SPACE TIME is coming, so is WRITING & MONEY

This post was originally sent to my TinyLetter subscribers.

Two pieces of news for you today!

1. Marian Call’s Space Time (Los Angeles version) is Sunday, November 5 at 8 p.m. at Kulak’s Woodshed. Tickets are $20–30 and you can get them here. I will be reading a chapter from Biographies Vol. 2 and… well, the rest’ll be a surprise.

1.5. Marian Call’s Space Time (Seattle version) is Saturday, November 19 at 7 p.m. at the Jewel Box Theater. Tickets have not yet gone on sale, but I’ll let you know when they do.

2. Writing & Money, a new podcast in which I help you earn money from your writing, goes live next Monday. Get excited now by following @writingandmoney on Twitter! Some episodes will be free, but most will be subscriber-only. (The subscription is just $1 per month because I want to make sure that the money writers earn from the tips I give them will ALWAYS EXCEED THE COST OF LISTENING TO THOSE TIPS.)

Also, I’m leaving Seattle soon. (Very soon.) I’m moving to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and if you want to know more about that, I’ve written about it for both Nicole Dieker Dot Com and The Billfold.

(Should that count as a third piece of news?)

I’ll send you another email on Monday to officially announce WRITING & MONEY. I’m so excited about this project—if it goes well, it won’t be just a podcast. It’ll be a community. ❤️

I’m Taking Over Reedsy’s Short Story Contest Next Week

This post was originally sent to my TinyLetter subscribers.

Each of the chapters of The Biographies of Ordinary People can be read as a very short story about a single moment in a person’s life.

Which meant that when Reedsy reached out and asked if I’d like to host/judge their Short Story Contest, I knew exactly the types of stories I’d be asking for.

Here’s what you need to know:

Reedsy is a publishing startup, home to a community of over 40,000 authors and publishing professionals.

Every Friday, Reedsy kicks off a weekly short story contest by sending out a newsletter that includes five themed writing prompts. Subscribers have one week (until the following Friday) to submit a short story based on one of the prompts. A weekly winner receives $50 and publication on Reedsy’s Medium blog.

Head to to subscribe. On Friday, October 20th, subscribers will receive a newsletter that includes the five writing prompts I have personally created. To enter the contest, just respond to the newsletter with a story that’s between 1,000–3,000 words before Friday, October 27th.

I built two entire novels out of 1,000–3,000-word stories. I’m very excited to read yours. ❤️

Four News Items

This post was originally sent to my TinyLetter subscribers.

I have four pieces of news for you today:

FIRST: Today is the last day to get The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 1 for $1.99! This isn’t to say that I’ll never run a sale AGAIN, but I am not likely to run one for a good long time—so if you haven’t gotten your ebook yet, now is the cheapest it’ll be for a while.

SECOND: Thank you to everyone who responded to my “should Volume 2 start with Chapter 1 or Chapter 71″ query! The OVERWHELMING RESPONSE was start with Chapter 71, which is good because that’s also what I wanted to do. I promise I’ll leave a well-written note explaining the whole thing to people who haven’t read the first volume.

THIRD: If you are in Los Angeles on November 5 or Seattle on November 19, come see me read space-themed fiction at Marian Call’s SPACE TIME. The LA event will be at Kulak’s Woodshed, and the Seattle event will be at TBD, and both events will begin at TBD. (I’ll give you more details as soon as I get ’em.)

What is SPACE TIME? It’s an evening of music and stories and talks about space. (Outer, inner, emotional.) In the past there have been sketches and poetry and I’ve gotten to interview people who work at JPL about whether we’re going to put drones on Mars someday, and you should definitely come if you’re in the area.

I will also have paperback copies of The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 1 for sale, if that’s something you’re interested in. I have a special inkpen that I use to sign copies, HINT HINT.

FOURTH: I’ve been writing “what I’m reading” posts at Nicole Dieker Dot Com, and they’ve been helping me organize my thoughts around… well, a lot of things. I wanted to share them with you because I’m never going to get to meet all of you in person, but these are the kinds of things we might talk about if we did:

On Revising My Novel While Reading Meg Howrey’s The Wanderers, or: Books Are Supposed to Make You Think and Feel, Right? 

On Reading the News While Reading Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle

Thanks for reading. ❤️

A Question About Chapter Numbers

This post was originally sent to my TinyLetter subscribers.

I have two pieces of news for you! Or… like… one news and one question.

The news is for people who have not yet read The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 1: 1989–2000; the question is for people who have.

NEWS: Biographies Vol. 1 is on sale for $1.99.

It is exactly four months since I published Biographies Vol. 1, which means the book is no longer “recently published” and it is time to run a sale promotion.

I did a blog post on Nicole Dieker Dot Com on how I set up the sale and what I’ve learned so far, but the most important information from that blog post is that the Biographies Vol. 1 ebook is on sale for $1.99 through Friday, September 29.


Here are your links:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple iBooks | Google Play | Kobo

Fun question: when is Google/Alphabet just going to merge with Amazon because they both want the same thing and they both already have names that deal with A to Z?

That wasn’t the question I was going to ask you, though.

Here it is:

QUESTION: Should Biographies Vol. 2 start with Chapter 1, or Chapter 71?

So I originally wrote The Biographies of Ordinary People as one book, and then it became one enormous book and I decided to publish it in two volumes. (The Vol. 1 paperback still feels pretty enormous when I hold it; it’s larger than the other books on my shelf and the print is smaller. Also, that’s your opening to tell me that the print is too small to read comfortably and I should make it bigger for the second volume. And… for the first volume. I can re-release it.)

Now that I’m revising Vol. 2, I keep turning over the first page, the one that reads “Part 3: 2004–2009,” and thinking “I need to change that to Part 1.”

Except it isn’t Part 1. It’s Part 3. Especially when you consider the role it plays in the larger two-volume story. (This is the scherzo movement. The curtain opening after intermission. We are starting the story with the characters both in media res and in flux.)

I’m working on a note to go at the beginning of the book that basically reads “I love you all, but if you haven’t read Volume 1, you need to go do that first,” and I am already thinking about how I can get Kindle to ACTUALLY SHOW READERS THAT NOTE instead of automatically opening the book to the first page of Chapter 1, WHY DOES KINDLE DO THAT, SOME OF US LIKE TO READ THE FRONT MATTER BEFORE WE READ THE BOOK, THAT IS WHY THE FRONT MATTER IS THERE.

Anyway. So with this note and with the larger “this is one book in two volumes” concept, do I have to change Part 3 to Part 1?

And… does that mean I should call the first chapter “Chapter 71” instead of “Chapter 1?”

I want readers to understand where we are in the characters’ lives and to get at least a subconscious sense of what to expect re: rising and falling action.

But I don’t want it to seem clever. It won’t work if people think I’m just doing it to be clever.

So… what do you think?

And if you don’t have an opinion because you haven’t read Volume 1 yet, well… it is currently on sale for $1.99. ❤️

Seattle readers: I’ll be at Readerfest THIS SATURDAY

This post was originally sent to my TinyLetter subscribers.

I wanted to give you an update about Readerfest, Seattle’s newest book festival! Here are the deets:

  • Saturday, September 9
  • 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • The Brig & Amphitheater at Magnuson Park in Seattle (6344 NE 74th Street, Seattle, WA 98115)
  • Authors, musicians, storytellers, theater, crafts, vendors, AND PROBABLY MORE
  • FREE

Here are the deets specific to me:

  • At noon, I’ll be part of the “What Makes a Story ‘Literary’ Fiction” panel, with authors Nancy Kress and Spencer Ellsworth.
  • At 1 p.m., I’ll be at the Big Booksigning—so come get your book signed, or if you already have your book signed, just come say hey!
  • At 3 p.m., I’ll be part of the “My Path to Publication” panel, with former Seattle youth poet laureate Angel Gardner and author Robyn Bennis.

In between those panels, I’ll probably… be listening to other panels? Jammin’ to the music? USING THE TOILET? (Definitely that last one.) If you see me around, feel free to introduce yourself. I am ready to hang and chat.

The best thing I wrote in the past week… or more like the past month… was this big project with in which I researched over 100 meal replacement shakes—and taste-tested 13 of them—in order to determine The Best Meal Replacement Shake of 2017. During this process, I… um… fell in love with Huel. (I KNOW, I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD BE A SHAKE PERSON.)

I could go into detail about my food habits (I like eating the same thing every day) and my digestive system (see “USING THE TOILET,” above) but all I need to say is that if you come to Readerfest you’ll probably see me drinking Huel for lunch.

The best thing I read in the past week was Elle Beau’s #Poonique Story, a 15-chapter saga about getting recruited by a MLM, going all in, and getting out. It’s honest, hilarious, and provides an inside look at the manipulative techniques MLMs use to keep their salespeople invested both emotionally and financially.

Thanks for reading. ❤️

I have a new website! Plus: Readerfest and a reader review

This post was originally sent to my TinyLetter subscribers.


1. I have a new website! It’s technically still, but it looks way different now! You should go check it out after you finish reading the eight other updates!

2. My favorite part of my new website is the part where I clarify my social media boundaries:

I use Twitter and Tumblr to share links to my daily Billfold posts along with the other freelance writing work I do every week, so they’re great places to follow my vast & fast writing output.

I use Instagram to share what I’m reading and where I’m going. If you want to know even more about what I’m reading, follow me on Goodreads.

Look at that. It’s so simple. This is what I do on Tumblr, this is what I do on Twitter, this is what I do on Instagram. I don’t have to tweet my grams, because Instagram photos don’t look as good on Twitter (plus the conversation on Twitter right now is very different from the conversation on Instagram). I don’t have to get Facebook involved at all.

I already feel so much better about social media, just by defining what I want to do with it and what you’ll get if you follow me.

3. My readings at Another Read Through in Portland and Fact & Fiction in Missoula went great. Thanks to everyone who came, and thanks to Kayla Cagan, Marian Call, and Seth Boyer for making the Missoula reading a jam-packed (LITERALLY, PUN INTENDED, IT HAD MUSIC) event.

4. My next appearance will be at Readerfest in Seattle on Saturday, September 9. I’ll be part of some panels on self-publishing and literary fiction, and I’ll be doing a book signing. Readerfest is a brand-new book festival, which means that everyone who shows up the first year will help shape what this festival becomes over the next few years. In other words: I hope to see you there.

5. I want to share an excerpt from one of Biographies Vol. 1’s Goodreads reviews, because I love the way readers have been responding to this book, and this particular review touches on one of the reasons I thought this story needed to exist:

I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say that there are things that don’t happen in The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 1. There is no adultery or divorce. There are no surprise love children or long-buried family secrets coming to light. There are some tough financial times, but no bankruptcy or ruin. There is death, but no murder.

I think I was nearly done reading the book before I realized that I was still half-holding my breath and waiting for any of the above things to happen. A sweeping family saga that tells the story from multiple characters’ perspectives must, at the very least, involve one or two extramarital affairs—right?

That’s what I’ve been conditioned to believe, but The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 1upended my expectations in the most pleasant of ways. Nicole Dieker (who, full disclosure, has edited my articles for The Billfold at times) has written an engrossing story without falling back on any bombshell plot moves.

There is actually a divorce in the book, but it’s mostly finalized before we’re introduced to the characters. But yeah, I didn’t put a big secret or mystery or threat at the center of the story because life usually isn’t about solving the big problem that’s at the center of everything. It’s about the smaller conflicts and the everyday mysteries of who we are and what we want and how we can love each other.

(I just wrote that, by the way, with the understanding that right now we really DO have a big problem that’s at the center of everything, and we’re all kinda struggling with the fact that we can’t three-act-structure solve it.)

6. I’m going to be teaching a class at Seattle’s Hugo House on Saturday, October 7: How to Manage—and Grow—Your Freelance Income. Signups open on August 22. My previous Hugo House classes have hit capacity, so if you want to be part of this one, sign up soon.

7. Yes, I just added a piece of news that wasn’t related to The Biographies of Ordinary People. I’d like to expand this TinyLetter to include updates related to my teaching and writing work. How do you feel about that? I don’t plan on sending a gob of emails, but I do want to tell you when I’m doing stuff like conventions or classes. (And, of course, whatever novel I end up writing after Biographies Vol. 2.)

Is that… something you might appreciate, or do you just want all Biographies all the time?

8. The best thing I wrote in the past week is probably Thoughts From Missoula, at The Billfold. (I also like the #SquadGoals piece I wrote for The Write Life, if you want something less political.)

9. The best podcast episode I heard in the past week was Lucy Bellwood’s conversation with Abby Kraai—they discuss practice, and boundaries, and being the kind of creative person who wants to share as much as possible while also keeping part of themselves just for themselves. (That last bit is #1 thing I am dealing with right now, besides OUR CURRENT POLITICAL SITUATION.)

Lucy Bellwood’s podcast is Patreon-locked, so if you want something else to listen to I’ll recommend the newest Friendshipping Podcast episode: “Sucky Eel Friends and Midwestern Dads.”

Thanks for reading. ❤️

Photo by Jerry Kiesewetter on Unsplash.