Something cool is happening in March – an organic movement to spread the word about podcasts, centered around the hashtag #trypod. An NPR press release explains the movement like so:

According to Edison Research, one in five Americans listened to podcasts every month as of early 2016 – a number that has grown by double-digits for five years. Even though podcasts are growing quickly and are available in more places than ever before, some people still don’t know how to listen or where to start. Informally led by NPR, industry leaders including ESPN, HowStuffWorks, Pineapple Street Media, Midroll and WNYC Studios are working together to show new audiences how easy it is to listen.

So, scroll through #trypod to find amazing recommendations for new shows, and maybe spread the love for First Draft with Sarah Enni, too! But don’t forget to pay it forward by talking to friends and family about the shows you listen to. And, when necessary, grab their dang phones and download an episode.

OR — if you’re short on time — you can send the podcast n00b in your life this blog post, cuz I’m gonna lay out how to listen to a podcast right now! Then, for kicks, I’ll also include information on how I make my own podcast, in my house, in my pajamas, with my cat. If I can do it, then literally anyone can.

Here we go!

How to Listen to Podcasts

First of all: What’s a podcast?

Great question! I tell my grandmother it’s like an old-fashioned radio show, but on demand. Really, that’s about it. It’s news or entertainment, in an audio-only format, that you can listen to on your computer or your phone.

There are a million different kinds of podcasts: non-fiction; narrative fiction; serial fiction; improv comedy; news; news magazine; how-to tutorials; self-help and advice; etc etc. Honestly, there’s something for everyone.

Why would I listen to something like that? I have movies, TV, and books.

A podcast is great for when you’re on a walk, driving, or cleaning the house. It’s great because it can be short (like The Two-Minute Takeaway) or looooooong (like Pete Holmes’ two-and-a-half hour interview with Kumail Nanjiani). And the audio format is uniquely intimate; if you listen to many episodes of one show, you start to feel like you know the hosts or the guests personally. It isn’t better or worse than other entertainment mediums — just different!

Okay, fine. I’ll try it. Where do I find podcasts?

iTunes is the most central place to find podcasts. If a podcast exists, it’s probably available through iTunes on your computer or your phone.

The Podcasts app for iOS provides easy access to popular and featured podcasts using the navigation icons at the bottom of the app. To subscribe to a podcast, tap Subscribe on the page for that podcast. To play a podcast, tap on any episode. To download an episode, tap the iCloud icon in the episode list.

There are lots of other apps available to search for, discover, and play podcasts. (This link for Android users.)

Hooray!

How To Make a Podcast

Come up with a concept.

Podcasts are most effective when they have a topic, a format, and regular schedule. What are you an expert in, or desperate to know more about? What could you talk about for literally hours?There’s your topic. Politics, training rescue animals, glass blowing — it could be anything!

Now: what’s the best way to talk about your topic? You could bring on a new guest for every show and interview them, or have a conversation with them. You could recap a TV show, and base every podcast episode on an episode of the show. Or you could talk about the latest developments regarding your topic on a regular basis, providing analysis for your audience.

That brings us to schedule. For your podcast to gain a loyal following, it should be released regularly. Set audience expectations by letting them know whether your show is daily, weekly (the most common), or biweekly, or monthly.

Get the equipment you need.

Creating your own podcast could be practically free, or you could throw a LOT of money at it. You need a microphone, editing software, and a hosting service.

  • Microphones! Many computers come with microphones already installed, which you can use to record a podcast. The question is: how do you want your podcast to sound? If you spend money on a microphone, your podcast will sound better. If you want a mic, you’re going to have to do some research to figure out which microphone is best for your project. Here’s a couple lists of some of the best microphones for podcastingaccording to various experts, and here’s another list of the best microphones for under $100. I looked at this list of microphones that NPR reporters use, since I record “in the field,” instead of at my desk.
  • Audio Editing Software! Once you record your podcast, you will want to edit it to include music, cut out bloopers, and reduce noise or otherwise improve the quality of the recording. I use GarageBand, because it came free with my laptop and is intuitive. Audacity is another well-reviewed (and free!) editing software. Here are some other options, including industry-standard ProTools (definitely not free). The final product must be in a M4A, MP3, MOV, MP4, M4V, PDF, or EPUB file format.
  • Hosting service! Once you have the final episode (in the right format), it’s time to figure out how to share your episode with the world. You don’t upload the podcast right to iTunes – it goes through a hosting service, which you then connect to iTunes. There are a few hosting service options. I use LibSyn, and I pay $20 per month. Then you establish your show’s RSS feed and submit it to iTunes — check out this guide from iTunes, or this one from LibSyn.

So, this is far from a fully comprehensive guide, but I hope it’s at least a good place to start! Please show your support for First Draft, and podcasts in general, by talking to friends and family about podcasts and helping them figure out how to listen … to the future! (lol)

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30117284Veronica Roth, author of the DIVERGENT series, is going on tour in January to celebrate her new book, CARVE THE MARK (first in a duology). That is super exciting, not just because Veronica is my friend and she’s great and CtM is great (she is and she is and it is), but also because she asked me to come along as emcee/podcaster for her tour in January and February 2017!

As she explains here, Veronica’s going to be taking a “sojourn” approach to this tour, meaning she’ll be trying to get out and explore all the cities like a local. That’s pretty dang cool, and we’ll be documenting the adventures with daily podcasts as we go! (They’re probably gonna get weird. Which is how we like it.)

There will be tons more information as we get closer to January, but for now here are the tour dates — get it in your calendars! Come say hi! And even if we’re not coming near you, we’ll be sending audio missives from the road so you can feel like you’re going stir crazy right next to us.

Tour Info:

Tuesday, January 17 at 6:00 PM
Barnes & Noble Booksellers
33 East 17th Street
New York, NY 10003
Phone: (212) 253-0810
http://stores.barnesandnoble.com/event/9780061825883-0

Wednesday, January 18 at 7:00 PM
Glencoe Central School**
620 Greenwood Ave
Glencoe, IL 60022
**Books sold by The Book Stall
Phone: (847) 446-8880
https://www.facebook.com/events/344062715947637/

Thursday, January 19 at 7:00 PM
Joseph-Beth Booksellers
2692 Madison Road
Cincinnati, OH 45208
Phone: (513) 396-8960

Friday, January 20 at 6:15 PM
Nashville Children’s Theatre**
25 Middleton Street
Nashville, TN 37210
Phone: (615) 953-2243
**Books sold by Parnassus Books

Saturday, January 21 at 7:00 PM
FoxTale Book Shoppe**
105 E. Main St., #138
Woodstock, GA  30188
Phone: (770) 516-9989
**This event will be held at an offsite venue, to be announced.
http://foxtalebookshoppe.com/veronica-roth

Monday, January 23 at 6:00 PM
Santa Cruz High School
415 Walnut Ave
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Phone: (831) 423-0900
**Books sold by Bookshop Santa Cruz
http://www.bookshopsantacruz.com/event/veronica-roth-carve-mark

Tuesday, January 24 at 7:00 PM
Granger High School**
3580 South 3600 West
West Valley, UT 84119
Phone: (801) 484-9100
**Books will be sold by The King’s English Bookshop
http://www.kingsenglish.com/event/veronica-roth-carve-mark

Wednesday, January 25 at 7:00 PM
Books-a-Million
5000 Katy Mills Circle
Katy, TX 77494
Phone: (281) 644-2665

Friday, January 27 at 7 PM
Indigo Yorkdale
3401 Dufferin Street, Unit 29, Toronto, Ontario M6A 2T9

https://www.facebook.com/events/356781384672840/

 

Saturday, January 28 at 11:00 AM
Chapters Waterloo
428 King St N, Waterloo, Ontario N2J 2Z6

https://www.facebook.com/events/1872007533030652/

Tuesday, February 7 at 6:00 PM
Barnes & Noble – The Grove with Victoria Aveyard
189 The Grove Drive, Unit K-30
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Phone: (323) 525-0270
https://www.facebook.com/events/174118729711558/

Hope to see you there!

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Here’s a thing that’s happening: I am writing a short story for a new young adult anthology!

BECAUSE YOU LOVE TO HATE ME: 13 Tales of Villainy

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Release date: July 11, 2017

Pre-order it: Amazon | IndieBound |Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

This unique YA anthology presents classic and original fairy tales from the villain’s point of view. The book’s unconventional structure–thirteen of the most influential BookTubers on YouTube join forces (writing-prompt style) with thirteen acclaimed and bestselling authors–gives these mysterious, oft-misunderstood individuals characters a chance to tell their stories, their way.

Like Maleficent or Wicked, these are stories of vengeance, of defiance, of rage. They are stories of pain, of heartbreak, of sorrow. But don’t expect a circle of hands. Leave it to the heroes to help the world; villains just want to rule the world. We love to hate them and they hate to be loved, if only because being hated frees them from having to be good.

Contributing authors include bestselling and buzzy names Renée Ahdieh, Soman Chainani, Susan Dennard, Sarah Enni, Marissa Meyer, Cindy Pon, Victoria Schwab, Samantha Shannon, Adam Silvera, Andrew Smith, April Genevieve Tucholke, and Nicola Yoon, with a foreword and a story from anthology editor Ameriie.

Here’s Ameriie being adorable and talking about the cover reveal:

I was pretty over the moon when Ameriie asked me to contribute to the anthology, and I had so much fun writing the story! The book is a fun collaboration between YA writers and booktubers, including:

Benjamin Alderson (Benjaminoftomes); Sasha Alsberg (abookutopia); Whitney Atkinson (WhittyNovels); Tina Burke (ChristinaReadsYA & TheLushables); Catriona Feeney (LittleBookOwl); Jesse George (JessetheReader); Zoë Herdt (readbyzoe); Samantha Lane (Thoughts on Tomes); Sophia Lee (thebookbasement); Raeleen Lemay (padfootandprongs07); Regan Perusse (PeruseProject); Christine Riccio (polandbananasBOOKS); Steph Sinclair & Kat Kennedy (Cuddlebuggery)

First Draft: Behind The Podcast

September 23, 2014

Sarah_logo_r2From July 1 to Sept. 5, I drove more than 6,000 miles and recorded more than 40 interviews with authors for what has become the First Draft podcast series. It was a lemonade-from-lemons desperation project, and one of the most insane things I’ve ever done. It made my mother quite nervous.

Many forces converged to make a great escape palatable: My marriage took a southward turn; after a couple close calls, my book did not sell; my day job is still a typical, dull day job; and I realized that being 3,000 miles away from my family and the Pacific Ocean for six years had taken a hearty toll on my happiness.

So I decided to do something that would shake up every corner of my life. Professionally, I love podcasts and wanted to know how to create one. Personally, I wanted to get out of the now-half-empty apartment I could no longer afford, and back to the best coast. Creatively, I wanted to let a big adventure open up my mind. A plan formed: Take a road trip (ending at my mom’s house in Seattle), and along the way meet and interview as many YA and MG authors as will tolerate me, to create a podcast series that is to authors what WTF With Marc Maron is to comedians. (No hubris involved in that comparison, nossir.)

The idea was scary as hell. At BEA I told Veronica Roth about my fledgling plan. Saying it out loud felt awful; the whole project sounded flail-y and weird and like flat-out lunacy. I started to feel the floor give way under my doubts. But then, with a shrug, Veronica said the thing that saved the entire venture: “Just say yes.”

BvcCgyBCQAE2JIKSo I bought a microphone, packed up my Prius, and started emailing every author I’d ever had a kind interaction with. (Bless you, Twitter.) So many of them responded ‘yes!’ that I was stunned. It was officially too late to back out.

June was spent watching the World Cup, packing up and storing all my belongings, prepping my Prius, and drowning in email. Then, at about 5 a.m. on July 1, I said goodbye to Hammer and hit the road.

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The first leg of the journey took me to New Jersey, Long Island, then New York, where I stayed with my best friends (who provided lots of hugs, support, and wine). I bought a thick copper band to fit over my now-bare ring finger like a Band-Aid, where it stayed put all summer. I walked from Central Park to Soho and started to understand that monster of a city for the first time, and made a little piece of it my own. I struggled to find the right words to describe what I was going through, my heart and mind in a humidity-addled haze.

The last interview before I grabbed the LIRR to retrieve my Pirus (stored with the endlessly accommodating Kara Taylor) was with Libba Bray. The interview was a game-changer, and not just because Libba Bray is a force of nature. She was describing artists who create work with a truly singular sensibility (Wes Anderson or David Sedaris, for example), whose work manages to capture their worldview so well,”It’s like looking at the world with your head on its side,” Libba said. She mentioned her friend and bandmate Natalie Standiford – her work is infused so entirely with such a distinct point of view, Libba said, “I think Natalie kind of sees the world with her head slightly to the left.” And when I explained my endeavor to her, Libba smiled. What better thing than a road trip, she said, to set your head at a tilt?

The task at hand was crystallized: the road trip was not the creative thing itself. It was a catalyst, the experience that would challenge me to figure out what I wanted to explore in my writing. You can only tell so many stories in this one life. What will mine be?

IMG_5870From there, I went through New England, back to New York, and finally set my compass west. Through Pennsylvania, stopping at Fallingwater, to Asheville, N.C., to Nashville. I saw so much beauty, met so many amazing creative people and their families. Slept on so many couches, visited so many bookstores – including one that doubled as a champagne bar.

I felt myself growing anxious for the moment another writer sat across from me and I hit record. I didn’t quite understand why it felt so freeing until Myra McEntire summed it up: small-talk had been eliminated from my life. Traveling meant alternating between hours of alone time in coffee shops or driving, and intense hour-and-a-half-long conversations with authors I admire about things we care the most about. Myra had been looking to streamline communication in her life, too, as part of a search for authenticity. “I just don’t see any sense in wasting time,” she said. “I think it freaks people out – I know it does – just to get deep immediately. Just to say, ‘Here’s my stuff!’ But … to me, you can start at point pre-ABC, or you can start right with A.” In conversation with Myra I stumbled on the phrase that would become a kind of slogan for the trip:  My people; not my people. Hitting record gave me the chance to dive right in and see what camp someone fell into.

At this point in the trip, I started meeting with people I didn’t know, authors recommended by those I’d already interviewed. (“Are you going to talk to [author]? You have to, they’re the best!”) Truth is, these conversations – the ones that came out of nowhere, with authors generous enough to respond to my random tweets – were some of the most profound interactions of the entire trip. I started tearing up at practically every interview. These were my people, they spoke directly to my heart, and it was so beautiful to be welcomed into their homes, their coffee shops, their libraries.

resizeThen Kirsten Hubbard flew to Midland, Texas to meet me halfway through my journey. I got a speeding ticket in a one stoplight town, such was my desperation to get to her. That was when the music stopped and the Prius was filled with conversation. The interviews slowed down as Kirsten and I took time to explore the southwestMarfa, Texas; the Petrified Forest; Route 66; the Grand Canyon; Sedona, Ariz.; the Salton Sea; Salvation Mountain.

This part of the trip, more than any other, led my head to gently tilt. It’s easy to imagine extraordinary things in the desert.

In San Diego I finally had my reunion with the Pacific Ocean, and I left Kirsten at her house to head north. Los Angeles is a veritable warren of YA writers. I booked an AirBnB with an ivy-covered deck, record player, and no kitchen for 10 nights in L.A. to give myself time to meet with as many of them as possible.

The first stop was meeting with Tahereh Mafi and Ransom Riggs. They are perhaps the most in-love couple I’ve ever met, but they’ve both been married before. They literally and figuratively opened their arms and gave me such needed encouragement, I’m not sure I can express it. And Tahereh said something that I think I may tattoo on my eyelids: “You have to remember not to be selfish.” It’s a tall order.

The last haul of my journey – the Bay Area, Sonoma, Fort Bragg, Eureka, Portland – passed by in a blur. The more miles I ate up, the more momentum built up to finally get to Seattle. In fact, I cut my time in Portland short because, simply, I needed to be at home. (I was also disturbed by the number of men sporting mustaches and shorts prowling that city. What gives?)

When I parked my disgustingly dirty Prius in my mother’s driveway Sept. 5 (never did manage to make time for a car wash), I had driven more than 6,600 miles, interviewed 48 authors, and recorded more than 60 hours (a full two and a half days) worth of audio. I’m not the same person who left Washington, D.C. in July – I’m more inspired, more ambitious, more ruthless, more kind. And I can’t wait to share all the thoughts and wisdom of the people I met along the way with all of you.

Stay up to date on First Draft podcasts at the official website, or subscribe via iTunes or StitcherLearn how you can support the podcast here.

New Project: Podcast!

July 1, 2014

Hello friends! It’s been quiet around these parts, but not behind the scenes. I have a new project in the works that I am so excited about!

Over the last year, I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole of listening to podcasts. Nothing makes a long walk to the coffee shop fly by more quickly than listening to interviews by Marc Maron or Pete Holmes, and while trekking around Iceland on a recent vacation I almost ran the campervan off the road laughing at How Did This Get Made. And, of course, the amazing Sara Zarr’s This Creative Life !

Somewhere in the alien Icelandic landscape I got a major, North Pole-frequency brainwave: I could start a podcast! I’ve listened to at least 10,000 hours of NPR, and the very, very little I’ve learned about osmosis leads me to believe I am therefore qualified to jump right into the deep end of audio reporting.

photoThe podcast idea percolated as I drove in and around Iceland, and it got me thinking about the role place plays in our imagination, and how where writers live impacts their worldview and creative life. So the idea of taking a road trip bloomed in my mind. A podcast structure began to form: I’d set out on the road to interview authors I admire, mixing in audio reporting from where they live and work with a more long-form interview on writing, life, and any old thing that comes up.

So I got to invest in a fun new toy (the Zoom H2N recorder, for any of you tech-heads), watched about a hundred YouTube videos on how to work GarageBand, and convinced the saintly Sumayyah to be my guinea pig interview.

And it was a blast!

I reached out to some of my closest YA author friends, and a bunch of amazing writers I admire, to see if this effort was destined to pan out. And the response was so incredible — but then, I shouldn’t have been surprised. The YA community is bursting at the seams with generous, earnest, and fascinating people.

And lo, the First Draft podcast was born!1

Sarah_logo_r2Well, it will be born! I’m planning on launching the first episode (or two!) on Monday, July 7.

But the road trip starts today! If you’re interested, you can start following my journey, and get updates about First Draft once it gets rolling, here:

The First Draft Podcast website, www.firstdraftpod.com

Follow FirstDraftPod on Twitter!

And of course, Instagram.

  1. Logo by the incredibly talented SF designer, Collin Keith!

2013: A (Disappointing) Reading Analysis

January 1, 2014

I recently wrote a post for YA Highway encouraging every reader to do an examination of the books they read in 2013. Not just a cursory glance at the list – a real breakdown of subject matter, and gender, sexual orientation, and ethnic diversity (of authors and characters). The post was inspired by Science Fiction/Fantasy […]

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How I Spent My Summer Vacation

August 20, 2013

I had an all-too-brief respite from the work force last week and … it was strange. I definitely feel better when I have a lot of things going on, so trying to focus on taking time off led to some odd behavior. What about you? How do you spend your time off?

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BEA Madness!

June 3, 2013

I can hardly believe that 1) it’s already June, and 2) this last weekend was the third time that I’ve attended the annual BookExpo America conference, held in the glass labyrinth that is New York City’s Javits convention center. This year was the most thrilling, by far, because of all the remarkable women I know […]

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Query Tips

April 8, 2013

Querying is the pits. It’s also the best! The peaks and valleys, that emotional yo-yo, can make the weeks or months of frantic e-mail checking really tough to take. I was so excited to announce that I snagged a great agent this go-round, but it wasn’t my first time on the query train. And having […]

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Exciting News!

April 1, 2013

Breaking the blog silence because I have (as promised in the heading) something super exciting to announce 1: I am now represented by Sarah Burnes with The Gernert Company! ~.gif interlude~   ~/interlude~ I haven’t discussed my current project all that much, but it’s a contemporary romance. That’s something Sarah knows all about, as she […]

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