Winter Break

Here we are at the winter holidays!

Following the academic calendar, we’ve gotten through the first semester of the Romance MFA and all of… four novels. Half of my reading time was probably spent on Pamela, but it pains me to admit that I barely made it through 20 books this year. As a new parent, my time for book in hand has shrunk drastically. Goodreads gives my previous tallies as 44 in 2016, 56 in 2015… Ouch!

I’m not feeling too badly, however, because I’ve stepped my audio consumption. I was already an occasional podcast listener, now I’m mainlining them at 1.5x while playing with my kiddo. And now that said kiddo is (usually) sleeping through the night, I’m not only retaining more information, but my creative output has also been ramping up. Since I launched the Romance MFA project in September, I’ve written thirteen substantive “papers” that you’ll find among the posts on this website, six e-news letters, and just over 40,000 words on my first full length historical novel.

I’ll be taking a little break on the blog here for winter holidays – the next post will be up on Monday, January 8, 2018. In the meantime, if you’d like to step up your podcast consumption, here’s a few of the ones I’ve been listening to!

Podcast recommendations

The History Chicks – Co-hosts Beckett and Sarah pick a historical woman (and occasionally a fictional one) to research, then spend an hour or so discussing her biography, following up with recommended resources on their subject’s life and historical context. A few of my favorite episodes have been Eleanor of Aquitaine, Ida B. Wells, Lillian Gilbreth, and Sophie Blanchard, but they’re all good. Obviously, or why would I be recommending the podcast?

The History of English – Are you a word nerd? Do you want to know why we pluralize mouse as mice, but not house as hice? How we started referring to pigs that we eat as pork? Whether there’s a connection between skirts and shirts? Do you enjoy sweeping narratives of history? Are you ready to make a long term commitment to a podcast? Originally planned for just 100 episodes, real-life lawyer Kevin Stroud started with the pre-history of Indo-Europeans and has made it to the Middle English period by episode 104.

Hidden Brain – From NPR, social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam uses topics of human psychology, anthropology and sociology to explore human behavior. Episodes are 20-30 minutes long and are not only inherently interesting in my opinion, but valuable to any writer for realistic character building.

The New Books Network – Organized to interviews authors of recent academic publications, I find the NBN podcast to be a hit or miss proposition – it’s volunteer run, with different hosts for different topics and not all of them have the best sound equipment. However, the sheer number of academic specialists they interview means that there are regularly episodes which I find fascinating. Take a listen, for instance, to this July 2016 episode with historian April R. Haynes about issues of women’s sexuality, masturbation, and race in 19th century America.

Wait — none of these are romance or book podcasts!

True. In my search for more podcasts to listen to, I’ve recently added in a dozen new-to-me romance-related podcasts. As I get a sense of each one, I’ll plan a future post to recommend some of those. But for winter break, enjoy some extracurricular topics!


Header photo via Wikimedia Commons.