Three #1 New York Times bestsellers. Nearly twenty million books sold. One of the most popular self-development blogs in the world. What more could Mark Manson take on? As of this week, movie stardom.
Suppose you're a fan of Mark'sThe Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (or his follow-up book, Everything's F*cked: A Book About Hope). In that case, I predict you'll LOVE how Universal Pictures depicts this beloved counterintuitive approach to living a good life from page to screen.
It was a blast for me to have Mark on the show finally. As you'll see, despite his success, he's still a humble guy. Quick to laugh and talk freely about the crap we creatives all experience. Including some extreme things few of us will face that he and I share. As a former ghostwriter (who co-authored a NYT bestseller with a man who experienced a tragic public fall), I've wanted to take Mark aside and ask him a few things confidentially. Why Mark? He was Will Smith's writer for Will, the 2021 memoir Oprah called the best memoir she'd ever read. You know, before the slap.
I didn't intend to ask Mark anything about that on the record. Still, I'm glad I got the vibe to take the chance. Same for other topics, from the difficulty of recording our audiobooks to the weirdness of becoming well-known to keeping a marriage strong when one or both people are workaholics. Can I get an eff-yeah!
Happy New Year, friend. Thank you for another great year of shared book love. May 2023 bring us all a whole lot more magic than mayhem.
Linda xo (aka Book Mama)
Marie Forleo is back on the show! HER show, actually. Say what? In a rare move for each of us, this is a replay of my recent appearance on MarieTV while touring for my latest book, Beautiful Writers. Since Marie and I LOVE this episode and 80% of the population say they want to write a book, we're doubling up to help you beat those odds. You can also catch us on video on YouTube if you'd prefer to see and hear us.
Whether it's your first time listening to this episode or you're here for a refresh, let's dig into these mindset-changing concepts to get you in your writerly flow. Topics covered include:
— How to finish your manuscript like a pro.
— Marie’s “hackathon” method to write her book proposal in 48 hours.
— The #1 trick to writing faster and having more fun.
— What successful authors have in common.
— How to banish “writer’s block” for good.
— The secret to landing a huge book deal. (It’s not what you think!)
— A story on writing the hard stuff about others, with nearly unbelievable magical results.
And so much more. I'm excited to have you finish the year strong with us.
Write on! xo
PS. See you back here in a few weeks with Mark Manson, on tour for his new film, based on the #1 NYT bestseller, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, where amongst other things, we talk about the totally f*cked up impossibleness of recording our audiobooks (something I'm doing now). Fun and funny stuff! :)
It's finally here! Pub Day for Beautiful Writers: A Journey of Big Dreams & Messy Manuscripts—with Tricks of the Trade from Bestselling Authors. To celebrate this happy day, I invited a few of my fave writers to join me for a writer's roundup for good vibes as we talk about the things we did that WORKED. The details we want to remember to do next time. There’s always resistance, sure. But so much magic, too, and that's what I wanted to focus on today.
You'll hear on the show why I chose this group of brilliant humans and what they've each meant to me on my writing path.
For the quickie bios, we've got Martha Beck, NYT bestselling author of a bunch of books, the most recently, The Way of Integrity, a 2022 Oprah Book Club pick.
There's the legendary Steven Pressfield, author of a bible in our field, The War of Art, and other massive hits, including his new riveting read: Put Your Ass Where Your Heart Wants to Be, and a few movies, too.
The incredible novelist, writing teacher, and ex-Hollywood marketing mind Aditi Khorana is here (and promises to blow your mind with her cutting-edge thoughts on time and the creative process).
And we're so blessed to have New York Times bestselling memoirist Elizabeth Lesser who co-founded the famed Omega Institute, where she's been supporting creatives and leaders like Oprah hands on in a big way for decades.
We had such a blast together. (I might have to schedule roundups more often!) I think you will find that whatever stage you're in with your writing, they will bring you ah-has and RELIEF. As often as I've had them on the show or read their work, they continue to surprise me.
THANK YOU for celebrating with me, with us. Thank you for being part of my cherished writing community. I have felt your love and cheerleading at every stage.
And thank you for buying my sweet book baby (and hopefully recommending it to your people). In so doing, you’ll be supporting sustainable paper choices, my greatest writerly dream. How cool is that? I hope that the information in the book will likewise make it easier to realize whatever dreams you are holding close. That would make my heart so happy.
Go to BeautifulWritersPodcast.com for all the links to this episode. And, of course, you’ll find all sorts of book buying links over on BookMama.com or BeautifulWritersPodcast.com.
LOVE you, beyond. Write on!
New York's # 1 book influencer, author, DAILY podcaster, and publisher, Zibby Owens, is here! Joining her is Peruvian mountaineer, humanitarian, and social entrepreneur, Silvia Vasquez-Lavado, the first openly gay woman to climb Everest and all seven summits (who happens to be one of Zibby's favorite writers). Welcome to another literary love-fest!
Hello! With only seven days until pub day for my Beautiful Writers book, I couldn't help myself. I had to record a podcast with these fantastic authors and miraculous human beings. Why now? Because I couldn't get their missions or memoirs out of my mind. Zibby's Bookends: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Literature and Silvia's In the Shadow of the Mountain: A Memoir of Courage (Selena Gomez will soon play in the movie) stole my focus and my heart.
Sometimes the best thing to do when you're busy is dive into a great book—or TWO! I'm so excited to share this episode of the Beautiful Writers Podcast with you, where we get honest about the magic and mayhem of taking our work and manifestations to new heights.
From overcoming extreme shyness, abuse, loss, and addiction and channeling our pain into healing words (and, in Silvia's case, trekking to help victims of sexual violence find a sense of peace and closure), you could say we're women on a mission. One of surpassing our limitations, living large, and changing the world—one step, one reader, one beautiful book at a time.
We're so happy you're here. Write on! ✍️ xo
We’ve missed you, Danielle LaPorte & me! Our season of book delivery kicked our asses. (How to Be Loving for Danielle and Beautiful Writers for me, both available now for preorder.) But that’s what it takes, often, to create our best work. So, since we know we’re not alone in this endeavor to leave a legacy, we’re back together to dish, deal, and laugh about the absurdity. The hours! The focus! The OMG never-ending details! Now that we’re on the other side, mostly, we couldn’t wait to share the backstory with YOU!
Because, like us, you’ve been trying to write something valuable, right? Something that, dare I say, stands the test of time?! (That’s the hope, isn’t it?) We know you know. We raise our glasses to you for endeavoring to attain such a lofty goal:).
Thank you for listening, sharing, commenting, preordering, and helping us celebrate this milestone on the platform that started so much for us both. Dig deep with us as we cover: Networking chutzpa (naive much?). Wrangling celeb permissions & blurbs (when to push on; when to give up). When Oprah doesn’t call (or, rather DOES, but whoops… Lol).
DISTRACTIONS. REJECTIONS. DISTRACTIONS. REJECTIONS. The backstory of why this SuperSoul 100 Leader and author of a heap of bestsellers left the podcast—and how I nearly bailed myself but instead went ALL in. The reason we called each other sobbing over past books. And why Danielle opted out of the testimonial game for this new book. Plus, eleventh-hour miracles. And more.
We’re keepin’ it raw & real for you. Open books, as they say.
Spooky smart. Miraculously mystical. Devilishly delightful. Listen in as two prolific bestselling thriller authors, Patricia Cornwell (over 100 million copies sold) and Tosca Lee (award-winning NYT bestseller), sweeten up our Halloween with this perfectly low-cal, high magic treat. And I'm not just throwing the M-word around. The true tales shared here are nothing short of supernatural and will help you BELIEVE in a universe that wants what you want. One that can't help but clear the path when you keep showing up.
I had full-body goosebumps several times during this conversation. With NO idea when I imagined matchmaking for this episode that Patricia and Tosca would have such outrageously mysterious stories BEHIND their stories or that they’d have shared such unbelievable synchronicities, I'm still in a bit of a daze.
Patricia joins us at the start of her tour for Autopsy, the 25th novel in her #1 bestselling Scarpetta series. Forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta has returned to Virginia as the chief medical examiner to hunt an ingenious killer who's mastered cutting-edge science for the most nefarious ends. Patricia, who in real life has been described as a female James Bond—and you'll soon hear why—tells us how to use our fear as fuel, and I'm all ears. The woman who admits to being scared all the time has somehow made me feel twenty kinds of courage in our hour together.
I asked Tosca which of her novels (A Single Light, The Legend of Sheba, Iscariot, Demon, the Book of Mortal series...) would be a good fit with Autopsy. We decided onThe Progeny and its sequel, Firstborn, about the descendants of the real-life Blood Countess, Elizabeth Bathory of Hungary, the most prolific female serial killer in history—which may or may not have been a conspiracy.
We've got a lot to cover. Craft. Passion. Destiny. Rejection. Locations. Training. And ghosts, as in real ones who write through us. Does that make them ghostwriters? Hmmm.
Boo! I'm frightfully happy you're here. xo
Subscribe, so you're always the first to know when an episode drops. www.beautifulwriterspodcast.com
Today's a very good day! This Book Mama is giddyhappy. Since meeting Jenny Lawson over five years ago, I've ached to have her on the Beautiful Writers Podcast, and it's finally happened on this, my post-book-delivery return to the show. After taking months off, I couldn't be more excited to be back with this literary lovefest! Jenny, who's on tour for her latest #1 NYT bestseller, Broken, and I are joined by the great Martha Beck, whose recent immediate NYT bestseller, The Way of Integrity, is my new bible. I didn't know how well they'd hit it off ahead of time, but the pairing is pure beauty.
We cover so much here! Mothering and writing and life-ing with depression and OCD and all the crappy things that make mothering and writing and life-ing so much more complicated (but with odd benefits). We cover truth-telling and how it makes for all kinds of mayhem and magic. (Of course, I had to ask how that works precisely with telling an unbelievable story on the page.) We talk about energy and how ours goes freaking haywire with electronics. Plus, what about editing and idea-ing and mustering up the courage to show our chapters to other humans? I don't know about you, but handing those babies off is scary AF, even for the pros, it turns out.
Jenny, who's talked about taking half a year to work on ONE chapter—maybe you know the feeling—calls herself a notoriously slow writer. But perhaps that's what it takes to be this masterful? You may remember a blog post this award-winning humorist wrote in 2011 that went viral, about Beyonce, the giant metal chicken. Check it out. The behind-the-scenes story of what was really going on at home with her husband, Victor, that you're about to hear around that silliness is too good.
I feel like the luckiest girl who's ever had a dream and a microphone. Listen in, share, and leave a comment. I cannot wait.
PS. To get on my Book Mama mailing list and never miss an episode—and receive my free 45-min audio of my favorite + fast writing & publishing tips—go to bookmama.com/gift.
"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—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.
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