“Welcome to the Tart Words Podcast. I’m your host, Linda Gordon Hengerer, and today I’m talking with…”
I wasn’t a podcaster before the pandemic but I became one before “normal” life reopened. Is there anyone who has been living in a cave and doesn’t know that the pandemic upset normal life for all of us? I thought not.
I live in Vero Beach, Florida, home of The Vero Beach Book Center, a terrific independent bookstore. I was often asked to host “Conversation With” evenings for authors on book tour. Instead of having them read an excerpt or give a talk, the author and I would chat about their book and process, after which they would take questions from the audience.
Joseph Finder, Ian Rankin, and Lisa Unger were three of the many authors who came to Vero Beach on book tour who I was fortunate enough to converse with. There were plans for more, but we know how that story goes.
Then came a pandemic
From one day to the next, normal life went on hold. I don’t see the pandemic as a good thing, but I did appreciate the forced slowdown of my outside activities. Time lost to traveling to and from different commitments was regained. I wasn’t creative during the first early days of the pandemic, and I read a lot of books. Old favorites mainly (Dick Francis, Nora Roberts/JD Robb), because I knew what to expect and there was already too much unknown swirling around.
Podcasting had been on my radar for several years because one of my nieces began podcasting five or so years ago. She began offering courses on how-to-podcast and I bought them thinking “One day…,” turning the old “One day I’ll write a book” into “One day I’ll do a podcast.”
I looked at the cancellation of book tours and the closing of bookstores and thought that my podcast could connect readers and authors. It could also tie in my interest in baking as well as the recipes offered in my Beach Tea Shop mysteries. Writers snack and procrastibake; readers enjoy a treat while reading; bakers can be both writers and readers (raising my hand here). What does the Venn diagram of those three things look like?
The start of the podcast
My idea was to combine the junction of those three interests into one podcast, and that’s how I created the Tart Words Podcast with its tag line, Writers read. Readers bake. Bakers write.
That “recipe” felt right. I love to read, I love talking writing with other writers, and I write a cozy mystery series about sisters who run a tea shop and include recipes in my stories (or use recipes as a freebie/”cookie” to grow my email list). My podcast is a way for me to do all that. I create recipes for the podcast; I talk writing with author, editor, and reviewer Suzanne Fox (www.sfoxarts.com), exploring what writers can learn from reading terrific authors; and I talk to authors for their readers to learn about their latest book, and hear about the inspiration for that new story. I often say you never know when someone who has never heard of you will, and then go buy your book. Gaining fans is done one at a time.
Developing my podcast was painless in the sense that I had a guide; it was draining in the sense that it was all new to me. I felt like an old dog that didn’t want to learn a new trick. I wasn’t sure what to expect beyond talking to authors I knew or wanted to know, and reaching out to them.
What did I expect to learn? New tech, new apps, new ways to use the Canva graphic design program (hello, old friend). Given my learning curve and the many tasks involved, launching the podcast was a major time commitment. Producing a 20-30 minute episode takes hours: recording; editing; uploading to my hosting platform; adding guest info (bio, headshot, social media links, the Tart Words Baker’s Dozen) to my podcast website; creating the graphics in Canva, even with templates – it all takes time.
What did I learn that I didn’t expect to? I became a better editor. I co-edited the Happy Homicides cozy mystery anthology series and learned so much from editing over 40 authors; that made me a better writer. I didn’t realize editing the podcast would be similar, in that deciding what to keep in an episode, whittling down a 30-minute recording to a 20-minute episode (not including intros and outros), would force me to focus on the narrative of that episode.
The adage “Kill your darlings” applies to writing and deleting those sentences or scenes that don’t move the story plot forward; it also applies to editing podcast episodes. Lovely digressions with many authors were left on the metaphorical cutting room floor because they didn’t move the episode plot forward.
At the end of the day we’re storytellers, whether it’s in a book, a talk, or a podcast.
The essence of a story
Writing the summary for the episodes has also made me faster at writing the essence of a story, focusing on the highlights without getting into the minute details we writers love.
As authors, we want to reach readers. As a podcaster, I want to reach readers who miss connecting with their favorite authors.
The pandemic forced change on all of us, in small and large ways. Initially it was hard for me to feel creative in the face of devastating illness and overwhelming death. Time passed and we settled into a new normal: wearing masks; planning shopping for early hours or using delivery services; placing orders online to pick up or have brought out to the car; washing our hands more than we ever have before.
Visit TartWords.com and listen to the podcast episodes with the Miss Demeanors Tracee de Hahn, Emilya Naymark, Connie Berry, and an upcoming episode with Susan Breen.
My podcast may have begun in the down time, but I see it continuing into the now time. I’m having too much fun talking about books, writing, and baking with old friends and new acquaintances to stop.