Episode 37—Angela Palm is a Cartographer? Well, sort of

Angela Palm signs copies of her kick-ass memoir “Riverine”.

By Brendan O’Meara

“I like that [Riverine] is imperfect, because to me it shows I’m trying this style and approach as an artist.” —Angela Palm (@angpalm)

“You still have to start at Word 1, Sentence 1.”Angela Palm

“Getting the music in your head to translate on the page was a very difficult thing for me to figure out.” —Angela Palm

Yeah, podcast!

Let’s keep racking them up, baby. Angela Palm is my guest this week. We talked about her delightful memoir Riverine: A Memoir from Anywhere But Here (Graywolf Press). We also dive into her essay “Hierarchy of Needs”, which appears in Issue 62 of Creative Nonfiction.

What else? Be sure to check out Angela’s website for the latest on her work. Also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and Google Play Music. The badges are on the right of the page. 

And from another Graywolf Press author, Paul Lisicky

Episode 36—The Joyful Kim Kankiewicz Writes with Her Ears!

Kim Kankiewicz won best essay for Creative Nonfiction’s Issue 32 contest.

By Brendan O’Meara

“You write in isolation and a rejection doesn’t give you a lot of feedback.” —Kim Kankiewicz (@kimprobable)

“What I have to process is my own thoughts and experiences; does that matter to anybody else? The reason I write is to make connections with other people.” —Kim Kankiewicz

Here we are again, picking them off one by one. 

Kim Kankiewicz’ essay “Rumors of Lost Stars” won Creative Nonfiction’s best essay contest for Issue 32’s theme of “Joy”. It’s an essay about communal acceptance, overreaching, and then personal acceptance and redemption. She threads this around the mythology of three stars. The parallels between the myths and her story make this essay sing.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast. Badges are over there ===============================================>

Also, I could use some reviews. If you dig the podcast, mind throwing me a bone?

Thanks for listening!


Kim’s McSweeney’s Internet Tendency story.

People Mentioned

Brian Doyle
Rebecca Solnit
Sonya Livingston

Episode 35—Sybil Baker on Discovery and the Art of Being Different

Sybil Baker, author of “Immigration Essays”.

By Brendan O’Meara

“Different writers are different things to us at different times.” —Sybil Baker (@SybilBaker).

“I think most writers would agree that writing is an act of discovery. We’re asking questions and trying to discover something.”Sybil Baker

Sybil Baker, author of Immigration Essays (C&R Press, 2017) came by #CNF HQ to talk about her new book of essays dealing travel and displacement. And like Paul Lisicky (from Episode 27), she preaches the importance of preserving play in a piece of writing.

We recorded this back in October, so if you expect riffs on immigration courtesy of the Establishment, you’ll find this episode conveniently devoid of such banter. 

Sybil talks a lot about travel and how you don’t have to log miles to see things in different ways. 

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Google Play Music (badges are in the margins or below the post) and share it with a friend or two who may enjoy the conversation.

Thanks for listening!

Episode 34—Tom McAllister on Podcasting, Plowing Through First Drafts, and the Writer’s Need for Urgency

Author Tom McAllister returns to #CNF HQ to talk all things podcasting and writing.

By Brendan O’Meara

“You need some sort of structure because you’re inviting strangers to hear you talk for an hour.” —Tom McAllister (@t_mcallister)

“I said, ‘Oh, shit, I have to learn how nonfiction works!”Tom McAllister

“I hadn’t realized there was this thing sneaking through. Anyone who’s written nonfiction has those. In early drafts you realize, ‘Oh, wait, I thought I was writing an essay about going to night school, but it’s about this other thing.'” —Tom McAllister

Tom McAllister returns!

He has a new book coming out, a novel, titled The Young Widower’s Handbook, and since I haven’t read it yet, we didn’t talk about that, though we did talk about the process of writing it a bit. He also wrote Bury Me in My Jersey (2010), a memoir, which we do touch upon.

We riff on his podcast, Book Fight, which he co-hosts with Mike Ingram (@mikeingram00), and that was fun to nerd out on a few audiophile stuff. But largely we talk about dealing with ugly middles (not those middles, you perverts), making big cuts, and knowing when a piece of writing is done.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or (!) Google Play Music. All you raving Android users can now enjoy what the world now refers to as, “Yet another podcast.” They didn’t say that, but they were saying that about blogs about 10 years ago. The podcast is the new blog. Whatever.

Subscribe to the monthly newsletter for book recommendations and give the podcast a review somewhere. Email me. Tweet at me. I’m here for you.

Why waste anymore time? Here’s my good friend, Tom McAllister.

Books Mentioned

Holy Land by D.J. Waldie
Speedboat by Renata Adler
Body Politic by David Shields


Episode 33—Melissa Chadburn Shares All Her Secrets!

Melissa Chadburn, author of “The Readiness Assessment.”

“Being a writer is like you’re always in the hallway.” —Melissa Chadburn

“I am competing against myself in the past.” —Melissa Chadburn (@melissacahdburn)

“With all nonfiction, you need something to hang your narrative on.” —Melissa Chadburn

“I like to have emotional access to my stories.” —Melissa Chadburn

By Brendan O’Meara

Melissa Chadburn stopped by #CNF HQ to talk about her second runner-up  story (judged by Bronwen Dickey) titled “The Readiness Assessment.” 

She entered it in Proxmity Magazine’s first inaugural narrative journalism prize and it’s a good one. 

Melissa noted how fun it was to be edited by Maggie Messitt, a former guest on #CNF. 

We’re keeping the good times rolling, so let’s not waste any more time. Please subscribe to the podcast, share it with someone you think will dig it, and subscribe to my book recommendations newsletter. It’s all free!

Episode 32—Kevin Wilson on the Comfort of the Uncomfortable, the Power of No Backup Plan, and the Five Minutes That Changed His Life Forever

Kevin Wilson
Kevin Wilson, one of the good guys.

By Brendan O’Meara

“I just went after it, man, what’s the worst thing that can happen? I strike out? I don’t get a hit?” —Kevin Wilson

“You can’t compare yourself to anyone else.” —Kevin Wilson

“I’m big on teaching the person first and the player second.” —Kevin Wilson

Kevin Wilson (@KWBaseball), president of Kevin Wilson Baseball, LLC and a former switch-hitting professional baseball player, wrote The #Goodbatting Book, a slim volume that is about way more than hitting.

That’s why he’s on the show. Plus, during my playing days, hitting was everything. I mean, everything. Don’t worry, we don’t nerd out on hitting, but rather the principles behind what makes his approach to teaching and coaching so effective. 

As always, give the podcast a subscribe and throw down your email if you want my monthly book recommendations. Thanks for listening!

Books Mentioned

Relentless by Tim Grover 
Give and Take by Adam Grant

People Mentioned

Joe Ferarro (@FerarroOnAir)


The Best of #CNF in 2016

By Brendan O’Meara

As many of you know, #CNF has a problem with consistency. No excuses. It’s a failure on my part.

I’d love to see it keep growing, which it has ever since its inception in 2013. 

And, as the saying goes, “What gets measured gets managed,” so I plan on sharing a few of the analytics of the 2016 run of the podcast. 

NONE of these numbers are staggering. To some, they may even be embarrassing. To that I say, Who cares? You have to start somewhere. I’m choosing to remain positive and to encourage the best out of people. EVERY conversation I had felt meaningful and I enjoyed every second. 

Number Published Episodes in 2016: 16

Total Downloads: 1,058

Mobile Plays: 1,271

2016’s Most Popular Episode: No. 17 with Brin-Jonathan Butler, with 75 downloads. 

The 10 Most Popular Episodes by Downloads:

No. 17—Brin-Jonathan Butler, 75

No. 20—Glenn Stout Returns!, 73

Episode 21—Bronwen Dickey on the Tao of Henry Rollins, Binaural Beats, and Her Three Rules for Any Writer, 70

Episode 30—I read my Pushcart Prize-Nominated Essay “That Pickoff Play”, 55

Episode 29—Pete Croatto, 10 Years a Freelancer (and counting), 54

Episode 14—Glenn Stout, 54

Episode 25—Elane Johnson on her Winning Essay, Accepting Your Work as Good, and Writers Block, 53

Episode 16—Charles Bethea, 52

Episode 15—Eva Holland, 50

Episode 18—Mary Pilon, 48

Thanks to all my guests and thanks to all who listened! Here’s to a great 2017!


Pete Croatto’s Freelancing Tweet Storm

By Brendan O’Meara

I love tweet storms.

I put Brian Koppelman’s tweet storm in order, and now I present to you Pete Croatto, a former guest of the #CNF Podcast, as he drops some serious freelance bombs.

Enjoy! FYI: RLRT means real-life retweet…


A Page a Day

Written by Brendan O’Meara

So you want to write a book.


First, write one page today.

Just one.

If you want to write more, don’t stop, but don’t say ‘I plan on writing ten pages, twenty pages, or 1,000 words or 5,000 words.’ One page.

Then tomorrow write one more page.

In December 2017, you’ll look back and see nearly 400 pages of prose—your prose.

The the other option is to sit in your chair in December 2017 and wonder what your book would have looked like had you just done one page a day last year.

What can you live with?

Eighteen Pounds and 800+ Pages of Inspiration: Seth Godin’s “What Does It Sounds Like When You Change Your Mind?”


Brendan O'Meara
Straining to hold up “Titan”.

Written by Brendan O’Meara

Seth Godin is a hero of mine.

I understand he, like everyone, has flaws. I read his blog every day, and I’d be disappointed if even one blog post didn’t land in my inbox each morning. I know I’m not alone.

But as he writes in the opening of What Does It Sound Like When You Change Your Mind? in a “post” titled “Is It Selfish?”:

I wrote this book for me.

Day after day, year after  year, my blog shows up. And I’m delighted if people read it, thrilled if it resonates with you.

But the truth is, even if you didn’t read my blog, even if no one read my blog, I’d still write it.

It’s through that daily practice that people tuned in. It’s antithetical. He doesn’t hustle. He shows up; and we do.

It’s his generosity of spirit that feeds the soul, just like Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings. She too started her wonderful blog not to gain an income or gain followers, but in being true to her own self, she writes about what nourishes her own mind.

She’d probably write the blog even if no one was reading, but through consistent production and thoughtful curation, Popova and Godin have legions of people who deeply hunger to be part of their minds.

To that I raise both hands.

In the spirit of Godin, who would write the blog if no one was reading, I too wish to do the same.

Godin writes:

Writing a blog post about moving forward is a great way to persuade oneself to move forward. Writing a blog post about the past, the future, the things we miss—this is how I work to keep myself on track.

Seeing a blog post a year or two after I’ve written it is a bit of a jolt, a chance to remember a moment in time, and mostly, an opportunity to push forward. Again.

So I plan to use my blog as a daily practice to improve 1% Better (s.o. to Joe Ferraro)—I’d love for you to join me (see monthly book recommendation newsletter and podcast. Phew.)

I won’t invade your inbox. If you like this blog, merely bookmark it and check it at your leisure. I’ll be here. I hope you will too.