In the fourteenth episode of This Podcast Needs a Title, Peter and Erica chat with author Cat Baab-Muguira about her new book, Poe For Your Problems, the effects of literary obsessions on mental health, and kismet in publishing.
BONUS: Erica finally pronounces "Hachette" correctly and Peter learns two new words.
Here is the article that led Cat to us: "The Book of Jane" by Jeanne Veillette Bowerman.
Well, hey everyone. Welcome to this podcast needs the title. I'm Erica Davis. And I am Peter Malone, Elliott's and this is real talk about Writing, Publishing and everything in between. In just a few minutes we're going to be talking to our rockstar guest Kat Babb Maghera, who is the author of the delightful book Poe for your problems released by Hachette on September 7. But first, Erica Yeah. What was that like you just gave me is that how you say hatchet Hachette it's a shadow say it's a shed it's a shoe that really how you say it. I always said hatch it in my head. Nope. Erica. Hmm. Oh my god. Just say it. How are you doing? You twit. I'm in a really weird place right now. I'd call it a good place. I got back about eight minutes ago from a doctor's appointment in which I finally talked to her about getting on anxiety meds. And I'm actually really grateful for how she talked with me about it. Should we talk through all the options everything from what's it called the Green Card CBD options, which is not a right fit for me, because I'm really lazy and I don't want to wait for another doctor's appointment if we're being honest. That's a couple extra steps to get there. Because she's not certified for that but we settled on Lexapro Yeah, I think Lexapro myself oh yeah, that's awesome. She she talked me through a bunch of options, the details of which I won't go into because it was about GI distress and everything about what what made like Zoloft wouldn't be a good fit because it does x y&z and I learned a lot from her. She like lets me talk like she just actually listens to the questions I have. And I and I Yeah, she is I end the session. She doesn't she say, Okay, what else are we forgetting? Like, what else can we talk about? What else can we talk about? And I'm like, madam, I will keep you here for seven hours if this is the case, but I had to get back here. So I wrapped it up. I'm just the relief. I felt hearing that I'm I've been extra anxious the last few weeks because of my daughter Henry getting older. wasn't because of Henry getting older. It turns out it's PTSD getting triggered from my parents steps. And that was eye opening. That was my grief counselor yesterday telling me that and I'm like, oh, hearing that. Oh my god. It was like a weight lifted. It was really good. Yeah. Holy cow. And till she said at that point, my grief counselor said she's like it might be time to talk to your doctor about meds if you're up for that. And like, you know what I really am. And I've been thinking about it. I called my doctor from the parking lot. And they had an appointment today. So I just went it was just just really serendipitous. And we're picking up the prescription tonight and having Moe's for dinner because it's right near our CVs. Awesome. Well, I in on behalf of everyone, we love you and we're proud of you. Hey, thank you. And also secondly, what the hell is most most is a delicious it's a restaurant. It's a taken takeout restaurant. Okay. What part of America do you live in? New York City. Welcome to moves. I've I've also never heard of Moe's either. Ah, do you know what Chipotle is? Yes. I know what Chipotle is. Don't say it like that. You don't know Moses, but she put me in Moser like cousins. Did I say Chipotle wrong? No, you just don't know what Moses Oh, limos are like you know, okay. Okay. So it's okay. So it's a burrito place. Okay. Yeah, it's a burrito place. It's a delicious burrito place. And they have really good steak nachos. So make nachos. Well, I make them from the Make your own menu. That's not true. I think they actually are just on the menu. But anyway, I'm really hungry right now. So I'm excited about modes tonight and also more excited about going to get my prescription filled. I also asked her to replace my inhaler, prescription because I can't find my inhaler. How beautiful. It is. Beautiful. Girls. Well, hurray. Mama Elliot, you have a daughter you didn't know about. It's me. Well, I also do have a sister but another daughter. Sure. Yeah. Sorry, Peter. Sister. Love your way. But enough about my love of Mo's and your ignorance of it. How are you doing? I'm good. I'm good. We're recording this in December 8. So the big news is that my movie came out on November 30. So it is available on Amazon Prime, Apple, TV, Google Play Vudu. And it's called wired shut. And I hope everybody likes it. And if you don't, don't tell me, but watch it. That's decent. Cool. Thank you. gratulations. I'm really excited for everyone to see it. It's a it's a Sloan slowburn home invasion thriller with some horror mixed in and it's something that is very dear to my heart. And I've, you know, been a love child of mine for a long time with my best friend who we did it together. And I'm really excited. Alex Alex, shout out our shop, the director and CO producer and I'm very excited for people to see it. So that's so I'm so proud of you, man. That's just it was weird on the day of I turned on My Computer and I went on Amazon and something that I wrote and produced was available as a real movie on Amazon. So weird. Question, have you watched it since it came out? No. Will you? At some point? Yeah. Well, I mean, I just I've seen it so many times. How long would it take for you to not look at it for? I don't know. I mean, like, I'll watch it again, eventually, soon. But I've just I've seen it so much. I'm more kind of just excited for people, the people, I know that I've been talking about this for a long time that they can finally see it. Anyway. So yes, accountability goal. So we checked in with Grant Faulkner, who was our guest last week, and his original goal was to finish the NaNoWriMo project he was on. So that would have meant 50,000 words by the end of November. And we checked in with him and he said, quote, I'm afraid I didn't hit that this was a year where there was just too much happening in life and at work understandable. And early on, I shifted my goal to trying to write each day of the month, which I did. So he still made progress. And so that's a goal in and of itself. So good job, Grant. Oh, God, great. I wonder if him being on the show took away from his writing time? Maybe? I mean, we did. We did worth it. Keep him for three whole days recording this. We did it again. And again. I kept saying, Erica, we don't need we don't need to record this. No. It wasn't part of NaNoWriMo. And, you know, I didn't use the bathroom for 72 hours. More about that. Yeah. Moving on. Okay. Anyway. Erica, how did you do on your accountability goal, I did not hit the exact target. But I move like, like, Grant, I move my target a little bit. The original goal for last episode was, I believe, to get my pages to my one beta reader. However, I have since talk to Nat. I told her I was going to take a little bit more time to work on the pages and get my beta readers a more polished version than what I was originally going to send them. That's it. Cool. Do a quick aside before you ask me about my camera, but all you do you print out in review by hand. Oh, yeah, I so much gets lost on digital for me. Yeah, I'm very tactile. And also handwriting is a lot easier for me to remember the notes that I'm giving myself versus the comment about you. How did you do with your goal? I did well, so my goal was to edit the first finish editing the first eight chapters of my book, and I actually did a full edit. So Oh, my God, how did that work? I did work fast. I so it's off to a trusted reader now for additional notes. So now now I wait. I get to shove it off my plate. So I'm at the point now where I need someone else to look at it and tell me what's wrong with it. I've done all I can with it so far on my own. Okay. And you've got that you've got that trusted writing, buddy. Good. That's great. Congratulations. Thank you. Thank you, you edit on the screen as you go. I do. Okay, yeah, I used to print out but I find it didn't really make that big of a difference for me. And I'd rather save the trees if it doesn't make a huge difference. That's interesting. I can read my writing better when I edit if I leave myself notes and comments and all that and track changes or whatever. But I have to treat myself like two people the editor and then the person revising it, I cannot do both at the same time. Which is why it makes it easier for me to print it first. You can write some notes totally makes sense. My mom does exactly the same thing. So cool. Just like everybody else who does that as well. What do you want to ensure our guest here would love to? Okay. I am thrilled to announce we have Catherine Babb Maghera. She's a writer and a journalist who has contributed to the Wall Street Journal, slate, CNBC, and NBC News, among others. Her first book poll for your problems, uncommon advice from history's least likely self help guru was just published by Hachette. Did I say right? He did a shout. So let's bring cat in here. I'm so excited to nerd out about this book with her. And you can watch me do that, Peter. I love the book, too. I had a chance to read it yesterday. And yes, fantastic cat. Thanks for coming on the show. Thank you guys so much for having me. I'm excited to be here. I'm thrilled you're here. And I'm really want to start by telling everybody how you got to us because I remember Peter reading emailing me he's like, do you know a cat Bama Euro? And I'm like, No. And then he's like, I have no idea that this person is But whoa, for your problems? Hell Yes. Show. And then in our pre meeting a couple days ago, everyone, some one of us asked you how did you find us? Can you tell everybody a little bit about that? Because that blew me away. Yeah. So a couple of months back I'm a big fan of Jane Freedman the publishing consultant who a lot of us follow on Twitter. Oh yeah, he's a really nice person and so smart. So anyway, she did you guys did a big profile book pipeline did a big profile of her and interview with her and so I kind of went down the rabbit hole with pipeline has started listening to the podcast and then told my PR person will you please reach out to them because I would like to be on this show that I enjoy so much. And that was the first time I ever experienced somebody actually like coming to us, Peter. And I usually reach out to people. So that's not the last I bet, please, if you feel like we have been overlooking you reach out. Let's just start with the boring question for our audience listening it. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background and how you got into writing? Sure. So I'm a writer and a journalist. I live in Richmond, Virginia with my husband and our toddler. I have written for a bunch of publications, lately electric lit, lit hub, the Wall Street Journal, in the past for Slate and CNBC and NBC News. I've always been a freelancer. And I have a day job. So this is something that I do on the side. Oh, and then just lately, the my first book came out as published by Hachette and Running Press, and it was back in September. So that's been a really interesting experience and keeping me really busy. And that's kind of the the story here. I'm from South Carolina and Virginia. We kind of grew up around here. Do you mind telling us what your day job is? Yeah, I'm a copywriter for a company called The Motley Fool. It's like online financial services. Oh, yeah. I read that stuff. Yeah. Maybe you've clicked on one of my ads. Seriously. Yeah. It's it's not the most boring stuff that I thought it would be. It's actually really interesting little blips. Yeah, we try to approach it in a way that's like more personable, and I've been there for like, more than a decade. So strange to save any job, but it's a really fun place to work. Awesome. Okay. i Yeah, this is I need to know this. I've read contrary to what it does say in the book, I am not reading it in order. I'm trying to get out of that mindset, because that was some scarring stuff from grad school. But I read the intro, I read the outro with about the piece that we'll get to later. And I've been I've been looking at the different lessons in the book, Poe for your problems. You don't put anything in here that I can find yet. I'd love to know, Are you a huge hole fanatic? I haven't always been but mostly I grew up in Richmond. And because post spent formative years here till he's got this reputation as sort of a local boy made good. He's a huge part of the culture here. So I encountered him in elementary school, when a teacher and my fourth grade teacher read us the Raven. And in some ways, it was like a first experience of art kind of instantly brought home to me what writing can do and what an effect it can have, even when someone's long dead. So it was kind of a formative experience for me. But then after elementary school, I completely forgot about him. And I went to I did an English degree, and then I did an MA, and not like the entire Academy does not love Poe, you do have post scholars, but he's not on every syllabus. So anyway, I had forgotten about him, mostly by the time 2016 rolled around. And I always had depressive episodes. Maybe that's why I liked him to begin with. But I had this really terrible one to the point where I had to, like, take mental health leave from work. You know, I can eat I can sleep. But I found that I had this urge to read Poe again, for the first time since I was a kid and I started and I was just blown away by how different of a writer he is, when you encounter him as an adult versus being a child like how much more I was getting out of it the metaphorical nature of the stories and how often at least to my eye, he's talking about depression and anxiety and despair. So it was really like almost running into a friend again, and getting obsessed with them. That happens. Yeah, I think maybe we've all had these like powerful experiences where a writer is really speaking to us and a moment in our lives. Oh, 100% I think that's true for any art. Really? Music books. Yeah. It was Jane Austen. For me. I hated her. I hated her when I had to read her in high school because it was way over my head. I had no idea about love and romance and marriage. And and then, right before what after I started dating my husband, like, it was just it clicked. It all clicked and I became obsessed with her. How about you, Peter, who's your? Jane Austen and Graham, who's my Jane Austen. Um, you know, I read Steinbeck in you know, in high school and everything and whatnot. I think reading was an adult though there's so much more you can get out of it. So much richness in the simplicity and the, you know, the sparseness of his prose that it frankly just kind of goes over your head when you're, you know, an adolescent yeah, thank cat i just i Okay, so a I read the book yesterday. It's phenomenal. It's so weird and funny in the best possible ways. And just well done. First of all, it just it's such an interesting idea. I mean, like a self help book done through the lens of Edgar Allan Poe, but with a satirical bent, obviously, forgive me for asking this How was pitching this to people? Because I just this must have been a tough sell. I can't imagine this was an easy sell. It was a very long process. I mean, from the very beginning. Once I like I had this experience with Powell and I was telling a historian friend about it one night at a bar Having a drink and I'm like, It's the weirdest thing PO is cheering me up. And he said, that sounds like a book. I wrote it down on a cocktail napkin, you know, thought about it. And then the idea just stayed with me. So I wrote about it first in an essay for the millions. It was called Edgar Allan Poe was a broke ass freelancer. And it was really about his freelance career and how contemporary it feels like when your pitch gets stolen, or when your checks are always late. All that, that feels like very relevant to the greater economy now. Sure, yeah. And then the piece did really well by especially by the million standards, like Michiko Kakutani, like did on Twitter, and it went viral and got picked up a bunch of places to the point, I still get emails about it today. Anyway, so that happened. And I was like, Alright, I'm going to finish this book proposal. So I sent it out to agents in early 2018. Because at the time, I didn't have an agent. And I got an enormous, like, very positive response from agents. Yeah. And then we went out to publishers, at the time, the project was extremely sad, because it was very much like a kind of a personal memoir about me reading pode, this very dark moment in my life, right. And it was literary too. So we were going to like your FSGs, your high brow label. Yeah. And they all rejected it in part because, you know, like, the usual stuff that writers hear like, you don't have enough of a platform, I don't know how to where to put this in a bookstore. And part of that was just like, I had never tried to sell a nonfiction project before. So it was really like a learning process for me. So that round of rejections happened. And I think there were 16 of your basically the biggest names, you can think of all of them said now, which was great for my mental health. I signed with a different agent. And we sort of like started taking in this mass market direction, but even to the point of like, so the book sold at auction. And the week before the auction, I had one editor saying, Hey, I'm going to bid on this if you write a tragic version of your 4000 word writing sample, like give it to me nonstop tragedy, this is the saddest thing ever. And then another editor who was gonna bid said, I want you to play this for laughs and so take this 4000 words and just write it in a funny direction go to two different so it was awful chooses you had a week for it was just so I had like a introduction and chapter one. And then, you know, you're getting bids and kind of deciding who you want to go with. And I just really liked the editor for the funny direction. And at the time, I wasn't convinced that I could pull off a whole book of that, because Edgar Allan Poe's life is so tragic. Yeah. Yeah, that's the direction we ended up going in. And I think, I don't know so much more fun to work on than like a sad memoir about my own life. You know what I mean? Sure. Absolutely. It I just backing up just for a second. So you took it out with one agent? And then you repurposed it with another agent? How was that process? Because that's, you know, that's, that's pretty rare for a second agent to take out something that's already been taken out. Yeah, that's true. So when I first approached agents, I approached eight, and four offer representation. And so I spoke to all of them, like what their vision was for the project and what they thought needed to happen. Yeah. And one of those agents was like, I think this is going to sell for a million dollars, and you don't need to change anything. So that's why I signed with push. It was like, kind of my dream agent at that time. Sure. And she was great. There's nothing wrong with her. It was just like, her vision was very, like highfalutin, you know, and I mean, it's not that I sneer at those things whatsoever. I just had lost faith that within my background of state universities, and on prestigious day jobs and so on, I was just not sure at all that those publishers were ever going to buy into me your instinct. Yeah, I think maybe all of us like have to figure out where our market position is, when we go to sell a big project, taking it in a mass market direction, like my background was just not as much of an issue, you know, did you have to like forgive me for getting into the trenches on this, but like, as part of my job for big pipe, and I send our winners and runners up out the whatnot. So like, this is a process that interests me. So when you were pitching the second agent on this book, did you have to like pitch it basically with the disclaimers? Like I know this has already been out, but I have an idea to kind of shape a new direction or what was that whole discussion? So my current agent Andrea Sandberg, who sold it, she's like, we talked to her in my first round of approaching agents and she had representation. I didn't go with her at that time. But when I came back to her, I said, Hey, listen, I've got a spreadsheet of everybody who said no, we do take a look and see if you're still interested in working on this. And because Andrea is freaking awesome ages, she was like, No, I know who I'm going to talk to you from here. And eventually she did sell it but she had a lot of fun at all along and like really understood That makes me curious. How long did it take from new concept to finished product or at least deliverable to the publisher? That was okay. So the rewrites on the proposal? Were it's I think it was less than a year. Yeah, I want to say that was less than a year, once I signed with Andrea. And then we went out, we went through a couple of rounds of submission till we like started to get the interest that what eventually led to the auction. And then from there, how to how long did it take to get the Polish draft out a year? So it's a I think it's 55 or 57,000 words long, and I was just kind of writing a chapter every two weeks, because I have a day job. So it's not writing all day long, right? I mean, that's a chapter every two weeks. It's still pretty, pretty fast paced, though, I would say. Yeah, thankfully, I've done most of the research. I mean, there's so much Poe and like, pull biography is this incredibly contested field and I wanted to make sure I was given the details, right. So thankfully, that was all done as a huge history geek and a polled person myself, you had the the funny, you know, self help stuff in there. But there was also so much really interesting history tied in there that it's unusual to see and that kind of a nonfiction book in of that specific world. It's really good. Thank you. Yeah, publisher was very clear. Like, don't go so deep into the weeds here. Remember this short training. So it was a really good direction that they gave me counterpoint to that I was not a PO fan. I remember, I stole a copy of my neighbor Mary's eight Tales of Terror, like a little tiny paperback. And I remember loving that. And then I had to read it. And I had to read po in school, and I hated him, hated him hated him. This brought me back to what I loved about it. So it's the opposite of like, what how Peter enjoyed it. Oh, just because I love humor, writing anyway, like, it's just one of my favorite genres. And the fact that this, like, I actually learned a lot about his history. I didn't I had no idea about it. And this is going to make me and probably a lot of other readers go back and revisit all his stuff. Kudos to you for that. You know, your writing sounds a lot like you write very different subjects, obviously. But you know, are you familiar with Bill Bryson? Oh, yeah, I your voice reminds me a lot of his for some reason I love I love a walk in the woods, one of my favorite books ever. Great. I love him too. He's extremely funny. And he does a great balance of like facts and all the rest of it exactly. Just had a complete aside here. What's your favorite, like story of pose, the one that launched him his manuscript found in a bottle. It's from 1833. And he was 2041, a short story contest with a story that kind of watched his career. And it's the story where a guy is on a ship, and he survived the storm at sea only to be thrown on to a another ship that is crewed by ghosts. And then at the end of the story, it's being sucked into a whirlpool. And the story itself is like this note that he took and like throw into the sea in a bottle. And I just think it's an amazing metaphor for despair and anxiety. And it's beautifully written to like is making the Gothic thing completely work for the emotional context of the story. And I just admire the craft of it, especially since he was so young when he wrote it. That's a really good one. My My favorite is it's got to be Caspar masyado it's got to be Yeah, how could you? I mean, it's I still remember the feeling I felt when I first read it, you know, way back then. Just the ultimate is I was admiring the writing but was also so terrified at the same time. It's just such a it's such a unique piece of work anyway. I think mine is The TellTale Heart just felt I literally felt it in my bones like physically, I felt what was happening and I'm like, oh my god, I heard on my chest and it's metaphor. I'm amazed no one has tried to do like a modern adaptation contained thriller version of Cask of Amontillado because I feel like that could be done so easily with a writer sitting right here yeah, it's actually if Tina Fey can make Queen Bees and Wannabes into Mean Girls we could absolutely adapt this like this would be amazing. Based on something really yes a nonfiction parents parenting team guide seriously Queen Bees and Wannabes I had no idea when they bought it before she realized it was nonfiction she thought it was but it's it's a it's a it's like a parent help guide for parents of teen girls and talk about your clicks and different types of it's it's really fascinating. There's like literally the the map of the cafeteria was an artifact from an actual drawing that a team now I feel like that's been swept under the rug because I know it's on the DVD commentary, buddy. Well, I don't know on the DVD. A shocking number of self help books have been made into feature like What to Expect When You're Expecting that he's just not that into you. Yeah. Steve Harvey book on like, love and marriage was made into whitens. Can you imagine what po for your problems would do? I would love that I'm supposed to like I'm overdue with the film treatment. So that kind of leads in perfectly to our next line of inquiry or So, as you've mentioned, you are a screenwriter also and you used to live in LA, and you spent a decent amount of time there. So has that informed your writing on Paul? And has your screenwriting experienced influenced your prose writing? And yeah, for sure. So I was in LA for I want to say it was like 2018 2019. And I went out there specifically, because I've always wanted to write Lifetime movies and like cheesy thrillers. Yes. And a friend of mine works as a producer in those things. So we were like pitching ourselves as a writing team and meeting producers for lunch. And doing the whole like thing that you do where you General Meeting idea, they asked you to like, yeah, take it in totally different directions. And they dispense with every single element. Everything that you thought made the idea good, but you know, you just keep picking yourself up and adapting the pitch. And that's so ended up being the same process with pitching this book, and eventually selling it. So that kind of like, just hanging in and re adapting and adapting. Adapting really taught me a lot about selling projects. And it'll I mean, I love cheesy thriller, so you're good with that? Have you heard of a movie called Wired shot? People? Don't think it's cheesy, but no, okay. But it's a thriller. So if you're like, thrillers cat, I will eat movie came out days ago. wired shut it is. And I quote, a slow burn thriller with horror elements. Yeah, it's like a home invasion thriller, where the main characters Jaws wired shut, and he can't speak. Oh, look at her face. She's so excited. If you're curious, you can watch my movie on Amazon and Apple and Hulu and all that stuff. Yeah. When's it coming out on DVD? The DVD comes out January, January. Fantastic. Congratulations. Thank you. Thank you. And this is this will be circling back to something you were talking about earlier. What is your writing process? You said that you had you got this out in about a year? What was your daily process for that? So I'm kind of an early bird. And before when I was always pregnant when I was writing a book, and then the book was due in December, and I had to baby in July. Part of it was like it was this new mom, first child ever. Wow. So I would just get up really early when still pregnant. And then great for a couple of hours before my workday started. And then once I had the baby, you know, your schedule absolutely gets scrambled. But I was on maternity leave from work, thank God, I didn't have that to contend with. And so the baby would like start screaming in the middle of the night, and I would wake up to feed him. And then I would just write because I was very scared of my deadline. So a lot of this was written like between three and 5am. And I sometimes wonder if it shows because it was not like totally accomplishment is completely does not show, I think no, I think it does show in a good way. It's but I thought that was more like Poe leaking in just very dark wee hours of the haunting mornings. That could hardly be a more appropriate time. Right in the melonite house really dark and kind of like rocking the baby's rocker with my foot while I'm typing. So oh god, that's why women are so much cooler than men. I just ate it's just it's I'm laughing about it now. So speaking of that writing process and your pregnancy, I know that the one of the later chapters in the book you talk about I'm in the hospital like literally, maybe I'll read it hold on long journey. A reading from the Gospel of cat bad Maghera page 222. The title is po one by losing and you can too. Okay, so I'm in the hospital, a bit of a scare actually. And the attending doctor walks in lab coat and stethoscope professional demeanor a little preoccupied and busy and busy as they all seem to be and he sees the book on my lap a two pounder stopper book any lean forward all concerned like it says Edgar Allan Poe, then there's a pause. He looks at me really looks at me for the first time. Wasn't he evil? That's just so good. The fact that you you brought yourself bright present into that moment saying okay, so I'm in the hospital. I was like, Yeah, this is a voice I would read for another 500 pages. Can you tell us a little bit about that? It was super intense to have a demanding day job and to be pregnant. And so like pregnancy was a little bit complicated and like the what happened there was I went in for my normal OBGYN appointment. And they ended up like taking me in a wheelchair to the ward because they thought I was going into labor at five months, which would not be good, right? So they checked me in and I was there for the weekend. But I was so conscious of this deadline and freaking out about it that even though like my doctor is like you need to stop working and stop thinking and like just lay in the bed. I really couldn't stop so I had all my notes and like my humongo Poe biographies with me, which are these hugely thick tones. So I had those with me and they were all like spread out on my bed when the attending doctor walked in to do like one more check to make sure that I wasn't actively in labor at the moment. And we had this weird conversation about Po. My husband was in the room at the time with me. So he can attest that this actually did happen. It's a really weird and surreal place to be like making notes for this book on pal. Yeah, but I also I mean, it's also like, if you spend enough time with boat, every experience becomes pOH. Like, yeah, you almost can't stop it. He's just so influential that way. He really gets into your system and you start to interpret everything like through his eyes. That's so funny. Thanks for sharing that. glad everything's okay. Yeah, everything is good. And everything was fine. How old is your child? He's 16 months old now became a little fussy for Halloween. Oh, he was an avocado. And we had like little sweat pants that were toast colors are like a Millennials baby should be avocado toast. That's so nice. I love that. My favorite question to ask if there's one thing that you know now about the whole process of publishing a book in the publishing industry at large in general, if you could go back in time and tell yourself that one thing, what would it be in life? Okay, that's a big question. I think, Edwin? Yeah. I'd be really curious to hear what you guys have to say on this point, I think I would say that you really can't depend on publishing to make you happy. I don't I think that writing is worth it. I think publishing is worth it. But the rewards in this business are not humongous. It doesn't tend to make you rich, you're going to get nasty reviews, occasionally nasty emails or tweets. So it's not like you're coming into this like to universal acclaim and so much money. If you don't have your life a little bit figured out and your life being happy, then it could be a really bad road. I'm glad I didn't expect more of it in a way. Like I think tempered expectations are the greatest asset I had, at any point, then. I'm super grateful about the whole thing. Yeah, sure. No, that's, that's incredibly good advice. And I would echo that you do not get in the publishing to get rich. And if you do, you're stupid. Right. Right. Right. Or, or will be very disappointed or be very disappointed unless Yeah, sir. named Stephen King or something, right? I often say like creative workers more off is more likely to cause financial problems than solve them. Oh, dang, you're not wrong. Oh, hard drop is dropping nuggets left and right. Remember opening an Etsy store and I barely broke even. Because you had an Etsy store. Oh, god. Yeah. What did you sell in between? No, no, I um, I sold basically fandom wares. mugs that I would hand ink on with permanent oil markers. I later got invested in a Silhouette Cameo vinyl cutters. Yeah, it's really great. And I so I UPS my craft game and I I made a couple $100 One Christmas like in a week and just selling fandom stuff. It cost a lot to business and it was a nice little mini business lessons for sure. That definitely rings true to me. What is fandom? What's that? Can't think of kingdom for fans. You belong in the madman fandom. Okay, sorry, cat. I'm even young in my body. I'm like 70 Something in my brain. Oh, bless. He's new to Twitter, too. I joined Twitter five. What was it July, June, July that I joined anything very, very recently. I learned to like some parts of it. There are certain parts I love about it. I don't like the pylon factor of like, people will just get these long, long, long, really esoteric conversations about nothing and just kind of dump on each other that amount of time. But the I love the fact that there's such a great Online Writing Community on Twitter and that's a big thing. And I'm I'm really that I'm very much into. Yeah, we're gonna jump right into the final question. And we're cruising so we're gonna have a lot of chat after this. Cap. Adam gira Do you snack? Chat Peter. hard hitting questions. The hardest of the month. Do you stack while you're working? Yeah, absolutely do it's like the break I take in fact, I got one. He's the video but I was making Christmas cookies earlier. Oh my god. It was kind of a rough morning. So I was like, I'm gonna make myself an eight by 10 Christmas. Who did you know I still needed to cool out of the oven before I said so. So a nice nice little treat. So Erica, you got one? I did. I have one. I'm like three for 14 right now. So like only three of us have our we can kind of Vamp now I don't know what a vamp we can we can ask questions off the dome. Or you can ask us questions. Yeah, we can you and I can grill Peter. Oh, boy. You guys told me into the question earlier if you learned about What do you wish you knew before you got into this? I mean, this is all given answer. That's true of both industries, there is, particularly in film and television, there is such a gatekeeper them, there's such a phalanx of people that you have to go through in order to get something bought or made or produced, and all the above, and you can't let the business aspect of it get you down. Because if you do, you're gonna hate yourself and hate writing. You have to try and divorce yourself from that process as much as you can. So the attitude I try to adopt when I write something in it, I'm not always successful. This is a work in progress. When I write something and I get it, you know, for like, if I write a script, and I give it to my manager, and he goes out with it, I'm done with it. I wipe it clean from my brain. And I don't think about it again, I tried to, I don't always succeed at that. And that's true of publishing too. Makes total sense to you. I mean, I didn't get as far as you've gotten as a screenwriter. But it seemed to me like we were always getting news of like, So and so it's so interesting. They love it, and then you never hear from them again. And that happens seven times with a script. Yeah. Erica, what about you? What would you say? Two things. Don't rush. This is a very slow industry. I kept rushing my middle grade horror, I wanted to write and publish, I had a great idea to be great for Halloween. And Halloween was six months away, I had no idea how the industry worked. And only time was going to give that to me. But I rushed through drafts and blew a lot of first chances with querying with my dream agents for middle grade horror that I could have salvaged. And it worked out because it turns out I'm much better at writing nonfiction than I am fiction at the moment, or I'm just more motivated right now. And the other thing is, I would tell 2015, Erica, there's more than one way to find an agent. I'll be writing a article for pipeline about this, how I found my agent, and oh, cool. She experienced the book I'm writing about like she experienced a bad graduate school program that she needed to get out of, and her sister, or even more so with a doctorate program. She knows the target audience exists. And that's not true for everybody. So that actually makes me curious. Was there any connection like that? Did did the agent did the editor happen to be a big pole fanatic to that girl, so running presses owned by Hachette, but their offices are in Philadelphia, where there's a pole museum where there are Pope murals, and they had already done some poll like gift depot items and books they had done like miniature editions of Powell, I had such an extensive proposal, like pages and pages of pictures of other poll gifts that have been sold, not just by running press, but in general, because there are whole websites devoted to Poe gifts. And then I did a page of Poe tattoos, because so many people have both tattoos, and then apparently other editorial meeting when they acquired it, someone was like, oh, yeah, my roommate has a tattoo. And it's kind of helped us on going back to what you're saying, that just kind of proves the fact that you always have to be ready, you never know how you're gonna get connected with someone in the industry, or who's going to be listening or whose wants to hear something, you always have that material and be ready to talk about your material in a compelling way. Always. And there's an element of like just Kismet to this, I would say like selling something is like obviously it has to be good, obviously. But like I would argue that 80% of it is being in the right place at the right time and knowing the right person who's has the hunger for that specific thing at a specific point in time. So there's a lot of chance Kismet involved for sure. I was realizing the other day that if my original proposal had sold, I would have come out like right at the beginning of 2020 into the pandemic. Yeah. Like I had this publisher Running Press, I said we need to delay it to like the book was ready last spring, but I was like, no, let's bring it out in the fall right before Halloween. That's postseason. And if we had tried a different moment, we might have been cut up in the supply chain issues worked out but not for reasons I necessarily could have planned for. All right, everyone, you heard it here publishing is 98%. Kismet. So all you need is to put an effort and you've made a percent and then you're good. That's it. Actually, you do have a footnote in there that says hey, students don't quote me in your academic papers on this. Oh contraire. After coming out of academia. A lot of the stuff that I saw getting cited that was outside of academic research, it was from like nonfiction books that weren't necessarily academic because the content is still valid. It's still authentic to his life. And there's an academic way to weave that in like even in the satirical book by cat bag me euro 2021 Yeah, I've found girl hard over some post dollars in the references section and then various points of the book. So I drew like I was hunting JSTOR for a relevant papers and I remember JSTOR Peter fangirling means I no fan girling Erica cat. I'm curious. What are you working on now? Another But proposal looks somewhat similar. And then I'm like very early in the stages of a novel after I told myself I wouldn't do this again, because I tried to sell novels for a while before selling nonfiction. Can we know anything about the nonfiction project? Um, I don't know. Yet just because it's so nascent, and I'm afraid I'm going to like lose my own interest in it if I exercise it in any way. Yeah, no. So if I so that's interesting that you wrote novels before you dove in the nonfiction. So do you think writing novels helped shape the way that you approach nonfiction? Yeah, my friend Alan calls it the fictive dream where you're trying to write nonfiction in a way that has like the compelling aspects of fiction. Sure, you feel immersed in it. So I'm kind of trying to do that in every chapter. Like the first half is usually some kind of story about his life, and then they go and Chronicle logical order, but hopefully it reads in an entertaining way. And is screenwriting, something you'd ever want to dive into again, or is that does that put the bed? I would love to? I enjoy it so much more than because I have a writing partner and it's just so much more fun and collaborative, and it's less of a grind. It's not that I hate writing by myself, I obviously don't. But I really prefer screenwriting with a friend. Can you tell us a little bit about your background in Screenwriting? No, we have not been produced yet. We were, we felt it seemed very close right before the pandemic struck. And then with these thrillers, where you're not on a humongous budget, like just getting the COVID test and such well easily double the budget of one. But I mean, ever since the 90s. And watching like mother Mae eye dance with danger, Tori Spelling Lifetime movie, whoo, I love those. And every year like my best friend from high school, and I get together and drink like pink wine and watch six of these and go. So I wanted to do it. I haven't gotten there yet. But I'm still hopeful that we'll be able to at some stage, cat, if you could change anything about the publishing industry, what would it be? I would like to see it just briefly even be impossible to publish celebrities, books, because those advances soak up so much of the territory, and it means that smaller books can't be bought. And I think what we would see coming out of publishers would be so much Wilder, if they had more of a budget to devote to those sorts of projects. While they're in what way? Weird projects, you know, stuff that's not just kind of like everything we've already seen. That's such a good point. I never thought about it. Yeah, if they didn't, they didn't spend so much money on those, they would have so much more in their budget to acquire more risky. That's yeah, that's a really good point. Yeah. What about y'all? How do you answer that question? Huh? Wow, my how that turntables have all the turntables? Erica, you wanna hit that first? Yeah, let me do let me take this first, definitely a bit more equity in representation. And I have black friends who are writers, and I see secondhand how, how many more hurdles they have to get over there. And it's absolute bullshit. And that would be one of the first things also accessibility of information. I remember I was actually just recently looking back through the publishing paid me hashtag that transparency really did help bring some of these issues to light. And then you could see how little black authors were getting paid compared to their white debut counterparts. And yes, it was sickening. Yeah, that's a button to mine. That's a really good point. Minor probably be Well, the big one, I do not want the penguin Simon and Schuster merger to go through because that would just that would a make that entity such a huge conglomerate would also take away so many outlets for, you know, imprints to buy things. I mean, there would be such a consolidation of power and lots of opportunity for so many writers that I don't think people will fully realize until it actually happens. So let's let's hope that that doesn't go through. We've got a little bit of time can you give me and the rest of them any listeners who might not know the whole story yet a little bit more information? Penguin Random House wants to acquire Simon and Schuster and all of its entities everything, Simon and Schuster. And, you know, I just it's kind of turning into it not turning to it is it would be a monopoly and the details are still being finalized. And I think, correct me if I'm wrong. There was a suit brought by, by the the government, you know, antitrust lawsuit. That's, I think, hopefully going to try and stop it. But you know, as we've seen many times in the past and other industries, that doesn't mean that it won't happen. Yeah, that would probably be my big thing off the top of my head will have an enormous ripple effects, enormous ripple effects that I don't think people quite grasp. It's already such a tough industry. I know. Anyway, on that note, wha wha? Thanks Peter downer. All right. Well, I mean, you've hit every question in mind Miss cat. I actually, I guess I want to know. Are you sick of Edgar Allan Poe right now? Or no? No, somehow I could still talk about him for ages. And I've done a lot of interviews. And I've written a lot a lot about him beyond the book. Because you know, when you are promoting a book, you write all this editorial stuff to promote it. So no, like, I don't feel like you can I can really get to the end of him. What do you think he would say about this book? I think he would write one of his absolutely vitriolic reviews of it. A pleasure. You know, hatchet by him. That would almost be a weird, perverse honor to get a scathing review from Edgar. Oh, yeah, I'd like Ray not, um, what's your favorite part of the book? Oh, my favorite incident from pose life is his Eureka phase where after his wife's death, he went off the deep end and thought he had figured out every secret of the universe and then gave his public lecture saying that he did and comparing himself to God and always good. I love that it feels so contemporary. And I also think it's such a beautiful response in a way. I mean, on the one hand, it's crazy. And on the other hand, good for him, like bringing the entire universe the next time you need to explain your grief and loss. There's other instructive example there. And yet, it's also like Van Gogh chopping off his ear, or I say this lovingly, like Britney Spears attacking the minivan. Someone acting in extreme circumstances in a very understandable way. And because it's Poe, it's also like such a genius at the same time. Eureka is really beautiful. It's one of the most beautiful works on my mind. Peter, Britney Spears was a 99 She's lovelies didn't know what fandom was, or most. Do you know what most is? Cat? Most? The restaurant? Oh, yeah. Like, when you walk in there like welcome. Clothes. They like every single time you walk in. They have to call that out. Right? I think so. Yeah. Yeah. It's in their contract. Their employment records, I think librarians to do that. Look. They would be different. Well, cat, I mean, you've been so lovely. They answer all of our questions. I think I have one more that I think might be a good closer, but maybe I'm speaking out of school, what is the best piece of writing advice that you've ever gotten? Snap? Cool. Well, one of the I, the one that's actionable, and that I use almost every time is my writing mentor told me about this concept. He calls it the comic opportunity or the CEO for short. And it's when you let a draft. So you type out your draft, and then you let it go cold. And when you go back through it again, you circle the parts where you could punch it up. So here's a firm that could be more interesting. Here's where I could put in an adjective that's better than this one. Here's where I can drop in, like a simile or metaphor, something that is going to make this funnier. Now I do that with every single piece. That's great advice. I think that's a great place, then I think it is except we didn't do a cow. Oh, that's right. Cat. You said you listen to the show a few times. Are you familiar with our trend for I want to say so? Yeah, definitely. Would you like to join us on our accountability? Yeah, for sure. I need to write like 4000 words of book sample. So oh, that's doing that. That's decent. Is that a decent goal for about two weeks out for you to have a sort of rough draft? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. All right. Let's see. Alright, that's it. Peter, how about you? What's your goal for next time? Well, it's a two prong. Are you ready? Here we go. Okay. It's always a two pronged? Well, I mean, I just finished my novel, and it's out to my trusted reader for notes. So I first prong is to not think about my novel for a week, just let it let it be for a week. Don't think about it. And then the second part would be I guess, to I have a, I think after this after, you know, the novel's completely done and dusted, I think the next thing will be another script. And it makes sense, given that wire just came out for it to be a thriller. I have a germ of a good idea for a thriller spec. So I'll start kind of fleshing that out a little bit more. Okay, cool. My accountability goal is going to be yet again, to get my nonfiction writing sample to this time to beta readers. I did not get there. Let the last two times less two episodes for my accountability, because of anxiety, and just in fact, earlier today, I was sitting in the waiting room waiting to talk to my doctor about anxiety reading, some anxiety issues that Poe had and that was really kind of amazing. My point with anxiety is that it's the anxiety has really delayed the writing process. So failure. It just, I had to attend to my physical mental health and that takes it out priority. It is it is no thank you. BETA readers are their Alpha readers. The people who buy your book are the Alpha readers. Oh, yeah, well put. Okay. That's that's how I always thought beta makes a lot of sense. Well, this was this was wonderful. Thank you so much for being a guest. Thank you both. This was just as fun as I expected it would be Oh, I'm honored. And I really I personally, I don't know if I can speak for Peter. Actually, I do. We're honored that you reached out because you liked the show. Thank you for listening and did favorite episodes so far? Is that too in the weeds? It's usually just the most recent one was these witches don't burn, Isabel. I liked her a lot. very personable. And your conversation was really good on that one. So maybe that's my favorite. Oh, that's great as well. You heard what she took me to life school. Yeah, a lot of good insights. I felt very seen by that. Yeah, that's awesome. She's an amazing writing coach. And she's available for hire. So anyway, yes. Yeah, I actually did totally think about that. Yeah. Like when she said, Yeah, I'm one of her clients. Not only am I the president, I remember. Thank you, cat. This was me you. Thank you guys. And that concludes episode 14. Cat is an awesome guests. Thank you so much for coming on. Thank you, cat. Thank you for bringing this book into our lives and into the world. And and you're awesome. Up next in Episode 15. Our next guest is drumroll please. ourselves. So strap in everybody. Buckle up. Put your helmet on. And your knee pads and elbow pads. Wow, man, you're really safe. Okay. And if you have any questions, rants or raves about writing or you want to learn more about us or pipeline, please visit pipeline artists.com. And you can follow us on Twitter at the podcast title on Instagram and Facebook at this podcast needs a title or you can follow me at Davis girl. Or heck you can even follow Peter Malone Elliot at P M. e writer. That's it. That's all we got. Roll that beautiful bean footage. Been footage? Oh my God. You're so young. It's thing for beans. Beans. Edgar Allan Poe.