No Extra Words

one person's search for story



Speaking Without Being Spoken To: women’s voices matter

A morning newscast last week talked about how female Supreme Court justices are being increasingly interrupted and talked over by attorneys in violation of court rules. I tuned in at the end, so I didn’t hear the whole conversation, but I did hear the listener feedback. Apparently, in the 21st century, even the morning news collects listener texts which are read aloud by the newscasters, breaking what I think should be rule number one of all media: don’t read the comments.

The female newscaster, while pointing out that she doesn’t think it’s necessary to give airtime to misogyny, read a couple of comments about how of course women need to be interrupted because they talk so much and have a tendency to ramble. One comment explicitly stated that women needed to be “taught when to talk.” The newscaster ended her segment by saying that in 2017 it is disconcerting that someone out there thinks that women need to be told when they can speak. She also told the commenter, well, I have a microphone and you don’t, so take from that what you will. As I also have a microphone, I was cheering when I heard that. And then I headed off to podcast editing.

I’ve been podcasting for almost two years, and I still spend a lot of time cringing when I hear myself talk. I was editing a conversation I had with my co-host for my other podcast, and I wanted to crawl under the desk. Every time I spoke too quickly, or said um, or interrupted because I had an idea come to me, I wanted to dive into the computer and lecture myself about good manners or speaking when spoken to or some other thing like that. And then I thought…but I have a microphone.

Last weekend, I heard Ira Glass, one of the most famous radio people in the country, say um, repeat himself, and end with ya know, all in the same ten seconds. He didn’t cut it out. I don’t know if it occurs to men that they shouldn’t interrupt or should be careful about rambling or need to sound like an authority and not like they are wavering, but I hear that all the time from female podcasters.

A couple of weeks ago I was a guest on the New Parent Podcast. And it’s been hard for me to share it, to be honest. Not because it’s personal. I mean, it is personal, but I’m a pretty open person and that didn’t bug me so much. What bugged me is how I sounded. I felt like I talked too much, I felt like I talked over the host, I felt like I wasn’t clear…I was just second-guessing myself all over the place. On a topic that, frankly, I have some expertise on, namely my own life and story.

Why do we do that? Why do we think we don’t have something to say? I’ve done this in the past when I’ve been a guest on other people’s shows and I still don’t understand why, but when people comment on news stories by saying that women need to be taught when and when not to speak I have to wonder if there are cultural forces involved.

I was recently invited to become part of a podcasting advocacy group wherein a group of podcasters work together on improving their shows while at the same time supporting each other and advocating for each other’s shows and audiences. While I’m not sure exactly where this is going to take me yet, I can tell you I am very exited about the possibilities. The power of voice…I don’t think I really understood it until I became a podcaster. And it still scares me just a little bit. But I have a microphone and I am ready to speak up.

May your words carry you far today,


Need inspiration to get your voice out there? The Austin Film Festival is looking for people with great ideas for fiction podcasts. Enter and share yours!


March is #trypod Month!

Followers of this website know that I like throwing the occasional blog post into the podcast mix and it’s been a long time since I’ve done that. I also have some topics in mind that I want to talk about, but today is not that day. Today is a toddler yelling in the background a pile of audio to edit kind of a day. I am so excited about all the stuff coming up on the show…great contributors, awesome segments, and some cool new stuff. But it doesn’t lend itself to a lot of blogging time.

Instead, I’m here to talk #trypod month. This is an initiative put together by a bunch of the big podcast hosts to reach the 80%. As in the 80% of people who don’t listen to podcasts. The best way to reach them is through the 20%, that is you out there who do listen to podcasts. You are the best ambassadors to tell your friends and your community why they should listen and show them how to do it. You know it’s free an easy…they don’t.

To inspire you, I’m doing my roundup of the 5 podcasts I’m talking about this month. These are the ones I’ll be sharing with my peeps, and in the interest of staying away from self-promotion, they are not my shows. (Although, of course, you’re welcome to share those, too.)

The History Chicks. Days when these ladies release a new episode are my favorite days. The History Chicks is historical girl talk. Every episode they pick a woman in history, everyone from Queen Nzinga to Marie Antoinette to Hattie McDaniel (first African-American to win an Oscar.) The two hosts research the women separately (their research is excellent,) and then come together to tell the story. They’ve been doing it for years and their back catalog is phenomenal.

How to Be a Girl. This is one of my favorite parenting podcasts. It’s on break right now so it’s a great time to get caught up. Independent producer Marlo Mack tells you what it’s like to single parent her transgender daughter. What I love about this is that she’s not perfect, she’s a mom like any of us just trying to figure out how in the world to navigate this. She is on a journey and you get to go with her and you’ll be surprised how ordinary her parenting journey is. How to Be a Girl is part of a podcast collective called The Heard, be sure to also check out First Day Back.

XX Will Travel. In my 20s, I was a traveler. I worked in summer camps across the U.S., spent six months in New Zealand, and spent most of those years having a quasi-nomadic existence where I would work like a grown-up for awhile and take off. When I discovered this show I thought it would be more nostalgia for me than anything else…obviously life is much different now…but these ladies do an awesome job of speaking to a traveler wherever you are on the journey. Whether you are about to take that big round-the-word trip or you just need to plan your next girls’ weekend or road trip, these ladies will help you get there, and I love the women solo traveler angle they bring to it.

Art Curious. I slept through art history in college (the room was warm,) but I do love good storytelling and that’s what Art Curious is. The host tells the stories behind great artists and works of art, and like all good storytelling it’s a little history, a little mystery, and a little ridiculous. You don’t have to be someone who spends every weekend in a museum to appreciate this show.

German Genealogy Girl. I wasn’t going to recommend any brand-new shows…I’ve been burned by that before and she’s literally one episode in. But I am also one-quarter German, love genealogy, and have struggled with the research on this part of my family so I’m super excited that this exists and want to give her a boost.

Five shows that are subscribed to in my phone. And all hosted by women, who get neither the press nor the respect in this space. What are you listening to? What are you sharing? Tell us, and use the hashtag #trypod in social media all month long.

Happy sharing!


Mini-Blog #1: Podcasting

The Mini-Blog feature is one I’m launching this summer while the rest of No Extra Words is on a reduced schedule: bite-sized blog posts that answer some of the questions I’m asked a lot while giving you lots of links. Look for them select Sundays in July and August.

The whole idea of podcasts feels daunting, but in simple terms it’s just audio done in episodes. You don’t have to know what technical stuff is working in the background, but you do need an app to listen. Many people use iTunes (on your iPhone, that’s the default Podcast app,) but you can also find podcasts using Google Play Music, Spotify, or a number of “podcatcher apps,” like Overcast, Podcast Addict, or Stitcher. Check your app store and try one. From a podcast app, you can search for podcasts, listen to select episodes of podcasts, or just hit subscribe and your app will automatically populate with episodes of shows you like (the quickest and easiest way to make sure you get all those new episodes right away.)

One awesome thing about podcasts is that anyone can produce one. Honestly. Anyone. Okay, there’s a little more technical setup than writing a blog, but not much. You don’t have to know exactly how the tech works, and if you want to keep it simple, your costs can be quite low (I started No Extra Words with a $10 mic, a $5/mo. podcast hosting plan, and a free website. I have since upgraded to an $80 mic.) As with anything out there, though, there’s a lot of advice and a lot of it’s bad.The good news is that some of my favorite podcasters have made a Podcasting 101 course and it’s free!

I am often asked what my favorite podcasts are, and the truth is that the answer has changed a lot since I started listening to podcasts in 2008. I have been really into indie podcasts and fewer NPR shows lately. I love The History Chicks, a great take on women in history, She Podcasts, which is about podcasting and so much more, and I recently discovered Write Now with Sarah Werner, which I’m really enjoying. I also recommend The Wisest, which is the coolest interview show out there IMHO and although she hasn’t come out with a new episode in a long time, First Day Back has to be one of my favorite podcasts ever. (Note: I’m giving you iTunes links for these show because that’s where most people listen. If you don’t listen in iTunes, don’t worry…you can search for any of these shows in a podcast app of your choice.) The great news is that if you don’t like what I like, there are thousands of podcasts out there waiting for you, and all for free. I started podcasting because I love podcasts and I’m happy to say a year into the podcasting scene, I still do.

Happy listening,


Are you subscribed to the show? AND We’re coming to Spotify!

I found out today that the No Extra Words podcast will soon be available on Spotify! Very exciting. I wanted to take this opportunity to check in and let you all know WHERE and HOW to subscribe. But first, I want to tell you WHY.

Subscribing is the best way to make sure you always get our newest episodes as soon as they are released. While you can always listen via the website or our social media, subscribers are guaranteed the latest and greatest and closing a browser tab doesn’t boot you out of an exciting episode. It is absolutely the best way to listen on your mobile device and take us with you.

Subscribing never commits you. It is free, and you can unsubscribe at any time. iTunes and other podcast apps don’t provide subscriber info to podcasters. We never know who is on that list. Subscribing only benefits you.

So, where do you get us?

iTunes is still the most popular. You can get it on your computer or Apple device. On your iPhone there is a dedicated podcast app.

Stitcher is a great option for a variety of platforms. Great for streaming!

Podcast Addict is my personal favorite for Android devices. Be sure the “search the iTunes directory” option is selected to get the broadest listings possible.

We are coming soon to Spotify and TuneIn. Also, Google Play Music will begin offering podcasts, including us, soon.

There are dozens of other apps so you can check your app store and find exactly what works for you. Popular choices include Overcast, Pocket Casts, and Castro. If you don’t find us listed someplace, please let us know.

Subscribe today! And while you’re there, be sure to check out other great writing and indie podcasts. You may be surprised by what you find.

Happy listening,



The Old Craft v. Business Conversation

I have so much to say today that I’m about to get super ranty.

First, I’m currently on my second listen of the new episode of She Podcasts. This is a podcast aimed at women podcasters, but the conversation they have is very on point for self-published writers and indie content creators of all stripes. One of the hosts got started talking about whether is okay that professional podcasters (the NPR types) get all the attention and space. The question is if what they are doing is different than what we as indie producers are doing. Listen here, to get right to the conversation I’m referring to, start at right about the 60 minute mark and listen to the last 10 minutes. I think this is a really important conversation to have. In the world of traditional and self publishing, is it a competition or separate space?

Then I found this delightful post saying that only 40 of Amazon’s self-published authors are “successful.” Yes, you read that right. And since Amazon’s Kindle store is the biggest self-publishing e-book platform, well, you can see where I’m going with this.

The commenters on this and other blogs on the issue immediately pointed out a flaw in the number: success here is defined as selling a million e-books in five years and that’s a pretty high bar to clear. Plenty of traditionally published authors aren’t doing nearly that, especially in the world of literary fiction where books come out slower and tend to not sell as well. But it’s still not a fun statistic to read. Maybe it isn’t really possible to make a living as an author. I’ve asked before on this blog if you really have to give up your day job to be a writer, and it frustrates me is that no one tells the truth about this. When you say you are writing a novel, all the people in your life assume that you will quit your day job when it is published and if not you have failed. Well, you and everyone else, it turns out. Or everyone else minus forty.

So all this was swirling in my head as I sat down to record an upcoming episode of the podcast…and then I sank into it with delight. Such great stuff is coming, such powerful storytelling, and I was thinking about how much more there is to this telling of story than words on a page. Words on a page are important…wouldn’t be who and what I am without them…but they aren’t story. Story is everywhere, and story needs to be celebrated.

Early in my librarian career I heard a very well-meaning instructor on early literacy tell a roomful of children’s librarians that “we need to teach children that stories come from books.” I think I may have actually snorted. Stories don’t come from books. Now, few people love books more than I do. I’m kind of a book hoarder and as I’ve said before I sort of want to be Meg Ryan with my own bookstore. But stories come from books?! That’s like saying Grandma’s chicken soup comes from the big pot with the crack on its lid.

Stories are everywhere. They are all around us, all the time. A friend of mine has a toddler, great kid, just starting to talk, but oh, man can he tell stories. You can’t understand them, they are in his own language, but they are stories to be sure.

I’m not a football fan, but I do live in the Seattle area, and the Seattle area has a well-known athlete who participates in that sport I don’t like so much. He’s known for his reticence to speak out loud. You may remember him. At a press conference. Saying enough not to get fined. And while he got widely criticized for that, I find myself admiring him. In a world of over-sharing, taking a stand to not say everything that comes into your head seems somehow brave.

What does he have to do with all this? Well, today he announced his retirement. With no words at all. In one image he told his story his way. Now me, I use words to share my message and if you’ve been reading this blog long you know that I really kind of suck at pictures. But it’s always nice to remember that there is a world of stories going on that have nothing to do with words on a page.

That’s the business we are in. The capturing stories business. And yeah, who publishes them and how they get to those who consume them is a very important conversation to have and we should keep having it, but I guess for me today ends as it so often does: with the reminder that the most important thing I do is focus on my content: what I am writing, recording, creating. Because if it isn’t the very best I have in me how it gets to you isn’t going to matter one bit. So back to my recording studio I go.

Happy writing,



So Much to Say, So Much Going On

I didn’t want to title this post “Announcements,” because it sounds boring and there is an old camp song that will be forever stuck in my head if I do. But I have so much exciting stuff to share with you that I am throwing it into one catchall post. I will try to be quick.

First of all, new today, my first podcast episode as a guest! Check me out on the “Happiness Mama” podcast where we talk motherhood, podcasting, writing, the productive struggle, and our favorite children’s books.

Second, do not forget that “A Christmas Serial” starts tonight! Get the Podcast to be sure you are included in all four special Christmas episodes.

Third, please note that we are CLOSED to submissions in the month of December. This is actually a good thing…it means the production calendar is healthy and full and right now the focus is on great content and keeping the show on track. The closure is TEMPORARY, submissions WILL reopen in January and there will be a special submissions announcement then, stay tuned!

Fourth, speaking of announcements, if you caught the Thanksgiving special you know that January is going to be Contributor Appreciation Month. This is a great promotion, sponsored by, and more details will be out on that by the end of the week.

And fifth, but still important, while Nanowrimo is over for another year (how is it December already?) my guest blog post over at the Almost Average blog is still there for all you struggling writer types to get some inspiration, so check that out.

Whew! There is a LOT going on, folks! Stay tuned!


Thanks, Podcasting

I never knew when I started the podcast what a powerful medium this really is. Our wonderful podcast host Libsyn has asked podcasters to record a short bit of audio to thank podcasting as Thanksgiving fast approaches. Here is our thanks from No Extra Words to podcasting.

Growing an Audience OR The Tale of the Tiny Numbers

Writers are a weird breed. We really want readers. We dream about readers. We are always trying to figure out how to get published and get readers. But we don’t want, you know, people to actually read our stuff. Not critical people, anyway.

When I launched the podcast, I remember saying to a friend that I didn’t care if it was just me in my basement reading stories to two listeners. I wasn’t going to obsess about stats or reviews, just treat it like the labor of love it is and as long as I am growing as a reader and as a writer I would feel good about the project. I think at that time I believed it.

Know the thing about stats? They’re addicting. It’s really easy to watch those little graphs. I think bloggers do this to. Who is reading? Who is linking? How many? How often?

No Extra Words is a tiny little endeavor. Yes, we have grown, and I am so grateful to all the authors who have entrusted me with their work and to for the free classified ad that helped get the word out. But we remain a tiny fish in a giant ocean. I’m going to be real about the numbers here because I think we need to tell the truth about indie publishing and how hard it really is to grow an audience.

To date, the 11 episodes published have been listened to a total of 871 times, for an average of just under 80 listens per episode. Episode 4 has the most listens at 155 and the most recently released Episode 11 currently has the least listens at 30, although it was released about 30 hours ago so its stats are still rising quite quickly.  These are pretty small numbers. If your book sold 871 copies you’d be crushed, and when you average it out to 80 per episode, that becomes even more disheartening.


If 80 people showed up to hear you at a reading, you’d be elated. 80 people is more than a lot of college lit courses. If I ever invited all 80 of those people to a party, they wouldn’t fit in my house.

Since July 4, at least one person has listened to at least one episode every day. Every day. The show touches someone every day. And, in the last 30 hours, 30 people have listened to the latest episode. That’s either because they were subscribed and were waiting for it or because they saw it posted somewhere and thought, huh, I’ll try that. Either way, there are 30 of them, and growing.

I think a lot of writers approach publishing, be it on their blog, in a book, or yes, via podcast, by thinking about the numbers they might rack up. How can I sell the *most* books? How can I reach the *biggest* audience? And when you don’t, it becomes hard to keep going. But what about those 30 people? What about the 80 per episode? The one who left a review? The one who tweeted thanks? We are continually being discovered. Someone listened to episode 2 today. That person is a new listener.

You have to start somewhere. Yes, as a writer I want those numbers to grow. But you have to grow *from* someplace. So instead of choosing to be sad about small numbers, today I’m choosing to remember each of those numbers is a person and be grateful for all the individuals out there who so far have pressed “play.”

Happy listening,


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