Thinking Out Loud is a weekly podcast that explores the changing face of publishing, the joys of dog ownership, and books, books, and more books. Hosted by Merianna Neely Harrelson and Elisabeth Kauffman.

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Previous Episodes:

Thinking Out Loud 118: Words Matter: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about moving your draft from the splatter paint on the canvas, letting the words fly off your fingertips to a manuscript with purposeful meaningful words. Words matter. Choose them carefully, especially if you are staff writer for a presidential candidate.

Thinking Out Loud 117: Finding the CornersIn which Mary Hudson (8 years old) blows our minds by sharing how she published her first play, Germ Play. Elisabeth and Merianna ask Mary Hudson how the inspiration for the play came to her and inspiration in general. They also discuss the concept of finding the corners of their own manuscripts and how that provides parameters allowing them to put the rest of the pieces together. 

Thinking Out Loud 116: Lighting the Fire Under You: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about those moments when you meet people in real life that you’ve had social media conversations and interactions and what it feels like to be recognized. They talk about their trips and the power of belonging to a community where you can say who you are and truly be yourself. But how do you overcome conference hangover? And how do you turn a conference experience into a community of supporters?

Thinking Out Loud 115: Fighting the Imposter Monster: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about fighting the imposter monster, reader’s theaters about germs, and exciting upcoming conference. They debate how to know if you are truly doing what you should be doing. If you’re scared of it, it’s probably what you should do.

Thinking Out Loud 114: Recognizing Your Tells: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about the world of podcasting as self-publishing and how Serial has introduced a format of audio stories that might just bring back storytelling as an artform. Could we be returning to an oral storytelling-centered culture? How will oral storytelling change how we write, read, and listen to works?

Thinking Out Loud 113: You Might Also Like: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about the changing dynamics of choosing books and hearing recommendations. How will Merianna’s 8 year old and almost 6 year old read books? Will they go to a store and ask an attendant or will their Netflix-recommended-minds determine how they choose what to read, too?

Thinking Out Loud 112: Association Does Not Mean Causation: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about writer identities. Are you a plotter or a pantser or perhaps a plantser (like most of us)? They talk about overcoming imposter syndrome and how there is not one way to become a writer. They steal from Dr. Whitley’s great wisdom and conclude association does not mean causation.

Thinking Out Loud 110: This Isn’t the Story I Thought I Was Going to Write: How do you know when you have a draft and when you have a manuscript ready to shop to publishers, especially in a time when you can publish anything that’s in the writing process? You can’t get to the point where you want your draft to be a book so badly that you skip the important work of revision. If it’s not ready it’s not ready. You have to keep writing to the end. And some conversation about the Hugo Awards.

Thinking Out Loud 109: Trunkin’ It: Do I really have to write THAT story? Elisabeth and Merianna talk about how to write the tough parts of the story and how to recover after you write about difficult subject matters. They also talk about trashing the dress and leaving stories floating in the cosmos for other writers to capture.

Thinking Out Loud 108: Whose head am I in?: Head hopping, naming characters, and feminism. They also talk finally, finally about the ending of Allegiant and what Veronica Roth is working on now.

Thinking Out Loud 107: Hey, I Know a Writer!: What to do when opportunities get dropped in your lap, the dangers of comparing yourself to other people, and who to listen to. Ray Bradbury said, “jump off the cliff and learn how to make wings on the way down.” So, why not jump?

Thinking Out Loud 106: Introducing…: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about the art of writing and the powerful way writing can impact people’s lives. Why are you scared to share your story? There’s someone out there who needs to read it. Start introducing yourself!

Thinking Out Loud 105: You’re Going to Be an Author, How Do You Feel About That?:  Are you stuck in the transitional phase where you can see yourself as an author? Elisabeth talks about the exciting news regarding her book and progress in the revision process. They also talk about the dangers that exist for people trying to publish in the form of vanity publishers and how to steer clear of scams.

Thinking Out Loud 104: Yours, Mine, and Ours: How many writing projects are you working on? Elisabeth and Merianna talk about their joint writing project, individual projects, and ghost writing projects and how to keep them all going at the same time. They also ask the question, “Can you make it as a loner writer?” No!

Thinking Out Loud 103: Feast or Famine: Will I be able to afford groceries this month? Elisabeth and Merianna talk about the peaks and valleys of the publishing and writing world and how it’s hard to predict what each month or each day is going to look like. How exciting!

Thinking Out Loud 102: Flipping the Switch: Can you trust book reviews? Are they all paid for by authors looking for five stars? Elisabeth and Merianna talk about where to find their next book to read and what sources you can trust and what sources you can’t. Join the Thinking Out Loud Book Exchange (and get awesome books in the mail!)

Thinking Out Loud 101: Coming Into the Light: Elisabeth talks about how she might want to hide in the shadows because she’s not ready to be considered a writer but the really amazing things that happen when you do finally step into the light. You have to be who are you without wanting the affirmation of other people or fulfilling contrived notions of beauty standards. Be true to yourself and to the other people living in this cosmos with you.

Thinking Out Loud 100: You Brought Your Whistle: Elisabeth and Merianna celebrate their 100 episode! They relive how it all started and all their best soapbox speeches and conclude if you are adding your voice to the mix, don’t just be a part of the chorus. Stand out!

Thinking Out Loud 99: Speaking of Happily Ever Afters: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about the power of false climaxes to turn a plot and making your characters more interesting. They also cover the importance of soul feeding as you transform from writer to author, and the importance of sticking to your draft while saying all the words (and not taking short cuts).

Thinking Out Loud 98: Putting Yourself Out There: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about the importance of developing a personal brand as well as a professional brand. They talk about public profiles and David Bowie as well as upcoming projects. Of course they talk about the upcoming Episode 100!

Thinking Out Loud 97: Say What You Need To Say: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about the use of said in a manuscript and how it can’t be overused. They talk about other bad writing advice that writers take to heart and winter weather and good books.

Thinking Out Loud 96: Crying for Strangers: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about the deaths this week of some great creative geniuses and how it impacts them. They also talk about inspiration in artists and characters and how true great artists teach us something about ourselves.

Thinking Out Loud 95: We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about their New Year’s Resolutions including reading, writing and personal challenges. They also talk about how far they have come since they first started podcasting and some exciting plans for 2016!

Thinking Out Loud 94: There Are Sharks in This Water: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about when your writing is ready to reveal to someone else. They talk about the danger of releasing it too soon when you haven’t had enough time to mold it and shape it. They also discuss that if you put your writing out there too soon, then it’s going to impact the writing itself.

Thinking Out Loud 93: Working Out the Wrinkles as Writers: Elisabeth and Merianna are reunited and it feels so good! They discuss finding reason, meaning, and purpose in writing in decisions we make as writers. They also discuss creating purposeful pauses rather than head-scratching confusion. They also ask how can I revise to achieve the effect I want in the reader?

Thinking Out Loud 92: Let’s Talk About Self-EditingElisabeth is joined by author Stacy N. Sergent this week (Merianna is out for family leave) to talk about great pups, NaNoWriMo, writing as a lonesome experience and also a communal experience, the role of editing, and the psychological flow of being a writer.

Thinking Out Loud 91: Homemade Root Beer: Elisabeth is joined by UNC’s own Molly McConnell this week (Merianna is on maternity leave). They dive deep into the nature of reading, writing, and spicy beverages.

Thinking Out Loud 90: Creating the Feels: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about the importance of including and invoking emotions in readers. They discuss what they have to overcome as writers in order to cause suffering for their characters and create whole, full characters. Of course, they also talk about dogs, leaf blowers, and Baby Harrelson imminent arrival (who arrived on November 12, 2015 after this show was recorded!).

Thinking Out Loud 89: Camaraderie Over Word Counts: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about the power of collaboration, especially during NanoWrimo. They talk about how much confidence is instilled when you connect into a network of people. They also discuss how women writers have been made more of an appearance in the publishing world and why that is.

Thinking Out Loud 88: Toughening Up: Elisabeth and Merianna follow up their conversation from last week about the importance of protecting your content. Then, they recount their experiences at recent conferences and how they are learning that they need to be tougher with the authors they work with in order to help authors put their best work into the world. They also talk about upcoming NanoWrimo and their plans to write, write, write!

Thinking Out Loud 87: Own Your Own Content: Elisabeth, Merianna, and Sam talk about the commodity of content and how authors should disseminate that information. They advise authors that they shouldn’t help the rich get richer, but help build their own audience.

Thinking Out Loud 86: 10,000 Hours Worth of Expertise: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about their upcoming conference and why they continue to work in the field of publishing. They also talk about what makes you an expert and when you can call yourself an expert. Elisabeth reminds them both that: “That’s what we do, make it possible for people to get published.”

Thinking Out Loud 85: Alternate Universes vs. Altered Universes

Thinking Out Loud 84: Solopreneurs: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about building audience and expanding your market as a solopreneur. They talk about the stresses and joys of owning your business. They also talk about the progress in their own writing projects.

Thinking Out Loud 83: Putting Characters In Their Place: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about developing the place as you write a manuscript and the dilemma of floating characters. They also discuss the stalling or need to take a break that comes after pressing send and how to overcome that and continue to write!

Thinking Out Loud 82: Dealing With Rejection Without Feeling Like a Reject: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about the reality that rejection plays in the life of a writer. Elisabeth advise that failure doesn’t mean it’s over. It just means you are in the process. They encourage their listeners to ride the waves of rejection to greater writing success.

Thinking Out Loud 81: What’s In a Name?: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about the importance of their names and naming characters as you develop your manuscript. They also talk about how to develop and format your manuscript before you send it to an editor or publisher so that it best represents your name as a developing author.

Thinking Out Loud 80: The Procrastination Pattern: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about what procrastination really is and the emotions and thought process behind procrastination. They talk about the difference between working and working well as business owners and as writers. Then, they talk about the money of self-publishing and whether it is reasonable to expect to be making $500K in three years.

Thinking Out Loud 79: Pushing the Send Button: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about how to work up the courage to press the send button to submit a work for publication. Elisabeth also shares the exciting news that she will be published in an anthology and how hard it was to send her short story to other people to read. They also talk about the work they do outside of Writing Refinery and Harrelson Press to promote literacy in their communities.

Thinking Out Loud 78: Working Against Deadlines and Word Counts: Elisabeth has a new microphone, and Merianna just broke an expensive pair of professional recording headphones! They discuss the importance of writing for writing’s sake despite the pressure of deadlines, word counts, and editors as they work on their own writing projects outside of their day jobs. When is the right time to push through and complete a chapter and when should you leave a story? Listen to this week’s Thinking Out Loud and hear Elisabeth’s and Merianna’s thoughts!

Thinking Out Loud 77: A Window to Your Creative Community: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about the power of the creative community and how hard it is to put yourself out there. Elisabeth talks about her new 30 day challenge where she is working away from home and how that is impacting her workflow and process. They also talk about how important adaptive change is as a business owner and a writer.

Thinking Out Loud 76: Protecting Your Creative Collateral: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about ghostwriting, white labeling, and the importance of protecting your creative collateral as a writer. They talk about how their own businesses are expanding in ways they didn’t anticipate and how they manage those new opportunities. They also release the news about the Thinking Out Loud will begin a book exchange!

Thinking Out Loud 75: I Might Be a Writer After All!: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about how to decide what to keep and what to give away in their houses. They also talk about how the tools they use to operate their business. They talk about the importance of not working project to project, but having patterns and habits that help them and their business be effective.

Thinking Out Loud 74: Cleaning Out the Clutter: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about how to decide what to keep and what to give away in their houses. They also talk about how the tools they use to operate their business. They talk about the importance of not working project to project, but having patterns and habits that help them and their business be effective.

Thinking Out Loud 73:The Water and The Rocks and The Sand: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about the comparison tendency and how it can hinder productivity (after Elisabeth quit Facebook). They talk about strategies to divide the work into manageable sandwich squares. They conclude you don’t have to be connected all the time to be successful.

Thinking Out Loud 72: To be or not to be a writer?: Elisabeth, Merianna, and Molly talk about the publishing process as they share congratulations with Molly for her piece that was recently published. They also talk about the difficulties of trying to make a living as a writer and the lures of the New York Times Bestseller list.

Thinking Out Loud 71: Conference Connections: Elisabeth and Merianna are back! After a quick summer “vacation” away from the show, they talk about their conference attendance in Dallas, Washington, DC, and Nashville. They discuss how affirming it is to be surrounded by people who have the same passions as they do and to be reminded they are not alone in this crazy journey of publishing.

Thinking Out Loud 70: The Proof is in the Pudding: Elisabeth and Merianna’s podcast about reading, writing, editing, and life takes on the notions of self-publishing, and why Amazon is not everyone’s favorite book store.

Thinking Out Loud 69: Let’s Start at the Very Beginning: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about how important beginnings are to a manuscript and to a book. They talk about beginnings are really exciting, but are also the most important aspect of the book because it is where you grab your readers and invite them into your world. Beginnings are where you first meet your audience, so make a good impression!

Thinking Out Loud 68: The Rules of Fiction: Elisabeth and Merianna talk about the rules of fiction and whether there are rules to abide by as an author. Is the author’s job to expose things that are not right in the world and to challenge people to rethink how the world exists? Doesn’t fiction makes it possible to live with people and walk with them for awhile; to hear their story and experience their story?

Thinking Out Loud 67: Are You Successful?: Elisabeth and Merianna ask the question, “What makes you successful as an author?” They debate whether it is consistently selling books not only to family and friends or whether it’s just the amount of books you sell. They also ask what happens when you reach your goal as a writer or an author, are you finished then?

Episode 66: Serious Social Issues

Episode 65: Good vs. Evil

Episode 64: Kindle Cover Disasters

Episode 63: Rejecting Failure

Episode 62: Grimoires

Episode 61: What’s In a Name?

Episode 60: Remembering the Little People

Episode 59: Getting to the Finish Line

Episode 58: Getting Through the Static

Episode 57: The Couple That Podcasts Together Stays Together

Episode 56: The Glue That Holds It Together

Episode 55: Stick-To-Itiveness

Episode 54: Shedding New Light

Episode 53: Away From the Glow

Episode 52: The Pros and Cons of Working From Home

Episode 51: Standing At the Edge

Episode 50: Vision Boards and Overhead

Episode 49: A Dream Come True

Episode 48: Professional Persona

Episode 47: Be Brave

Episode 46: E-Readers and the Next Generation

Episode 45: Whistle While You Work

Episode 44: Creative Criticism

Episode 43: Life After NaNo

Episode 42: Your Sacrum Joint is Out of Line

Episode 41: Nano Newbie Confessions

Episode 40: These Rituals We Have

Episode 39: Finding Your Tribe

Episode 38: Are You Successful?

Episode 37: Conferencing

Episode 36: The World of YA

Episode 35: It Always Ends with Amanda Palmer

Episode 34: Vanities of Vanities

Episode 33: Projects Floating Over Your Head

Episode 32: Telling the Muse to Sit Down and Be Still

Episode 31: The Magic and Mystery of Publishing

Episode 30: It Might Be Small, But It’s Your World

Episode 29: I’m a Businesswoman

Episode 28: Finding That Spark

Episode 27: The Promise of All You Can Eat

Episode 26: Change, Change, Change

Episode 25: Mental Monsters

Episode 24: Pantsing It

Episode 23: A Tapping on the Shoulder

Episode 22: Tied to the Desk

Episode 21: A Little Bit of Personality

Episode 20: The Ideas are True, Not the Events

Episode 19: Exotic Fruit Night

Episode 18: Summer Reading Lists

Episode 17: Sticking Out Like a Sore, Glittering Thumb

Episode 16: A Jumble of Hey I’m Working on This

Episode 15: If the Zombie Attack, I Will Die

Episode 14: How Long is a Short Story?

Episode 13: Deal or No Deal?

Episode 12: Facing Rejection

Episode 11: Diamond in the Rough

Episode 10: Branching Out with Sam Harrelson

Episode 9: A Little Bit Ahead of the Curve

Episode 8: Reading Out of Writer’s Block

Episode 7: Mouse Maze

Episode 6: A Few Details Scrapped on the Top

Episode 5: Speaking It To the Universe

Episode 4: Entering Crystal Cave

Episode 3: Getting To Know You

Episode 2: An Interview with Catherine

Episode 1: An Interview with Denise

Episode 0: How it all began