N. Renee Brown

Part-time Author, Full-time Book Junkie

A bowl of pod-snacks (to go with the pint of interest)!

So I listen to quite a few podcasts (for a lot of reasons, but let’s just sum them up by saying that music does not keep my mind busy enough to keep me sane, but podcasts do)…and because of that I’ve come up with a few that I think are exceptional and I thought I’d share them.

#1 Plus One Podcast: Kevin Smith (of Dogma fame) and his wife Jen Schwalbach sit down once a week to “shoot the shit”. They’ve been together 12 years now, and having been in a relationship myself for 11 it is fascinating to watch my relationship played out in podcast form. Kevin likes to talk over Jen a lot, so be warned, but I’m sure as she gets her podding legs under her it won’t happen as much (or she might just turn up her mic, that would serve him right…too bad he edits the podcast.) Anyway, soon they will be doing SMornings with Kev and Jen, and that’s a daily I’m sure I’ll be signing on for.

#2 APM: Dinner Party Download: This is a nice quick podcast that offers some wonderful benefits if you can find time to listen to it. It offers news, but not mainstream news, instead the hosts ask members of the NPR staff what they will be talking about over the weekend. Just think about that…people that make their living off the news telling us the fun things they are going to discuss over the weekend. Cool, right? Well, add to that the history segment, and interview with someone famous, and the closing song and you’ve got yourself a podcast worth signing up for.

#3 The Urly Show: As of this writing they’ve gotten very erratic in their posting of this podcast, but it is worth taking a look at the archives if you like the internet in the least. This podcast, run by Urlesque, takes on the memes of the week…invite readers to take part in their “Too Long; Didn’t Read” quiz…and just generally talk about geeky internetty stuff. It is cute, light, fluffy, and perfectly wonderful…save for the erratic bit.

#4 Stuff You Should Know: Actually, the “How Stuff Works” network has quite a few of these types of podcasts, but this, the original, is my favorite. Everything from Twinkies to volcanoes to tone deafness is covered…and they don’t just skim the subject like Wikipedia, they delve in deep. I spent an afternoon learning all about Twinkies while my dentist drilled holes in my teeth…honestly, I couldn’t have hoped for a better/more distracting thing to have on my IPOD!

#5 Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me/Friday Night Comedy from BBC: These 2 podcasts are my standards, and are ALWAYS on my podcast list, even if I have listened to the latest episode. They are posted weekly, and follow the idea of the news “quiz show”. Popular, and fun, both of these are great because of their consistency and the level of humor involved. I often find myself snorting with laughter over the made up stories that are included in one part of the show…and sometimes I find myself writing down the subjects, because they were just too good not to include in a story somewhere.

You’ll note that I don’t have a ton of “writerly” podcasts on here…I used to listen to them a lot more often but the quality of quite a few of them has gotten so bad I can’t bring myself to listen anymore. Not naming names, but if you have trouble reading an article out loud, take a moment to review it before you go on the air or for the LOVE OF GOD edit it out and try again.
Sorry, sorry, side tracked…There are a ton of podcasts out there if you want to hear about writers or the act of writing, and most of them are worth a listen if that is what you are into (or what you need right now)–I’m not here to judge, I’ve listened to most myself. Me, I’d rather range farther afield in search of good prose and great ideas…and trust me, if I find more, I’ll let you know!


Book Research is FUN!

So a friend of mine, from the writing group, is working on a novel with a blacksmith as a main character.  She’d been doing book research and decided it was time to “invade” the Blacksmithing Guild of the Potomac. 

So we did.

I accompanied her and another member of the group to the meeting announcing itself as “Beginners Night”.  We arrived at a nature center and found men talking in the parking lot…they were members and told us where we needed to go…down an unlit path to a building illuminated by one lone light shining on its far end.  EEP?  No not really, it was a neat place (what little we could see of it) and with the moon half full it was more than light enough for J. and I .  S (the other friend) even had a flashlight with her, so if we needed it we could have called upon her.

We braved the “wilderness” and made it to a wonderful little wooden building…no windows, great big double doors, and metal hanging from every wall.   At one end the forge held court, men (already at work) paying it homage, their sweat scarce in the frigid winter night but the intensity of their eyes offering enough.  In the center, a potbellied stove tried to heat the far end of the room, men just coming in clustered around it trying to warm their hands and cheeks…but more importantly reconnecting with friends that gathered there as well.  Scrap of all shapes and sizes piled into the corners and spilled out to tug at your pant legs as if begging to be used once more, and turned into something beautiful and useful.  Reclaimed scrap, examples of how to makes leaves and twists, nails and hooks, and one impressive dragon head blowing smoke filled my eyes and fired my imagination with possibilities.  And over it all the smell of smoke that wasn’t really wood but had a sort of oily metal tang. 

It was a magical place, one that instantly fired my writers brain…too bad I wasn’t writing something including a blacksmith (must remedy that, ASAP!!!)…but even better were the men there.  Now, this is not the first “all male” enclave I have infiltrated, it’s not even the second, but on the whole my experiences with trespassing on the old grunt and spit club have not been very successful or fun.  (Astronomers are the worst!)  Yet, the blacksmiths…the blacksmiths were cool.  No better than cool, they were funny and welcoming and I had a terrific time. 

Normally, when you are new someone “adopts” you and shows you around, and introduces you to people…well, C was our adopter.  C started off our night with an off-color joke and the rest was one guffaw after the next.  S described him as puppy-like, but with a dirty streak a mile wide, and that sums it up.  He was sweet and funny and introduced us to everyone we knew.  The best thing though…he wasn’t the only one to adopt us.  A LOT of the men talked to us and gave us pointers and looked out for us, they were the most welcoming grunt and spit club I’ve ever encountered.  They sat with us and talked about blacksmithing and about the love of anvil and hammer…and by doing that infused all 3 of us with a desire to return again to laugh with them.

See, not all book research is dry reading and internet searches.  Sometimes it’s magical and creative and you walk away with a leaf that is a little bit deformed but all yours.


Find your peace and live it…even if it gives you a sore arm and hand,