Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode 23 · 1 month 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 camewalking by and she stopped and she said, oh thank God there he is, there youguys are. And I had never seen them before. And I said yeah here we are andyou know high. And she said we look for you every night and we were so worriedwhen we didn't see you the last three or four nights that something hadhappened to him and she kind of lowered her voice and she said you know everynight we look for you because you set an example for us of devotion andpatience and kindness and looking at you with your really old dog helpsremind us to be patient and kind toward each other. Welcome to the friends and fictionwriter's Block podcast four new york times, bestselling authors, one rockstar librarian and endless stories joined mary Kay andrews, Kristin Harmel,Kristy Woodson, Harvey and Patti Callahan Henry along with Ron block Asnovelists, we are four long time friends with 70 books between us and Iam Ron Block. Please join us for fascinating author interviews andinsider. Talk about publishing and right if you love books and are curiousabout the writing world you are in the right place. Welcome to the Friends andfiction writer's Block podcast. Have you ever loved to pet an inseparableadored pain in the family pet. Well today's cast his pen, a glorious memoirbased on her unconditional and mutual love between her and her unforgettabledog. Their story is one that will touch you deeply and remind us of theglorious connection and deep, deep love we have with our pets. So pleasewelcome 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'mreally 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 justhave a lot to talk about. So let me tell everybody a little bit about youbefore we get started about the book, Jenna is the new york times and numberone internationally bestselling author of novels, Those Who Save Us the StormChasers and the Law's family. She was voted one of Oprah readers, top 30women writers on Oprah dot com and is the co founder and ceo of literarysocial media marketing company, a mighty Blaze, which we will talk about.Jenna earned her MBA at Boston University of Creative Writing and hastaught writing workshops at Grub Street writers for over 20 years, which isinteresting because she's only 25 years old. She's interviewed holocaustsurvivors for steven Spielberg's survivors of the Shoah Visual HistoryFoundation and is a professional public speaker, traveling nationally andinternationally to speak about her work,...

Jan is based in downtown boston whereshe lives across from Wood Rose bench and is currently a dog mom to her newadorable black lab puppy Henry Higgins. So I always like to give a littlereview of it and the one I found it was so touching because it's someone thatwe both adore Elizabeth Berg said Woodrow on the bench is a touchingtribute as well as a gripping story that will make you laugh and cry. Itwill also make you understand the majesty and wisdom imparted by theanimals. We are lucky to keep by our sides for as long as we can, that justepitomizes the book. So once again, Jonah welcome to the podcast, thank youso much again for having me. So tell us kind of the elevator pitch for thememoir, thank you. So would draw on the bench is the story of my beloved blacklab Woodrow and the last seven months of his life During which woodrow wasnot really mobile because he was diagnosed with congestive heart failureand he was adding that diagnosis to a problem that many labs in general havewith their back legs, which is that when they get older the legs start togo. 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 Bostonapartment and I carried him in this harness, called to help him up harnessand they're on this bench. We would sit and sit and sit and to my greatastonishment over those seven months, a whole community grew up around us, notjust 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 bigtoothy smile and his long cross flags and people would come and spend timewith us on the bench and tell us their stories and show us there are photos oftheir kids getting married or their own elders and how they were caring forthem. They would bring us food, they would help me get him back across thestreet, they stopped traffic for us and I realized that in the seven monthswhere Woodrow was living his last chapter, he and all of these peoplewere teaching me a new way to live and how to let people in and how to loveand how to deal with loss. So, would draw on the bench is an homage to thosepeople, friends and strangers alike and to Woodrow of course, and it's writtenfor anybody who has ever loved and lost a dog and also anybody who's goingthrough the passage of grief. Yeah, there's a lot in there about your owngrief journey, not only with Woodrow, but with your mom too. So I think thatwas interwoven through it so beautifully and really it's just fullof 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 couldactually put it on paper and talk about it for the first time in many years, Ifelt an imperative to, right, I know so many writers and blessed to know somany 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 feltthis story taking shape in my head because it was the best way I knew tohonor my dog Is to use my writing expertise and the chops that I've builtup over 20 years of doing this professionally. I thought I really justneed to write a memoir about him and those seven months gave me this basketto do that. I mean usually if I think I'm going to write a memoir, I justthink I'm not really capable of that. I have big situations in my life, I wouldlove to talk about them, it might help other people. But how does one even goabout putting one's arms around a really big situation, like a parent'sdeath 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 methose seven months and I thought, okay, I really want to write this to helppeople who are struggling with their pets getting older because I don'tremember any other book about that. And once you add in the community supportlevel, I thought this is really something that needs to be told is thisdrawing together of goodwill around this old dog, especially in a time ofnational Disunity and international strife. Like to see people comingtogether because of an old dog was so magical. And so that's what gave me theimpetus actually the compulsion to write the memoir. Yes, yes. And inreading the book and actually having followed your journey on social mediato through this, it was brilliant. And one of the things I was struck by washow people were drawn to Woodrow. They had nicknames for him. They forgedfriendships among themselves as well as with you and with Woodrow. What weresome of the really surprising things that came out of that? Okay, well forone thing which was nickname for most of his life actually was Woodrow theGeorge Clooney of dogs and lisa borders, who is a great novelist dubbed him thatwhen he was much younger because Woodrow was always a ladies man, Hecould spot a beautiful lady four blocks away even when he had cataracts and youknow, his eyes were like the color of milk and synthetic hope. I see a ladydown there, a beautiful lady and you would sit up and and women were justdrawn over to him. There was one moment that really shocked me. This beautifulwoman who was visiting downtown boston from Italy came toward the bench as ifshe were being pulled there and sat down in the dirt with Woodrow and shewas wearing white jeans, it was summer, I don't want to forget that. And shewas crying and petting his head and saying this one, he has such a specialsoul, I can just tell and her boyfriend kept trying to drag her away andapologizing to me and I was saying no need to apologize, but that was thekind of power over people Woodrow had people were just drawn to him, He wasjust one of those dogs, I think, I...

...think you're right. It just anybody whohasn't get a peek at the cover of the book and go check out Woodrow has hisown social media accounts on twitter and also on instagram though, it's justgo back and relive that and it's just it's very touching and it's still umwell, as you know, this book is very emotional for me and for so many otherpeople, but there's so many good things that came out of it. Can you talk aboutsome 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 dogperson and my editor at harpercollins who also is not a dog person right? UmI pitched it as being like Tuesdays with Morrie, but with all of thelessons coming from a very elegant old black lab and format of the book isthat there are seven months each month of Wood Rose life has a differentlesson attached to it. So the first lesson is never given and talks abouthow 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 thiscongestive 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 alesson from my own life. It's applicable to being a writer if yougive in, you're never going to get anything published ever. So there's asort of ingrained stubbornness and I'm so interested for readers to let meknow whether they think I took that too far. I'm really interested indiscussion about that, but that's the kind of lesson that the book starts offwith. And then there are lessons into how to let people in how to lean intosupport, which is really difficult for me. And I know for many people saying Ineed something, I need help, I need company, I need to talk about this, Ineed food or just even letting people into your life when you're not lookingor feeling or sounding your best. Woodrow taught me how to let peopleinto 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 likechicken salad, like little flecks of that. So it really taught me to be moreflexible and finally he taught me to be present and to accept the gifts thatpeople were giving us, like my friend kate taking us to the beach so thatWoodrow could swim one last time even though he couldn't walk then andbelieving the impossible. Uh and then learning how to let go, which is thehardest 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 couldsay to myself was how brave you were to share this, because this is so personalfor people and just to learn to let those people into your life. It's it'sa really difficult lesson for people to learn. But boy, you really laid it outthere 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 ofreally fun fun food habits. So what...

...were some of the favorite things thatWoodrow would would want, would you wanted everything because he was a lotof course. So he was always starving and would droves voice, which heprojected into my head sounded like a combination of George Clooney andBarack Obama, which is what I told. The audiobook narrator for Woodrow. AmeriGideon who is great and who got on the phone with me and practice this overand over so that she could get the Woodrow voice right. But the woodrowvoice 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 andhe had this voracious, voracious appetite. So of course, anybody who hasa lab will recognize when he was a puppy and we left him unattended withpeople who, I had never had labs and he got into the garage, he ate a wholegarbage can full of kibble and he was about a year old and his stomachswelled up like a basketball and had to be pumped out. And that was what drawsfirst experience with overeating, although it was not the last. He lovedsuch a lovely thing, right? They eat steel wool, they eat sticks, He ate atennis ball and it would come out the other end once he had a rope toy andhold 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. Heloved hamburgers, meatballs, bacon just about above all things and carrots,which he would eat from the crisper drawer like a horse. He would juststick his whole head into the trough of the crisper drawer and take out five orsix carrots at once and back away with them prolonging out of his mouth andthen lie on his eating rug and especially when he was very old gunnedthem to death with his remaining four teeth. So right up until the very endof his life, he had a very robust appetite. He certainly did. And I thinkanybody who has owned dog is going to relate to that and while I know thatthere is a lot bigger themes in the book, people will really relate to theway that these dogs eat. I have to tell you when he said George, Clooney andBarack Obama for his voice. I actually when I was reading the book andwhenever he would put his voice in my head, it was it wasn't there, but itdid have a very different voice. Every time. Some thoughts from Woodrow camethrough, 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 inyour life and the people that surrounded you and became yourcommunity also learned lessons here. Can you talk about that a little bit? Ican I don't want to really speak for people, but I think what surprisedalmost everybody was the magnetic power of this old boy to draw people into oneplace and form this tightly knit community around him. And I would seeit with strangers mostly. I mean I have a lot of friends in the back bay inboston where I live, who are dog parents. And so I was not totallysurprised when they came to keep us company on the bench which we would goto 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 thatwas what rose day, that was what he did. And so people would come and bring usfood, they would bring me coffee, they would bring treats for woodrow, theywould bundle up in their parkas and come out and sit with us and I wasalways really grateful, but that didn't surprise me as much as when completestrangers started to take notice of us as well. So there was one evening whenit 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 andbecause he had congestive heart failure, it was hard for him to breathe when itwas super hot. So one night we were sitting out under these big old treesthat overhang the bench and it was dusk, it was maybe you know, nine o'clocklike summer desk and this woman and her daughter came walking by and shestopped and she said, oh thank God, there he is, there you guys are. And Ihad 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 wedidn't see you the last three or four nights that something had happened tohim. And she kind of lowered her voice and she said, you know every night welook for you because you set an example for us of devotion and patience andkindness and looking at you with your really old dog helps remind us to bepatient and kind toward each other. And that was so astonishing to me becausein my own experience, in my own skin, I was often crossed with Woodrow and Iwas hot and I was cranky and I didn't sleep well and he was a lot of physicalwork to take care of. So I thought I was being a jerk to my beautiful olddog and to know that people were taking different lessons from what I was doingevery day, Sitting on the bench was incredibly humbling and reallygratifying. Yeah. And isn't that the best isn'tthat just the best to have that feeling that you're really touching otherpeople? 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 forgivemyself for. And that's okay too. You know, you have to forgive yourself fornot forgiving yourself about things. There are always things that we wish wecould 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 themoments when you can be at your most heroic without realizing it, but youcan 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 forcollecting stories and notes and things? Did you do it as you were going throughall 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 isyes, but because I'm incapable of giving a short answer, I'll give alonger answer. Okay, I was taking some...

...mental notes, the last seven months ofwithdrawals life, but mostly I was just being there for him. Like I had thegrowing consciousness that I was going to write about what the experience waslike, the extraordinary experience of caring for my old dog and also thenmeeting all these fantastic people. But mostly the way I took notes was onsocial media. So you mentioned that Woodrow had his social media feeds,which he still does on facebook here and instagram and he throws shade frombeyond the grave at me all the time. And also at his successor Henry Higginswho because the whippersnapper minute minute walk up but such are wondrouspowers. But every time somebody came to the bench who I thought was amazinglike the guy who uh sweeps the streets for the city of boston who came tovisit 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 dayhe would come check on us or the people who celebrated their 57th weddinganniversary with us on the bench like they came to boston to sightsee andthey stayed on the bench and the gentleman read a poem, a love poem tohis wife on the bench. I mean this is the kind of thing that would happenevery single day and every time something like this happened, I wouldsay like the good social media ho I am, may I take a picture of you guys topost on instagram and facebook and twitter and I would do that and it lefta record and I did that on my own feeds. And I also did it on wood Rose andWoodrow would give his own perspective on the people and canines who came tovisit. And so I used this as my sort of bird tracks to go back to when I wasreconstructing the experience. So for those writers who think social mediahas no value, it has even more value than just promoting your books. It's akind 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 kidswill always know that I actually had a life. They can go back and look ateverything that's so weird. And it's a beautiful life too, because it's onsocial media. That's right. It's all only the best. Only curated Exactly. SoI'm curious to know how you were able to sell this to the publisher. Well, I think Woodrow sold it. It's agreat 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, itwas not 1000% on board with me writing the Woodrow story, even though there isa chapter, the october chapter in this book which is called Let People in. Myagent figures prominently in that. And she encouraged me when I couldn't leavethe house because Woodrow was really struggling to let my writer friendscome and write with me so I could keep that conduit alive between myself andmy writing, even though I was in the midst of extreme caretaking. And myagent is a very wise lady, she was totally right to advised me to do thatand to build some structure in and to keep touch with my right herself. But Iremember 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 towrite, I think about Woodrow when this is over, I'm sort of taking mentalnotes about it and she said she's french and she hates when I do heraccent, that she has this amazing accent. She was like, well Jenna, youknow, I think that is a really nice idea because it will keep your muscleslimber and we know you love Woodrow and you know, we see how that goes, but Ithink it would be a good way for you to process what has happened. So she wasnot super excited about the idea of this being a book book, but when theexperience was over and I was processing and going back to my socialmedia notes and constructing the book, I sent her chapters, it was a very fastright, because it's only about 120 pages long, as many readers know, andit took me about a month to write and then six months to polish and I sent itto Stephanie and she was like, I didn't read it and didn't read it and didn'tread it and it was the pandemic and the pandemic and the pandemic. And finallyshe said Gina, I'm so sorry. It took me a long time to read this becausepandemic and Covid, but also because I was afraid because I knew how much youlove Woodrow and what if your book suck and then I would have to tell you thatyour 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, thenit has a chance hopefully to reach a lot of readers. And my editor atharpercollins sara nelson whose amazing an amazing editor, also not a dogperson said she cried in the pitch meeting. Um so there's something aboutthe reverberation of would ra's spirit to bring people together and his he'snot a sentimental dog, I mean he is who he is, he's kind of a curb budget. Healways wants to be fed. He thinks people are stupid, you know, like mostdogs like just feed us and let us do our dog thing. But there's somethingabout his personality and about the power to draw people together that Ithink is acting as a sort of a beacon, that is precisely what I thought aboutit too. I just loved it and I did put it down only because I kind of knewwhat was happening, but I I just didn't want, but as I kept going, like Icouldn't stop and I just recently picked up the last quarter of the bookand I plowed through it and I'm so glad I did. It's just so life affirming. Iknow I know that it's a tough time to go through, but there's so much to lifein this book and you really have captured a lot of things that peoplecan relate to. And I think anybody who has an old dog or who has dealt withaging parents can really can really get a lot out of this. So I know it's goingto be very well received. one of the things I love about this book is theway you marketed the book. You were so on it. Do you want to talk about that alittle bit? Sure, Well, I'm always on the marketing because that's what I dofor Mighty Blaze, We lift writers up...

...and we get them Whereed a screen sothey can connect with their adoring online audiences and prior to thepandemic, I've always been something of an out of the box marketer from myfirst 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 canconceivably due to yet people to read one of my books, like I was busting inthe Subway when I was when I was first starting out, like literally likehanding out business cards and I really, I think that Woodrow lends himself wellto 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 doingmy very favorite thing of all which is baking and was sending advanced copiesof the book too. People I knew who are dog lovers, who are book reviewers orlibrarians or bookstore owners who had dogs love dogs like yourself also. AndI was sort of bribing them with these Woodrow care packages that includedWoodrow kleenex and I'm sorry, I don't think I gave you this, but Woodrowmascara, that's just have a good cry on me. You know what? We'll prove itanytime if you really want and would knows maple bacon shortbread, which Imake myself. And um I make it because Woodrow loved bacon. And so every weekor so I make a huge batch of this maple bacon shortbread and send it out toreaders. My publicist at harper is so obsessed with it that she and herboyfriend placed orders for it. She'll send me an email and say, I know wejust got a batch and you don't have to bake if you don't want to, but theboyfriend really wants more maple bacon shortbread. So that was part of mymarketing campaigns, feed everybody feed everybody and they were deliciousand I know that you and I have a little baking history. We became friendsduring the pandemic by exchanging baked goods through the mail. Even thoughwe'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 myhead right, works so well on a podcast, but I'm shaking my head because itseems so weird to me that we haven't met in person because we've had suchwonderful conversations and enjoy this great report and we have a bakingmutual admiration society, but also a literary mutual admiration society. Somany of the events that I've hosted and produced for Mighty Blaze. There youare, and you're always so supportive and just amazing to writers in thereading community. So I feel like I've just been hanging out in your livingroom 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'sgot to be some new terms and words for because there's so many people that wefeel close to that we haven't really had personal in the same roomconnections. 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 usthe overview of that and some of the highlights. Oh, the blaze. Oh mygoodness! So the blaze is a company...

...that I started inadvertently at thebeginning of the pandemic, I co founded it with Caroline Lovett, who many ofyou know, who is a fantastic novelist and I adore and every door, everybodywho knows Carolina north Carolina is a law of physics as she is the literarygodmother. 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'sjust like a wonderful heart, wonderful person. And at the beginning of thepandemic, I was on the tail end of my last book, The Lost Family of thepaperback coming out. So my book was not caught in the swinging door ofeverything closing. But so many people I knew or having their book tour isextinguished by the pandemic and at a time when their books were just comingout and the books were being choked off and my response to any cataclysm isindignation and action. And so I thought, hell no, I'm not going to letthat happen, I'm just gonna vomit up some social media pages, facebookinstagram, twitter and every Tuesday, which is when books come out in thepublishing industry, I'm going to see if I can get all the authors to puttheir books on this page and draw people together so that readers knowwhere to go to find out about the new books and I felt like each book waslike a little candle, but if we put all those candles together in one place, wecould make a mighty blaze. And so that's what the moment the communitycame from and Caroline called me or I called Caroline, it's a bit fuzzy. Umand she was doing something called the nothing is canceled book tour. She wasinviting authors to send in videos describing their books and so we fusedforces and within the first week because everybody loves Caroline. Wehad, we were like the only life boat rowing away from the titanic. Like wehad 1400 authors saying, please help me, please help me, please put my books onthe blades. But we also had great coverage from Vox and O magazine andthe Washington post and Ron Charles and people who really gave us shouts outand a hand up and helped us help all of the authors. And now 18 months later wehave, we're like a tv station more than anything. We have nine regular showsfrom the thoughtful bro, two mighty mysteries to the friday front liners toa baking show every couple Saturdays a month we have debut spotlight. We haveauthors in conversation And we have 35 people working for us. They're allcreative professionals and every one of them is a volunteer. And so I feel likeas somebody who lives by herself except with her dog and at the time I didn'teven have my new dog yet. So I was completely alone in my apartment duringthe pandemic, except I was never alone for a moment because 16-18 hours a dayI was working on a mighty blaze with the people I love best in the wholeworld. So it really saved me. I'm not gonna make any bones about that. I meanwithout the blaze, I cannot imagine what would have happened to me. So evenas we're trying to help other people, I...

...think I'm the one who benefited themost so well put so well put it. But I think also from the reader'sperspective to it gave them almost a mecca a place to go where they couldcombine. And there's been communities that I have seen grow from my ownlibrary work. They travel to mighty blaze, They traveled to friends infiction. And so that it's this amazing group of writers that I think have suchpower. And so and they're just, I think I've heard so many times that thesekind of events were a lifeline to them too. So I think it's a big mutualadmiration society. Well, that's the most humbling thing to me is when I seereaders comment on the comment threads during an interview with an author tosay, this has really saved me. This is something my son looks forward to. Youknow, I am living in a rural area. I never would have been able to see johnIrving or Anna Quindlen or Today we had Lieutenant Colonel Vin Men and he justreleased a book Me away blew me away also. And I was talking with ourinterviewer Marcus is all about that afterwards in the green room and hesaid I just have to sit with a moment for the fact that I just interviewedLieutenant Colonel of Inman and I said yeah and a few months ago youinterviewed George Saunders and in the moment our job is to make these guestsmore comfortable so that they feel good talking about their work. But when yousit back and think about that, I mean I have met almost all of my writer idolsand that never would have happened without the pandemic because I wouldn'thave had the access. So I'm very very grateful to be able to share that withreaders because I know how they feel. I am in awe. I'm in awe all the time hereto fame here. So I look forward to so much more about that and with that andmore 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 backjust a little bit in the in the in the bio, I just gave a little sketch thingsbut where did the love of reading and writing begin for you, What's yourorigin? The earliest I can remember writing anything was age four. And Istarted out writing masterful stories about consensus and Mermaids and theywere illustrated. I'm sure they were really, really clever. My dad was awriter, he was a news writer for CBS and so he wrote for walter Cronkite andcovered Watergate and the Ford Explorer. It does right. My earliest memorieshave the soundtrack of his typewriter and all I ever wanted to do was go upto be a writer like my dad. So I really don't have any sense of identity thatis not predicated on being a writer. It's the only thing I've ever wanted todo or be and I've always been a voracious reader. So even now, nomatter how busy my day is, Usually I eat breakfast at about two in themorning, like the blaze staff makes fun of me for doing this, but I will eat mybreakfast on my couch with a book. And if I don't get to read a book, anactual paper book, like once a day while I'm eating and not talking toanybody. I get really, really cranky.

So it's nourishment for me. That's andtotally understandable. A lot of us, you're not that different from the restof us. We've got to have, we got to have them. So what what are a couple ofthe book titles lately that have blown you away. Okay. One of the books that Ireally loved in the past couple of months was by a writer named NicholasButler 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 Iloved, like I cried on the couch reading the ending of that book andthen I fan girls on him on instagram via DM and he was probably like, who isthis 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 buildan 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 pressureon them and it reads like a fable, but it reads like a fable set in realityand how he pulls that off, I'm not really sure, but I found it totallyengrossing in a way that I don't always find reads like I read a lot for workand um, I don't often get to totally lose myself in a book and that one justgrabbed me by the hair and pulled me along. So that was Nicholas Butler'sGodspeed. That was a really good one. Yes, I've written that down. I can'twait to read that myself Jenna. I can't begin to thank you enough for joiningthe podcast today. Your bravery and telling this deeply emotional story ofyour life with Woodrow is going to resonate with readers everywhere and Iknow it's going to be hugely successful. It's so well written, it's so, it's youon a page. It really, it's just really you on a page and you know that I adoreyou and I can't wait to hear everybody's raving about the book whenit's out this week. I can't thank you enough for that and Ishould say that as I've watched the blaze grow and work with people to growthe blaze and lifted up a lot of writers. I have watched friends infiction do the same thing and I love knowing that we have a friend in thisrace and are really holding hands and running side by side and bringing booksand authors to readers who welcomed them as an author and as somebody whois a book promoter for the sheer love of books, I cannot thank you enough fordoing that. I know it's a lot of work and it's also a labor of love and youknow, I really, I salute you and take my hat off to you. So thank you forbuilding 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 tohave a very big fan club out there. That's really good. He thinks this iswhat he deserves, he's like what has taken you people so long to know about? That's exactly right. Thank you all fortuning in to the Friends and Fiction...

Writer's Block podcast. Each week westrive to bring you interesting and amazing authors books and more. Thanksfor listening and please share with a friend. Remember you can always findall the books by every Friends and fiction writer's Block podcast, guest,past and present in the friends and fiction bookshop dot org. Shop allsales place there helped to fund friends in fiction and a portion ofeach and every sale goes straight into the pockets of indie booksellersnationwide. Since its inception, bookshop dot org has raised more than16 million for indie bookstores, shops, small shop local from the convenienceof your screen with bookshop dot org and tell them friends and fiction sentyou. Thank you for tuning in to the Friends and Fiction Writer's Blockpodcast. Please be sure to subscribe rate and review on your favoritepodcast platform, tune in every friday for another episode. And You can alsojoin us every week on Facebook or YouTube where our live friends andfiction show airs at seven p.m. eastern standard time. We're so glad you'rehere.

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