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!

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.

Episode 18—Mary Pilon on her book “The Monopolists,” Endnotes as Amazing Maps, and Batman as a Superhero (or not)

Mary Pilon everybody!
Mary Pilon everybody! (photo credit Danielle Lurie)

Written by Brendan O’Meara

“I can’t write about today unless I really go into the rabbit hole with what came before.” —Mary Pilon

“You do compete with Candy Crush as a journalist.” —Mary Pilon

Whoops, never published the companion blog post with Mary Pilon back on Episode No. 18.

Mary joins me on the podcast to talk shop. This was a fun one and I hope I can snag her for Part 2 since I was only able to ask about half the questions I had written down.

Mary is the product of a radio deejay (father) and a psychologist (mother) which prompted her to say, “I grew up in a house where I know more about how to make a mix tape than to take the SATs.”

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we made mix tapes instead of take the bloody SAT? I took the test four times and got no higher than 1080. That’s another story.

Mary is another kick-ass woman I’ve been lucky enough to speak to. There’s Eva Holland, Sarah Einstein, Maggie Messitt, Carrie Hagen, Sheri Booker and more.

Moving on, be sure to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes (can’t get it in the Google Store yet for some reason). By following me on Twitter you can stream it in your feed when I tweet it out. Same for Facebook.

Also, my newsletter is changing. I’m going to a monthly format where I send out a bunch of cool stuff from the month that was or the month ahead: book recommendations, blog posts, podcasts, just a bunch of cool stuff to keep you busy for a month. There’s several ways to subscribe all over my website.

I have big ambitions for the newsletter and the podcast so please subscribe to both. It’s my collection plate.

My longterm goal is to do the type of storytelling I love through Kindle Singles, but first I need to build an army through the newsletter and the podcast so that I can support myself by publishing my own brand of compelling true stories thus bypassing gate keepers. If you like Six Weeks in Saratoga and my other longer features, then you’ll want to stay tuned.

Please share the podcast with people you think will enjoy it. By all means “like” it on Twitter, but retweeting helps extend the reach, so please consider that as well.

If this sounds like begging, frankly, I don’t care!

Thank you for listening and reading!

Your buddy,


Episode 28—Sarah Shotland Takes Us to Prison

Sarah Shotland's essay "On Visiting Prison Again" won Proximity Magazine's personal essay contest.
Sarah Shotland’s essay “On Visiting Prison Again” won Proximity Magazine’s personal essay contest.

By Brendan O’Meara

I mean, don’t take my word for it, let Paul Lisicky, judge of Proximity Magazine’s personal essay contest tell you about Sarah’s essay:

This is a piece by a writer who’s willing to be lost a little while. As readers, we encounter a mind at work: thinking, perceiving, questioning, bewildered. We’re invited into the speaker’s contradictions—her wish to be seen and known, her wish to be invisible—and get a window into an aspect of the American prison system that’s rarely represented, especially with such nuance and intimacy.

Here’s the link to her winning essay.

Sarah talks about how she deals with self-doubt and how teaching breaks her free of it.

She’s the author of Junkette and does great work with Words without Walls.

Please subscribe to the podcast, leave a review and even subscribe to my newsletter. If you think this episode will help somebody out, please share it.

Thanks for listening!

Ship it already

By Brendan O’Meara

Just ship it.

I shipped my latest book to the River Teeth Nonfiction Book Contest today. $27 for a chance at $1,000 and publication.

I also have a list of six agents that may be a good fit for it. [In a spreadsheet with name/email/books repped/date queried/date of reply]

I also sent it to a small publisher.

It’s not perfect. It never will be.

But it’s pretty damn good. The title rules: The Tools of Ignorance: A Memoir of My Father and Baseball

And shipping it feels REAL good.

Trust me. Nothing is better than the time between you ship and you hear that reply. Accept when they choose to publish.

But that’s another post.