Episode 6: Author/Illustrator/Supermom Lori Richmond

In this episode

Lori Richmond, author/illustrator of Pax and Blue and Bunny's Staycation talks about:

  • her process for writing and illustrating picture books
  • children are a treasure trove of ideas
  • her transition from a 20-year corporate job to being self-employed
  • one word- BABYSITTER
  • interruptions cause stress and resentment, which is not fair to the kids and leads to poor quality work
  • separating family life and work life is better for her creative process and her sanity
  • BUT involve the kids when possible 
  • take a walk- shift your perspective from it being "wasted time" to "wandering time"

Some non-writing, but super fun subjects that we talk about:

  • the pros and cons of Amazon's Alexa! (Abby is pro, Lori is con!)
  • Lori's Instagram project
  • how she connected running and art, her parallels between running and creating

Lori's Recommended Reading: 

Subway Story
By Julia Sarcone-Roach
I Don't Like Koala
By Sean Ferrell

Lori's Books:

Pax and Blue
By Lori Richmond
A Hop Is Up
By Kristy Dempsey
By Tim Kubart

A Hop is Up and Oopsie Do are illustrated by Lori Richmond.


Episode 5: Abby's First Book Coaching Experience

“Anything that stretches the mind is a help to the potential author.”
— Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet

In this episode

When Melanie and I decided to do this podcast, we knew we wanted to start with the Blueprint for a Book class. Blueprint for a Book is Author Accelerator’s 6-week intensive course that walks you through the process of THINKING BEFORE YOU WRITE. Jennie Nash designed this class after years of coaching writers through the process. And here’s the cool thing, the thing that makes it DIFFERENT. It’s a one-on-one class with a book coach. It’s all about you and bringing your idea to fruition. It’s about doing the pre-writing necessary to make a killer first draft.

The first step to enrolling in the Blueprint for a Book class is to fill out the application and send in 10 sample pages. Melanie and I did that, and we are happy (and a little nervous) to share our applications and our sample pages here. Are you curious about the application, our answers, and how our pages may look compared to yours? Well, here they are!  INSERT LINK


Yikes, right?! At least on my part! As Jennie said, an agent wouldn’t have even made it off the first page of my story. Did you?  

  • What happens after you apply for the Blueprint for a Book class (or book coaching with Author Accelerator)
  • The difference between a more conventional writing class, working with a traditional publisher, and working with a book coach
  • How can a book coach tell what I need after looking at just 10 sample pages?
  • How a book coach can help us harness the power of story and help us craft a book where our characters make meaning out of what is happening to them.
  • How a book coach can help a writer find the methods of writing that will work best for him or her.  

We are going to link to the Simon Sinek TED Talk video about WHY.  It comes up over and over in our talks, so we will post it over and over. Seriously, folks, it’s THAT important!

Episode 4: Time Management, An Interview with Writer-Dad Dan Blank

Dan Blank is pretty amazing. No, Dan is not short for Danielle, and as he is quick to point out, he's not a mom. But he is a dad- and a writer, and a blogger, and an entrepreneur- who works from home with small children. He also runs a mastermind group for creatives, which you can find more information on here

Also, let's face it. Anyone who includes a nap in their time management strategies is OK in my book. Dan Blank for the win.

In today's episode:

Dan talks about:

  • working from home and setting boundaries & expectations for your family
  • time blocking as a means of being more productive
  • energy blocking to help schedule your tasks when you are most likely to be successful
  • his empathetic philosophy on communicating with others in today's busy age
  • napping as a way to reset your day (can I have a hallelujah?!) 
I take a full-on nap. A change your clothes, draw the curtains nap. 7 days a week. Every day of the year. It’s a reset. There’s something nice about having a moment to yourself when you feel responsible.
— Dan Blank

Dan reads a lot of books about the emotional side of creative work. Here are his suggestions.

Dan's Recommended Reading:

Abby's Recommended Reading: 

Also make sure to check out Dan's podcast, Dabbler vs. Doers, which you can find on iTunes here

Episode 3: The Benefits of Book Coaching

In this episode 

In this episode, Jennie makes reference to Atul Gawande. Atul Gawande is a world-renowned brain surgeon, and yet he still invites his colleagues into the operating room to critique him.  He talks about this experience in a piece in the New Yorker called “The Coach in the Operating Room" and how important it is to being open to getting better at what you do.  

Everyone who wants to write a book needs to get over the idea that if you don’t do it alone, it’s not yours.  Improving your story with help doesn’t mean that the story isn’t yours - it means you’re improving your craft, and you’re making your story the best it can be.

People often come to me and they’re holding on to their ideas SO tightly...your idea is worth nothing. It’s ALL in the execution.
— Jennie Nash

Learning how to execute your idea is key.  Wit the emergence of self-publishing there are fewer barriers to entry, and lots of things are sold to writers under the guise of “Write a bestselling novel in 90 days!”  or “Watch this bestselling author talk about their process!” or even NaNoWriMo - as inspiring as these things can be, and although there’s value in these things and they can be a good place to start- that is not how you write (and finish!) a good book.  

The concept of a coach is slippery. Coaches are not teachers, but they teach. They’re not your boss—in professional tennis, golf, and skating, the athlete hires and fires the coach—but they can be bossy. They don’t even have to be good at the sport. The famous Olympic gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi couldn’t do a split if his life depended on it. Mainly, they observe, they judge, and they guide.
Coaches are like editors, another slippery invention. Consider Maxwell Perkins, the great Scribner’s editor, who found, nurtured, and published such writers as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Thomas Wolfe. “Perkins has the intangible faculty of giving you confidence in yourself and the book you are writing,” one of his writers said in a New Yorker Profile from 1944. “He never tells you what to do,” another writer said. “Instead, he suggests to you, in an extraordinarily inarticulate fashion, what you want to do yourself.”
— Atul Gawande, The Coach in the Operating Room, The New Yorker

Episode 2: Get Your Head in the Game in the Reality of Your Own Life

Today on Mom Writes we talk about how the “cabin in the woods” myth is unrealistic, and how writing in the reality of your life is the long-term solution to forming a creative habit.  Writing is not just one thing; it’s thinking, processing, listening, and researching - and the good news for us writer-moms is that most parts of writing can be done anywhere!

My first agent told me, ‘give me half an hour a day and you can finish this book.'”  - Jennie Nash

Other topics covered in this episode:

  • Giving yourself permission to write + being honest with your family = owning your creative impulse.

  • The cultural devaluation of creativity - we train our students to analyze but over time, creativity falls by the wayside.

  • The skewed metrics for writers - every profession has a learning curve; why not writing?

  • Investing in the tools you need as a writer.

  • Habit and what can be accomplished in small bits of time

Writing a book has as many layers and nuances and skills and complications as any other profession, but we tend not to think about that.” - Jennie Nash

Jennie's Recommended Reading:

A Circle of Quiet
By Madeleine L'Engle

Episode 1: the Mom Guilt Episode

guilt is the dirtiest of laundry...

Here at Mom Writes, we promise to deliver our tag line: the dirty laundry behind writing with kids. And the dirtiest laundry award has to go to our dear friend, Mom Guilt. It's dirtier than a diaper, and way harder to get rid of. But luckily we have a secret weapon, Jennie Nash! Through the course of this episode Jennie completely changes the way I look at how my writing life and my family life fit together. 

Today Jennie, Mel and I talk about the issues we face as creative people and parents, how to fit writing into your busy life, and the value of doing “intangible” work.  

“The best way to guide children without coercion is to be ourselves.”
— Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet

Some things we cover in this episode:

  • Mom guilt -- how to lean in and accept that your creative endeavors matter to you.

  • How do you balance motherhood/parenthood and maintain a productive writing habit?

  • Sharing with your kids and your family what you’re doing -- tell them you’re writing and what you’re writing about.  

  • Modeling hard work and creativity for your kids.

  • Your kids DO come first, but there is value in doing what matters to you.

  • The importance of making an active decision to give something else up in order to make time for your writing (laundry, dishes, etc).  

“At the end of the day, there is nothing more important for your kids than doing what you’re called to do.”
— Jennie Nash

Jennie's Recommended Reading:

A Circle of Quiet
By Madeleine L'Engle

Episode 0: About Us

because everyone needs to put a face with the name

Melanie & Abby

at Melanie's baby shower in 2011. You'd never know she was HUGE in this picture! (I can only say that now that she is a. not pregnant and b. not huge.)

Melanie and I met before we were moms, when our husbands were in graduate school together, and when it was thought the only thing we had in common was raspberries. True story. Our husbands thought we would make great friends because we both liked raspberries. Little did they know that a love of raspberries was only the beginning... 


holding the "airport sign" I used to find her the first time we met, at a coffee shop on Harvard Square

And little did Jennie know that day that she was having coffee with a super-fan-girl who would suck her into this crazy idea of starting a podcast together... 

Dear listeners, you are not alone.  The things that we struggle with are the same things that many creative moms, regardless of their artistic discipline, struggle with. 

Some things we cover in this episode:

  • Writing is an investment of time, money, energy, and trust.  Many people aren’t willing to invest in themselves.

  • There is an inherent selfishness at the heart of being a writer, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  

  • Writing, as a practice, is very intangible, and that is a struggle that most writers deal with.

  • Writing a book is something that usually happens a little bit at a time in the course of a busy life. The “cabin in the woods” theory is a myth, and if you wait to have three months free and clear of all obligations, you’ll never write a book.

  • Creating mental space for your writing.

  • Denying the creative part of your life won’t do you any favors.  

  • What does Author Accelerator do and why would a writer choose to use this resource?

  • A book coach gives you 1) accountability, 2) you are forced to deal with someone else’s reactions to your work, and this is an essential skill as a writer.

Jennie tells us about her history as a writer-mom (she’s written eight books, people. EIGHT!) and what she’s learned about productivity over the years as a both a writer and a book coach.  She explains her reasons for starting Author Accelerator and why she believes working with a coach is the best way to do your best work.