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The Porchlight

The Porchlight is brought to you by Bethany Hegedus, Creative Director at The Writing Barn in Austin, Texas. (thewritingbarn.com) Join us as we chat with authors, illustrators and other creatives in and outside of the kid-lit field.
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Sep 6, 2017
In this Writing Barn Words and Wine event, Program Manager Claire Campbell talks with author and illustrator Misha Maynerick Blaise about her new book, This Phenomenal Life (Lyons Press, 2017). The book explores the beauty and humor of science through surprising facts about the world around us and our connection with the universe. Misha discusses her process of making art, writers and illustrators who have influenced her and sources of inspiration. 
 
Publishers Weekly gave This Phenomenal Life a starred review, saying the lovely graphic book "offers a sweet-spirited reminder that all human beings are more alike than different, and that the entire cosmos is interconnected in ways we're only beginning to comprehend."
 
Her next book, This is Texas, Y'all, is due from Lone Star Books in October.
 
Misha's Website
 
Publishers Weekly Review
 
 
 
Aug 23, 2017
Episode Thirteen features Jason Gallaher, author of Whobert Whoover, Owl Detective, Margaret K. McElderry Books, July 2017. Jason's debut picture book solves the mystery of what happened to Perry the Possum. Whobert Whover, Owl Detective, is on the case to keep his woods safe in this hilarious who-who-dun-it. Jason Gallaher is a children’s book writer who fell in love with detective work while watching episodes of Blue’s Clues. He solved the mystery of what to do when he grew up and became an author when he learned being a merman is impossible (at least for now). Jason lives in Austin, Texas, with his Pomeranian, Pom Brokaw, who is a super sleuth when it comes to finding treats. 
 
In our Porchlight conversation, we discuss not only how Whobert Whoover leaped from idea to published book, but also how Jason leaped from awkward jobs, to behind the scenes publishing, to writer, to published author. "If you're doubting yourself, sometimes you're the person who's standing in the way." Jason shares what he's currently working on, including his spectacular merman videos, a Whobert story kit, and how he connects with everyone whether on social media or school visits.  "I'm just a person and you're just a person so let's connect on our humanity together."
 
Links
JasonGallaher.com
WhobertWhover.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wl8XqjZbWrw (One of his merman videos)
 
Jun 29, 2017

Episode 11 features Katie Bayerl, author of A Psalm For Lost Girls, Putnam, March 2017. Katie's debut novel is a contemporary YA in mystery clothing, about an abduction that changes the lives of three girls. Katie holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and directs the VCFA Young Writers Network. The Network connects VCFA alums to underserved young readers through writing workshops at no cost for attendees. She has taught creative writing in schools and a variety of community settings and currently teaches classes for teens at GrubStreet.

 
Our Porchlight conversation with Katie explores her love of writing, "there's always more to learn." She discusses her publishing journey and the challenges of revision - "the messy part of being a novelist." Katie estimates it took her eight years to complete A Psalm for Lost Girls, but has since developed tools to make sure each chapter is moving the story forward. She'll be sharing these tools with attendees of The Literary Page Turner: Advanced Writer Weekend at The Writing Barn in November. Katie and Bethany also discuss the value of writing retreats and how being in a new place can give a writer new perspective on their work.
 
 
Links
 
 
A Psalm for Lost Girls
May 25, 2017

Episode 9 features Varsha Bajaj, author of the lyrical picture books How Many Kisses Do You Want Tonight? (illustrated by Ivan Bates), T is for Taj Mahal (illustrated by Robert Crawford), This is Our Baby, Born Today(illustrated by Eliza Wheeler), and the forthcoming Our Earth, Our Home(illustrated by Simona Mulazzani).

 

Our Porchlight conversation with Varsha explores her path in the writing business, from feeling “invisible” to meeting mentor and friend Kathi Appelt, agent and poet Jill Corcoran, and her gentle and patient editor, Nancy Paulsen. We also discuss This is Our Baby, Born Today and its transformation from first to final draft, including the choice of a baby elephant as the main character and the ways that the matriarchal society of elephants has touched the diverse readership of the book. (We also discover Varsha’s celebratory rituals, which may or may not include a bag of Cape Cod Kettle Cooked 40% Reduced Fat Potato Chips!)

 

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

Show Notes:

Publishers Weekly Review of This is Our Baby, Born Today

Illustrator Eliza Wheeler on the process of bringing This is Our Baby, Born Today to life

Simona Mulazzani, illustrator of the forthcoming Our Earth, Our Home

Apr 5, 2017

Episode Twelve features Jessixa Bagley, author & illustrator of Boats for Papa, Before I Leave, and Laundry Day.

 

This Porchlight episode was recorded live when Jessixa led our last Picture Book Intensive. In this conversation we discuss Jessixa's fondness for anthropomorphic creatures and the rich imagery they provide in her own picture books. Jessixa sheds light on the struggle of writing about the difficult theme of an absent parent in Boats for Papa. She also discusses the challenging yet rewarding process of writing a new picture book with her husband, also and author & illustrator, and their different roles in this new partnership.

 

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.

 

Links:

Jessixa Bagley

Picture Books That Deliver Eureka Moments

Feb 17, 2017

Episode 7 Evan Turk

 

Evan phones in from Queens to chat with his friend and collaborator Bethany Hegedus. Evan is the illustrator of two picture books authored by Bethany, Grandfather Gandhi and Be The Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story, which was recently released. He is also the author/illustrator of The Storyteller, published last June.

Hang out with Bethany and Evan on the porch and listen as they discuss Evan’s first project, Grandfather Gandhi, and how his illustration approach, materials, and methods accentuate a book’s contents. You’ll hear about the forthcoming book about Muddy Waters by Michael Mahin, illustrated by Evan, and Evan’s research process for biography projects. Bethany and Evan discuss the fact that biography picture books don’t have to tell the character’s entire life story but instead can illuminate their emotional life. The two reflect on their school visits to promote their Gandhi books and share some fun anecdotes (because kids say the darndest things). 

Listen to find out how illustrating someone else’s writing differs from illustrating your own writing, as well as why Evan keeps a cupful of pencil nubs. You can’t help leaving the porch with a better appreciation for illustration and a desire to draw something.

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. 

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

Porchlight
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

Porchlight
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.

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