Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode 23 · 1 year ago

WB S1E21: Ron Block with Jenna Blum

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

WRITERS' BLOCK: Ron Block talks with Jenna Blum about her memoir, Woodrow on the Bench about the life lessons her aging dog taught her.

Mhm This woman and her daughter came walking by and she stopped and she said, oh thank God there he is, there you guys are. And I had never seen them before. And I said yeah here we are and you know high. And she said we look for you every night and we were so worried when we didn't see you the last three or four nights that something had happened to him and she kind of lowered her voice and she said you know every night we look for you because you set an example for us of devotion and patience and kindness and looking at you with your really old dog helps remind us to be patient and kind toward each other. Welcome to the friends and fiction writer's Block podcast four new york times, bestselling authors, one rock star librarian and endless stories joined mary Kay andrews, Kristin Harmel, Kristy Woodson, Harvey and Patti Callahan Henry along with Ron block As novelists, we are four long time friends with 70 books between us and I am Ron Block. Please join us for fascinating author interviews and insider. Talk about publishing and right if you love books and are curious about the writing world you are in the right place. Welcome to the Friends and fiction writer's Block podcast. Have you ever loved to pet an inseparable adored pain in the family pet. Well today's cast his pen, a glorious memoir based on her unconditional and mutual love between her and her unforgettable dog. Their story is one that will touch you deeply and remind us of the glorious connection and deep, deep love we have with our pets. So please welcome to the podcast, Jenna blum china. Welcome so happy to be here Ron. Thank you for having me on writer's block. I love Friends and fiction. I'm really honored to be here. Oh and you're like the perfect guest for this. This book is so worth talking about and I think that we're gonna, we're just have a lot to talk about. So let me tell everybody a little bit about you before we get started about the book, Jenna is the new york times and number one internationally bestselling author of novels, Those Who Save Us the Storm Chasers and the Law's family. She was voted one of Oprah readers, top 30 women writers on Oprah dot com and is the co founder and ceo of literary social media marketing company, a mighty Blaze, which we will talk about. Jenna earned her MBA at Boston University of Creative Writing and has taught writing workshops at Grub Street writers for over 20 years, which is interesting because she's only 25 years old. She's interviewed holocaust survivors for steven Spielberg's survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation and is a professional public speaker, traveling nationally and internationally to speak about her work,...

Jan is based in downtown boston where she lives across from Wood Rose bench and is currently a dog mom to her new adorable black lab puppy Henry Higgins. So I always like to give a little review of it and the one I found it was so touching because it's someone that we both adore Elizabeth Berg said Woodrow on the bench is a touching tribute as well as a gripping story that will make you laugh and cry. It will also make you understand the majesty and wisdom imparted by the animals. We are lucky to keep by our sides for as long as we can, that just epitomizes the book. So once again, Jonah welcome to the podcast, thank you so much again for having me. So tell us kind of the elevator pitch for the memoir, thank you. So would draw on the bench is the story of my beloved black lab Woodrow and the last seven months of his life During which woodrow was not really mobile because he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and he was adding that diagnosis to a problem that many labs in general have with their back legs, which is that when they get older the legs start to go. So he basically was an £85 log that I carried as far as I could every day, which was to this bench across the street from my downtown Boston apartment and I carried him in this harness, called to help him up harness and they're on this bench. We would sit and sit and sit and to my great astonishment over those seven months, a whole community grew up around us, not just neighbors and friends as you might expect, but total strangers who Woodrow, the canine tractor beam would pull to him with his elegance and his big toothy smile and his long cross flags and people would come and spend time with us on the bench and tell us their stories and show us there are photos of their kids getting married or their own elders and how they were caring for them. They would bring us food, they would help me get him back across the street, they stopped traffic for us and I realized that in the seven months where Woodrow was living his last chapter, he and all of these people were teaching me a new way to live and how to let people in and how to love and how to deal with loss. So, would draw on the bench is an homage to those people, friends and strangers alike and to Woodrow of course, and it's written for anybody who has ever loved and lost a dog and also anybody who's going through the passage of grief. Yeah, there's a lot in there about your own grief journey, not only with Woodrow, but with your mom too. So I think that was interwoven through it so beautifully and really it's just full of wonderful, wonderful lessons for people to take away. It's a tough story. It's a hard story to tell. It's got to be what made you feel like you could actually put it on paper and talk about it for the first time in many years, I felt an imperative to, right, I know so many writers and blessed to know so many writers who write all the time and...

I am not one of those writers, I right, when the story really sees is me and then I'm incapable of not writing it. And when Woodrow was in his final days, especially like his final weeks, I felt this story taking shape in my head because it was the best way I knew to honor my dog Is to use my writing expertise and the chops that I've built up over 20 years of doing this professionally. I thought I really just need to write a memoir about him and those seven months gave me this basket to do that. I mean usually if I think I'm going to write a memoir, I just think I'm not really capable of that. I have big situations in my life, I would love to talk about them, it might help other people. But how does one even go about putting one's arms around a really big situation, like a parent's death or a loved one's addiction or any of those huge things. But with Woodrow, like he made it so easy for me as he did for many things in life. He gave me those seven months and I thought, okay, I really want to write this to help people who are struggling with their pets getting older because I don't remember any other book about that. And once you add in the community support level, I thought this is really something that needs to be told is this drawing together of goodwill around this old dog, especially in a time of national Disunity and international strife. Like to see people coming together because of an old dog was so magical. And so that's what gave me the impetus actually the compulsion to write the memoir. Yes, yes. And in reading the book and actually having followed your journey on social media to through this, it was brilliant. And one of the things I was struck by was how people were drawn to Woodrow. They had nicknames for him. They forged friendships among themselves as well as with you and with Woodrow. What were some of the really surprising things that came out of that? Okay, well for one thing which was nickname for most of his life actually was Woodrow the George Clooney of dogs and lisa borders, who is a great novelist dubbed him that when he was much younger because Woodrow was always a ladies man, He could spot a beautiful lady four blocks away even when he had cataracts and you know, his eyes were like the color of milk and synthetic hope. I see a lady down there, a beautiful lady and you would sit up and and women were just drawn over to him. There was one moment that really shocked me. This beautiful woman who was visiting downtown boston from Italy came toward the bench as if she were being pulled there and sat down in the dirt with Woodrow and she was wearing white jeans, it was summer, I don't want to forget that. And she was crying and petting his head and saying this one, he has such a special soul, I can just tell and her boyfriend kept trying to drag her away and apologizing to me and I was saying no need to apologize, but that was the kind of power over people Woodrow had people were just drawn to him, He was just one of those dogs, I think, I...

...think you're right. It just anybody who hasn't get a peek at the cover of the book and go check out Woodrow has his own social media accounts on twitter and also on instagram though, it's just go back and relive that and it's just it's very touching and it's still um well, as you know, this book is very emotional for me and for so many other people, but there's so many good things that came out of it. Can you talk about some of the life lessons that you hope people are going to take away? Yeah, absolutely. So when I started pitching this book to my agent who is not a dog person and my editor at harpercollins who also is not a dog person right? Um I pitched it as being like Tuesdays with Morrie, but with all of the lessons coming from a very elegant old black lab and format of the book is that there are seven months each month of Wood Rose life has a different lesson attached to it. So the first lesson is never given and talks about how for many people, when Woodrow lost the functionality of his back legs, that would have been time to help him cross the river, and then he got this congestive heart failure diagnosis, and many people would have let him go then, and I was just bound and determined not to do that, which is just sort of a lesson from my own life. It's applicable to being a writer if you give in, you're never going to get anything published ever. So there's a sort of ingrained stubbornness and I'm so interested for readers to let me know whether they think I took that too far. I'm really interested in discussion about that, but that's the kind of lesson that the book starts off with. And then there are lessons into how to let people in how to lean into support, which is really difficult for me. And I know for many people saying I need something, I need help, I need company, I need to talk about this, I need food or just even letting people into your life when you're not looking or feeling or sounding your best. Woodrow taught me how to let people into my home to help me with him when I was on the floor in my underwear, covered with the only food he would eat, which is macaroni and cheese and like chicken salad, like little flecks of that. So it really taught me to be more flexible and finally he taught me to be present and to accept the gifts that people were giving us, like my friend kate taking us to the beach so that Woodrow could swim one last time even though he couldn't walk then and believing the impossible. Uh and then learning how to let go, which is the hardest thing of all. Yeah, that was probably the toughest part of the book, but it's at the same time, I I think um throughout the whole thing, all I could say to myself was how brave you were to share this, because this is so personal for people and just to learn to let those people into your life. It's it's a really difficult lesson for people to learn. But boy, you really laid it out there for people and I hope that people walk away with that has something to do. So, Woodrow you mentioned a little bit about food habits. He had a lot of really fun fun food habits. So what...

...were some of the favorite things that Woodrow would would want, would you wanted everything because he was a lot of course. So he was always starving and would droves voice, which he projected into my head sounded like a combination of George Clooney and Barack Obama, which is what I told. The audiobook narrator for Woodrow. Ameri Gideon who is great and who got on the phone with me and practice this over and over so that she could get the Woodrow voice right. But the woodrow voice was always saying things like mama, which is what he called me. Something is very wrong, the dog is starving. The dog needs to be fed and he had this voracious, voracious appetite. So of course, anybody who has a lab will recognize when he was a puppy and we left him unattended with people who, I had never had labs and he got into the garage, he ate a whole garbage can full of kibble and he was about a year old and his stomach swelled up like a basketball and had to be pumped out. And that was what draws first experience with overeating, although it was not the last. He loved such a lovely thing, right? They eat steel wool, they eat sticks, He ate a tennis ball and it would come out the other end once he had a rope toy and hold it out of him like a magician pulling rabbits out of a hat and like, well it's still there and he loved actually edible things as well. He loved hamburgers, meatballs, bacon just about above all things and carrots, which he would eat from the crisper drawer like a horse. He would just stick his whole head into the trough of the crisper drawer and take out five or six carrots at once and back away with them prolonging out of his mouth and then lie on his eating rug and especially when he was very old gunned them to death with his remaining four teeth. So right up until the very end of his life, he had a very robust appetite. He certainly did. And I think anybody who has owned dog is going to relate to that and while I know that there is a lot bigger themes in the book, people will really relate to the way that these dogs eat. I have to tell you when he said George, Clooney and Barack Obama for his voice. I actually when I was reading the book and whenever he would put his voice in my head, it was it wasn't there, but it did have a very different voice. Every time. Some thoughts from Woodrow came through, it was like a Mahmoud Mahmoud is really, really good. And so anyway, so not only did you learn life lessons, but it sounds a lot like the people in your life and the people that surrounded you and became your community also learned lessons here. Can you talk about that a little bit? I can I don't want to really speak for people, but I think what surprised almost everybody was the magnetic power of this old boy to draw people into one place and form this tightly knit community around him. And I would see it with strangers mostly. I mean I have a lot of friends in the back bay in boston where I live, who are dog parents. And so I was not totally surprised when they came to keep us company on the bench which we would go to by the way morning and night and every season in all weathers, rain, sun, snow, sleet, I mean we would be out...

...there next to the bench because that was what rose day, that was what he did. And so people would come and bring us food, they would bring me coffee, they would bring treats for woodrow, they would bundle up in their parkas and come out and sit with us and I was always really grateful, but that didn't surprise me as much as when complete strangers started to take notice of us as well. So there was one evening when it was summer and it was super hot and I started taking Woodrow out later. Then his usual schedule because it was, it was cooler, it was darker and because he had congestive heart failure, it was hard for him to breathe when it was super hot. So one night we were sitting out under these big old trees that overhang the bench and it was dusk, it was maybe you know, nine o'clock like summer desk and this woman and her daughter came walking by and she stopped and she said, oh thank God, there he is, there you guys are. And I had never seen them before. And I said, yeah, here we are. And you know, high. And she said, we look for you every night and we were so worried when we didn't see you the last three or four nights that something had happened to him. And she kind of lowered her voice and she said, you know every night we look for you because you set an example for us of devotion and patience and kindness and looking at you with your really old dog helps remind us to be patient and kind toward each other. And that was so astonishing to me because in my own experience, in my own skin, I was often crossed with Woodrow and I was hot and I was cranky and I didn't sleep well and he was a lot of physical work to take care of. So I thought I was being a jerk to my beautiful old dog and to know that people were taking different lessons from what I was doing every day, Sitting on the bench was incredibly humbling and really gratifying. Yeah. And isn't that the best isn't that just the best to have that feeling that you're really touching other people? It's just and helps you forgive yourself for being crossed a little bit. There are still moments that I had with him that I probably will never forgive myself for. And that's okay too. You know, you have to forgive yourself for not forgiving yourself about things. There are always things that we wish we could do a little bit differently, especially when we're under duress, when you're caring for an elder, when you're grieving. I think those are the moments when you can be at your most heroic without realizing it, but you can also be at your least heroic. And I think that's all part of the package. So let's talk about how the book came together. What was your process for collecting stories and notes and things? Did you do it as you were going through all this or did you write it down and come back and pull it together later? Or what was the road to get the book finished? Well, the answer to that is yes, but because I'm incapable of giving a short answer, I'll give a longer answer. Okay, I was taking some...

...mental notes, the last seven months of withdrawals life, but mostly I was just being there for him. Like I had the growing consciousness that I was going to write about what the experience was like, the extraordinary experience of caring for my old dog and also then meeting all these fantastic people. But mostly the way I took notes was on social media. So you mentioned that Woodrow had his social media feeds, which he still does on facebook here and instagram and he throws shade from beyond the grave at me all the time. And also at his successor Henry Higgins who because the whippersnapper minute minute walk up but such are wondrous powers. But every time somebody came to the bench who I thought was amazing like the guy who uh sweeps the streets for the city of boston who came to visit us every day and always said to Woodrow like how you doing brother, what can I get for you today? You staying out of trouble? Like every day he would come check on us or the people who celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary with us on the bench like they came to boston to sightsee and they stayed on the bench and the gentleman read a poem, a love poem to his wife on the bench. I mean this is the kind of thing that would happen every single day and every time something like this happened, I would say like the good social media ho I am, may I take a picture of you guys to post on instagram and facebook and twitter and I would do that and it left a record and I did that on my own feeds. And I also did it on wood Rose and Woodrow would give his own perspective on the people and canines who came to visit. And so I used this as my sort of bird tracks to go back to when I was reconstructing the experience. So for those writers who think social media has no value, it has even more value than just promoting your books. It's a kind of a living diary if you want to use it that way, yep, Modern journaling, I call it, it keeps a record of everything, I always say it. So my kids will always know that I actually had a life. They can go back and look at everything that's so weird. And it's a beautiful life too, because it's on social media. That's right. It's all only the best. Only curated Exactly. So I'm curious to know how you were able to sell this to the publisher. Well, I think Woodrow sold it. It's a great question Ron I did pitch it as saying it was like Tuesdays with Morrie, but with the lessons from an old dog. And at first, you know, my agent, it was not 1000% on board with me writing the Woodrow story, even though there is a chapter, the october chapter in this book which is called Let People in. My agent figures prominently in that. And she encouraged me when I couldn't leave the house because Woodrow was really struggling to let my writer friends come and write with me so I could keep that conduit alive between myself and my writing, even though I was in the midst of extreme caretaking. And my agent is a very wise lady, she was totally right to advised me to do that and to build some structure in and to keep touch with my right herself. But I remember saying to her, you know, Stephanie, her name is Stephanie abu, she's with Matthew McConaughey and...

...she's fabulous. I said, I would love to write, I think about Woodrow when this is over, I'm sort of taking mental notes about it and she said she's french and she hates when I do her accent, that she has this amazing accent. She was like, well Jenna, you know, I think that is a really nice idea because it will keep your muscles limber and we know you love Woodrow and you know, we see how that goes, but I think it would be a good way for you to process what has happened. So she was not super excited about the idea of this being a book book, but when the experience was over and I was processing and going back to my social media notes and constructing the book, I sent her chapters, it was a very fast right, because it's only about 120 pages long, as many readers know, and it took me about a month to write and then six months to polish and I sent it to Stephanie and she was like, I didn't read it and didn't read it and didn't read it and it was the pandemic and the pandemic and the pandemic. And finally she said Gina, I'm so sorry. It took me a long time to read this because pandemic and Covid, but also because I was afraid because I knew how much you love Woodrow and what if your book suck and then I would have to tell you that your dog is, your beloved dog is stupid and boring and I didn't want to do that. I love it, I love it, I love it so much and I, you know, I'm scared of dogs, I'm not a dog person. So I thought if I can make her fall in love with it, then it has a chance hopefully to reach a lot of readers. And my editor at harpercollins sara nelson whose amazing an amazing editor, also not a dog person said she cried in the pitch meeting. Um so there's something about the reverberation of would ra's spirit to bring people together and his he's not a sentimental dog, I mean he is who he is, he's kind of a curb budget. He always wants to be fed. He thinks people are stupid, you know, like most dogs like just feed us and let us do our dog thing. But there's something about his personality and about the power to draw people together that I think is acting as a sort of a beacon, that is precisely what I thought about it too. I just loved it and I did put it down only because I kind of knew what was happening, but I I just didn't want, but as I kept going, like I couldn't stop and I just recently picked up the last quarter of the book and I plowed through it and I'm so glad I did. It's just so life affirming. I know I know that it's a tough time to go through, but there's so much to life in this book and you really have captured a lot of things that people can relate to. And I think anybody who has an old dog or who has dealt with aging parents can really can really get a lot out of this. So I know it's going to be very well received. one of the things I love about this book is the way you marketed the book. You were so on it. Do you want to talk about that a little bit? Sure, Well, I'm always on the marketing because that's what I do for Mighty Blaze, We lift writers up...

...and we get them Whereed a screen so they can connect with their adoring online audiences and prior to the pandemic, I've always been something of an out of the box marketer from my first book. I spoke to 800 book clubs in the Boston area alone in person, which was such a fantastic experience. So basically I will do anything I can conceivably due to yet people to read one of my books, like I was busting in the Subway when I was when I was first starting out, like literally like handing out business cards and I really, I think that Woodrow lends himself well to marketing because he thinks everybody should pay attention to him. So I was sort of ramping up his social media, my social media, and then doing my very favorite thing of all which is baking and was sending advanced copies of the book too. People I knew who are dog lovers, who are book reviewers or librarians or bookstore owners who had dogs love dogs like yourself also. And I was sort of bribing them with these Woodrow care packages that included Woodrow kleenex and I'm sorry, I don't think I gave you this, but Woodrow mascara, that's just have a good cry on me. You know what? We'll prove it anytime if you really want and would knows maple bacon shortbread, which I make myself. And um I make it because Woodrow loved bacon. And so every week or so I make a huge batch of this maple bacon shortbread and send it out to readers. My publicist at harper is so obsessed with it that she and her boyfriend placed orders for it. She'll send me an email and say, I know we just got a batch and you don't have to bake if you don't want to, but the boyfriend really wants more maple bacon shortbread. So that was part of my marketing campaigns, feed everybody feed everybody and they were delicious and I know that you and I have a little baking history. We became friends during the pandemic by exchanging baked goods through the mail. Even though we've never actually met in person, we will very soon. We just keep exchanging. It's a wonderful friendship really. I mean, it surprises me, I'm shaking my head right, works so well on a podcast, but I'm shaking my head because it seems so weird to me that we haven't met in person because we've had such wonderful conversations and enjoy this great report and we have a baking mutual admiration society, but also a literary mutual admiration society. So many of the events that I've hosted and produced for Mighty Blaze. There you are, and you're always so supportive and just amazing to writers in the reading community. So I feel like I've just been hanging out in your living room for the last two years at least. I think that's true. I think some really, I think we need to redefine friendship after the pandemic to I think there's got to be some new terms and words for because there's so many people that we feel close to that we haven't really had personal in the same room connections. But boy are we connected, We're very connected with these people. Um so you mentioned mighty blaze a couple of times, why don't you give us the overview of that and some of the highlights. Oh, the blaze. Oh my goodness! So the blaze is a company...

...that I started inadvertently at the beginning of the pandemic, I co founded it with Caroline Lovett, who many of you know, who is a fantastic novelist and I adore and every door, everybody who knows Carolina north Carolina is a law of physics as she is the literary godmother. She's basically like a big heart, that's the way I describe her. But she's also like, not namby pamby, like she has a salty street, but she's just like a wonderful heart, wonderful person. And at the beginning of the pandemic, I was on the tail end of my last book, The Lost Family of the paperback coming out. So my book was not caught in the swinging door of everything closing. But so many people I knew or having their book tour is extinguished by the pandemic and at a time when their books were just coming out and the books were being choked off and my response to any cataclysm is indignation and action. And so I thought, hell no, I'm not going to let that happen, I'm just gonna vomit up some social media pages, facebook instagram, twitter and every Tuesday, which is when books come out in the publishing industry, I'm going to see if I can get all the authors to put their books on this page and draw people together so that readers know where to go to find out about the new books and I felt like each book was like a little candle, but if we put all those candles together in one place, we could make a mighty blaze. And so that's what the moment the community came from and Caroline called me or I called Caroline, it's a bit fuzzy. Um and she was doing something called the nothing is canceled book tour. She was inviting authors to send in videos describing their books and so we fused forces and within the first week because everybody loves Caroline. We had, we were like the only life boat rowing away from the titanic. Like we had 1400 authors saying, please help me, please help me, please put my books on the blades. But we also had great coverage from Vox and O magazine and the Washington post and Ron Charles and people who really gave us shouts out and a hand up and helped us help all of the authors. And now 18 months later we have, we're like a tv station more than anything. We have nine regular shows from the thoughtful bro, two mighty mysteries to the friday front liners to a baking show every couple Saturdays a month we have debut spotlight. We have authors in conversation And we have 35 people working for us. They're all creative professionals and every one of them is a volunteer. And so I feel like as somebody who lives by herself except with her dog and at the time I didn't even have my new dog yet. So I was completely alone in my apartment during the pandemic, except I was never alone for a moment because 16-18 hours a day I was working on a mighty blaze with the people I love best in the whole world. So it really saved me. I'm not gonna make any bones about that. I mean without the blaze, I cannot imagine what would have happened to me. So even as we're trying to help other people, I...

...think I'm the one who benefited the most so well put so well put it. But I think also from the reader's perspective to it gave them almost a mecca a place to go where they could combine. And there's been communities that I have seen grow from my own library work. They travel to mighty blaze, They traveled to friends in fiction. And so that it's this amazing group of writers that I think have such power. And so and they're just, I think I've heard so many times that these kind of events were a lifeline to them too. So I think it's a big mutual admiration society. Well, that's the most humbling thing to me is when I see readers comment on the comment threads during an interview with an author to say, this has really saved me. This is something my son looks forward to. You know, I am living in a rural area. I never would have been able to see john Irving or Anna Quindlen or Today we had Lieutenant Colonel Vin Men and he just released a book Me away blew me away also. And I was talking with our interviewer Marcus is all about that afterwards in the green room and he said I just have to sit with a moment for the fact that I just interviewed Lieutenant Colonel of Inman and I said yeah and a few months ago you interviewed George Saunders and in the moment our job is to make these guests more comfortable so that they feel good talking about their work. But when you sit back and think about that, I mean I have met almost all of my writer idols and that never would have happened without the pandemic because I wouldn't have had the access. So I'm very very grateful to be able to share that with readers because I know how they feel. I am in awe. I'm in awe all the time here to fame here. So I look forward to so much more about that and with that and more guests and I think this is something that's not going to go away. It's just gonna be always a part of the literary world. So I want to go back just a little bit in the in the in the bio, I just gave a little sketch things but where did the love of reading and writing begin for you, What's your origin? The earliest I can remember writing anything was age four. And I started out writing masterful stories about consensus and Mermaids and they were illustrated. I'm sure they were really, really clever. My dad was a writer, he was a news writer for CBS and so he wrote for walter Cronkite and covered Watergate and the Ford Explorer. It does right. My earliest memories have the soundtrack of his typewriter and all I ever wanted to do was go up to be a writer like my dad. So I really don't have any sense of identity that is not predicated on being a writer. It's the only thing I've ever wanted to do or be and I've always been a voracious reader. So even now, no matter how busy my day is, Usually I eat breakfast at about two in the morning, like the blaze staff makes fun of me for doing this, but I will eat my breakfast on my couch with a book. And if I don't get to read a book, an actual paper book, like once a day while I'm eating and not talking to anybody. I get really, really cranky.

So it's nourishment for me. That's and totally understandable. A lot of us, you're not that different from the rest of us. We've got to have, we got to have them. So what what are a couple of the book titles lately that have blown you away. Okay. One of the books that I really loved in the past couple of months was by a writer named Nicholas Butler who lives in a clear Wisconsin where my mom's family is from Minnesota. So we have that bond that he wrote a book called Little Faith and which I loved, like I cried on the couch reading the ending of that book and then I fan girls on him on instagram via DM and he was probably like, who is this insane freak person? Because I was like, it's like Steinbeck and I love it. I love it so much. It's so good. And then he wrote a book called Godspeed, which just came out in 2021 about three men in Wyoming, I want to say all that, I might be getting that wrong um in big sky country who are contracted to build an impossible house and if they can build this house despite all the odds, then they get like a million jillion dollars and it puts incredible pressure on them and it reads like a fable, but it reads like a fable set in reality and how he pulls that off, I'm not really sure, but I found it totally engrossing in a way that I don't always find reads like I read a lot for work and um, I don't often get to totally lose myself in a book and that one just grabbed me by the hair and pulled me along. So that was Nicholas Butler's Godspeed. That was a really good one. Yes, I've written that down. I can't wait to read that myself Jenna. I can't begin to thank you enough for joining the podcast today. Your bravery and telling this deeply emotional story of your life with Woodrow is going to resonate with readers everywhere and I know it's going to be hugely successful. It's so well written, it's so, it's you on a page. It really, it's just really you on a page and you know that I adore you and I can't wait to hear everybody's raving about the book when it's out this week. I can't thank you enough for that and I should say that as I've watched the blaze grow and work with people to grow the blaze and lifted up a lot of writers. I have watched friends in fiction do the same thing and I love knowing that we have a friend in this race and are really holding hands and running side by side and bringing books and authors to readers who welcomed them as an author and as somebody who is a book promoter for the sheer love of books, I cannot thank you enough for doing that. I know it's a lot of work and it's also a labor of love and you know, I really, I salute you and take my hat off to you. So thank you for building this platform and for inviting me onto it to talk about my old boy. Well we all love Woodrow. We all love Woodrow and I think Woodrow is going to have a very big fan club out there. That's really good. He thinks this is what he deserves, he's like what has taken you people so long to know about? That's exactly right. Thank you all for tuning in to the Friends and Fiction...

Writer's Block podcast. Each week we strive to bring you interesting and amazing authors books and more. Thanks for listening and please share with a friend. Remember you can always find all the books by every Friends and fiction writer's Block podcast, guest, past and present in the friends and fiction bookshop dot org. Shop all sales place there helped to fund friends in fiction and a portion of each and every sale goes straight into the pockets of indie booksellers nationwide. Since its inception, bookshop dot org has raised more than 16 million for indie bookstores, shops, small shop local from the convenience of your screen with bookshop dot org and tell them friends and fiction sent you. Thank you for tuning in to the Friends and Fiction Writer's Block podcast. Please be sure to subscribe rate and review on your favorite podcast platform, tune in every friday for another episode. And You can also join us every week on Facebook or YouTube where our live friends and fiction show airs at seven p.m. eastern standard time. We're so glad you're here.

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