Lauren Spieller

In the 21st episode of Truer Words, Melissa talks to author and agent Lauren Spieller about book scouting, agenting, and writing what you know as “reverse research.” 

Lauren is the author of two YA novels, YOUR DESTINATION IS ON THE LEFT and SHE’S THE WORST, and an associate literary agent at TriadaUS. Her website is LaurenSpieller.com and she can be found on Twitter: @laurenspieller and Instagram: @laurenspieller.

Mentioned in this Episode:

Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

Forever 35 podcast episode with Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin

Co-Star Astrology App

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything exhibit at the Jewish Museum in NYC

The Mount: Edith Wharton’s house


Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner


“Hurricane” from Hamilton

Tiffany Schmidt, author of Bookish Boyfriends series

Follow your curiosity - Elizabeth Gilbert

Dessert First by Dean Gloster

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Marc Maron


Alison Brie

Jim McCarthy (Lauren’s agent)

City of Bones by Cassie Clare

Nova Ren Suma

Our episode with Nova Ren Suma


The Great British Baking Show

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Sawkill Girls by Claire LeGrand

Vita Nostra by Sergey and Marina Dyachenko

The Wolf of Cape Fen - Juliana Brandt

Lauren’s manuscript wish list #mswl

Kathryn Benson
Special Episode: Intro to The Artist's Way
Kathryn Benson
Kerry Winfrey

In the 19th episode of Truer Words, we talk with writer Kerry Winfrey about romcoms, making the jump from YA to adult romcoms, and incorporating her obsessions into her books.

Kerry is the author of the YA novels Love and Other Alien Experiences and Things Jolie Needs To Do Before She Bites It and the adult romcom Waiting for Tom Hanks.

Find Kerry on Twitter: @kerryann and Instagram: @kerryann. Her website is kerrywinfrey.com.

Mentioned in this Episode:

Just Wright

Rosie’s Theater Kids

U.N.I.T.Y. by Queen Latifah

Billy Wilder’s Rules of Good Filmmaking

Conversations with Billy Wilder (Vanity Fair excerpt here) by Cameron Crowe

Margaret Bechard

Made of Honor - Patrick Dempsey / Michelle Monaghan movie

The Wedding Date - Debra Messing movie


How Red, White, and Royal Blue Became the Unlikely Book of Summer

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

The Last Holiday

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

You’ve Got Mail

Sleepless in Seattle

I’ll Have What She’s Having by Erin Carlson

“Instant Messenger May Be Dead, but You’ve Got Mail is Forever” by Hilary Weaver

A Year of Romcoms tumblr

Meg Cabot

Nora Roberts

You’ve Got Mail walking tour

Cafe Lalo

Boat Basin

Books of Wonder

Colson Whitehead quote from The Colossus of New York

Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead

Fitzgerald as Screenwriter: No Hollywood Ending


Glasstown Entertainment

Lauren Oliver

Lexa Hillyer

"Why is Gen Z Obsessed with The Office?" by Sonia Saraiya

Jen Maschari

Jody Casella

The Book Loft

Tom Hanks and the Great Lakes Theater Festival

Rainbow Rowell

"Real Romance" - Nora Roberts profile in The New Yorker by Lauren Collins

Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

The Holiday

Our interview with Jasmine

Kathryn Benson
Salima Alikhan

In the 18th episode of Truer Words, we talk with writer and illustrator Salima Alikhan about fairy tales, illustration, and writing historical fiction on a very tight deadline.

Salima is the author of Emmi in the City and the illustrator of many picture books, including Rocky Mountain Night Before Christmas and Pieces of Another World.

Find Salima on Twitter: @salimaalikhan and Instagram: @salimaalikhan. Her website is SalimaAlikhan.net.

Subscribe to Truer Words on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, and Stitcher.

Mentioned in this Episode:

SCBWI: Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators

Rocky Mountain Night Before Christmas, by Joe Gribnau and illustrated by Salima

Pieces of Another World by Mara Rockliff and illustrated by Salima

Puss in Boots

The Pied Piper of Hamelin

The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen

The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen

The Princess and the Pea by Hans Christian Andersen

The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

All Dogs Go to Heaven

Cynthia Leitich-Smith

BookPeople bookstore

Texas Book Festival

Austin Teen Book Festival

Vermont College of Fine Arts

St. Edward’s University

Capstone Publishing

Scholastic “I Survived” series

Lauren Tarshis

Chicago History Museum

Chicago Architecture Tours

Emmi in the City by Salima

Jake Maddox series

Kar-Ben publishers

Feivel’s Flying Horses by Heidi Smith Hyde

Jessie Janowitz

Jessie’s episode of Truer Words

Vincent & Theo by Deborah Heiligmann

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Jacqui Lipton


Parks & Recreation

Stranger Things

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

Rick Riordan Presents

Percy Jackson series

Kathryn Benson
Jen Doll
Photo by Sarah Shatz

Photo by Sarah Shatz

In the 17th episode of Truer Words, Melissa talks with Jen Doll about Sassy magazine, writing and reading advice columns, and her freelance writing career.

Jen is the author of a memoir, Save the Date, a YA novel, Unclaimed Baggage, which is currently being adapted for television. She also has an advice column for WeWork, writes for many publications and is working on her second novel.

Find Jen on Twitter: @thisisjendoll and Instagram: @thisisjendoll. Her website is JenDoll.com.

Subscribe to Truer Words on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, and Stitcher.

Show Notes:

Books, authors, movies, TV, specials, and other media or institutions mentioned include:

Taffy Brodesser-Akner profile in Cosmopolitan by Jen Ortiz

A response to the Taffy profile in Longreads by Soraya Roberts

Roxane Gay’s WealthSimple essay

Sassy Magazine

Scholastic Awards

Jen’s work space

Reader’s Digest

Ella Dawson’s tweet about Jen’s Harper’s story

Why Does It Feel Like Everyone Has More Money Than You? by Jen Doll in Harpers Bazaar

Abigail Disney Has More Money Than She’ll Ever Spend by Sarah McVeigh

Make Art, Make Money: Lessons from Jim Henson on Fueling Your Creative Career by Elizabeth Hyde Stevens

WeWork column

The Real Ramona by Sarah Jaffe

A Girl from Yamhill by Beverly Cleary

Dear Prudence 

Dear Sugar / Cheryl Strayed

Kathryn Benson