Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I adore podcasts.  Love them. Can’t get enough of them.  Next to books, they are my favorite form of entertainment.  What is a podcast you ask?  One of the greatest things to be invented since chocolate chip cookies, I respond.  But, if you want the boring definition, Wikipedia defines podcasts as “a series of digital media files (either audio  or video) that are released episodically and often downloaded through web syndication.” Oh, yes, that was helpful.  Let me try.  Basically, podcasts are audio (or video) broadcasts that have been converted to an MP3 file or other audio file format for playback in a digital music player and/or your computer.  

There are great podcasts on every topic you could imagine.  I gravitate toward podcasts on writing.  Whenever I have a long drive (or some crazy urge to exercise grips me - trust me, that is rare), I load up my iPod with several podcasts to pass the time.

My favorite podcasts on writing are:

I Should Be Writing - Mur Lafferty, author, podcast pioneer and producer and general director of Escape Pod, puts out a regular podcast on the craft of writing.  It is excellent.  No, it is better than excellent.  No, it is better than better than excellent.  Each episode is about an hour and typically includes interviews with authors, agents, and editors as well as a feedback section.  She has recently started a "Good Cop/Bad Cop" segment where she and another author provide feedback (supportive and harsh) in response to listener questions.  This is a fantastic resource.  If you aren't a follower, stop reading this, go to the website, and start listening (and then come back and comment, please :)).  You will be happy you did.

Writing Excuses - Authors Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells and Howard Tayler put out weekly fifteen minute podcasts (their motto is "Fifteen minutes long, because you're in a hurry, and we're not that smart") focused on specific topics relating to writing.  This is a great resource.  They have covered everything from conference etiquette to the use of violence in telling a story.  With humor and intelligence, they deliver three rich view points on the various aspects of writing.  I run through these podcasts faster than a bag of Cheetos (and if you know me, I LOVE my Cheetos).

Southern Voices - Southern Voices, a four-day conference sponsored by the Hoover Public Library exploring Southern culture in contemporary arts, make available the video and audio podcasts of the panels and presentations from the writers, editors, musicians, performers and public figures featured at the conference.

Odyssey  - The Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop podcast features excerpts from lectures by writers, editors and agents during the Odyssey Writing Workshop.  New podcasts are updated every month or two.  

If you are a fan of audio books, many authors are beginning to serialize their novels, making parts (and sometimes even the entire work) available in podcast format.  New York Times bestselling author Scott Sigler gained so many followers for his novels through making them available on the internet as podcasts, he caught the attention of his publisher and the rest is history.

The potential use for podcasts is limitless.  They are great tools for education, marketing and entertainment.  I would love to hear what everyone’s experience with podcasts has been.  If you have a favorite, please share!


M.V.Freeman said...

I use some pod-casts, but they are not writing related.

Honestly, I can only listen for about 30 minutes max.

I have never looked at the writing pod casts. It is a class at your finger tips.

Still, I have to admit, any extra time I use to write...but when in a block, these might help.


Heather said...

I know what you meant about time. I usually listen when I am in the car, cleaning or exercising. It is about the only time I effectively multi-task!

JoAnn said...

Thank you, Heather! I am shamed to admit that I never really understood podcasts til now. :-) I will certainly check these out. Sounds like the perfect thing to listen to while I'm on the treadmill! And I always need something new to distract me from the agony of exercise. :-)

Kat Jones said...

What a great resource! My husband listens to several (he particularly likes Dave Ramsey), but I haven't really looked into them. I didn't realize there were podcasts out there on writing. Thanks for sharing some of your favs - I'm going to give them a try.

Heather said...

JoAnn and Kat - a great way to find podcasts is to use iTunes - go the the iTunes store (don't worry - the podcasts are free/you don't need an account), and in the top right corner where there is a search window type whatever search terms interest you. When the results come back, click on the "podcast" link on the left side of the screen, and you will see podcasts relating to that topic.

Jeanie said...

Heather, thanks for educating me. I did not really know what a podcast was until now. Love the idea of listening to workshops on writing as I drive. Unfortunately, I don't have an IPOD! My girls do, but I don't. But this might inspire me to get one.

Carla Swafford said...

I like podcasts too. Karen Marie Moning gave away her first Fever book free in podcast. Got it on my iPod. Love it.

There are several free podcasts on that the editors did, talking about their lines and what they're looking for. I believe you can get them free on iTunes too.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Obviously there is a lot more to podcasts than I realized. I like Harlequin's Editor Podcasts, but now that I've read this blog, I'll have to expand my horizons.

Heather said...

Jeanie - if you don't have an iPod, you can listen on your computer or with any MP3 player. I just drove to Montgomery tonight, and my husband and I listened to "No Agenda" - his favorite podcast

Carla - I had no idea about the first Fever book being available as a podcast. I have just torn through that series (love me some Barrons!!), and can't wait for the fifth book. I had pre-ordered the forth book for its mass market paperback release, but couldn't wait - I went ahead and ordered the hardback. Worth it. So worth it.

Debbie - if you find new podcasts you like, I would love to know about them. I am looking to expand my library!

Gwen Hernandez said...

I used to devour all sorts of podcasts, from Grammar Girl to Leonard Lopate. I've dropped off lately, especially since I don't spend a lot of time in the car anymore, but these are great suggestions, Heather. I'll have to check out your absolute fave. =) Thanks for sharing!

Stern Rake Studio said...

One of my sisters is involved in a weekly pop-culture podcast that I listen to, along with a couple of sessions from writer's conferences.