interview by Beth Mitchell
Book coach Jennie Nash, MG writer Abby Mathews, and dystopian sci-fi writer Melanie Parish host a new variety-style podcast called Mom Writes. At MG Lunch Break, we’re always excited to share resources that can help us in our middle grade writing journeys, so we’re delighted that Abby agreed to stop by to answer our questions.
MG Lunch Break: Tell us a little about the podcast. What topics are you planning to cover? Who is the ideal audience for the podcast? Is it just for moms with young kids?
Abby: Well, Melanie and I are both writers with kids, so we naturally bond over the fact that we write amidst the craziness that is inherent to parenting young children. But our idea is sort of along the lines of “coffee with a book coach.” It’s really just one, long ongoing conversation that chronicles what it’s like to write a book while still staying sane and being a great parent. I mean, a great book, a great parent, AND sanity?! That’s a tall order! And that’s why we got a book coach. Writing a book is hard. Writing one with children underfoot is harder. And Melanie and I are both working on our first books, so there’s also this huge learning curve. So I think of Jennie (our book coach) as a life hack. She motivates us, guides us in the right direction, and is a master of the Truth Bomb. Really, any writer will find something of value in our podcast, but if you’re a writer AND you’re working on your first book AND you’re a mom? We will be your new best friends!
Why did you decide to launch a podcast? How is creating a podcast similar to writing? How is it different? How does working on a podcast affect your writing?
Well, books usually have a hero and a guide, right? So think of Melanie and I as your heroines and Jennie as your guide! Creating a podcast is similar to writing in that it’s messy and complicated. It takes a long time, and there is a LOT of editing! I am actually a former high school art teacher, so learning and sharing is just in my nature. All the hard work is worth it, because it’s a beautiful collaboration between the three of us that I’m excited to share with the world. I see the podcast as a natural extension of my writing, because without one I wouldn’t have the other.
You’re working on your first middle grade novel and working with a book coach for the first time. What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned? How has working with Jennie improved your craft? How has this experience improved your writing process? How is working with a book coach different than working with a freelance editor?
Does “How Not to Suck” count as a lesson? But seriously, it’s not that my writing was bad, per say. I had a plot and my grammar was decent. But I didn’t have a story. I basically had an idea and a bunch of words strung together. I’m really no different than a lot of first time writers. I’m educated and can tell a killer story at a dinner party. I was like, why can’t I finish this book? What my book was missing was emotion. Jennie was able to read what I had written and ask the right questions to magically find the essence of what I was trying to say. Then she gave me very specific techniques for how to fix it.
Having a book coach is like having an independent study class with a professor in college. You get them all to yourself, and they focus on what you need to succeed. It’s addictive and highly recommended! But you also asked how it differs from working with a freelance editor. Usually editors read your work at the end, give you feedback, and send you on your way. A book coach developmentally edits you through the whole process of writing–page by page–and is personally invested in your outcome. I’ve spoken to quite a few of the Author Accelerator book coaches (Author Accelerator is Jennie’s company) and I can say they truly get excited over the stories their authors are writing. They are total cheerleaders!
What are some other writing podcasts you listen to? How do you see Mom Writes fitting into the writing podcast landscape?
Actually, I just made friends with another lady who recently started a podcast called Writer Mom Life for indy writer-moms. So if being a writer-mom is your jam, then between that podcast and ours we have you covered! Also, JoAnna Penn’s the Creative Penn podcast MUST be mentioned. I love her (and her British accent). I’m also in love with Lavar Burton Reads, which is like Reading Rainbow for adults. It’s not about writing, but if you grew up on Reading Rainbow, you will get hooked. I seriously cried the first time I heard him say, “But you don’t have to take my word for it…” at the end. I’m such a sap! The last one I want to mention is one I have on my to-binge-listen list. It’s called KidLit Drink Night. I mean, hello? That just sounds FUN!
Where can our readers find your podcast? Interact with you?
Our podcast is currently on iTunes (at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/mom-writes/id1284990599?mt=2 ) and on our website at http://www.authoraccelerator.com/podcast/. We also have show notes on our website, so if you want a bulleted rundown before you listen, you can see what each episode is all about. Author Accelerator has a great Facebook page where Jennie does a FB Live Ask Me Anything (AMA) each Tuesday at 10:30am PST. You can ask Jennie ANYTHING about writing and she will answer all your questions. They are so much fun! Plus you can follow us on Twitter at @abbysmathews, @jennienash, and @AuthAccelerator.
Thanks so much for joining us, Abby!
Watch for our favorite writerly podcasts in next week’s post!
Beth Mitchell lives in the coastal mountains of Northern California with her husband and two sons. A member of the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators, she writes middle grade novels and blogs about the books she and her boys love at https://bethmitchell.rocks.