Now That's a Great Story:
Season 2 is all about the process of writing a book. It's a week-by-week audio diary of not only what I'm learning as I write my second book but how my successes and failures can help you write your own. My wife Sonya co-hosts, and we talk about the teamwork necessary to write a book and offer tons of tips about researching and writing them. We also discuss what it means to research a book on Civil Rights—a book on Black and white relations—as we live modern lives as an interracial couple.
Subscribe to Now That's a Great Story and never miss an episode!
Each episode is transcribed for our Deaf and Hard-of Hearing audience members!
Bonus Episode: Noah Lefevre of Polyphonic
From within The Salon I talk with Noah Lefevre, the creator of the YouTube channel, Polyphonic, which to date has over 84 million views. Noah and I talk about how and why he started his music- and storytelling obsessed channel, the flow state that every creative type knows, entrepreneurship, and blowing up in your early 20s.
June 10, 2021
Episode 16: A Battle With More What Ifs
Sonya and I discuss how I'm fully vaccinated and ready to travel—but the archives aren't open. And if the archives aren't open now, what will happen if they never open? This episode, like the last, is less about the physical world than our mental states. There are also practical tips on when you should stop your book research.
May 13, 2021
Episode 15: A Battle With the Funk
Sonya and I talk about the depressive funk that came over me last week: what caused it, why certain thoughts worsened it, and how I overcame it (for now). If you're a writer who deals with your own depression and anxiety—in other words: calling all writers!—give this episode a listen.
May 6, 2021
Bonus Episode: The Art of Great Podcast Storytelling, with Jody Avirgan
I talk with Jody Avirgan in this bonus episode. Jody basically created ESPN's 30 for 30 serialized podcasts, and now host his own podcast while executive producing, among others, Death at the Wing, hosted by Academy Award Winner Adam McKay. Jody and I discuss the differences between a great "talk" podcast and a great narrative one. Our conversation occurs within The Salon, the private membership forum I run, of which Jody is a member.
April 29, 2021
Bonus Episode: Uncommon Success, with John Lee Dumas
In this bonus episode I talk to the great John Lee Dumas, the entrepreneur and podcaster whose new book, The Common Path to Uncommon Success, inspired me. JLD's been inspiring me for years now. He's one of the reasons I decided to break out on my own. The two of us discuss how the life and career you want are never as far away as you imagine.
April 13, 2021
Episode 12: What to Think About When You Think About Structure
Think about the people who make stuff up for a living—especially if you're writing a nonfiction book. Sonya and I discuss why nonfiction authors should be inspired by novelists when structuring their books. We also talk about some of the novels that have inspired me.
April 13, 2021
Episode 11: Why Idleness is the Path to Greater Productivity
It's true! Sonya and I have found it to be the case in our own lives and especially—especially!—when doing book research. We talk about how you should schedule your day to incorporate more downtime, and what that downtime has meant for us and our family and how I had a come-to-Jesus after my last book was published. I needed to be there more for my kids.
April 6, 2021
Episode 10: Up in Your Business
If you're gonna write a book, you've got to create a business to support it. You've got to turn yourself into an LLC. Sonya and I talk about all the benefits—fiscal but mostly psychological—working within an LLC has provided us. We give some tips to avoid some of the mistakes we made along the way.
March 30, 2021
Episode 9: The Tricks to Overcome Boredom and Distractions
The answer is not: scroll Twitter. It's instead a certain technique I learned a few years ago and have had to apply this week, when working through an absolute deluge of old research files. Sonya and I talk about this technique, and what works for her.
March 23, 2021
Episode 8: Life as an Interracial Couple
Sonya and I talk about meeting, marrying, and having kids as an interracial couple. We've each learned a lot from each other and our experiences, me probably more than Sonya. I see the world now with new eyes because I am the father of Black children and the head of a Black household. We talk about how my education in the Black experience is akin to Prince Harry's.
March 16, 2021
Episode 7: What to Do When You See Problems Everywhere
Sonya and I talk about a quote from Ralph Abernathy's memoir: How the problems he and MLK faced in Birmingham were, he believed, God guiding them to the solution they needed. I read that passage at just the right time in my own book research. We talk about what happens when you hit insurmountable obstacles, and how they can guide you to the solution you need.
March 9, 2021
Episode 6: How to Find Time to Do What You Love
Sonya and I talk about the way to report or write a book while holding a full-time job. The first step is to—you ready for this?—listen to your body. We explain what we mean and also share stories of how to steal time out of your day...even at that full-time job.
March 2, 2021
Episode 4: Notes Will Keep Us Together
The evolution of our marriage is also the evolution of how I learned to take, with Sonya's guidance, ever better notes. We talk about the various systems we adopted and discarded to arrive at something, with my book on Birmingham, is truly efficient, and in no-small part awesome. The better a writer's notes system, the less frustration he encounters in writing a book.
February 16, 2021
Episode 3: How NOT to Start Book Research
Sonya and I talk about the mistakes I made with my first book and how I've tried to correct those mistakes in the early going of the research phase with my second book. You may think book research is reading as widely as possible. It is actually reading as deeply as possible. Learn from my mistakes.
February 9, 2021
Episode 2: How to Land an Agent, and a Book Deal
This week Sonya and I break down how to find an agent if you don't have one. We cover what you should be looking for in an agent and how to identify the traits that will best help you. We also talk about what happens when your book goes to market, and all the stress and joy that comes with it.
February 2, 2021
The proposal is the first step to writing a book. Sonya and I break down how we did it for my first book and the different approach we took this time, with my second book. We talk about how to stay motivated during the proposal process, how long the proposal itself should be, and also how, with my new book, we decided the proposal had to include the social justice movement of 2020. It affected our interracial family, which meant it was also relevant to a proposal on Black-and-white relations.
January 25, 2021