Happy Thanksgiving, Friends!!
Speaking of FRIENDS, I have two super special ladies that the world wide web has brought into my life—Abby Mathews and Melanie Parish. They are the amazing mamas of the Mom Writes Podcast!
We met through one of my favorite Facebook groups—Writer Moms Inc. (Remember when we chatted with Autumn Lindsey, the founder of Writer Moms Inc.? That was one of my favorites to do!) Anyway, Abby and Mel were just launching their podcast, and I offered to give it a test-listen. I loved it! Abby and I messaged a bit about motherhood, writing and LeVar Burton—we totally bonded over our mutual love of Reading Rainbow. They graciously invited me on their show, and I had a ton of fun talking with them about the challenges unique to writing mamas! I’ll be sure to share that episode with you once it launches!
So, today, I get to share a little more about them and their fun podcast with YOU!
Joy: So, Abby and Melanie, you guys are self-proclaimed “besties”! How/when did you meet and what makes you guys just click?
Melanie: We met through our husbands in grad school. I think word got out that my favorite fruit is raspberries (seriously, that is what started this, I think), and Abby’s husband took that to mean that since Abby loved raspberries too, we were meant to be 🙂 Turns out he was right! It also helps that Abby’s husband and my husband are besties too. Abby is the person I want to be when I grow up; she’s the peanut butter to my jelly, the eggs to my bacon.
Abby: Yes, seriously. I can only imagine how the first conversation between our husbands went.
“So, Mike. Nice to meet you. Does your wife like fruit?”
“Yes, Sean, as a matter of fact she does. She loves raspberries!”
“What a coincidence! Mine does, too!”
But Melanie is who I want to be when I grow up! I copy everything she does. She picks up photography, and I say, “Oh, that looks fun.” She decides to write a book, and I say, “I think I’ll try that, too!” Melanie is the trailblazer. I just follow her lead and make her socialize and talk to people.
Joy: Raspberries!!! Who knew the power of a berry? I’m loving how you guys share your differences to push and encourage each other. So, what happens when you put together an introverted trailblazer with an extroverted “Let’s Do This!” person? A podcast!
What made you think: “Hey! Let’s start a podcast!” And, why did you choose the writing parent focus?
Mel: It wasn’t so much me as it was Abby … she sent me a sample of one she’d already done! I said …”when did you learn how to edit audio?” “Umm…last night. I watched some youtube videos.” That is the kind of amazing go-getter person that she is. A few days after that she calls me at 6 am and says “YOU HAVE TO DO THIS WITH ME; JENNIE NASH IS GOING TO BE OUR CO-HOST” or something like that. Only Abby could convince the most introvert of introverts that interviewing a bunch of strangers and talking about my failed attempt at book writing would be fun 🙂 As far as the parent focus? It’s what we do all day. We are moms first, and that’s true for most any parent/mom/dad.
But like all parents, and people – we aren’t just one thing. We’re writers too, and we’re learning how to let those two parts of us coexist peacefully and productively.
Abby: Well, Mel was about to give up on her book—which I actually didn’t know, but must have been able to somehow Vulcan Mind Meld it out of her. And I was just gearing up on being really serious about writing mine. We both needed help. And it’s one of those things where I just saw an opportunity and thought, why not? Why not give it a shot. Did I know how to podcast? No. Have I made a ton of mistakes? Yes. But ultimately that’s how I learn. I jump in and do things. And talk to people. So podcasting made writing a more active and social process for me. Which totally works, even if it does torture Melanie.
Joy: Only the best of friends are allowed to torture one another! Mel, I love what you said about letting parenting and writing “coexist peacefully and productively”—preach it, Mama! I think that’s an ever-evolving process because as kids grow, their needs change; likewise, as words grow, their needs change. One thing’s for sure—writing and parenting are two fields where we’re ALWAYS learning!
What lessons have you guys learned so far about starting a podcast and getting yourselves out there? And, perhaps along the same vein, what advice would you give to anyone just starting or considering starting their own podcast?
Melanie: I would say this: podcasts are A LOT OF WORK; don’t fool yourself into thinking this is something you can do in a couple hours a week. Or maybe you could, but you’d have to skip a lot of background work in networking, market research, and marketing itself if you want your podcast to reach your intended listeners. And I say this as the person not doing as much work as my dear friend Abby here. But while it’s a lot of work, it’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done, and I’ve learned so much in the past few months that I never would have if I didn’t take that leap and decide to go for it!
Abby: Like I said, podcasting is actually a very social thing. And time-consuming, as Melanie points out! We were very lucky to basically get sponsored by a company that already had an audience. And what we wanted to do fit right in with their demographic anyway. So as much work as we have put into it, we also got to cut some corners. The website was built, the audience and mailing list was there. It could have been even more work if we had to start totally from scratch. As it was, I still had to learn about recording and editing and all about launching a podcast. Thank you, Internet! There’s a lot of information out there floating around.
But I’m an extrovert, and I love people and talking. So to me the work is worth it!
Joy: That’s one thing I think most people don’t realize … launching anything—podcast, website, blog, online services—takes a TON of time and energy, especially when you do it right. So, kudos to you guys for making it happen!
Part of your podcast focuses on baring your writing souls for all the world to see as Book Coach extraordinaire Jennie Nash guides you guys through your manuscripts. How has this process treated you so far? Any regrets? Any unexpected benefits? How has the listener response been to your vulnerability?
Melanie: NO REGRETS. Let me say that again: NO REGRETS. Easily the best thing that could have happened to me as a writer. Having that extra, professional pair of eyes look over my work and holding nothing back is a) terrifying b) awesome. Any writer will tell you that honest feedback – real, honest feedback – is so valuable. You can’t improve if you don’t know where you’re going wrong, and a book coach will not only do that but will also be your greatest cheerleader. It’s gratifying in so many ways.
Abby: Melanie and I both have pretty good senses of humor. And we are both pretty good at laughing at ourselves. So showing people my mistakes isn’t so bad. Plus I feel like so many of us are making similar mistakes. So sharing is kind of like saying, “See, I have trouble getting in my character’s head, too. Hey, come join my club!” Of course we hope that people see us getting coached and realize it’s an invaluable tool for writing a killer book, and that they consider Author Accelerator. But even if that never happens, maybe people just won’t feel so alone.
They’ll see that writing a book is messy and iterative… and that’s NORMAL. I think sometimes we struggle and think that writing a book comes easy to everyone else except us. Not true. 99.99% of writers (true statistic) think writing a book is hard.
Joy: I’m totally sitting here wondering who the .01% is!! Seriously … did they accidentally select the wrong poll option on Twitter? (I have done that while doing the I’m-falling-asleep scroll. It was one of my top most embarrassing moments because it was an editing question.)
Anyway, moving away from my red face: What has been your favorite episode and/or interview so far? And what made it so extra special?
Melanie: Is it lame to say I don’t have a favorite? If I had to pick, the one we did with Michael Raymond, only because it was so. much. fun. Probably not fun for Abby to bleep out all the f-bombs though.
Abby: Not to copy Mel (again) but also Michael Raymond! (Stop reading my mind, Melanie!) That episode hasn’t even aired yet. Michael is a super-smart-amazing Author Accelerator book coach. Michael is like Melanie! Only a man. And extroverted. And he will get on a plane. But otherwise, just like Melanie. Seriously. They both showed up to the interview in Led Zeppelin t-shirts with glasses of whiskey. And we laughed so hard. It was amazing. But when you know your podcast will be played by moms while they are making dinner or driving their kids to soccer practice, F-bombs are unacceptable. Therefore that episode is a major editing challenge!
Joy: Well that sounds like a blast! Give him some exercises to do on using replacement curse words—like Fruit Loops and Bob Saget! These behind-the-scenes details will make listening to that episode even better!
One final question about the podcast: What are your over-the-rainbow dreams for Mom Writes?
Melanie: To infinity, and beyond. But seriously—I’d like to see it as successful as possible, and I wouldn’t mind branching out as far as we reasonably can and still call ourselves a parenting/writing podcast 🙂
Joy: And, because I’m all about the books: give us the scoop on your WsIP (or BsIP, as you know I prefer!)!! [Works-in-Progress or Books-in-Progress]
Melanie: I am writing a dystopian science fiction novel (gulp. You can hear for yourself in one of our episodes where Jennie unceremoniously informs me that that is, in fact, what I am writing, and hear the shock in my voice.) To reference our time in the Author Accelerator blueprint program, I’ll include the “killer sentence” from the week 1 exercises:
“Scientist David Holden creates a device that renews your cells every night, preventing aging and death – but only a lucky few can get their hands on it. We watch as people with and without the device struggle with the ethical, emotional, and financial costs of life and death, and in the end come to see that life is pointless if you don’t feel alive, and death is the one thing that makes us human.”
Abby: Um, I still haven’t finished my “killer sentence!” My book is a middle grades fantasy novel about a girl who wrestles with the fact that she is different and desperately yearns for a mother. She has to ultimately embrace her life for what it is. Along the way she learns that her dad is actually a character from a book and her unusual life is actually pretty awesome! That’s a crappy description, but I’m not good at summarizing things. Just ask Melanie. I made her do all the podcast summaries!
Joy: Sign me up for the pre-order of both! I learned that both of these ladies have favorite books that they re-read every year—LOVE IT! Mel picks up To Kill a Mockingbird, and Abby chooses Pride and Prejudice.
Y’all, these ladies are so much fun! Be sure to subscribe to their podcast (links above and below), but follow them in all the social places too!
Melanie: I am barely on twitter at all, but here’s my handle: @femmefactious
Hop on over and subscribe to the Mom Writes Podcast today! Also, check out my “Top 10” list of favorite podcasts. And, last but NOT least … leave us a comment below! Have a question or comment for Abby or Mel? Questions about being writing moms? Questions about writing in general? Questions about podcasts? Throw them our way!