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The Roundtable Podcast

I have found podcast gold! Gold I tell you!

They strive to help writers create literary gold (and they very well may achieve that) but in the meantime, what they have done (and are doing is create podcast gold. They are
Dave Robison and Brion Humphrey, the hosts of The Roundtable Podcast.

Each week they invite a published author and a writer working on a story to get together with them and brainstorm the work in progress; helping the writer overcome any obstacles that may be in his or her path to literary greatness. They also spend some time interviewing the published author and put out a separate show for that. So, it’s really two feeds in one—an interview show and a brainstorming show on writing the next great novel.

So far, the authors and writers have all worked in the various spec fic genres. Most of the time, I’m fine with this. However, I’m not a fan of trope-laden fantasy so there have been episodes where I don’t particularly care if the writer ever figures the story out or goes on to finish or publish it. But, even when I don’t care about the individual story being workshopped I get insightful information on writing in general, and often life too. These aren’t just writers sharing their wisdom, these are amazingly creative people sharing experiences…on writing, creating, and fitting that creativity into their real lives (usually with real day jobs to go with those real bills). But, mostly, it’s about the stories.

They arc themselves silly…plot arcs, character arcs, larger theme arcs, Noah’s ark. Sorry, just kidding about that last one. Arc is one of Dave’s favorite words. So, I’m teasing here. Seriously, when Dave, Brion, and the guest host listen to the writer’s pitch and start to get into the various parts of the story in progress they see things the writer didn’t as is true any time you look at something with fresh eyes. They make the writer think about the things they didn’t and point out the bigger picture.

Put my favorite parts of the brainstorming episodes are the “What if…” moments. I am a “What if…” and a “Why?” kind of person. I’ve been known to ask these two questions (but mostly the what if… ones) of some of my writer friends myself and love when those questions help them keep writing. Those questions are how I ended up dying my yarn the way I do and why I have this website. They are the questions we all need to remember to ask ourselves if we want to grow (or in this case, for the writing to flourish).  I love when someone on the show asks a what if this question and you can hear the synapses firing in the writer’s brain. To be present for an “Ah, Ha!” moment is always a joy. Even better, are those “Ah, HA!” moments I have personally experienced while listening to this show.

You don’t have to be a writer or a creative to enjoy this show either. I think it probably helps, but it’s not a requirement. If you enjoy great stories I think you’ll find lots of value here. It’s a peek behind the curtain where you can see how that book started out and got to where it is. They all started out as just an idea in someone’s head.

The difference between a writer and someone who doesn’t write is the writer does something with that idea. These are those writers and those ideas. Go listen. And, as they like to say at the end of the show, “Go write”.


You can follow @writerspodcast and @BrionHumphrey on the twitter.


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Posted by on July 4, 2012 in Book and Podcast Reviews


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Great Feeds

There are more and more podcast novels out there every day. I can’t recommend this type of entertainment highly enough. If you have time to listen but not time to read–think daily commute or music listening time–you owe it to yourself to check out podcast fiction. The best place to find great podcast fiction is a site called Podiobooks. First of all, it’s completely FREE. Secondly, if you like what you hear, you can make a donation and 75% goes directly to the author (the remaining 25% helps maintain the site).

Many of the books at Podiobooks are done as a singular endeavor.  Meaning not part of a continuing feed. It is those feeds that I wanted to talk about today. There are writers out there who not only provide great entertainment in the form of podcast novels, but who also manage to keep their podcast feeds going throughout the year with other forms of entertainment…essays, interviews, reviews, short stories, drabbles, mischief, and mayhem. Putting content up at Podiobooks costs little to nothing in the way of additional expenses for the writer beyond the recording equipment and the time. The author maintaining an independent feed has those same costs and then hosting as well. There is also the consideration of time. It’s one thing to record and produce a novel or novella, but to continuously provide content in between the major works is a very different kind of commitment.

There are tons of great podcasts our there on every subject. These are ones where it’s one author producing their own work in whatever form that takes and continuing to provide content month in and month out. Here are the authors I’ve been listening to the past few months (in alphabetical order)…

Jake Bible: Two novels, some short stories, lots of drabbles. (Science fiction of the sick, twisted, violent persuasion)

John Mierau: Lots of stories of all lengths and some great interviews with other podcasters and artists. (Science fiction of the alien sort mostly)

Mur Lafferty: A powerhouse in podcasting in general, in addition to her own stories, she has a great podcast on writing (I Should Be Writing), and is the editor at a podcast that showcases other writers (Escape Pod).

Neil Colquhoun: Stories of various lengths from shorts to a novel (Dark science fiction of the demonic sort)

Paul Cooley: Lots of great stories from shorts to a novel, essays, rants, interviews, and muppet mayhem (Psychological thrillers, horror, essays and rants on the publishing industry, reviews, science fiction/dark fantasy, and muppets).

Scott Sigler: One of the first to podcast fiction, this feed is insane! At least six novels, fan fiction, two short story collections, and counting…(Science fiction, football, violence, you name it)

Seth Harwood: Tons of stories here from shorts to novels. (Lots of crime fiction, mysteries, dark)

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Posted by on December 26, 2011 in Book and Podcast Reviews, My Writing


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Legends by Paul E. Cooley

Legends is a combination of two stories, “The Last Hunter” and “Keepers”. These are the first two entries in an ongoing series that combines ancient history, ancient mysteries, gods, monsters, love and loss. These first two stories introduce a creature–god? monster? yes!–and those who have been tasked with fighting him and making sure no one ever forgets the legends of the beast.

At a time when civilizations were first being formed, numerous religions fought for worshipers and influence. Many of their traditions and ideals seem strange to us now, but none as strange as Garaaga. As the stories unfold, the reader is forced to look at Garaaga, Garaaga’s children, his worshippers, and those who would rid them all from the ancient landscape from multiple viewpoints; causing the reader to question who is good and who is evil.

There is a bitter sweetness to these stories. Cooley has added elements of love and lust to tales that are at other times brutally violent. The result is a rich tapestry of emotions and actions guaranteed to leave the reader begging for more.

At just $ 0.99 for both of these stories together, it’s a deal you shouldn’t pass up.  You can find this newest offering at Amazon.


Disclaimer: Paul is one of my closest friends. I beta read his work and did the female voices for these stories in the podcast versions. I am obviously biased about him and his writing. He did not ask for (or even know I was going to do) this review. Check his work out for yourself and we can compare notes. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

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Posted by on December 19, 2011 in Book and Podcast Reviews, My Writing


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Dead Mech by Jake Bible

There are a few things to keep in mind when reading this review.  First of all, I usually hate zombie stories.  I just don’t get them.  The whole coming back to life to eat the living thing is patently stupid (imho). Not to mention scientifically preposterous. Secondly, I’m not a big fan of post-apocalyptic stories.  They are just too damn depressing and dreary for my tastes. And, finally, I have a low tolerance for blood, guts, gore, and violence–the ick factor.  Well, I used to anyway…

I listened to the podcast version of Dead Mech and bought the ebook version because Jake is a friend.  I’ll try anything at least once and twice if a friend is involved.  Reading and listening were both wonderful experiences but for different reasons.  I highly recommend both.

This novel is unique in that it is the first drabble novel.  A drabble is a piece of flash fiction that is exactly 100 words.  Not 99.  Not 101.  I tried my hand at this form of writing last year and wrote about the process here. It was a very good experience for me, but not something I plan on repeating anytime soon.  Jake wrote this story one drabble at a time.  Each one is a complete thought, often a scene, sometimes a part of a scene.  But, each is a perfect drabble.  This alone astonishes me and made the read very enjoyable.  Because of the nature of a drabble the writing is tight and precise.Jake is a natural storyteller and hearing the book read by him was a joy. Dead Mech was his first podcasting experience and he learned and improved as he went; but it is good from the very first episode and only gets better.For me, the thing that is the biggest determining factor in whether or not I like a story isn’t the plot, or the genre, or the setting…it’s the characters.  If the writer can bring the characters to life and make me care about them, I’ll follow them damn near anywhere.  Jake does that beautifully here.  The story lines are all good and tightly interwoven. But, the characters are real and memorable. I was surprised to realize when listening to his Q & A episode afterwards that he never gave full descriptions to any of the characters.  Yet, even now, I still see them all clearly in my mind.  And somehow I know the Rookie has blue eyes.  Trust me on that.

Remember the objections I listed at the beginning of this: zombies, post-apocalyptic, and the ick factor? Well, this is about giant mechanized war machines in a post-apocalyptic world where not only are there zombies, but the mechs themselves become zombies…throw in some cannibalism and cage fighting and well, there you have it.  Even with all of that, I absolutely LOVED this book.  That’s how wonderful the characters are and how fine a job Jake did with the writing.There were moment when I laughed till I cried; others where I just cried.  I finally get zombie stories–it’s NOT about the zombies.  The zombies are just the obstacle for the heroes to conquer.

This book is available in free podcast format at and in paperback and ebook versions at all the typical retailers.  Jake is currently podcasting a second novel that happens at the same time as Dead Mech, a sidequel as it were…  That Jakey, he’s always gotta be different…

Jake’s website
B & N



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Posted by on December 11, 2011 in Book and Podcast Reviews, My Writing


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The Golden Age of the Solar Clipper: The Share Series by Nathan Lowell

Millions of books are published every year. Many are worth your time. Some are great stories. Few have characters that become a part of you; characters you genuinely care about; characters you wish you knew in real life. Ishmael Horatio Wang (rhymes with gong) is one of those characters.

The books in this series–and thankfully there are six, though I still wish there were more–are Quarter Share, Half Share, Full Share, Double Share, Captain’s Share, and Owner’s Share. A share is just that, a share in the profits of a trading ship. These ships ferry goods between worlds in the not so distant future.

These are not stories of epic space battles, or alien invasions. These are the stories of a boy becoming a man and facing the sort of personal challenges such a journey entails. He struggles with personal character issues in ways many of us wish we could. Ishmael is an imperfect person, as are we all, and he experiences triumphs, tragedies, love, and loss with a truly unique and endearing style.

If you are looking to read about epic space battles, these books aren’t for you. If, however, you want to go on the journey of a lifetime, with characters you will forever hold dear in your heart, welcome aboard.

You can find these wonderful stories in a variety of formats (including free podcasts) at the following locations:


Barnes and Noble



And for more information, other works, podcasts, and info on what Nate is up to visit his site,


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Posted by on December 10, 2011 in Book and Podcast Reviews, My Writing


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Here is my general disclaimer for any and all reviews I might be inclined to write.  I don’t think I am very good at writing reviews, but there are some works that really strike me and every so often I feel compelled to share…


I am not a professional critic (though I am rather critical of some things some days, but I digress).  I occasionally will post a review of something I have enjoyed that I think is worth your time and/or money. I don’t as a general rule put up negative reviews.  Not because I love everything I see, hear, or read; but rather because I know how hard people work on these things and I have no intention of being overly critical.  I would rather just not say anything than trash someone else’s hard work. I usually know the people involved and want to do whatever I can to get their wonderful work out to more people.  However, I don’t write these because my friends created the work. I write them because I truly enjoyed the work itself.  I receive no remuneration of any kind for any review I write.

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Posted by on December 7, 2011 in Book and Podcast Reviews, My Writing


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