July 31, 2020
Today my guest is Olivia Waite, author of The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows, and the new romance columnist for The New York Times. We take a deep and joyful nerdy deep dive into beekeeping, romance, and confronting bi-erasure in romance. It’s very fun - get ready. Thanks to Kate, Shana, Aarya, Claudia, and Leigh for questions! Looking for a podcast to listen to? Check out Jeff & Will and The Big Gay Fiction Podcast: … Music:
July 24, 2020
The Damned, the sequel to The Beautiful, is out, so Renee Ahdieh joins me again to talk about vampire romance, characters overcoming and rejecting toxic patriarchy, and the planning of an incredible virtual book tour. We talk about some of the themes in The Damned (no spoilers but if you haven’t read The Beautiful there are some details about the end) and about the development of a multi-night multi-author party that surrounded the book’s release. We also talk about makeup, cooking, Instant pot recipes, and books - it’s a well rounded conversation. TW/CW: We mention briefly sexual assault and deeply awful Supreme Court confirmation hearings at minute 21:00, so if you'd like to skip that part, jump ahead one minute at 21:00.  What about you? What virtual gatherings have you attended or hosted? What really works for you? I’d love to know! ... Music:
July 17, 2020
Gemma emailed the podcast to say that she loves episodes with Amanda, and wondered if Amanda might help her find more books like the ones she’s really, really enjoyed lately. Yes to both! Amanda and I discuss Gemma’s letter, fantasy romance recommendations, plus our local library hauls, and what we’re reading and listening to. Thank you Gemma for emailing us! …
July 10, 2020
Today I’m speaking with historical romance legend Mary Balogh. No, my inner 13-year old was not chill. This was recorded by phone, so the audio is a little different. We discuss her newest book, Someone to Romance, and her re-releases, including her latest, Truly, and the Welsh history behind that story. We also talk about writing ongoing series, found family, and what books she’s loving lately! Thanks to Elyse, Claudia, Aarya, Regencyfan, and Debbie for their input, care, and questions for this episode!
July 3, 2020
Today I’m chatting with author Sarah Gailey about their books, including their latest, When We Were Magic, and about different types of magic, including the magic of learning a skill, finding your community, and discovering over and over again who you are. We talk a lot about queerness, and defining who you are - specifically by asking the question, “Who are you when you’re all by yourself?” Thanks to Meagan-Ray for their input, care, and questions for this episode! ... Music:
June 26, 2020
Alexis Rockley is a business coach and the author of the book Find Your Fuck Yeah. She recently went viral with a tweet about the cognitive exhaustion of the quarantimes. In the course of making an argument against the constant push toward increased work, productivity, and leveling up, she talks about working with your brain to find a happier space for yourself. Plus she offers some practical techniques to help you and your tired brain slow down, breathe (literally!) and soothe yourself a bit.
June 19, 2020
Today Amanda and I are answering listener email about books on sale, extremely long romances, and, most importantly, BAKED GOODS. I talk about my birthday cake, a homemade mint chip brownie baked Alaska, and we discuss all the delicious things we, and you, are all making. Plus book recs, and a very important question at the end. Come hang out with us! Thank you to Jacqueline, Amy, Verity for the recipes, and Jasmine and Ellie for the questions. … Music: ... This episode is brought to you by Never Conspire with a Sinful Baron by Renee Ann Miller.
June 12, 2020
Keeping with recent tradition, this week we have a spoiler-free discussion of a new book! Alpha Night by Nalini Singh is out, so Nalini and I connected to talk all about it, But first we talk about quarantine baking and gluten free baking tricks, and then we discuss mating at first sight, alpha females, consent, writing series, and what she’s working on now (clue: archangels!). … Music: Looking for a new show to enjoy? Check out Learning the Tropes! Erin (the Veteran) and Clayton (the “Virgin”) discuss a new romance novel every week in this fun celebration of the romance genre. Find Learning the Tropes wherever you catch your podcasts!
June 5, 2020
Today my guest is Farrah Rochon, author of the new contemporary romance The Boyfriend Project - so of course we’re talking about the book! No spoilers, we promise! We talk friendship, creating your own incredible writing retreat, and Broadway musicals, and more. We also discuss her term on the board of RWA, which ended late last year, within the limits of what she’s able to talk about. And Farrah shares with us memories of her late sister Tamara, who died suddenly in December 2019. Farrah talks a bit about what happened to Tamara, so if that’s a potentially painful subject for you, skip ahead a minute at 37:15. Thank you to Farrah for sharing her sister with all of us, and for our lovely conversation. … Get 15% your purchase of Sudio bluetooth headphones using code SB at checkout! And have a look at their new bluetooth earbuds, the Sudio Fem.  Music:
May 29, 2020
Today, I’m talking rakes, rakesses, and historically ferocious women with Scarlett Peckham. We talk about what she calls her feminist primal scream book, The Rakess, about steely steadfast cinnamon roll heroes, and we deep dive into what we love about characters who destabilize and unpeel one another emotionally and, uh, literally. Also: a sneak peek into what’s next in her Sirens series and for the Charlotte Street series! TW/CW: talk about sexual harassment, the price of being female and speaking up for yourself, the challenges of owning sexuality, domestic violence, workplace harassment and assault, and specific crimes against women - to quote Feminist Survival Project hosts Emily and Amelia Nagoski, Patriarchy, UGH. Thank you to Jacqueline, Carrie, Aarya, Leigh, and Claudia for the questions! … Music: Looking for a new show to enjoy? Check out My Imaginary Friends with L. Penelope.
May 22, 2020
Today, Tara and I are speaking with Maggie Tokuda-Hall, author of the new book, The Mermaid, The Witch, and the Sea, which we loved. We talk about who and what inspired her to write this book, how she explored gender identity among pirates, and the stories that define us. NB: There are incidents of torture and violence in the book, and we mention them during the conversation off and on. ... Music:
May 15, 2020
Curious about being a publicist for romance? And how publicity is working during the Quarantimes? Today I'm chatting with Estelle Hallick, publicist at Forever. We talk about all the things, and I ask a lot of questions! We also talk about the Hachette walkout, which happened in early March and seems like a year ago. We don’t go into the specifics of the memoir, but look more at what internally led to the walkout, what happened afterward, and how acting together made a big difference. And then: reading recs. LOTS of ‘em! … Music: Looking for a new show to enjoy? Check out My Imaginary Friends with L. Penelope.
May 8, 2020
[bookaside slug="cowboy-come-home"] Today I’m chatting with author Carly Bloom about writing cowboy romcoms, small communities that include really annoying people, and the reality of ranch life. No one walks around with their shirt open and their abs hanging out. Can you believe that?? We also take a non-spoilery dive into her latest book, Cowboy Come Home, so if you’re looking for your next read, perhaps this will make you happy. We talk a fair bit about her #homemadebookcover, which made me laugh. There's a link at in the shownotes for episode 404. ... This episode is brought to you by In To Her by JA Huss, available now at There's a sample of the audiobook at the end of this episode, too!
May 1, 2020
This is a silly episode about cake, desserts, and in the middle, a surprise party for Amanda. She thought she was logging in to talk about cake. I surprised her with a virtual pajama birthday party with Christina Lauren and Kristin Dwyer - and a lot of pictures of Adam driver. Zeb is begging throughout the recording. We talk about cake and desserts. We discuss strange food combos. We’re very silly. We get a super-surprise sneak preview of their latest book! Come celebrate with us. You can see pictures of Amanda's birthday cake from Whiskful, who is taking orders for local pickup and delivery in Somerville, Cambridge, and the greater Boston area, and of Lauren's amazing Adam Driver shirt at Cake is the reward, and buttercream is the bonus. What’s your favorite dessert? Cake? Cupcakes? Pie? Brownies? Cookies? I'm all about carbs so please tell me your faves!  Music:
April 24, 2020
Alisha Rai wrote a tweet about cake pops on Valentine’s Day that went holy heckin’ viral. It was on every social media platform. It was on tv. Morning shows spent 3+ minutes debating it. Then jackwagon men’s rights activists on YouTube ranted about it. The cake pops are a metaphor, but the outcome of online virality and that level of exposure is very real, and very difficult. So we talk about what happened, why it happened, and why it’s so goddam threatening for marginalized women with platforms and opinions to be funny while criticizing the behavior of entitled people. And in delicious, delicious irony, Girl Gone Viral, Alisha’s new book, is out this week. TW/CW: harassment, like holy whoa. We’re talking throughout the episode about online harassment of a woman of color, and there are some shitty examples at different times in our conversation, so heads up. Some people suck. You, however, are fabulous. Music:
April 17, 2020
Dr. Nicole Peeler is an author of fantasy, and a professor of popular writing in the Seton Hill MFA in Popular Fiction Writing. We talk about SO MUCH and this is one of those episodes you might listen to a few times because it’s so inspiring and affirming. We discuss writing, confronting genre misconceptions, how one teaches popular writing and romance specifically, and writing your own catnip. Detours include vampires, sewing, hobbies, creativity that isn’t monetized, fashion, goals, and learning to love writing again and again. NB: This was recorded prior to the dark winter of RWA, and was also recorded prior to the international quarantine. But creativity in any form is getting me through the quarantimes. What about you? What’s your creative outlet, the ones you revel in? I’d love to know. Music:
April 10, 2020
Several members of the Frolic Podcast Network have gathered for group mayhem and silliness for your collective amusement! Laura von Holt from The Mermaid Podcast had the idea to do a group gathering of mayhem and merriment, so in this episode, we have me, Laura, Kelly from Boobies & Noobies, and Kelsey and Zoë from Tea & Strumpets. We get very silly and invite you to join us. We forget to introduce ourselves. We tell jokes. We debate which Music Man version is superior. We, well, I learn about ranch dressing on pizza. This is a thing? I had no idea. We talk about what we’re doing to keep our happiness levels up, too - books, dancing, studying botany. What about you? Got a joke? What are you doing to keep yourself feeling content? I’d love to know. ... Music:
April 3, 2020
We are back with Kiki, Catherine Heloise, and Shana from the SBTB team, with recs, good wishes, and...a CHEESE CONUNDRUM. We cover low-angst reads, scientific research, Let’s All Leave the Planet, SkypeSpeare, and CHEESE HULLABALOO. We’re sending you good thoughts and many good book wishes from a safe and acceptable social distance. ... Music:
March 27, 2020
Need a break? We are back with some of the SBTB team, who offer more comforting recommendations, and extend their good wishes into the world. This week, Sneezy, Ellen, Maya, Tara, and Aarya want to tell you about new books, old favorites, and some games that are bringing them comfort. We’re sending you good thoughts and many good book wishes from a safe and acceptable social distance. TW/CW: The stress of witnessing global racism during Sneezy's interview.3 ... Music:
March 20, 2020
Need a break? I’m connecting with each of the Smart Bitches writing team from around the world to see how they’re doing, collect some comforting recommendations, and extend their good wishes into the world. Cozy up and join us for part one with Carrie in California, Elyse in Wisconsin, Lara from South Africa, and Amanda and I from Boston and Maryland. We have books to read and re-read, recommendations for resilience, and familiarity, and absolute fun. And we have CRUCIAL QUESTIONS about mayonnaise. We’re sending you good thoughts and many good book wishes from a safe and acceptable social distance. ... Music:
March 13, 2020
My guest today is Deanna Raybourn, author of the Veronica Speedwell series, described as “Miss Fisher meets Sherlock Holmes.” Yup. Story checks out. We’re talking about her latest book out this week, A Murderous Relation, and about Victorian sleuthing, connections to Schitt’s Creek, recognizing people when you first meet them, and the future of Stoker and Veronica - plus red lipstick and the power of being fully yourself.
March 6, 2020
This week, a much anticipated book is out: House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas released on the 3rd. It’s the first in her new Crescent City series, and her first adult fantasy title. So we’re going to talk about everything - and we have some incredible questions from our Patreon community, too. They were as excited as we were about this interview, since many of them are massive fans of her Court of Thorns and Roses and her Throne of Glass series. This is a longer interview, but it's so funny and thoughtful and very intimate, and I didn't want you to miss anything that Sarah had to say. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks to Emily Fisher, Publicist at Bloomsbury, for coordinating all the pre-interview details! Thanks to Molly, Olivia, Danielle, Agnes, Taryn, and Stephanie for their questions! CW: We talk about panic attacks 55:00-58:00 and mental health care 45:00-60:00 minutes.  Music:
February 28, 2020
My guest today is Nita Basu, Marketing and Publicity Manager at Hachette Audio. I love behind the scenes conversations, and today’s is partly about her work promoting audiobooks across genres and how audio can be adapted when the text is unique and very visual. Who listens to audiobooks, and where do they listen? What are people doing when they listen? Should you listen to murder books on the side of a mountain? Where do you listen to audiobooks? What are your favorites? Music:
February 21, 2020
Today I’m talking with NYT bestselling author Renée Ahdieh about her latest series. The Beautiful is out, and The Damned will be out in a few months - I just received a bound galley and woo, is the cover gorgeous. We talk about writing vampire murder mystery, and writing what she refers to as an "Id book." We also discuss the empowerment and feminism inherent in becoming consumed by something we love, like a book or a series of books - especially when it's something we don't have permission or approval to be consumed by, mwahahaha. We cover craft, character construction, conflict vs puzzle plots, fashion, food, and more writing - there’s a lot! CW/TW: Discussion of Kavanaugh hearings, assault, violence, and plot spoilers from 32:00 to 36:00. Music:
February 14, 2020
Happy Valentine’s Day! Amanda and I are chatting about everything from bookstores and trade romance to her Reylo fanfic. Our conversation is inspired by a question from Jasmine, who is part of our Patreon. She wanted to ask us about sci-fi and space romances, and ask for recommendations. Amanda’s much more fluent in space romance than I am, but we absolutely have recs, suggestions, theories about required elements, and potential reasons why space is SO appealing right now. This episode is brought to you by Best Women's Erotica of the Year, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, and published by Cleis Press. Music:
February 3, 2020
Welcome to part four and the final episode in my series on RWA: One Month Later. We’ve heard from C Chilove, Laurel Cremant, and Diana Neal, the officers of CIMRWA, from past RWA president HelenKay Dimon, and from Jessie Edwards, Marketing and PR Manager for RWA. Today, I’m speaking with Courtney Milan. There’s a lot to process, and this is a somewhat emotional interview wherein we talk about what happened, her reactions, and what’s next for her. We also talk intermittently though non-specifically about the physical manifestations of trauma so please be aware going into this episode if that’s something difficult for you to listen to. I’ll be taking this Friday, February 7, off, and I’ll be back on February 14 - Valentine’s Day - with Amanda. See you then! Music: You can subscribe to Smart Podcast, Trashy Books at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you catch your favorite shows!
February 2, 2020
Welcome to part three of my four-episode series, RWA: One Month Later. Today, we’re hearing from RWA. Jessie Edwards, Marketing and PR Manager for Romance Writers of America, joins me to answer questions about loss of trust, steps being taken to address member concerns, filling leadership positions, and what comes next for RWA, for the national conference, and for the membership. Check your podcast feed tomorrow, February 3, for the other episodes in this series, including an episode with the officers of CIMRWA, and a conversation with RWA past president HelenKay Dimon. Tomorrow, February 3, you’ll hear from Courtney Milan. Music:
February 1, 2020
Welcome to part two of a special four episode series on RWA: One Month Later. We’ve heard from C Chilove, Laurel Cremant, and Diana Neal, the officers of CIMRWA, and today I’m speaking with RWA past president HelenKay Dimon. I interviewed HelenKay in late September 2019 about the end of her term as president. Now we’re looking back on the past month since the RWA decision against Courtney Milan was released. We cover a lot in this episode, and there are a number of questions - ones we don’t know the answers to. We might never know. But as someone who oversaw prior ethics committees, and who served on the board as President, HelenKay knows a lot of what is supposed to happen, what might have happened here, and what may have gone wrong. Check your podcast feed tomorrow, February 2, for part three of this series on RWA: One Month Later, when I’ll be interviewing Jessie Edwards, Marketing and PR Manager for RWA. Then, on February 3, you’ll hear from Courtney Milan. Music: You can subscribe to Smart Podcast, Trashy Books at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you catch your favorite shows!
January 31, 2020
Welcome to episode 388, and the first of a four-episode special event: RWA: One Month Later. I recorded this episode on the 23 of January, one month to the date when a decision from Romance Writers of America was delivered to Courtney Milan informing her that due to an ethics complaint, she was being barred from leadership for her lifetime, and suspended from RWA for one year. If you were online, you might have seen some mention of it. In that month, a LOT happened. And while some major changes have taken place, there’s also a lack of movement, and a lot to discuss. So I wanted to create a time capsule of sorts to capture where we are right now, and more importantly, feature the stories and perspectives of those who were most intimately involved. Because of the timeliness of these episodes, I’m doing a special miniseries: I’m releasing this episode on 31 January. Tomorrow, February 1, I have an interview with past president HelenKay Dimon, and then, February 2, I have a conversation with Jessie Edwards, RWA’s Marketing and PR Manager. Finally, on February 3, I have an interview with Courtney Milan. Today, I’m speaking with C Chilove, Laurel Cremant, and Diana Neal, the officers of CIMRWA, the Cultural, Interracial, Multicultural Special Interest Chapter of Romance Writers of America. They created a petition to recall the sitting president of RWA - twice - in the two weeks after the decision about Courtney Milan was made public by Alyssa Cole. Their petition was ultimately successful and led to the resignation of Damon Suede. I am so excited for you to meet the officers of CIMRWA. We’re going to hear about what happened from their perspective, and hear what a great team they are. They are incredibly inspiring to listen to as they support one another. AND THEN we end with KDrama AND book recommendations because obviously. Don't forget, there are more episodes coming. Check your podcast feed on February 1, 2, and 3 for the next episodes in this special series on RWA: One Month Later. Music: You can subscribe to Smart Podcast, Trashy Books at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you catch your podcasts.
January 24, 2020
A new grandbaby, horrific winters with nine-plus feet of snow, and BOOKS! Recorded in late 2019, Jill Shalvis and I talk about new titles that were about to come out - which are totally out now, so you can grab whatever sounds like your reading catnip. We also talk about her career, beginning with writing category romances, writing single title and now women’s fiction - and how to define the combined elements of a genre. I almost titled this episode “Family is Where You Make It,” because we talk about that, too.
January 17, 2020
Scarlett Cole and I talk every month or so, when it’s coffee time for me, and tea or G&T time for her, and this time, we recorded one of our conversations about looking back over the past 10 years, and looking ahead to the next ten. So in this episode, we’re talking about setting goals for the new year, the new decade, and “figuring out the cadence that works for you.” Where do you want to be, and who do you want to be in ten years? Basically, we want to invite you into one of our mutually encouraging conversations to talk about what’s next for all of us. TW/CW: discussion of mental health and depression intermittent and specifically at 21:30 Questions we ask: What has worked for me? What is missing in my life? What do I want to become? Where do I want to be in ten years? What are you willing to do? What are you willing to release? Questions for you! What’d you do that you’re proud of in the past 10 years? What do you want to do in the next decade? How do you celebrate success? ... Music:
January 10, 2020
If you need a podcast episode to crack you up, here you go. Today I’m talking with author Tasha L. Harrison about writing in multiple genres, the power of supportive groups of friends and of being one yourself, and about finding the art and creative people around you. If you’re looking for a challenge for your writerly self, we also talk about the genesis of her 20k in 5 Days Challenge, and how she looks back on her own writing process to learn from it.  Plus, she goes off about self care advice and what we can really do to look after ourselves. Music:
January 3, 2020
Happy New Year! It’s the start of 2020, and the final edition of our look back at 2019’s favorite books. In this episode, Catherine stayed up very, very late at night to talk to me (thank you!) and shares what books were so good this year, she finished them and immediately started over from the beginning. And Claudia shares the books that made her year immeasurably better, and the backlist she’s been savoring. And I try to share my own favorite reads of the year, as un-awkwardly as possible - and that was recorded without my usual equipment, so thank you for accommodating the change in sound quality.
December 27, 2019
We’re recapping our favorite books that we read in 2019! Amanda and I talk about the loss of my coffee maker and about her favorites of 2019, including how glad she is that there’s more sci-fi romance for her to enjoy, and who is her new favorite historical romance sex puppy hero. Kiki talks about a book that transformed her way of holding her own body safely and gently, and her love of grumpy romances for grumpy people. Ellen sneaks six books into their top five, and looks at what makes Ilona Andrews’ world building so good, and AJ shares what authors and books rocked their world (hint: lesbian necromancers may have been involved).
December 20, 2019
We’re looking back at our favorite books of the year with the SBTB team with reviewers from around the globe. Shana talks about the books she thought were perfection this year, the pop culture discoveries in romance fiction that she wishes were real, and our appreciation of sewing, embroidery, and other art forms that are often coded as feminine. Sneezy shares the books that she loved most this year, especially those that caused a high grade of catharsis and taught her how to human more. Aarya breaks down all the elements that worked for her inside a book coming out on the 31st (no spoilers!) and narrows her list of 22 books down to 5, all of which explore themes of family and identity. TW/CW - at 27:19 mention of beating up an assaulter and of violence, and at 52:25, there’s a discussion of character with hella-Islamophobia (there’s a spoken warning for this one, so skip 30 seconds or so) I hope you enjoy this reading recap, and that you share with us your favorite books that you read in the past year, too! Right now, for a limited time, you can get 3 months of Audible for just $6.95 a month. That’s more than half off the regular price. Choose 1 audiobook and 2 Audible Originals absolutely free. Visit or text TRASHYBOOKS to 500-500. You can subscribe to Smart Podcast, Trashy Books at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you catch your favorite shows!
December 13, 2019
In the next few episodes, you’ll hear from the SBTB reviewing team as we talk about our favorite books of the year. Lara joins us from South Africa to tell us about the books, fiction and nonfiction, that she read this year that made her feel good about herself. Tara joins us from Calgary, Canada, to talk about romances she read that changed her perspective - and taught her some history of lesbian pulp fiction. Carrie S. revisits zombie horror she adored and books that helped her get out of bed to fight the good fight, and Charlotte talks about revisiting her reading over the past year and how many books she loved. I hope you enjoy this reading recap, and that you share with us your favorite books that you read in the past year, too! Right now, for a limited time, you can get 3 months of Audible for just $6.95 a month. That’s more than half off the regular price. Choose 1 audiobook and 2 Audible Originals absolutely free. Visit or text TRASHYBOOKS to 500-500.
December 6, 2019
Today my guest is Editor and Digital Grandmaster Angela James. Angie and I have known each other for a long honking time - over 14 years, we think. So in between snort laughing and talking about friendship, we talk about her new editorial venture and business following the elimination of her position at Carina Press. If you’re curious about editing and how that process works, get ready to learn all the things. Music:
November 29, 2019
If you’re queuing up podcasts for travel journeys, I hope you’ll add this one, as it’s immediately one of my favorites. Alyssa Cole and I start off talking about her Audible Original, The AI Who Loved Me, which releases December 3, 2019, and the many things she put in her imaginary near future that are now coming true. We also talk a lot about burnout, the costs of working too much, gentrification, her upcoming action-thriller-romantic-comedy, and overcoming hesitation to promote your own work. There are some thoughtful, weighty topics in this episode, but we also laugh so much, and I hope this conversation is as uplifting and inspiring for you as it was for me. Music:
November 22, 2019
Recorded on a cold, cold evening on 13 November 2019, live from East City Books: my conversation with Andie J. Christopher about Not the Girl You Marry. We talk about the book (obviously - but I promise no spoilers) and about gender-updates of familiar stories and tropes. We discuss what exactly should happen to the term, “unlikeable heroine,” and what stories we want to read. How many times will we mention Chris Evans? Take a guess! And, if you’re interested, you can take a drink with every mention. Music:
November 15, 2019
Recorded during release week for The Kingmaker, her latest book, we are going behind the scenes with Kennedy Ryan to talk about the development of the cover art for her All the King’s Men duology, and the work the image does to represent the books inside. Ryan is also a journalist - since she was 17! - and we talk about how her experience with conducting interviews has influenced her research and her writing process. And of course, we talk about her latest books, which are releasing back to back. TW/CW: Mention of domestic violence, and the Ray Rice video, at 14:54-15:20. ... Special note: Use coupon code "TRASHYBOOKS" for $10 off your first box at! ... Music:
November 8, 2019
[bookaside slug="the-art-of-theft"]Two live recordings, back to back! This week, I’m in conversation with Sherry Thomas, author of the Charlotte Holmes series. I recorded this on Friday, 25 October, 2019, at the Loyalty Bookstore in Washington DC. As usual, I had questions from my nosy brain and from the SBTB community - and in the middle we have crashing cups, a spontaneous reading from the author, and a special additional guest: audiobook narrator Kate Reading came to the event to meet Sherry, and the poor woman sat next to me so I asked her a question, too. Thank you to Hannah and Diana from Loyalty Bookstore, to Tara O’Connor from Penguin RandomHouse, and to Jazzlet, Sarah Drew, Shari, Anonymous, and Aarya for questions! My favorite parts: 07:26-07:52 - What seeing her books in print is like for Sherry 50:41-50:56 - What we admire about Mrs. Watson 51:27-51:56 - What Mrs. Watson learns about herself in this book Music: You can subscribe to Smart Podcast, Trashy Books at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you catch your favorite shows!
November 1, 2019
[bookaside slug="twice-in-a-blue-moon"] From the DC stop on their book tour to promote Twice in a Blue Moon, I’m in conversation with Christina Lauren at One More Page Books in Alexandria, VA! I recorded this on 23 October in front of a live and most excellent audience, and I had questions both from my brain and from the community on SBTB, too. We talk about their newest book, the themes therein (no spoilers, I promise!) and about writing, productivity, travel hacks, caring for their creative selves, and their professional and personal friendship. Thanks to Kristin Dwyer of LeoPR, and Amber, Patricia, Rebecca and Anna from One More Page Books. And thanks to Margaret, Hannah, Elle, Soni Wolf, Nicolette, Nan de Plume, Zoe and Kareni for the questions!
October 25, 2019
Today I’m chatting with Jeff Adams and Will Knauss from the Big Gay Fiction Podcast, and the Big Gay Author Podcast. We talk about, big surprise, podcasting, about writing, and then we celebrate together that we were both featured in Oprah Magazine online in an article, "21 of the Best Book Podcasts to Listen to When You're Not Reading," written by McKenzie Jean-Philippe. Special thanks to Melonie Johnson for sharing her recording setup with me so I could create my own. And, big news! Smart Podcast Trashy Books is part of the Frolic Podcast Network, a collection of some of the most innovative, interesting, and entertaining podcasts  - including The Big Gay Fiction Podcast, too! You can find more outstanding podcasts to subscribe to at!
October 18, 2019
This week my guest is DEI Consultant and Romance Fan Sunny Lee-Goodman. You might recall her name from my recent conversation with Dowager RWA President HelenKay Dimon. Sunny is the DEI - Diversity, Education, and Inclusion Consultant working with RWA, and her experience in this field is incredible. In our conversation we talk about tolerance, owning the possibility that you might be wrong, and how to be aware of your own point of view. I ask a lot of questions about the nature of her work, and how individuals and companies can evolve and expand to be more inclusive. Then we talk a whole lot about romance and romance recommendations. Special appearance from Wilbur, who wanted to add his own vocal stylings to the episode.
October 11, 2019
[bookaside slug="in-tune"] I have sat next to author JN Welsh at book signings - Ws! It’s where the A/C is! - and we’ve had the best conversations. I thought you might like to listen in! What do we talk about in this episode? Attending DJ school and how her love of music found its way into her writing Her work as an adjunct professor of American Sign Language The importance of showing, not telling, in every aspect When did our feelings about phone calls change so much? Plus Jen has advice on meditating and caring for yourself, every part of yourself. Find JN Welsh at her website,!
October 4, 2019
I’m chatting today with Amanda and AJ. AJ is one of our new reviewers, and AJ and Amanda both are obsessed with Gideon the Ninth. They both have book hangover. There might be Halloween costumes in the planning stages inspired by this book. They are dying to talk about someone with it. So, we connected and recorded their conversation, and tried to answer a lot of questions. What genre is this book? Who were their favorite characters? Why did it give them both some epic levels of book hangover? What’s Gideon the Ninth? It came out September 10, it hit the NYT, and the tagline was “lesbian necromancers in space.” Folks who read it seem to be obsessed. Here’s the cover copy: The Emperor needs necromancers. The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman. Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead nonsense. Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service. Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will be become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die. Of course, some things are better left dead. WARNING: we spoil the heck out of Gideon the Ninth, FEED, Harry Potter, and, in a moment of great scandal, talk about where we bailed on the Potter series.
September 27, 2019
Today I’m chatting with RWA Past President HelenKay Dimon, whose term as president ended on 31 August 2019. We talk about the past year in RWA, the RITAs and the continued evolution of the contest, and the binary of “fix it” or “burn it all down.” We also talk about the changes in this year’s RITA contest, and the board’s work on earning trust, fixing many things, and rethinking everything. We also talk about her career as a romantic suspense writer, and all the different flavors contained in that sub-genre. And we attempt to predict the future of romance fiction, and making the umbrella wider.
September 20, 2019
[bookaside="the-ladys-guide-to-celestial-mechanics"] Today I’m chatting with Olivia Waite about everything. We talk about being romance nerds, lost historical details, the hidden arts of embroidery and sewing, textile porn romances, and making a home. We squee about tv shows we love, books we adore, and we talk about what she’s working on now, both in her column at Seattle Review of Books and in her romance fiction. Do we take a side trip to Finnish declensions? Sure, why not?  Special Note! Use coupon code " TRASHYBOOKS " for $10 off your first box at!
September 13, 2019
Today I’m talking with Liza Palmer about the re-release of her first book, Conversations with the Fat Girl, and her newest novel, The Nobodies. We talk about writing, 4am anxiety, and writing Carol Danvers for the YA novels - and reading the script for the movie early (OMG). Our conversation and her new book, The Nobodies, is a little bit about being uncomfortable and learning new skills: if you’re doing it right, as you level up it gets harder, not easier. We talk about failing, and about feeling lost, in terms that might sound like depression or remind you of it, so if that’s something that’s not ideal for you right now, it’s okay to skip ahead to the next episode on your playlist. The Nobodies is on sale now as of 10 September, so if you’re curious, you can get yourself a copy.
September 6, 2019
Today I’m chatting with Dr. Jen Gunter, author of The Vagina Bible, and host of the new CBC show Jensplaining. Yes, it’s a Canadian show, and yes, I’m jealous.  We talk about debunking junk science, and how pervasive bad information is about vaginas and vulvas. We talk about vagina pain, caring for trans patients, and sources for good information. And we take a long detour through shoes, because obviously. Priorities. Key point from this episode: “Misinformation and disinformation about your body is the opposite of feminism.” TW/ CW: At about 12:00 there is mention of child death. And at about 27:00 there's a detailed discussion of fat shaming , mental health shaming, and junk science messaging in Marianne Williamson’s books.
August 30, 2019
[book aside="the-blacksmith-queen"] If you like when we hang out and chat about books and everything else, this episode is for you. We talk about our cats waking us up, and Amanda GEEKS OUT about The Blacksmith Queen by GA Aiken. We talk about video games we want, what books we’re excited about in September, and how I organize my reading because I’m nerdy about workflow. At about 50 minutes in, heads up: we take a side detour into talking about death, mortuary practice, cemeteries, and funerals, too. But mostly: squee. HOLY COW squee. Special note: Use coupon code "TRASHYBOOKS" for $10 off your first box at!
August 23, 2019
Abby Zidle and I had a candid chat at RWA in July, and we talked about everything. Abby is Associate Director of Marketing for Gallery Books, and is also a Senior Editor, as she worked in editorial for many many years. We talk about what’s changing in publishing and what’s changed over her career - from the process of writing and selling a book to the places you find that book in a store, or not. What’s up with mass market? Trade? What does she love most about working in romance publishing. We are taking a 35,000-foot view here, and there’s a lot to discuss. My favorite moment: “Your books and your life are so intertwined.”
August 16, 2019
Today I’m chatting with Erin and Melody from the Heaving Bosoms Podcast and it is so much fun. There is so much laughing. Does the dog bark? Yes. Are they each other’s biggest fans? Absolutely. Is this delightful? Totally. Don’t miss the part where they reveal the secret ingredient to everything. TW/CW: at about 35 minutes in, there's a discussion of old skool romances, and in particular a Johanna Lindsey viking romance with some on-page assault.
August 9, 2019
On Friday, July 26 at RWA Nationals in New York, Aarya, Amanda and I sat down to talk about the conference thus far. This was my 11th RWA, and Amanda and Aarya’s first, so I was very curious about their impressions. We talk about meeting online friends, the fangirl moments we experience during the conference, and how much we hate those elevators. We’ve got ghost stories, toilet stories, and key questions. Such as, "What’s on a romance reader’s bucket list? What is it with cats and the corners of laptops? And what were Amanda and I reading at RWA, and on the train home?"
August 2, 2019
Did you miss Romance Game Night at the Strand on July 25? Fear not! We have audio, courtesy of the fine folks at The Strand! So you can listen in as Helena Hunting, Lauren Layne, Melonie Johnson, Alisha Rai, and Sonali Dev as we play Romance Bingo, Never Have I Ever, and Would You Rather? Special, effusive thanks to everyone behind the scenes who made this evening possible: Sabir Sultan, Cynthia Grey, Natalie Tsay, Marissa Sangiacomo, Jennie Conway, Naureen Nashid, DJ Desmyter, Megan Harrington, Kelly Klein, and extra massive and effusive thanks to Sean P, who recorded all this fine, fine audio.
July 26, 2019
If you’ve ever tried to get answers from Nalini Singh about her books, you probably know she’s a vault in all things. I attempt to find out about the future of the Psy-Changeling world and the Archangel world, and I get exactly nowhere, as I expected. Along the way we talk about making the grumpy heroes melt, our book club discussion of Rebel Hard, how her first drafts are Nalini telling herself the story, and the reader reaction to the time between Archangel’s Prophecy and Archangel’s War. We talk about her upcoming thriller, A Madness of Sunshine, and there’s so, so much in this interview. I hope you enjoy it.  Alternate titles I considered for this episode: “Every reader reads a different book” “Trees and Death”  Special thanks to Ellen, Becky, and Aarya Marsden for questions!
July 19, 2019
I love interviews like this one! This week I’m talking with New York Times bestselling author Jeaniene Frost, whom I’ve known for a long while, since her first book, Halfway to the Grave, came out in 2007. We talk about her career as a paranormal romance author - 16 years! More than 20 books! We also discuss vampires, the draw of paranormal romance, and some skills she’s learned in the past 10+ years. And we end with several tv series recommendations, including some that were cancelled far too soon. Thanks to Ann from our Podcast Patreon Community for some of the excellent questions! CW/TW: There's a violent recap and spoilers for part of Season 3 of Santa Clarita Diet when we begin talking about tv shows at the end, so skip ahead 1:30 if you want to miss that part!
July 12, 2019
Today I’m chatting with Trisha Brown and Jess Pryde from BookRiot’s When in Romance podcast. We’re going Full Meta over here: we discuss podcasting on a podcast, including different show formats, choosing topics, and how their show comes together for each episode. We talk about covering news and online conversations in romance, and about recommending books (or not) to a broad audience whose tastes you don’t always know. There’s always something to talk about in romance. CW/TW - We also discuss the tricky parts of recommending older romances to a broader audience, and how nostalgia influences our memories of books. In that section, we do talk about the prevalence of rape in some classic historicals.
July 5, 2019
Amanda and I are chatting with Abby Jimenez, author of the debut novel The Friend Zone. Due to technical difficulties, Amanda starts the interview, and then I finish, but along the way we talk about many things, including what it’s like to be a Food Network champion, what it’s like to go truly viral with a cake that looks like a vagina, and how Abby wrote this book mostly with her thumbs. We also discuss The Friend Zone and the inspiration behind the story. Special highlight: meeting Tom Hiddleston, and vagazzling your own vageode. Content and trigger alert: During the course of the interview, we discuss menstruation and body parts, and the conversation frames the book from a cis-centric perspective given that the characters are cis-gendered. But we recognize and want to acknowledge that not all women have vaginas, have uteruses, or menstruate. Also: we discuss infertility, fibroids, hysterectomy, and the painful pressure and hyperattentive focus on fertility that many people feel. I went through infertility myself for other reasons, and some of the discussion in the conversation was painfully familiar. So if this might hurt or feel bad, skip this one, k? Take care of yourself. You’re awesome and wonderful exactly the way you are.
June 28, 2019
Today I’m speaking with editor, writer, and podcaster Amanda Jean about aro and ace-spectrum romance, and the expectations of romance from aro and ace-spectrum readers. She discusses acquiring titles for a romance press that foster and include good representation. And she discusses the structure of romance fiction, too: What does a romantic story and a happily ever after look like or feel like when representing aro- or ace-spectrum people? We also discuss: The challenges of reaching readers in print markets The importance of representation of varied sexual identities for readers And we also talk about the various ways we learn to recognize pieces of ourselves, and the powerful relief that comes with understanding who and how you are.Podcast  And we have SO MANY RECOMMENDATIONS if you’re looking for aro/ace romance stories. OH, so many. I’m sorry in advance to your wallet and your TBR.
June 21, 2019
This week we are welcoming Aarya Marsden to our collective mayhem for her first book club episode, and her first podcast - welcome, Aarya! Then we deep dive into everything we loved about Rebel Hard by Nalini Singh. And there was a LOT that we loved. We also talked about how our tolerance for alpha heroes varies by the genre in which they are written, what lines pulled us out of the story, and what characters we absolutely adored. Be warned: we talk about the ending, the middle, and everything in between, so if you haven’t read it, don’t listen unless you want all the spoilers, k? CW/TW at the end, when Carrie discusses her grade, she talks about the realities of alcoholic family members, so if that’s something that would be upsetting, skip ahead about 2 minutes when she mentions Caroline Bingley.
June 14, 2019
Kat Mayo and Rudi Bremer are the team behind the BookThingo podcast, an Australian podcast about romance fiction. As you might imagine, I’m a fan - and I’ve known Rudi and Kat for a long time. Our conversation meanders all over the place, and we discuss: Podcasting, the process, and learning how to get the show done What podcasting and the podcasting community is like in Australia Kat’s recent trip to Manila and her episodes with the #RomanceClass authors Reading books that reflect the experience of living between two cultures Representing and discussing nuance in Indigenous Australian writing - and the overwhelming Whiteness of Rural Australian romance We also take a deep dive into kinship rules in different cultures and communities, and how the concept could provide conflict and setting for an entire raft of romance novels. And of course, we have recommendations. Special note!! Stay tuned after the show for a special audiobook sample of The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez, brought to you by our sponsor, Hachette Audio! Thanks, y'all!
June 6, 2019
Amanda was at Book Expo America 2019, and she has books to recommend, titles to squee about, and a definite predilection for candles and reading cover blurbs, too. We talk about her impressions of this year’s BEA, who it’s for, and how it’s changed over her time working in various parts of publishing. We also talk about how much Amanda likes reading blurbs on the covers of new books. We talk about so many upcoming releases that aren’t available yet, so we’re very sorry in advance. Key terms to listen for: “claustrophobic thriller” and “snakes are having a moment.” Plus we talk about what Amanda’s reading right now. CW/TW: Amanda tells some stories about wrangling snakes in her childhood - so if you’re not on board with snake discussion, heads up at 39 minutes in, when Amanda mentions snake stores, you might want to skip ahead about a minute total. So, what about you? Would you want to attend BEA? Do you like meetings? Do you read blurbs from other writers on the covers of books? I'm curious!
May 31, 2019
Today I’m chatting with Dr. Kelly J. Baker, who was also part of my episode with Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom last year. In this conversation, Kelly and I talk about her academic work studying white supremacy and the klan, and how history is never only in the past. But the core of this episode is talking about setting boundaries. Kelly and I have been having an ongoing casual email conversation about setting boundaries, especially within specific organizations and settings. We talk about the expectations placed upon women in terms of Email replies Social media interactions Demands up on your time External expectations of time and expertise Organizations like the PTA We are going to dish on PTA a LOT. I bet you have PTA stories. Bring it. Tell me about them. We talk at length about the ways groups of people keep one another in line with damaging expectations, and how much shame and shaming play a role in that exercise. And without being explicit, we are also talking about emotional labor, and how, when people, often women, refuse to tolerate unpaid emotional labor, and say no, usually someone else who is vulnerable pays the price. It’s a whole thing. As I read in Burnout, it can be a challenge to have empathy and compassion for a person or group who is trying to push you back in line with their expectations of your behavior, knowing that in a lot of ways they may be driven by internalized misogyny and patriarchy. Those expectations come in many different subtle, damaging messages, and we’re going to talk about some of them. Kelly also touches on setting boundaries for yourself in working from home, or being self employed, and the pressure we put on ourselves to Produce All The Time. We also talk at length about mental health, and mental health crises, and seeking therapy. Kelly recently wrote about the the cost of coming to terms with your own mental illness and asking for help. And of course, we have book recommendations.
May 24, 2019
Recorded on May 16, 2019, it’s our live show from Book Lovers Con 2019! It’s fast, it’s funny, and it’s very silly. Thank you to Amanda and Elyse for doing the live show with em. Thank you to Eva Moore and Beth P who brought bottles of wine to share - you are most lovely. Thank you to Tere and Jo Carol at BookLovers Con for giving us a space with a sound system to record in. And thank you as always to Melonie Johnson and the 2014 Chicago North Spring Fling, who gave me Cards Against Romance Tropes. Apologies for uneven audio - I did my best to fix it, but it’s a bit uneven at times. Sometimes the mics picked up my voice in two places, so there might be an echo. So this is a bit off from my usual audio standards, and I’m sorry about that. I'm not sure if it's entirely my fault, but I take full responsibility for the end product. I did what I could. In between rounds of Cards Against Humanity, we talk about different things, including big news from us, an update on the Bachelorette recaps, and a discussion of chafing solutions and the benefits of StitchFix. I have no affiliation with them - I’m just nosy about people’s terrific outfit choices. We also talk about ER nurses having to pull things out of rectums, because that’s how our conversations go. At the end, we make recommendations because that’s also how our conversations go.
May 17, 2019
Amanda and I are chatting about making recommendations on Instagram, and about hidden gems in romance that maybe don’t get enough attention or mentions. We cover a lot of books here. We discuss books that we love through the lens of nostalgia, and older titles we are wary to suggest to newer readers of romance. We talk about scenery porn, and I also use the word “charming” too much. Sorry. We also answer listener email, and talk about traveling with siblings, plus we answer a question from a reader who has some questions about sexuality. Stay tuned for bonus book and lipstick recs from Amanda at the end. Thanks to Lauren, Paroma, and Anonymous for email!
May 10, 2019
What do Gothics and professional wrestling have in common? A lot - if you’re listening to Rose Lerner. Even if you’re not into professional wrestling, you’ll enjoy listening to her talk about it. A few things we talk about: Was Aaron Burr a troll, and can you fact check Hamilton shitposts on Tumblr? Is it time for a lesbian Jewish Regency Gothic retelling of Jane Eyre? Is there a lot to learn about storytelling inside professional wrestling? The answer to all of those is “Yes,” by the way. We also talk about having favorites of the books one has written, writing deliberate, cautious moments in sex scenes, and which sex scenes are among the favorites of Rose’s readership. We discuss learning to respect your writing progress, even when you don’t want to look too closely at how it works, and the powerful productivity of setting smaller goals, using mini-habits, and rewarding yourself with your own progress. And we talk a lot about professional wrestling, and how Heels and Faces and Feuds have built her romance writing skills. We also talk about Rose’s Patreon, and as a member of said Patreon, I want to tell you, it is a freaking joy to receive her weekly Patreon newsletter. It’s adorable, it’s fun, it’s informative, and I look forward to it every week. If you like obscure deep dives into history on such topics as what kinds of play tea sets did young girls have during the Regency, this is for you.
May 3, 2019
Today I’m talking with Melonie Johnson, whom I first met nearly 10 years ago before she knew what RWA was. Now she’s releasing three books back to back as a debut author. Her first book, Getting Hot with the Scot, released this week - congrats, Melonie! In this interview, we talk about her surprising and familiar path to publication, including being a Golden Heart finalist twice. She discusses the invaluable support from other writers, and the importance of inspiration and emotional joy when creating a happy place for herself as a writer, and for her future readers as well. Melonie has been an actor, director, and drama teacher, and founded a children’s theatre, so we talk a lot about how acting, directing, and theatre training influenced and assisted her in writing romance, and in performing the audiobooks for her series. The most important piece of advice: how to keep the audience in mind, always. TW/CW - Melonie talks a bit about the death of her father six years ago, and how her first book is dedicated to him.
April 26, 2019
This episode was recorded live at East City Books in Washington DC on April 11, 2019. I moderated a panel with Sally Thorne, Tracey Livesay, and Mia Sosa, titled Upbeat Fiction for Unpredictable Times. It was a great panel, and a wonderful audience, too. If you were there, thank you for coming out! We talked about all the things, including comfort reads, and comfort foods. Tracey Livesay talks about how being a romance reader influences how she reads and watches tv. Mia Sosa tells the most amazing TMI story and talks about the history characters carry with them through their books. And Sally Thorne talks about writer’s block, and how she slowly reveals a story from a character’s very deep point of view. Plus they recommend books based on their most recent reads. Two notes! - There is some digital buzzing during some of the questions. I’m sorry about that. I did what I could do minimize it and clean it up. - There is a question at the end that may not be audible in the final track. That person asked about an interview with Danielle Steel and asked if the stigma and negative press surrounding romance has changed at all. Sally Thorne and I both address the question. I want to thank Tracey Livesay, Mia Sosa, and Sally Thorne for a wonderful evening, and I want to thank Darbi and the others who stepped forward to ask questions during the evening, and extra large, effusive thanks to everyone at East City Books for making this recording possible. And if you enjoyed this, I’m going to be back at East City Bookshop on May 8, 2019, in conversation with Rachel Hawkins for the release of her book, Her Royal Highness. They're wonderful at East City, so do stop by to bookshop if you're in the area!
April 19, 2019
Today I’m chatting with Dahlia Adler, who does so many things, and so we’re going to talk about all of them. We discuss her job history in publishing, and how different areas in publishing are very different from one another. We discuss her career as an author, and her adventures as a book blogger at BN, and her site The key moment in this podcast: how writing helped her recognize herself and her own sexuality. We also discuss: What queer YA and NA, math, and blogging have in common (when Dahlia’s working in those spheres anyway) How one hunts academic mathematicians for publication How she ended up as a fashion intern at Maxim Some behind-the-scenes details of working in publishing How she maintains space for the creative projects in her life Learning story craft and structure from rejections The weirdness of requesting galleys when you’re a reviewer The absolute joy of helping people find the books that might mean the world to them. How she discovers books and keeps track of titles she hears about online far, far in advance How Sweet Valley High and The Babysitter’s Club were instrumental in her writing career And the truth we both embrace: “free books will never not feel glamorous.” Very true.
April 12, 2019
Today I’m chatting with Kelly Faircloth, senior writer for, and frequent writer of excellent journalism about romance. I’ve interviewed Kelly before, and this time I wanted to talk to her about her Valentine’s Day feature which examined the artists behind the romance cover art we know and love. (CATNIP AHOY!) She takes a deep dive in that article into the knowledge gap between what we think we know about romance cover art history, and what her research has revealed about what is presumed and what happened. Kelly also examines the individual women whose leadership and artistry shaped what romances looked like then, and now. Special bonus: my top four almost-titles for this episode:  - Fuchsia, Teal, or Both - Busting Open Historical Bodices - Sarah and Kelly Hunt for Boners - Fuchsia is indeed a Genre Descriptor
April 5, 2019
Today I’m talking with Kristy, known on Twitter as CaffeinatedFae, and Claire Ryan. Kristy is a former bookseller, and Claire is a fantasy writer and programmer, and together, they’ve been taking on the full account of Cristiane Serruya’s alleged plagiarism, which you might have seen being discussed online as #CopyPasteCris. Kristy and other readers, including Jeanna Skinner, have been maintaining lists of the passages from other romance titles discovered inside of Serruya’s books, and that list is mammoth - over 80 books now. Claire has created a programming solution to comparing books to look for similar passages. We talk about what they’ve done in response, and what they’ve learned - and how the research and accounting of how many books were involved has affected them, a little bit, too. It’s almost always a reader who spots the similarities, and in this case, the superpowered programming solution is kinda mind blowing. Claire is excellent at scaling, too, so she’s creating an online tool to try to stop this kind of plagiarism from happening again. Cheers to both of them.
March 29, 2019
I am so excited to share this conversation with you. Today I am talking with Emily and Amelia Nagoski, authors of Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle. I think this might be one of those episodes you re-listen to, because what Emily and Amelia have to say is incredibly wise and kind and so empowering and soothing - at the same time. No kidding. Their own description of this book might be the best one. On Amelia’s Medium bio, it says “A feminist book about stress” On Emily’s website, the description reads, It’s for women who feel overwhelmed and exhausted by all they have to do, yet worrying that they’re not doing “enough.” Emily’s name you might recognize from previous podcast interviews. She writes romance fiction as Emily Foster, and is the author of Come As You Are, about the science of arousal and orgasm. Amelia is a choral conductor, and during our conversation, we take a side trip into self awareness of one’s own voice, the policing of women’s speaking styles, and then the larger picture of being aware of one’s entire body. The section on stress and emotional processing in Emily’s book Come As You Are partially inspired this book, along with the personal experience of Amelia and Emily using the information in their own lives. We talk about how wellness has become an achievement and how we as individuals can allow wellness to happen There is so much practical advice, too! Such as things we can do to smash the patriarchy a piece at a time - including and especially SLEEP. Oh, sleep is everything. We talk a LOT about what stress is, what it does to your body, and what you can do to better handle the effects of it through the Stress Response Cycle. Short version: stress isn’t solved or dissolved by dealing with what caused the stress. Stress is a cycle that is completed by action, that we have to complete within and through our physical bodies, and incomplete stress cycles accumulate. But good news: reading romance is one way to help complete stress cycles and emotional cycles. To quote Amelia: “Romance novels are a nutritious part of this Burnout Prevention Strategy.” Spoiler alert! At about 43:20 - 44:30: I spoil the ending of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World as we talk about the importance of completing emotional cycles in the entertainment we consume - and yes, this is part of why cliffhangers are so deeply upsetting. Basically, your body is trying to take care of you, and there’s a lot more we can do to help ourselves out. Learning to take care of one’s own body is difficult, and this interview talks about some of these concepts, but the book explores them in greater detail. If you read our review, and yes, I’ll link to it in the show notes, you know that reading this book changed a number of the ways I treat myself, talk to myself, and care for myself, to be more patient and gentle and understanding of what my body is trying to do. I can’t recommend this book more highly. And I can’t recommend this interview more emphatically. Amelia and Emily are, in their own words, trying to encourage us to "change the world by caring for each other and not letting the world demand of us what we are unable to give."
March 22, 2019
It’s our first book club episode! Amanda, Elyse, Carrie, and I discuss a suggestion from Holly in our Patreon: Mercenary Instinct by Ruby Lionsdrake. We have a lot to talk about, and I have a few notes for you before we start. First: TW/CW for discussion of threat of rape and sexual assault off and on throughout the episode. Second: Spoilers ahoy. We can’t really talk about the book in detail without sharing the details, right? Our hope is that you read the book, too, and can follow along and respond to our discussion. But don’t worry - I’m going include a plot summary just before we start our conversation. Among the questions we answer: What were our reactions to the story, the world (and the space), the hero, the heroine, and the surrounding characters? Did the bad guy need to put out a bounty on them in the first place? Does hanging out in space make you 22% dumber because of low oxygen and bra strangulation? How many other science fiction/space ensembles can we mention in one episode? HARD TO SAY. Which is your preference: hot shower or scary horny? How many missed opportunities were there for epic poop jokes? When there’s carnivorous plants, velociraptors, a massive storm, and a spaceship crash, when is the best time to make out? We take a brief side tour into what we’re currently reading and then wrap up with our grade. What about you? What did you think of Mercenary Instinct? We’d love to hear what you thought of it!
March 15, 2019
The suggestion for this guest came from EC Spurlock - thank you, thank you! Today I’m speaking with Arkady Martine, also known as Dr. AnnaLinden Weller. As Arkady Martine, she’s a science fiction and fantasy writer, and as Dr. Weller, she’s a Byzantine scholar, a narratologist, and also a city planner. There was a tense moment where I almost scrapped the whole interview to ask about city planning, but no, we’re going to talk about narratology! Arkady recently wrote an essay on that introduced me to narratology as a field, and I emailed to ask if she’d be willing to talk more about the subject on a podcast. So if you haven’t heard of narratology - which, essentially, is the study of how a story works - buckle up because it’s nerdy deep dive time. I brought enough snacks for everyone. We talk about: Terminology used by narratologists, and how it differs from terms readers use. How cognitive narratology explores a very cool question: “How does the brain respond to experiencing narratives?” The rules of world building and the meaning of “story world.” The multiple meanings of the term “News Stories” and the powerful impossibility of getting someone to change the way they understand the world. And of course we talk about what she’s reading - and her upcoming science fiction novel, A Memory Called Empire. Key concept from this episode? Everything is a narrative. Everything is a story - and we can learn a lot from understanding why and how a story works.
March 8, 2019
Today I’m chatting with Adriana Herrera, whose debut book American Dreamer is out this week! We talk about so many things, y’all. So many. We discuss the Afro Latinx cultural experience in her life, her work, and in her books, and the unique homesickness that comes when you’re from a Caribbean island and you live in New York City and it’s below freezing. We talk about all the places she’s lived - she and her husband did international relief work around the world. We also discuss: - Embracing and representing various lived experiences in a story: “It’s like seeing something in a museum, then taking the glass away and being able to touch it.” - Moving from being in the community as a reader to being a debut author - The layers of meaning in the names of characters in her series - The occupational hazard of writing food p0rn - How writing romance began as an exercise in self care while she completing her master’s degree in social work, and how she balances writing with her MSW - How she focuses on making the “yes” of consent in a romance real and structurally sound - What to means to level up characters so they are ready for real, committed relationships And of course, we talk about what she’s working on, and what she’s reading. Thank you to Leigh for her questions! When I asked the Patreon community for their ideas, Leigh wrote, “I am super excited Adriana is coming on the podcast! She is the loveliest and I'm so excited to read American Dreamer.” TW/CW: Please be aware that because Adriana works with domestic violence, we touch on that topic a few times throughout the interview, particularly when we discuss writing consent and power dynamics and her work as a social worker.
March 1, 2019
Nerd Diving Alert! Wanna take a very deep, very nerdy dive into lesbian-relevant sexuality in history? Grab your pressure-resistant diving pod and some snacks, because here were go! Heather Rose Jones is an author of historical fiction and fantasy, a massive history geek, a blogger and podcaster, and an individual deeply interested in researching lesbian relevant sexuality in history. She’s got a PhD in linguistics and medieval Welsh prepositions, and she loves spreadsheets and databases. GAME ON. Her blog, The Lesbian Historic Motif Project, focuses on historical research on gender and sexuality: as she put it, it “consists of summaries of historical research both on gender and sexuality topics, and on themes and tropes popular in lesbian historical fiction.” Her podcast, The Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast,“rotates between historical essays, author interviews, book-squee discussions, roundups of new f/f historical fiction or thematic lists of past publications, and as of this year a series of original fiction in audio format.” Don’t worry - there will be links! Heather began her blog by wanting to create a lesbian character in the middle ages for SCA, and her research just kept on going. Looking at sexuality in history is a complicated enterprise, and Heather’s multi-faceted approach is fascinating. She shares some of her research, her creation of a database of lesbian relevant historical fiction, and tips on writing history in a way that is relevant to modern readers. We also discuss the potentially problematic elements of writing cross-dressing lesbian characters in historical settings. And, two words that might interest you: Lesbian Pirates! I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did!
February 22, 2019
This week, Sarah and Amanda are talking about the book clubs, crafting classes, and reader gatherings Amanda is coordinating, running, or attending, and how much she is enjoying all of them. She has advice for anyone who might be thinking of joining an existing group, or starting their own romance reading group, too! We take a brief detour into discussing mental health, the changing symptoms of depression, and antidepressant medication, and then move on to reader email! Emily is looking for books that inspire self-care, and Kristen is looking for tips on organizing her TBR. And of course, we talk about what we’re reading and enjoying, too. How do you organize your TBR? What books inspire you to be more kind, gentle, and caring of your fine self? Got a book club or reader gathering to recommend? We'd love to hear from you! Email: or call +1 201 371 3272 and leave us a message!
February 15, 2019
Today I’m chatting with New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins about All The Things. You might know her name from the Hex Hall series, the Rebel Belle series, or the Royals series, or maybe you were as excited as Elyse and Carrie when she announced her next project would be rewriting Jane Eyre as a Southern Gothic feminist rage story. Either way, we have a LOT to talk about. We discuss several different facets of her work, including: - Inventing boarding schools and adding random dudes to the background - Peacing out after a bad breakup - all the way across an ocean - How she handles having So Many ideas for books And of course, we talk about her Twitter threads of Sexy History, what’s coming next, and how she develops them. Plus what she’s reading and recommending.
February 8, 2019
This week I’m chatting with New York Times bestselling author Karen Rose, and this episode was almost titled, "The catharsis of killing lots of people." She has a new book out February 12th titled Say You’re Sorry. It is the start of a new romantic suspense series with an overarching storyline throughout. Please note that at various times in the interview, we talk about trauma, violence, PTSD, and other elements of building murderers, serial killers, and victims in suspense and thriller novels. We also talk about: Cults, killers, and incorporating pieces of reality in suspense Writing nuanced, motivated villains with vulnerabilities Writing trauma as part of a story, and how to research that portrayal How she got her start writing - in secret - and how many times she rewrote her first novel How reverse-engineering Law & Order and suspense stories wherein she couldn’t guess the killer right away helped her learn suspense structure Why knitting is a great plot development tool So, what do you do when people around you are sometimes really crappy, mildly crappy, or full-on terrible all-around USDA Grade-A organic crappy? Kill them off, or make them killers. It seems to be, judging from this conversation, very cathartic.
February 1, 2019
This week, we are talking about reading sanctuaries. Well, we started by talking about reading sanctuaries, but you might guess from the title that we got a little sidetracked. Amanda, Elyse, and I all require different elements to build the perfect reading sanctuary, and we talk about what we have, what we need, and what we absolutely must not include in order to reach optimal reading enjoyment. We cover blankets, locations, lighting, noise, and whether Amanda can realize her dream of becoming a vampire librarian drow who reads in the dark. We also discuss intricacies of reading in the bathtub (which, for me, no thank you), and mention some podcasts we like to listen to while knitting or stitching. Reading Sanctuaries are pretty personal, and reveal a lot about what we need to create a quiet, restorative space for ourselves. And of course I want to know about yours! What about you? Where is your reading sanctuary? What do you need? Pillows? Blankets? Weighted blankets - are you a fan? Do you prefer a bed or chair? Bathtub? Silence or music? How much light is ideal? Tell us all about it! or +1.201.371.3272!
January 25, 2019
If you are familiar with the Dairy Burger, the chocolate bar, Nicholas Morrow, Winter Carnival, and 1BRUCE1, well, this episode is for you. Sometimes I get to interview people whose work I admire, and it is SO much fun. Today I’m chatting with Karyn Moynihan and Anna Carey from the Sweet Valley High podcast, Double Love. We start by talking about Irish slang, and then we get into what it is about Sweet Valley High that creates so much opportunity for examination, even decades after they were first published. They contain a mix of nostalgia and camp, and there’s no limit of, as Karen and Anna say, strange and terrifying things to talk about in the world of Sweet Valley. We begin with how they found Sweet Valley, and what led them to start a podcast about each book. We also discuss: How many people have some familiarity, if not fluency, in Sweet Valley lore. What an Irish book token is, and how badly I want one. The terrible messages contained in the series world regarding dating, sexuality, masculinity, healthy body weight, class, consent, and generally existing in the world. To say nothing of the kissing booths (ugh). They’re compelling! Ridiculous! Campy! Addictive! So of course we talk about them, and about what they say, and how much some of the more horrific parts shock us today. You also get a little nostalgia from me about my college’s beauty pageant, which was indeed a real thing, and we talk about what they’re reading. TWO MAJOR NOTES of the Content and Trigger variety. First: at around 41:00, we talk about and criticize the messages about body image and fat shaming that are rampant in Sweet Valley. Second: I'm doing a little something different for this episode. During the recording, we talked a little about the Irish referendum to repeal the 8th amendment, which banned abortion in Ireland. Both Anna and Karyn campaigned actively and after the amendment was overturned by a very wide margin, they talked about it on one of the episodes of Double Love - and their exhausted joy and relief was incredibly reassuring to me as I listened. So I asked them about it, about the 8th amendment, and what for them has been a lifetime of activism on behalf of women. However, because they discuss the details of some of the horrible events caused by the 8th amendment that may be triggering for some listeners, I’ve relocated this conversation so that it’s after the outro, and after the music. That way, if you’d like to hear our conversation about the referendum, their activism to overturn the amendment, and the inspiration of actually winning a thing that you worked for, you can do so, but if details of assault and abortion activism are not for you, you won’t miss any other part of the interview. And if you want to cry a little (or a lot), here’s one of the #HometoVote videos of people who traveled around the world to go home to Ireland to vote:
January 18, 2019
Today I’m chatting with award-winning audiobook narrator, actress, and author Lorelei King. You might have heard her voice narrating The Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones, the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich, or books by Kathy Reichs and Patricia Cornwell. I’ve received a number of email messages from you about audiobooks - how they are made, what narrating is like, and how one gets a start in audiobook narration. All your questions shall be answered! We start off talking about a place we have in common, deeply buried memories of sound, and about regional accents in large and small places. Then Lorelei shares how she got her start, how she develops character voices, and how she creates distinctions between characters. She also talks about: How she cares for her voice. The impossibility of avoiding laughter at the word “gumpy.” What to do when she can’t stop laughing. What she does to keep track of multiple character voices. The importance of sincerity when narrating sex scenes. And who she thinks of or speaks to sometimes while she’s narrating. We also discuss her new audiobook, Storyteller: How to Be an Audiobook Narrator, co-written with her business partner and engineer, Ali Muirden. I’ve been listening to their book and can happily recommend it if you’re remotely curious about audio narration. And, of course, we talk about what she’s reading, and listening to.
January 11, 2019
Paul Jarvis is a writer, designer, consultant, podcaster, and author whose latest book, Company of One is out on January 15th. I subscribe to his newsletter and find it to be one of the most interesting and useful email messages that arrive in my inbox. His specialty is reframing how we perceive success, productivity, and in this case, thriving as a business. Company of One is about deliberately staying small and specialized - and since I know many of you are small business owners and operators, whether as your primary job or as your secondary one, I think this conversation will be interesting and useful. I hope so, anyway. I was very excited to do this interview, and I tried very hard to keep my inner 13-year-old under control. We talk about online businesses (like this one) and how fast the marketplaces and the concept of what a business is changes in 5 or 10 or more years. Among the key ideas in this episode: The byproduct of success doesn’t have to be growth. We all have wishes for our dental adulthood. How to solve for enough, and how important it is to identify your personal version of “enough.” “There’s no one right way to do something.” Trying to be the best client for any freelancer you hire - excellent advice, I think. Knowing how as a writer you interact with deadlines and what kind of space and time you need to think creatively. My two favorite pieces of advice in this episode: “Think about the life that you want, and work backwards from there.” And “Solve for Enough.” If you’re an entrepreneurs or builder of a secondary career or passion projects: I hope this conversation inspires you as much as it has me. What are your resolutions about your own creative projects this year? Wanna tell me about it? I’d love to hear all the details.
January 4, 2019
Happy New Year! Sarah, Amanda, Elyse, RedHeadedGirl, and Carrie gather for the second part of our end of year episodes: looking ahead to 2019! We talk about what we want to see in our reading, and what we are looking forward to most: books, comics, tv shows, and more. Among the things we mention in our wishlist: catharsis, humor, hopefulness, smuggling, glorious sci fi romance, alpha women, and warriors. Then we talk about what books we are most excited about in 2019 - prepare for a LOT of book mentions and the possibility of more titles added to your TBR. We’re sorry...sort of. Don’t worry - all the books will be in the show notes. What about you? What books are you looking forward to most? What’s on your wishlist?
December 28, 2018
Sarah, Amanda, Elyse, and RedHeadedGirl get together to talk about reading - and other things -of 2018. Which books rocked our brains in the past year? We cover a LOT of books (I certainly do - I brought a list) and we talk a little about how we read, too. Some of us read and listened to a lot of books this year, and some of us moved from digital to print. We talk about books that have stuck with us, novels and authors we were delighted to discover this year, and romances we’re still recommending (try to stop us!). Then we talk about how our reading tastes may have changed in the last 12 months. Did current events and political climate influence what romances we do, or do not, want to read? Have our tolerances for or against tropes and characters shifted? (Spoiler alert: damn skippy they have.) CW/TW Ahoy:  At around 35:24 - RHG talks about Kavanaugh, the hearings, and about consent and assault. At around 39:00 - I talk about antisemitism, racism, the Tree of Life shootings in Pittsburgh, and white supremacy. NB: I recorded this before I read the most recent Romance Writers Report, a publication of the RWA. In this month’s issue is an article by Elizabeth Kingston titled “Reclaiming Historical Romance.” It’s about the white supremacist version of history contained in historical romances, which makes many of the points I attempt to make much clearer. If you have the opportunity to read it, please do. It is exceptional. And, please don't miss part 2 of our conversation next week! Carrie will join us as we look ahead to 2019: what books we're anticipating most, and what we can't wait to read next.  What about you? What books rocked your brain this year? We want to know - you know we do. Don’t be shy. Please tell us!
December 21, 2018
Elizabeth Hoyt has a new historical series! We talk about her new book, Not the Duke’s Darling, the start of her new Greycourt series which comes out December 18th. Here are some words that will grab your attention: there is a secret society of women in this series, and it sounds delightful. No kidding: the heroine is undercover at a house party as part of a secret society of wise women trying to prevent legislation that will bring back witch hunting. We talk about: How accusations of witchcraft were really about autonomy, and who was permitted to have it (and who wasn’t) How dangerous were women who were too outspoken, had too much knowledge, too much money, or too much power. How anger influences the story, the heroine, and the Secret Order of Wise Women. We also discuss the skills required to plot a series of 12 or more books while building a world that spans several novels, the random Wikipedia rabbit holes that lead to plot ideas and character development, the idea of creating a new identity in historical time periods, and the power of characters slowly revealing their true selves to one another. We also talk about the essentials to creating a series comprised of standalone books, and why that’s important. Plus, we talk about what books she’s reading and recommending.
December 14, 2018
Sarah chats with Beverly Jenkins, known in the romance community as Ms. Bev, one day after she finished and turned in her latest book. So of course we talk about that! We also talk about her new film, adapted, directed and produced for screen by Iris Bolling, which premieres on Amazon on December 15 - and of course we have links where you can watch it. We talk about the process of bringing Deadly Sexy to screen, what it was like to see the story she saw in her mind on a screen in front of everyone, and what surprised her in the transformation. We also discuss what she’s done in the past year, and what’s coming up in 2019. It’s the end of the year, so our conversation turns to looking back, and looking ahead. Ms. Bev has advice on learning what matters, about setting goals, and about being kind to yourself. Plus she recommends a book that I immediately sent to my husband because it sounds amazing.
December 7, 2018
This week, we hear from you! We have listener email responding to some recent episodes, and some listener voicemail as well. We talk about what we’re reading, we offer recommendations for your favorite Hufflepuff/Slytherin pairings, we talk about what to make for lunch when you work from home, we answer email about non-canonical pairings and match some romance recs with fanfic favorites, and we cover other random topics, like debating if Hermione and Ron are a good pairing. Wanna email us? Got thoughts on this one? Oh, we wanna hear them. Email:! Or, call +1 201 371 3272 and leave a message! Tell us what you’re thinking! Ask questions - heck, leave a terrible joke. I LOVE THOSE. Listener email and voice mail episodes are some of my favorites, and it’s really a lot of fun to hear from you all, so thank you.
November 30, 2018
At RWA in Denver this past summer, author Scarlett Cole gave a workshop about self belief and productivity. She believes that one can’t proceed without the other - and in her former life, she was a senior executive for a multi-billion dollar company, so she knows a little about this topic. Since it’s the end of the year when Many Resolutions are being made, I wanted to talk to her about her workshop, and the real foundation of honesty required in order to create productivity and time management skills for yourself. We discuss: The similarities between women in executive leadership positions, and women running author careers (there are lots) The benefits and realities of goal setting The difference between a hobby and a passion - and why the latter is much more self-supportive! The value of a mentor and the power of asking for information about your own goals The importance of being happy and content with what you are able to do each day, and the benefit of audacious goals and beliefs The idea that self belief is different from motivation And that selfish is NOT a bad word. We also talk about believing in yourself, and about giving yourself permission to be successful. Productivity is itself a form of affirmation. I hope this is as interesting and inspiring for you as it was for me. Thanks to my dogs for interrupting our conversation with a ferocious alert that the UPS truck arrived. So, tell me! What goals are you setting for the new year? What do you want to accomplish? I want to know! I’m really nosy - or nebby, if like me, you’re from Pittsburgh. Email me at or leave a message a +1.201.371.3272 and tell me about it. If telling another person your goal helps you get it done, I'm more than happy to be that person.
November 23, 2018
Today I’m chatting with New York Times bestselling author Catherine Bybee. We discuss her latest book, Chasing Shadows, and we also talk about her career as a writer, and the elements she combines in her stories, particularly her latest series. Among the topics we cover: - writing chosen families and found families of friends - advice she’d give her past self when she started out - how reframing some pejorative terms used to describe women can lead to a series plot - starting over after a divorce, the empowerment of making one’s own choices, and writing characters in the same position - how her prior career as a trauma nurse shaped her writing process, and her approach to her career We also discuss the dangerous power of procrastination, the possibilities of lawful good heroines, and cover a whole pile of recommendations. Among my favorite things that Catherine says: “I can’t afford not to read.”
November 16, 2018
Of all the things I could talk to Courtney Milan about, I think the best topic would be…figure skating. Specifically, Yuri!!! On Ice. Yuri!!! on Ice is an anime that contains multitudes, and it has been making Courtney happy for awhile now. So I asked her to tell me all about Yuri!!! on Ice. We discuss what she loves about the show, and how the narrative structure of Yuri!!! has illuminated for her elements of storytelling that frustrate her as a romance writer. Note: we do talk a bit about depression, sexual harassment at 20:35 And then, there’s a Big spoiler to the series in a part where we’re discussing narrative structure. Don’t worry - you’ll hear me break in and warn you, and say how far to skip ahead. We talk about storytelling structures, methods of revealing multiple plots, and other anime recommendations for curious viewers. One of my favorite things is asking people who take epic deep dives into the things they love to tell me all about it. I hope you enjoy it as well.
November 9, 2018
Amanda talks about what is rocking her world, from volunteering opportunities to video games she loves. Spoiler: she’s hilarious. I talk about a book that I’m super curious about that involves death cleaning. Then we talk about some listener email! We have email from a reader who loves their home library and has some thoughts on long-running series, a reader who struggles with a problematic ship (paging Amanda, white courtesy phone for Amanda), and a reader who needs some bi romance recommendations. I hope you have as much fun as we did. And if you want to email us, please do! Or call - either way. I have voicemail for an upcoming episode, too, so stay tuned for that.
November 2, 2018
This week I’m chatting with Jeff Adams and Will Knauss of the Big Gay Fiction Podcast. You’ll never guess what that podcast is about. We talk about how they met, what brought them to starting a podcast, and what brought them to reading romance. We discuss their favorite tropes, and the magic of discovering the common elements of your reader catnip - which you probably know is one of my favorite things. We also touch on: - Reading and listening vs reading OR listening. - How you read and if that influences what you read. - Podcasting! Oh, so much good information about podcasting, including behind the scenes details, plus information on starting a podcast, and why podcasts about books are popular. And of course, we talk about their writing, how a ringtone inspired a whole entire series, and what books they’re recommending.
October 26, 2018
Today I’m chatting with Kate Cuthbert. Until very recently, Kate was the Managing Editor of Escape Publishing, Harlequin Australia. This was recorded while she still worked in that position. She’s recently accepted a new position as the Program Manager at Writers Victoria, the Victoria Australia state-wide professional organization for writers. Congrats! Kate recently gave a keynote speech at Romance Writers of Australia that received a lot of attention after it was posted online. She addressed the tropes that are damaging, toxic, and regressive, and explained that maybe it’s time we broke up with them. I read her speech online, but because speeches are meant to be heard, I asked her if she’d both talk about the development of her speech, and read it again for you all. It’s very thought provoking and affectionate while being critical and I think attentive to what the genre says to readers. She talks about dubious consent, making deliberate choices about writing, and what our defaults in tropes, character type, and cliche really mean, or actually say beneath the familiarity. We also talk about hot fox characters (because reasons), and of course she recommends a book that’s been passed around the office to everyone who’s had a rough day. Stay tuned for that, for sure.
October 19, 2018
This week I’m chatting with author and podcaster Lindsay Emory about royalty - both the royalty in her new book The Royal Runaway, and about the way many many people are interested in contemporary royalty around the world. We talk about why so many people are curious about royal families, and how it’s a slightly different kind of celebrity culture to follow - and we talk a bit about celebrity encounters we’ve had. We also discuss her new book, her creation of a country in which to place her royal family, and the research she did into the world of royalty. Plus, we try to compose romance plots about the royal timekeeper. You know, for fun.
October 12, 2018
This week, we’re talking about shipping literally and figuratively! Do you stan Dramione? Have a lifelong thing for Jareth and Sarah? Platinum blond antiheroes are your jam? Adam Driver in reallllly high waisted pants? Kataang or Zukara? Prince Diamond or Tuxedo Mask? This week’s episode is all for you. Amanda, Elyse, and I are talking OTPs, our One True Pairings. We talk about our favorite ships, the pairings that always work for us, and what they reveal about our reading catnip. Often there are patterns in the conflicts of our OTPs that correspond to our favorite romances and our favorite tropes. We ask important questions like, Can Amanda set Elyse up with the Predator? How many paranormal workplace romances does Elyse love? (Spoiler: A LOT) Can we avoid discussing celebrity crushes? (Spoiler: nah) Did Sarah retcon her own ending to Beauty and the Beast (Spoiler: of course) Note: there are some epic spoilers for things, including Final Fantasy 4, X-Files and the X-Files reboot, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and many others. So, tell us: who are your OTPs? What pairings still make you happy-sigh? Are they related to your catnip? We want to know. Leave a comment! Email us at or call us at 201 371 3272! That’s 201 371 3272. Don’t forget to tell us your name so we can add you to a future episode, because I know this topic will come up again.
October 5, 2018
Today I’m chatting with Sarah Morgan, who I’ve known for a while now, and interviewed on the podcast before. Her latest book, The Christmas Sisters, is out, so we talk about her latest novel, and the strange vagaries of staggered releases for books, which often happens too her titles between the US and the UK and elsewhere. Because this is Sarah’s 85th book, we talk a good bit about writing, both the discipline and the routine she follows as well as the strategies for setting and character. Here’s a hint: pick a real location, but make up the village or town yourself. Other writing tips she shares: - Where to find excellent details for making a setting realistic. - How to choose the setting so it becomes an additional character. - How the perspectives of writing Harlequin Presents, single title romance, and women’s fiction is a lot like a camera lens - The empowerment of accepting one’s own creative process, and trusting one’s editor! - The importance of routine, and scheduling time for the writing and the business of writing. I also have questions from the podcast Patreon community, and they’re fabulous, too. Thank you! Thank you to Ann, Karoline, and Verity for the questions!
September 28, 2018
Today I’m talking with two nifty academics, so get ready to maybe take notes. I’m talking with Tressie McMillan Cottom, PhD, sociology professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Kelly Baker, PhD, who studies racist politics, sexism in the academy, white supremacy, and zombies. Both are writers, and both are major fans of paranormal romance. They snuck paranormal romances to read during grad school, they hid their love of romances, and dealt with being shunned and shamed for loving the genre. We talk about how reading fills in gaps in knowledge about culture and history, and we also discuss:  - How romance and genre fiction broadened their understanding of worlds outside their own - Their take on anyone who can or tries to remove the politics from anything - including historical romance - The idea that history can somehow not be political (?!) - The ways that romance, specifically fantasy and paranormal romance, interrogates race, society, gender, and colonialism - and the ways that it does not - The politics of escape fantasy in different romance genres - The politics of who is permitted to get angry in a written world Plus we take a hilarious deep critical dive into Dr. Cottom’s love of Hallmark movies - and how they are talked about as “unpolitical” as well. She talks, after some prodding, about how she reads Hallmark films. Here’s a hint: they’re alarmingly similar to a very specific romance genre, and it’s not contemporary. Get ready to have your mind blown and also laugh a lot, too.
September 21, 2018
Today I’m chatting with author Nicola Cornick, whose newest timeslip novel, The Phantom Tree, recently kept Elyse and I reading nonstop. In this interview, we talk about the transition she made from writing romance to writing historical fiction, and the challenge and opportunity of basing historical fiction on a real person, and placing her amid fictional characters. We also discuss the real challenges of being an unprotected woman in the Tudor era, the ways in which people really have not changed all that much, and what sorts of questions - and people - she encounters when she gives tours at Ashdown House, a property that featured in her book House of Shadows. And of course, she recommends books she’s enjoyed. Note: there is a little bit of popping in the audio - probably due to the overseas connection. Sorry about that!
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