I’m taking a break from planning out my NaNoWriMo schedule to share a fun new podcast from Book Riot: Hey YA. Hosted by Kelly Jensen (a former librarian and current blogger at Book Riot and Stacked, she knows her YA lit) and author and literary agent (and generally awesome person) Eric Smith, Hey YA is a bi-weekly podcast that talks about all things YA lit. So far they’ve discussed common tropes, pitches that worked (and some hilarious ones that didn’t), and recommended YA reads in all genres. Kelly and Eric have an easy rapport, and their enthusiasm for YA lit shines through. If you want to know what’s happening in the world of YA, or just want some more book recommendations, I highly recommend this podcast.
Do you listen to any bookish podcasts?
Full disclosure: my recommendation this week is biased. The hosts of Pod Save America are former White House staffers who served under the Obama administration. So they are pretty liberal.
However, they also offer a unique perspective on political procedures and what’s happening in the country today. While other political podcasts I listen have more of a news/media approach, this one gives a former insider’s look, scrutinizing policies and procedures and comparing them to those of the previous administration. They also have a related podcast, Pod Save the World, that discusses international affairs.
What have you been listening to, reading, or watching these days?
One thing 2016 made abundantly clear is how polarized U.S. politics has become. Social media has made it easier to mute the voices we disagree with and boost those who share our opinions. For a fascinating look at this, check out the Wall Street Journal‘s “Blue Feed, Red Feed,” which shows the stories that are most liked and shared by those who self-identify as “very liberal” and “very conservative” side by side. And when one person engages someone with a different opinion on social media, so often it devolves to trolling or personal attacks. It’s easy to look at your news feed and think everyone who disagrees with you is wrong, dangerous, uninformed (or, worse, misinformed), etc.
Enter NPR’s new podcast, 1A. This show draws its name from the first amendment, and discusses timely issues from policy to politics to pop culture. What I like most about this show is that host Joshua Johnson invites people with differing opinions on the day’s topic, and asks questions from listeners in addition to his own questions. Already this show has helped me to understand the arguments made by those whose politics I disagree with. While they’ve yet to change my mind, they’ve helped me see important issues from new angles, and provided insights that simply listening to others who share my views would not have given me. If, like me, you’re craving intelligent, civil discourse that respects differing opinions, I highly recommend this podcast.
When this publishes, I’ll be on my annual road trip from Indiana to New York for Thanksgiving. It’s a long drive, so audiobooks and podcasts really help! Here’s what I’ll be listening to as I make my way east:
Storm Front by Jim Butcher (first of the Dresden Files)
This one is for librarian book club, though I’ve been looking for an excuse to bump it up on my to-read list. For December, we each chose another book club member’s name at random, and had to come up with recommendations for them. Storm Front is my buddy’s recommendation.
Someone recommended this podcast for those who struggle with plot, and I really enjoyed the first episode. Hosts Alastair Stephens and Lani Diane Rich break down the plots of Pixar movies from Toy Story through Monsters University. Since plotting/outlining is my biggest weakness, this is a good way for me to study up while I’m on the road.
Do you have a Thanksgiving reading/listening list?
Lately I’m becoming more and more of an audiophile. Audiobooks were my gateway, and for a while my main listening material (aside from music). Then a friend convinced me to listen to a podcast, and a few weeks later I was asking her to recommend an app so I could subscribe to the ones I like and get every new episode in one place.
I posted a few weeks ago about podcasts for writers, but today I have a few more specific audio recommendations. First, this episode of Writing Excuses on setting and the environment blew my mind. L.E. Modessit, Jr., discusses how the environment affects many aspects of daily life in far more detail than I’ve thought about before. If you’re writing science fiction, fantasy, or historical fiction, I highly recommend listening to this. (And even if you write contemporary fiction, there’s some fascinating information here.)
My second recommendation is the audiobook of Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. The book is composed entirely of documents — chats, interview transcripts, military reports, etc. — so I didn’t think it would translate well to audio. It was on my list of books I should really read when I got through my current stack of print books. But then another writer recommended the audio version, and boy am I glad I listened! The production is great, and of course the story itself is fantastic. (And if you don’t want to take my word for it, Illuminae was also just nominated as a finalist for YALSA’s 2016 Teens’ Top Ten.)
I’ve always been a multi-tasker, and recently I’ve gotten into podcasts as a way to hear a great story or learn something new while cooking or doing chores. If you’re looking for some podcasts to brush up on your craft or learn more about the writing business, I’ve found the following helpful.
Writing Excuses — “a fast-paced, educational podcast for writers, by writers.” Authors Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Taylor (writer and illustrator), and Dan Wells cover a wealth of craft-related topics, from beginnings to endings, characters to worldbuilding, pacing to revisions. Episodes are 15-20 minutes long, so they’re perfect for a walk (or run) around the block.
PubCrawl — I’ve been reading the Pub(lishing) Crawl blog for years, and was thrilled when two of the contributors started releasing weekly podcasts. These run a little longer than Writing Excuses (episodes are roughly an hour), but go into more depth on the business side of writing. Writers Kelly Van Sant and S. Jae Jones (JJ) have years of experience in the publishing world, both as agents’ interns/assistants and as editors. Past episodes have discussed pitches, advances and royalties, contracts, and queries.
This Creative Life — author Sarah Zarr interviews YA authors on a wide range of topics, from their inspiration to their writing habits to life as a published author.
Do you have any favorite writing podcasts? Please share in the comments!