The Porchlight

The Porchlight is brought to you by Bethany Hegedus, Creative Director at The Writing Barn in Austin, Texas. ( Join us as we chat with authors, illustrators and other creatives in and outside of the kid-lit field.
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The Porchlight




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Now displaying: 2016
Oct 18, 2016

Episode 8 Kristen-Paige Madonia


Join the live audience at Austin's Bookpeople as author Bethany Hegedus chats with author Kristen-Paige Madonia. Kristen-Paige’s most recent YA novel Invisible Fault Lines is now available from Simon & Schuster and follows her successful first YA novel Fingerprints of You.


In their chat, Bethany and Kristen-Paige touch on KP’s journey to become an “accidental YA author,” as well as on valuable book business advice from her author–mentor, none other than Judy Blume. You’ll hear about Kristen-Paige’s process while writing Invisible Fault Lines, including the intellectual exploration of ambiguous loss and starting with a shift in the ordinary. Bethany and Kristen-Paige discuss the idea of leaving room for the reader to make some decisions on their own about the story, for better or for worse. The two authors also reflect on making use of family experiences as inspiration for characters and critical relationships within novels.


Listen to find out what Kristen-Paige is working on next and how becoming a mother has changed her writing process. You’ll leave the porch with a better appreciation of the value of advice from fellow creatives and an admiration for great art directors.


Thank you for listening. Please share your comments and thoughts on the podcast with us. Rate us on iTunesGoogle Play or Sticher—share the Porchlight with others. And remember to retreat, create and celebrate.


Oct 12, 2016

Episode 6 features Sara Pennypacker, award-winning author of Pax, the New York Times best-selling Clementine series, the Waylon! series, Summer of the Gypsy Moths, Pierre in Love, Sparrow Girl, The Amazing World of Stuart, and many more.


During Sara’s Porchlight visit, she and host Bethany Hegedus explore her journey creating Pax, including what it means to write from an animal’s point of view and how much "wildness” it takes to live an authentic life. We discuss the scary but beautiful craft of writing and allowing the story to be the boss—letting go so that we can tell the story that wants to be told. Sara also talks about her friendship with her hands-on editor, Donna Bray.

Sara will be coming to the Writing Barn February 23 – 26, 2017 for our Advanced Writer Weekend Workshop: Mastering the Middle Grade with NYT bestseller Sara Pennypacker and Publisher Donna Bray


Show Notes:

 New York Times Review of Pax

 Sara Pennypacker’s Pax Interview with NPR’s ‘All Things Considered’

Intensive with Sara Pennypacker is now sold out!

Sep 13, 2016

Episode 5   Kathi Appelt

Kathi Appelt is the author Maybe a Fox, co-written with Alison McGhee. Her many other award-winning books include The True Blue Scouts of Sugarman Swamp, The Underneath,and When Otis Courted Mama, Counting Crows and more. She pops by the Porchlight and together she and host Bethany Hegedus meander on a craft and creativity talk, that like the loveliest of long walks takes in the beauty and importance of place. 

We discuss literary friendships—the meaningful ones with our artist colleagues that push us to do our best work. We touch on omniscience and knowing when (or allowing the gut to dictate when) a shift needs to be made and the most radical version of 1st person omniscience Kathi has read—ever: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith. We take a break to talk about grit and determination and how it can yield great joy.

Enjoy your time with Kathi. I sure did.

Thank you for listening. Please share your comments and thoughts on the podcast with us. Rate us on iTunes, Google Play or Sticher—share the Porchlight with others. And remember to retreat, create and celebrate. 

Aug 12, 2016

Episode 4 features fabulous friend and Writing Barn teaching artist Carmen Oliver, author of Bears Make the Best Reading Buddies and founder of The Booking Biz, a boutique speaking agency, with such esteemed clients as Kwame Alexander, Evan Turk, Arun Gandhi, and Bethany Hegedus.


Our Porchlight conversation with Carmen covers writing picture book text, teaching the picture book and helping writers find their stories hearts, the importance of analysis work and more. We then dive in to Carmen’s career as a literary business person and how and why she formed The Booking Biz (with a big shout out to Kwame Alexander, Carmen’s top client). We discuss writing mentors: Cynthia Leitich Smith, Liz Garton Scanlon, Sarah Aronson and how deep study yields deep results.

For those of you who live in Central Texas, don’t miss the chance to study with Carmen in Perfecting the PB II: Draft, Draft, Drafting beginning 9/15. 

Show notes:

Carmen’s class shared on Book Riot byMaya Smart

Kirkus Review of Bears Make the Best Reading Buddies

Bears Make the Best Reading Buddies Book Trailer





Jun 23, 2016

Craft & Creativity Conversations
Episode Three

From time to time, here at the Porchlight podcast we will be sharing a LIVE podcast directly from the party porch, with a live audience. Applause. Laughter. Wine and cheese. (Perhaps this will replace our tag line: Retreat. Create. Celebrate.) What could be better? Today we share with you our first LIVE AND DIRECT FROM THE PARTY PORCH episode, complete with audience questions.

Episode Three features the incredibly multi-talented Katherine Catmull discussing her glorious new novel The Radiant Road

Katherine and I discuss bad reviews, working in various creative communities,  how she came to write about fairies, the "Freedom" to turn off the internet, character intention and motivation and how to teach that in our work with other writers, and how for Katherine acting is more like reading than writing, and the best description of show vs tell that I guarantee you will have ever heard.

also get into the Oxford comma debate, and her work with her big famous editor Julie Strauss Gable, how Cynthia Leitich Smith hits delete at the end of first drafts, and how following our obsessions can lead to a career.

Show notes:

Julie Strauss Gabel feature in the New York Times.

Katherine Catmull's article on World Building for the Austin Chronicle.

Texans: Austin, Dallas, Houston, Hill Country folks this means YOU--you can study with Katherine right here at The Writing Barn. She will be teaching World Building: Emotional Engagement with us THIS August. You can register for her class here.


Jun 16, 2016

Craft & Creativity Conversations
Episode Two

The Porchlight: Craft & Creativity Conversations welcomes author G. Neri (Greg to his friends and family.) Join us as we talk about mining stories from real life headlines, following the happy accidents, becoming an accidental author, the death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and the research behind Tru & Nelle. Harper Lee and Truman Capote enthusiasts will have much to grin about as Greg shares about Tru and Nelle’s love of Sherlock Holmes and how their childhood reading influenced their lives. And if you listen close, Greg even reveals a “dark” secret—never shared before.

As an added bonus, author and filmmaker EE Charlulto filmed Greg on his visit to Monroeville, Alabama—hometown of Nelle Harper Lee and Truman Capote. Enjoy the film they made of his time in the birthplace of these two literary greats here.

Join us soon for Episode Three with Katherine Catmull.

Jun 16, 2016

The Writing Barn is thrilled to premiere its new series

Porchlight Podcast

So much of being a writer involves talking about writing. Whether it be about the grueling process of getting the words on the page or the hardships of submissions and rejections, when we are able to talk about the successes and pitfalls of our creative careers it all begins to feel less daunting and we begin to feel part of something bigger than ourselves and our next manuscripts.

The Porchlight Podcast is centered around these kinds of conversations with authors who have been through it all. 

For episode one we are beyond excited to welcome author Donna Gephart. Join us as we talk about her new novel, her love for the humorous, and her work with children and adults of all ages. 

Her humorous/heartbreaking middle grade novels include:

1. DEATH BY TOILET PAPER -- Will Ben be able to keep a promise to his recently deceased dad and save his family from eviction, using his creativity and contest skills?
2. OLIVIA BEAN, TRIVIA QUEEN -- Can Olivia overcome huge obstacles to achieve her dream of appearing on the TV quiz show Jeopardy!?
3. HOW TO SURVIVE MIDDLE SCHOOL -- David is famous online from his hilarious YouTube videos, but how will he ever survive middle school?
4. AS IF BEING 12-3/4 ISN'T BAD ENOUGH, MY MOTHER IS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT -- won the prestigious Sid Fleischman Humor Award and the Florida State Book Award. Can spelling bee champ, Vanessa, do what's necessary to save her mom from an assassination attempt on the campaign trail?

Donna's books have won a number of awards, received starred reviews, and landed on many state reading lists.

She's a popular speaker at schools, book festivals, libraries, and conferences, including the S.C.B.W.I. National Conference, the Erma Bombeck Humor Writers' Workshop, F.A.M.E., the Conference on Children's Literature, and others.

Her newest novel, Lily and Dunkin, is a Booklist Starred Review, JLG Selection, SIBA Okra Pick, and Amazon Best of the Month Selection. The story centers around a girl dealing with gender identity issues and a boy struggling with mental illness, who come together to form an unlikely friendship.

The Writing Barn was lucky enough to host a Weekend Writing Intensive where Donna, along with ICM agent, Tina Wexler, led discussions about craft and held workshops critiquing attendee manuscripts. Pictures of that event are HERE.