Kim Cooper | Writing from History |

Kim Cooper knows L.A. history like it’s an old friend.

I’ve been an Angeleno for over ten years, but Kim Cooper is a big part of why I fell in love with the place. Together with her husband, Richard Schave, Kim runs Esotouric, the best thing ever to happen to Los Angeles history. From crime sprees to mobsters to cults, these two know all the deep dark secrets about L.A.’s past. If you come visit us, one of their tours is a must. 

I caught up with Kim on the show about the process of writing her novel The Kept Girl, a story featuring Raymond Chandler and a true tale of mayhem created by a would-be high priestess. We dive in to what it was like to write fiction about something that was largely true and how it felt to crete fiction under the weight of all her knowledge and research. We also get into the subscription model of publishing, connecting with characters from the past and the most unusual method of channeling dialogue I have heard yet. Plus a bit on fashion from times gone by. This one is sure to be a favorite.

Listen up on iTunes | Esotouric | The Kept Girl | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

Show notes for Episode 36 with Kim Cooper:

  • Reconciling the historian and the fiction writer (3:20)
  • Working on true crime of Los Angeles (3:55)
  • Adding the extra 10% to the story and making it fiction (4:40)
  • Managing the facts and the details inside writing fiction (5:00)
  • Where the gaps had to be filled in to Raymond Chandler’s story (7:10)
  • The context of other hidey-holes and cults in the same area (8:40)
  • Picking this particular story for The Kept Girl (9:20)
  • Taxi dancing and becoming a cult high priestess (10:00)
  • The politics of archiving newspapers (11:40)
  • Researching The Kept Girl (12:50)
  • The timeline of writing the book (13:30)
  • Outlining the book and materials (14:00)
  • Channeling Chandler in the saunas (14:30)
  • Connecting with read people & bringing them to life (16:00)
  • Widening circle archive research techniques to get the most materials (17:00)
  • The danger of getting lost in the history (19:00)
  • Exploring Truth while writing about history (19:40)
  • Deciding who you’re writing for (20:00)
  • Collaborating with Richard (22:15)
  • Deciding to start a publishing imprint with subscriptions (22:50)
  • The process of publishing a physical book (24:15) Mentioned: Video of the book coming off the press
  • Factory porn (25:00)
  • The process of creating the cover (25:45) Mentioned: Paul Roger’s Angel’s Flight drawing
  • Designing the interior of the book and the physical object (28:30)
  • The ins and outs of the subscription model (29:30)
  • New projects & the guidebook to Los Angeles (32:00)
  • The lost Raymond Chandler operetta (32:30)
  • The craziness of Los Angeles in the early 1900s (33:30)
  • Timeline and method on the 10th Anniversary book (34:55)
  • The importance of landmarks in a story & preservation (35:15)
  • Why history is of such interest to us now (38:00) Mentioned:
  • The fashion of the past & challenges with hair (39:15)
  • What Kim is reading now (40:15) Mentioned: L.A. Kauffman’s Direct Action (forthcoming)
  • How timing can be on your side as a writer (42:15)

This episode sponsored by Scrivener

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Amy Kuretsky | How to be a healthy writer | Secret Library Podcast

Amy Kuretsky is over the suffering artist: She’s ushering in the healthy creative instead.

Amy Kuretsky is a health coach for creatives and an acupuncturist + herbalist specializing in the emotional and digestive wellness. She coaches creative entrepreneurs to be their healthiest selves without sacrificing their businesses in the process. Her support is for clients who are seeking to make a deeper change in their well being – as a whole being. She’s best known for helping creatives find their own brand of work + life balance. I love Amy because she’s also a tarot lover, so we have been swapping readings over the past months and always discuss ways to stay healthy and sane as writers. I knew that she was the right person to talk to as we got to the end of January and some of that fired-up energy from New Years begins to dissipate. Tired of feeling tired and run down? Want to know how you can take care of yourself as you are writing like a fiend? This will have you up and running again in no time. Bonus: enjoy the soothing sounds of LA’s recent rainstorms in the background.

Listen up on iTunes | Amy Kuretsky’s Website | Health Fuels Hustle Podcast | Self Care Challenge | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Show notes for Episode 35 with Amy Kuretsky:

  • Dealing with New Years intention burnout (2:30)
  • Momentum & the snowball (2:50)
  • The myth of balance when pursuing a serious project idea (4:30)
  • There’s no one size fits all (5:55)
  • Dissecting the tortured artist story (8:15)
  • Embracing her identity as a writer (9:00)
  • Building healthy habits around creativity (9:45)
  • What’s your story around who you are as a writer? (11:15) Mentioned: Byron Katie
  • You don’t have to suffer to tell a good story (12:50)
  • Being in good shape for vulnerability as a writer (13:20)
  • Defining Self Care (14:15)
  • Balancing your inputs and your outputs (16:30)
  • Why self care can be taking things away, not just adding things (17:30)
  • Why meditation is for everyone (18:30)
  • Ways to customize meditation (19:40) Mentioned: Headspace App
  • You are not doing meditation wrong- promise (20:40) Mentioned: I Heart Huckabees ball thing
  • We all deal with our minds getting tied up in knots (22:00)
  • Taking care of the body for writers (23:15)
  • Dealing with hunched shoulders (23:40) Mentioned: Chest opening stretches
  • The Pomodoro technique (24:35) Mentioned: Pomodoro timer, desk stretches
  • The water hack (30:00)
  • Taking care of the spirit (30:20)
  • The differentiation between mind and spirit (30:45) Mentioned: Rachel Pollack 78 Degrees of Wisdom
  • Practices to connect to spirit (32:00) Mentioned: Story Arcana
  • Escaping performance pressure (33:30) Mentioned: EFT
  • How mind and spirit impact your health (35:15)
  • The mental shift with health issues (37:00)
  • How fear can impact your health (38:20)
  • Fear of visibility (38:45) Mentioned: WSJ article with Caroline quoted
  • Why it’s so important to voice your truth (39:45) Mentioned: You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay
  • Setting intentions for the day & being ok with shitty first drafts (42:15)
  • Moving in order to avoid stagnation (44:10)
  • The elusive coffee thing, a good ritual & calming the monkey mind (45:00) Mentioned: Dandy Blend

This episode sponsored by Pretty by Post

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Scott Carney |

Scott Carney knows how to write a pitch. Not only do his articles get published, he’s now on his third book.

Scott has an impressive resume: he’s given a Tedx talk, was a contributing editor at Wired, and has also written articles published in Mother Jones, Playboy, Men’s Journal, Foreign Policy, Discover, Outside and Fast Company. He has a degree in Anthropology and loves digging deep into a subject. But even more than that, he fell in love with debunking things. His first two books were exposes on the underworld of organ trafficking and what happens when spiritual retreats go wrong. He had a solid history behind him when he decided to debunk Wim Hof, a Dutch health guru living in Poland. Scott pitched an article about his intense cold-weather conditioning method and set off to Poland to take it apart. Upon his arrival, he beat Hof at chess and then agreed to give his method a fair shot before tearing it apart. The only problem? The method worked. This episode, Scott and I talk about what happens when a skeptic gets converted, how you can turn an article into a book, and what it was like rolling around in the snow in Poland. For those who enjoyed the idea of Stunt Journalism back in episode 19, Scott’s latest book definitely qualifies for that topic. I had a blast recording this, especially since Scott and I went to college together and hadn’t talked since then. So fun to see what people have done out in the world since graduation.

Listen up on iTunes | Scott Carney’s Website | Twitter | Facebook | What Doesn’t Kill Us | Word Rates

Show notes for Episode 34 with Scott Carney:

  • What Doesn’t Kill Us blowing up after release (3:45)
  • Health and pushing your limits as a book topic (4:45) Mentioned: Born to Run
  • How Scott started the path of debunking bullshit with writing (5:00)
  • Delving into the reality of organ trafficking (7:00) Mentioned: The Red Market
  • Writing an expose on a questionable meditation program (7:45) Mentioned: A Death on Diamond Mountain
  • Finding Wim Hof and deciding to debunk him (8:15)
  • Giving sources a fair shot and experiencing Hof’s method directly (8:30)
  • What happens to the body when exposed to cold (10:15)
  • The point when he re-evaluated the debunking goal (11:20) Mentioned: Stripes and the push-ups
  • Climbing a mountain in shorts (14:00)
  • Publishing the article in Playboy and the timing of expanding it into a book (14:40)
  • Scott’s personal practice after the Hof training (15:40)
  • Writing about science (16:30)
  • Looking at claims Wim Hof made and scientifically testing them (17:30)
  • Researching the book via case studies (20:00)
  • Making a living when working on long-term projects (20:40)
  • Starting with magazine writing and building a book (21:50)
  • The business of journalism the importance of contracts (22:45) Mentioned:
  • Where the money comes from for writers (24:00)
  • Getting articles optioned as movies as a business model (25:00)
  • Why we need Ransom Riggs and John Green on the show to talk about movies made from books (26:00) Mentioned: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
  • Contracts are everything- keep your rights! (27:45)
  • Re-negotiating a previous book after it wasn’t set up to succeed (27:45)
  • Using an NPR appearance to negotiate the next book deal (29:30)
  • Getting rights back to a book based on contract awareness (30:45)
  • Dividing up your rights and how to make more money this way (31:15)
  • Recording the audiobook at home on a budget (32:20) Mentioned: Audible edition of What Doesn’t Kill Us
  • Putting the practices from the book into practice at home (34:45) Mentioned: Wim Hof breathing method
  • Getting over the fear response (39:00) Mentioned: Tara Mohr on fear
  • Friendly tiger Korean spas (41:00)
  • The formula for writing a book (42:30) Mentioned: Scrivener

This episode sponsored by Pretty by Post

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Kate Newburg | Digital Cover Design |

Kate Newburg has you covered. Pun intended.

Kate Newburg is hilarious. She’s got a wicked sense of humor (not in the Boston sense – she’s from Atlanta) and knows the ins and outs of the deeper reaches of Amazon eBooks. She uses this power for good working on cover design primarily for romance novels, and she knows how to make a reader feel seduced. We talk about matching your cover design with your reader’s expectations and how that impacts your reviews. Learn the principles of what should stay in a cover and what should probably come out, as well as hell-no-never-ever-use-them fonts. There are numerous free font sources you can use, and Kate shares her favorites. We also talk about the specific details you need to think about when doing an eBook cover. Finally, learn why you might want to mock up a cover yourself, even if you’re going to be using a designer or getting your cover designed by your publisher. This is a jam-packed episode, so get ready to take some notes.

Listen up on | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Learn to design your cover

Show Notes for Episode 33 with Kate Newburg:

  • Cover design for traditional publishing for self-publishing (3:30) Mentioned: Episode 13 on traditional book design
  • Judging books by the cover (4:20)
  • What you should avoid when designing a cover: markers to consider (5:20)
  • The hidden truths of fonts (7:25) Mentioned: Papyrus | Comic Sans | Wingdings | Zapfino
  • Free fonts for the font-curious for commercial use and why commercial use matters (12:15) Mentioned: Font Squirrel | DaFont | Visual Hierarchy bundles
  • Elements of covers (14:20) Mentioned: Jojo Moyes Me Before You cover
  • Identifying fonts you like (16:15)
  • How to feature blurbs & editorial reviews on eBook covers (17:20)
  • The process of designing a cover start to finish (19:25)
  • Knowing your genre as you design the cover (20:20)
  • How cover design can impact your reviews (20:45)
  • Sourcing art for covers (23:15) Mentioned: DreamsTime | iStock Photo
  • Having a photo shoot for your cover (24:00)
  • Working with an illustrator (24:20)
  • Gone Girl’s cover deconstructed (25:00)
  • Traps when you design your own cover (25:30)
  • Trends in cover design (26:45) Mentioned: Red Crown series | Lunar Chronicles | V.E. Schwab
  • Pinterest for your cover design (28:30)
  • The challenge of talking about the visual in language (29:00)
  • Genre conventions for covers (29:45) Mentioned: Babus | League Gothic
  • Covers from the realm of the weird (32:15) Mentioned: Moan for Bigfoot | Taken by the Haunted HDMI Cable
  • How to learn cover design from market research type to image to exporting the correct file (34:50) Mentioned: Kate’s Class on designing your cover
  • Reasons to design your own cover (35:30)
  • Rebranding with new covers (37:45) Mentioned: Fever Series covers
  • Designing a cover for your reader Mentioned: Rivers of London vs. Midnight Riot covers
  • Current reading: Pride & Prejudice
  • The beauty of niche genres and self-publishing (45:20)
  • The boost that a cover can bring you as a writer (46:15)

This episode sponsored by Story Arcana: Tarot for WritersPretty by Post

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JH Moncrieff | Secret Library Podcast |

J.H. Moncrieff is writing the next Gone Girl.

When Harlequin put out a request for writing submissions to create the next Gone Girl, J.H. Moncrieff won. She’s one of two authors who were selected to write the parallel plots of this new thriller, coming out in 2017. Beyond this project, she’s the author of The Bear Who Wouldn’t leave, a seriously spooky novella. In this episode, we chat about the misconceptions around the horror genre and why books like Gone Girl definitely qualify to be members of that cannon. For those of you who love to get freaked out, this will be your episode. And for those of you, like me, who tend to lean in the “psychological thriller” direction, there’s plenty for you to consider as well.

We also get into Moncrieff’s incredible writing work ethic and how her journalism career has helped her write through any kind of block that appeared- including some very tough times in her life. If you want to follow the #noexcuses plan that we discussed in Natashia Deón’s epsiode, this will be an excellent tune-up that keeps you returning to your story day after day until you get it done. Happy New Year and happy writing!

Listen up on iTunes | J.H.Moncrieff’s website | The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave | Twitter | Facebook

Show Notes for Episode 32 with J.H. Moncrieff:

  • Happy New Year and intro (1:23)
  • The joy of writing suspense and horror & avoiding easy happy endings (4:00)
  • Getting around expectations and keeping readers on the edge of their seats (5:20)
  • Relating to characters  and dealing when bad things happen to them (5:45)
  • Progress reports on writing (7:00)
  • Figuring out how to get a backlog of manuscripts out (7:45)
  • The tension between writing as private vs. interacting with the public after being published (8:40)
  • What happens when your publisher closes and you have to move to another (10:00)
  • Winning the Harlequin search to write the next Gone Girl (11:40)
  • Working on a book as a co-writer with the framework already created (12:45)
  • How new characters and stories come to her (13:15)
  • Writing a book when you know the story in advance (13:45)
  • The challenge of making a character likeable (13:55)
  • Co-writing with a writer on the other side of the world (14:30) Mentioned: That Obscure Object of Desire
  • Regional language challenges with different kinds of English (17:30)
  • Finding Severed Press & how to find the right press for you (19:15)
  • Writing a novel on spec about sea monsters (20:30)
  • Hanging out in the grey area of the story (21:30)
  • How long it takes to write a novel (22:10)
  • Transitioning into fiction full-time (22:45)
  • The disconnect between psychological suspense as horror as a genre (23:30)
  • Why Gone Girl is a horror story and genres getting written off before people explore them (24:00)
  • Pulp horror from the 80s as the reputation for the genre (26:30)
  • Breakthrough books that bring people into a new section of the bookshop (27:00)
  • The challenge of breakthrough books (27:40) Mentioned: Anne Rice
  • Gender bias in the horror genre (27:50)
  • Cultivating a friend who helps you get into publishing (29:45)
  • The importance of networking across genres as a writer (33:00)
  • The impact of journalism on being a novelist (33:50)
  • Treating writing as a business & how to hit deadlines (34:20)
  • Sitting down to write & how to stay on task (35:45) Mentioned: NaNoWriMo
  • Persevering through personal trauma in life (38:15)
  • Why writing more than one book at once doesn’t work (39:55) Mentioned: Progress bars on this page
  • Reading more than one book at once (42:20)
  • What J.H. is reading and her love of food memoirs & cozy mysteries(43:00) Mentioned: Insatiable | Ruth Reichl | Joanne Fluke | Max Tudor mysteries | On Writing by Stephen King
  • Saying thank you to writers (49:30)

This episode sponsored by Pretty by Post

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  • January 5, 2017 - 16:45

    J.H. Moncrieff - Thanks so much for having me on your show! It was a lot of fun.ReplyCancel

    • January 9, 2017 - 17:00

      Caroline - Absolutely my pleasure! Keep us posted whenever you have another book coming out. xoxoReplyCancel

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