Episode Archive

Click on a title to learn more, including the before/after writing excerpts and each episode’s drink pairing.

Episode 001: Holy Adverbs, Batman!

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” (Stephen King, On Writing). But is it really? When are adverbs a good thing, and when should they be removed? We look at a particularly adverb-heavy excerpt from Avery’s writing and revise it to have a few less “-ly” words, while explaining why.

Episode 002: Ye Olde “Show vs Tell”

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” (Anton Chekhov). It’s one of the most often-repeated bits of writing advice, but what does it really mean?

Avery and D.C. discuss the classic writing advice “Show, Don’t Tell” while revising an old snippet of Avery’s writing and enjoying some old-fashioned cocktails. Plus, everything is better with pizza.

Episode 003: Setting a Scene

D.C. and Avery discuss the techniques we use to set a scene, including D.C.’s “lizard in a box” theory on character and setting.

Episode 004: My Kingdom for a Critique Partner

Everyone says you need betas and Critique Partners, but finding them sometimes feels like the proverbial needle in a haystack. So where can you actually track them down? Join us for a conversation about critique partners and betas — the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Episode 005: Was-ing the Was-es Part 1

Let’s get rid of some was-es! In this episode, the task of revising passive voice drives both D.C. and Avery to their editing limits (while sharing a good laugh).

So what is Passive Voice, exactly? When is it bad, and (hot take) when is it sometimes a GOOD thing? We polish up a sample of Avery’s old writing on-air to demonstrate.

Episode 006: Was-ing the Was-es Part 2

It’s aliiiive! In this episode, we discuss how to bring your stale, lifeless writing back from the dead by swapping out the verb “was” for more varied phrasing, and embellish this week’s writing snippet with silliness.

Episode 007: Dos and Don’ts of First Present

First-person Present Tense is often hated, but why? In this episode we chat about the reasons many dislike it, but also the ways it can be useful. We share excerpts from our writing that illustrate possible ways to tackle some common pitfalls of this tense/POV combo, as well.

Episode 008: Love & Hate: Passion vs Obligation

D.C. and Avery discuss the love/hate aspect of writing. How do you keep the passion alive when your love for a story starts to wane? And when it comes to deadlines, how do you trudge through the parts of the process you dislike in order to meet them?

Episode 009: Short Fiction with Crystal L. Kirkham

In this episode, Avery interviews author Crystal L. Kirkham about everything short fiction, from drabbles to flash fiction to novellas.

Episode 010: Pitch, Please

DC and Avery discuss best practices for pitching your work, both online and in-person, as well as thoughts on pitch events in general. How to find your story’s hook and show it off as sparkly as it can be. We also take a look at a few of Avery’s pitches and break down some common pitch mistakes.

Episode 011: Scary Queries

In this episode, DC and Avery discuss best practices for pitching your work, both online and in-In our first Halloween episode, we talk about the horror of queries! We chat a little about the query experience, and go over some key dos and don’ts when crafting your query letter. We also revise a spooooky query about a star-crossed ghost and the real estate agent trying to sell his haunted house.

Episode 012: (Mini-Ep): Planning Tools & Processes

DC and Avery chat about their personal processes when planning and writing novels. We discuss some of our favorite tools for organizing and plotting, as well as where we fall on the “pantser to plotter” spectrum.

Episode 013: “Dialogue Tags and Action Beats,” he exclaimed!

DC and Avery discuss whether “said is dead” or “said is invisible”, the use of outlandish dialogue tags, and how action beats can break up repetitive dialogue. Featuring an excerpt from one of Avery’s very oldest writing samples.

Episode 014 (Mini-Ep): Morally Grey and Unlikable Characters

What does the term “morally grey” mean, when it comes to building a character? And how does one create an unlikable but compelling protagonist? Join Avery and DC as we mull and discuss these questions!

Episode 015 (Mini-Ep): Whoopsie! Our Worst Querying Blunders

We all make mistakes. In today’s mini-episode, DC and Avery tell all, sharing some of their most egregious errors made while querying.

Episode 016 (Mini-Ep): Prologues and Epilogues

Prologues and epilogues are such a contentious topic in writing. Today we’ll discuss our thoughts on these controversial additions to a story.

Episode 017: @#&%! Swearing in Fiction

DC and Avery talk about dirty words! How far is too far, and does genre affect that line? When is swearing most effective, and why would you want to use it?

Episode 018: (Mini-Ep): Play it Again… Rewrites

How do you know when to revise, and when to do a full rewrite? In this mini-episode, D.C. and Avery discuss the “do-over” aspect of drafting, their personal experience with the emotional fallout of realizing you need to rewrite.

Episode 019: (Mini-Ep): X Meets Y: Comp Titles

What are comparative titles? When querying, you’ll inevitably run across the need to provide a couple of books that are similar to yours. In this episode, we talk about how to find them and why you need them.

Episode 020: (Mini-Ep): Just a Trim – Word Count Trimming Tips

In this episode, we chat about quick and dirty ways to cut down your word count, for those looking to shorten your work.

Episode 021: Filler Words

What do words like “just”, “really”, and “all” have in common? They can act as excess fluff and filler, which clutter up your writing and make it less readable. D.C. and Avery will show how to clean up these words by revising an old piece of our writing.

Episode 022: (Mini-Ep): Writer’s Block

How do we deal with “writer’s block”? Does it even exist? DC and Avery discuss the topic in this mini-episode.

Episode 023: Series & Standalones

In this episode, DC and Avery discuss series and standalones. How do you decide if a story idea is a series or standalone? What does the outlining process look like for each? And how to avoid common pitfalls such as the Book 2 Slump or infodumps in later books?

Episode 024: AMA (Ask Me Anything)

This episode is a bit of a break from writing subjects so you can get to know Avery and D.C. a little better. We discuss the weirdest things our pets do, our worst book hangovers, and play a game of FMK with fantasy novel protagonists.

Episode 025: Is This a Kissing Book? (Writing Sex Scenes)

Ooh la la! D.C. and Avery discuss the salacious topic of writing sex scenes. We discuss how we try to avoid the cringe zone, as well as sharing examples with a lot of laughs and a teensy bit of embarrassment.

Episode 026 (Mini-Ep): Cutting & Combining Characters

Sometimes in revision, you’ve got to make the tough choice to give a character the axe, or combine multiple characters into one. How do you decide when to do this, and what are some techniques for doing so?

Episode 027 (Mini-Ep): Surviving the Stress of Querying

The Query Trenches are a rough place to live. In this episode, D.C. and Avery discuss how they coped with the stress of querying and rejection, as well as some tools to help manage the query process.

Episode 028 (Mini-Ep): The Dark Side

D.C. and Avery discuss writing dark or possibly triggering content, our thoughts on content warnings, and how to approach these topics in a thoughtful way.

Episode 029: Zero Drafts

What exactly is a Zero Draft, how does one differ from an outline, and why might you want to give them a try? Grab a draft beer for this week’s themed beverage and join D.C. and Avery as they discuss the subject!

Episode 030 (Mini-Ep): Critique Etiquette

Critique is hard. Giving it can be just as difficult as receiving it, but there are some general “best practices” in critique etiquette and manners that can help the medicine go down a little smoother for everyone involved. In this mini-episode, D.C. and Avery discuss their personal tips for critique etiquette on both ends.

Episode 031: Iceberg Theory

When introducing readers to your world, how do you show them the tip of the iceberg? Avery and D.C. discuss their tricks for world-building and conveying that world, as well as giving some recommendations of books that do this correctly. Also, a Neopets digression.

Episode 032 (Mini-Ep): “I’ll Do That Later.”

“I’ll write… tomorrow.” Procrastination: We’ve all done it. But how to tell when your “for the inspiration” passion projects drift into procrastination? And how do you defeat the urge to do so? Join D.C. and Avery as they discuss the topic.

Episode 033: Invisible, Lyrical, and Purple Prose

What are the key differences between these three prose styles, and when might you want to use each? Is there actually a time when you’d want to use the much-hated purple prose? D.C. and Avery discuss, using published examples of each.

Episode 034 (Mini-Ep): AMA Round 2

Get to know podcast hosts Avery and D.C. a little better as we answer another round of silly randomness in another Ask Me Anything!

Episode 035: Clunky Prose Extravaganza!

We’re back to editing! In this episode, D.C. and Avery take a look at one of Avery’s old email roleplaying game posts and polish up some very clunky, cringey prose using some of the craft topics we’ve discussed so far.

Episode 036: (Mini-Ep): “Off With Their Heads!” (Killing Your Darlings)

In this mini-episode, we discuss the old adage “Kill Your Darlings”, what it means to us, and tips for how to ruthlessly (or regretfully) murder your own darlings.

Episode 037: Inspiration or Copying?

In which a discussion about how you can’t copyright tropes leads to Avery telling D.C. about the Omegaverse lawsuit. We also chat about retellings, how “copying” your own work can actually be a part of building your brand, and the decision whether to read books that are similar to a current project.

Episode 038: (Mini-Ep) When Am I Ready to Query?

In this mini-episode, D.C. and Avery discuss how to decide when you’re ready to start querying literary agents, if you’re seeking traditional publication.

Episode 039: Change It Up: Sentence Structure

D.C. and Avery celebrate some great news as we look at how to revive an excerpt with stilted, repetitive sentence structure. Things get a bit silly as we jazz up some old writing by adding a few, uh, creative flourishes. And a brief digression to discuss monster romance.

Episode 040: (Mini-Ep) Tips for Underwriters

Many of our episodes focus on ways to tighten and trim your writing, but what if you underwrite? In this episode, D.C. and Avery discuss how to tell if your book is underwritten, and ways to flesh it out more.

Episode 041: Change It Up: Sentence Structure

We chat with author Patricia A. Jackson about her book, Forging a Nightmare, as well as tips for writing horses, Ren Faire shenanigans, the Panther Anti-Racist Union, and more!

Episode 042 (Mini-Ep): Building a Writing Habit

D.C. and Avery discuss the benefits of building regular writing habits and how they’ve both managed to work them into their schedules and lives.

Episode 043 (Mini-Ep): Reading is Hard

As writers study craft, reading for enjoyment can often become more difficult. In this episode, D.C. and Avery discuss our differing approaches to this subject.

Episode 044 (Mini-Ep): Literary Agent Red Flags

They say “a bad agent is worse than no agent” but how can you avoid a bad agent? In this episode, D.C. and Avery discuss some red flags, as well as “yellow flags” that may indicate an otherwise great agent might not be the best fit for your personal career goals.

Episode 045: Head-Hopping, POV Breaks, & Omniscient

In this episode, D.C. and Avery talk about head-hopping and point-of-view breaks, as well as discussing how this relates to writing in omniscient point of view.

Episode 046 (Mini-Ep): Trying New Processes

D.C. and Avery discuss what it’s like to try new writing process and experiment to find what works best for you. When is it worth branching out, and when is it worth sticking to what you know?

Episode 047 (Mini-Ep): Check Yourself

Nobody’s perfect, and we all slip up now and then. Sometimes, this can take the form of being judgmental or overbearing with your fellow writer, especially someone who’s newer to the craft or to publishing. In this episode, we chat about how sometimes we all need a moment to check ourselves and make sure we’re showing empathy for our fellow writers.

Episode 048 (Mini-Ep): Plot Hole Repair

So you’ve found a gaping plot hole in your book – what next? D.C. and Avery discuss their favorite brainstorming techniques and plot hole repair tips.

Episode 049: Where Should My Book Start?

In this episode, D.C. and Avery discuss Inciting Incidents and where to start your story. We also look at some examples from popular media to analyze the difference between the Inciting Incident and the point of no return.

Episode 050 (Mini-Ep): Navigating Social Media (or Not)

Writer Twitter can be a great place or a toxic place… Avery and D.C. discuss the pros and cons of sharing your writer journey online, how to decide if social media is right for you, and some cautionary tales.

Episode 051: Talking Tropes

Tropes sometimes have a bad reputation, but what are they really? Avery and D.C. discuss some common tropes and why they’re often seen in a negative light, as well as ways you can subvert them or roll with them.

Episode 052 (Mini-Ep): Writers in Movies/TV

In this episode, D.C. and Avery discuss their favorite and least favorite portrayals of writers (and publishing) in film and television. How they got things right, and how they sometimes get them oh so wrong.

Episode 053 (Mini-Ep): What’s in a Name?

How do you name things in your novel, particularly in sci-fi and fantasy? We touch on some resources and share a little nerdy linguistics talk as we chat about how we name people, places, and things.

Episode 054 (Mini-Ep): Your Characters’ Goals

A conversation on character goals shaping plot wanders into a discussion about writing characters who think differently than you, and why goals are important to your story.

Episode 055: Write It Better: Transgender Characters (Interview)

In the first of our “Write It Better” interview episodes, we sit down with illustrator Matthew Spencer to discuss his experiences as a transgender man, the portrayal of trans characters in media, and ways writers can better incorporate trans characters into their work.

Episode 056 (Mini-Ep): Cliffhangers & Open Endings

Avery and D.C. get a bit salty about cliffhangers and open endings. When can they be advantageous, and when can they turn off readers?

Episode 057 (Mini-Ep): What to Ask an Agent on The Call

It’s finally happened: a literary agent has asked to have a call with you after reading your manuscript! What now? We go over some of the questions to ask during The Call, as well as some of the things the agent may ask you.

Episode 058 (Mini-Ep): Writing When You’re Not Writing

Avery and D.C. discuss the importance of thinking about your story when you’re not at the keyboard, and how daydreaming about your characters can keep you motivated and enrich your writing experience.

Episode 059: YA or Adult?

Avery (now also Amy!) and D.C. discuss the conventions of the Young Adult and Adult age categories in books, and how best to age up or down in your writing voice and style.

Episode 060 (Mini-Ep): When Side Characters Take Over

What do you do when a side character tries to steal center stage? We discuss our thoughts and tricks.

Episode 061: K.D. Edwards Interview

We chat with author K.D. Edwards about his book series, The Tarot Sequence. We also discuss how to approach writing fight scenes, what it’s like to write a clairvoyant character, hybrid publishing, his relationship with his readers, and more!

Episode 062 (Mini-Ep): Crafting Characters

D.C. and Avery discuss their techniques and processes when creating new characters.

Episode 063: NaNoWriMo! (National Novel Writing Month)

Let’s talk about NaNoWriMo! We’ll chat about NaNoWriMoFOMO, how to decide if NaNoWriMo is for you, and our best tips for surviving the month.

Episode 064 (Mini-Ep): The Neverending Draft

Avery and D.C. chat about what it’s like to write the same “book of your heart” for years, as well as discussing how it can help you as a writer to move on to another project for a while.

Episode 065 (Mini-Ep): When Your Plot Goes Sideways

Avery and D.C. discuss what happens when your book’s plot takes an unexpected turn while drafting.

Episode 066 (Mini-Ep): Decisions, Decisions

When you have multiple ideas, how do you decide which one to work on? And how do you avoid bouncing back and forth, spinning your wheels? D.C. and Avery discuss.

Episode 067 (Mini-Ep): Writing D&D Campaigns

With tabletop gaming’s rise in popularity, what tips or tricks should you bring to writing and running your own worlds or campaigns?

Episode 068 (Mini-Ep): The Dreaded Synopsis

One of the big boss fights of querying is the synopsis. D.C. and Avery discuss what a synopsis is, why it exists, and our best tips for drafting your own.

Episode 069: Revision Roulette!

Avery and D.C. are at the mercy of the roulette wheel as they rapid-fire edit as many snippets as they can in an hour. The wheel also decides Avery’s drinks – will she do a shot of balsamic vinegar? Listen to find out.

Episode 070: The Plottr App & Planning Your Book

D.C. and Avery welcome author Troy Lambert to the podcast to discuss the writing app Plottr! We chat about all the ways Plottr can help both planners and pantsers, as well as our techniques for revision and some favorite app uses and features.