her go deeper. Although Candy’s latest book is a love letter to her daughter, Chloe Malle (a writer for Vogue), her first husband—the late director, Louis Malle, and her current husband, Marshall, I hope you’ll find this conversation a bit of a love letter to the collaborative process. That and showfolk, dogs in costume, and smoking sage bowls. Welcome.
Bestselling thriller author of ten novels, including The Progeny, Firstborn, The Legend of Sheba, Iscariot, and the Books of Mortals trilogy (with New York Times bestseller Ted Dekker), Tosca Lee is in the house! She’s representing this genre proud with The Line Between, a dystopian page-turner already optioned for television by Edward Burns and his Marlboro Road Gang Productions, in partnership with Radar Pictures (#cantwait). As you’ll hear, the female protagonist could be the little sister of one of my favorite Dean Koontz characters (Dean’s a former guest of this show)—bad-guy killing heroine, Jane Hawk. I’ve put the notorious night-owl Tosca together with my guest co-host today, Hayli Baez, because I adore them both. And, for the unique things they have in common—namely a past with pageantry, as in beauty, which has helped both of their current careers; an obsession with world-travel, fed in part by those pageants; and get this—late-night video-game playing! (Admission, I’ve never played a video game in my life, so I’m dying to know the allure of shooting fake people.) You might be wondering how a busy author like Tosca has time for such an indulgence but says it helps her come up with some of her best characters and storylines. And, I’m guessing her three boys think she’s the coolest. Speaking of cool, Hayli has THE dream job according to my son (and probably yours, too). She actually gets PAID to livestream herself playing video games on Twitch. Yes, that’s really a thing. She also happens to have written excellent fan fiction as a teen and still gives me the best book recommendations of anyone. And, she’s family. I can’t take any credit for her beauty or brains, as she’s my fiancé’s daughter, thus not blood-related. But, as soon as I learned she’d read the entire Harry Potter series more than anyone I’d ever met (or heard of!), I was deeply proud. Lol. I’m excited to share this chat, with its many pearls, including how Tosca plots her suspense and thinks about each character’s arc within the three-act structure (and her two invaluable book recommendations on the subject). There’s her refreshing take on the thriller genre and how she recruits top experts for her research to make her work bulletproof (and how you can too!). I am also fascinated by her thoughts on how travel helps the writing mind play and wander; her description of dealing with the twin demons of fear and procrastination, and why letting someone see your writing before it’s ready is like allowing them to see your cellulite! We talk balancing writing time with platform building (social media); how her hot farmer husband handles her 20-hour writing days (and bakes cookies); what to do when an author friend writes a book you just don’t like; and how when her friends are mad at their mates, they'll ask her help in devising the perfect murder plot. If you love action, conspiracy, romance, and questions of whom—and what—to believe, you’re going to adore this high-octane story of survival and love in a world on the brink of madness (and its sequel, out in September). And, you’ll be taken with the sanity and sweetness of this killer author and her deep gratitude for her craft and her readers. I left this conversation more in love with books and writing them and know it will likewise inspire your reading and writing life. Welcome.
75 million albums sold. 18 top ten hits recorded. Named in 2018 by Billboard as one of the top 60 female artists of all time (#35)! I’m guessing you are or have been, a Taylor Dayne fan (soundtrack of your life stuff, right here). I feel blessed to call Taylor a dear friend and can attest that she’s everything you’d hope a superstar to be—which you’ll soon experience as she opens up her heart and memories about the coolest details. Like what it was really like to open for Michael Jackson in a stadium of 60,000 people for his RAD tour. Or, what happened when Prince brought her on stage early in her career in a scene that will have you thinking, “Wait! Didn’t I just see Bradley Cooper do that with Lady Gaga in A Star is Born?!” Taylor’s memoir, Tell It To My Heart (named after one of her most popular ballads) pubs on Valentine’s Day and goes deep and vulnerable about topics you’d never guess by watching her career, starting with her tragic childhood in which her voice gave her the fire and inspiration to stay alive. Popular podcaster/TED producer/ media communications coach, Bronwyn Saglimbeni, is today’s guest co-host. I love this woman! She, like Taylor, is also a busy mom and business owner who happens to have a rockin’ rock band side hustle. Can you stand it? I’m such a singing wanna-be!Thank you for joining me for this magical conversation, punctuated by snippets of several of Taylor’s biggest hits. We’re going to talk about so much, not the least of which includes healing, the music industry, what it’s like to write brutal truths about family members who are still standing, why standing on that TED or TEDWomen stage is as scary (or scarier!) than singing in a stadium, and learning to trust yourself—a challenge for us all. There’s no holding back here, and a whole heap of heart. We're so glad you’re here.Linda xo