Lit Service

An Education, Arts and Books podcast
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Best Episodes of Lit Service

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Lisa Maxwell joins the Lit Service cast to talk about injecting your setting with that special something that makes it interactive and immersive, almost like an additional character in the story. Lisa is the NYT bestselling author of The Last Magician, The Devil’s Thief, The Serpent's Curse, and Unhooked. She grew up in Akron, Ohio, and has a PhD in English. She’s worked as a teacher, scholar, bookseller, editor, and writer. When she’s not writing books, she’s a professor at a local college. She lives in Virginia with her husband and two sons. Check out Lisa's books here or follow her Instagram. To see the chapter we critiqued with our notes, go here. To find out how to help support this podcast, visit our Patreon. We'd love to see your first chapter! To see who will be coming on the show next and how to submit your work, visit our website.
Tricia Levenseller joins Caitlin Sangster and Kristen Evans to live critique a few queries.   Tricia Levenseller is the author of the Daughter of the Pirate King duology, Warrior of the Wild, The Shadows Between Us, and forthcoming Blade of Secrets. She writes young adult high fantasies with heavy romantic subplots. You can find more about Tricia and her books here, or preorder her new book (do it!) here.   If you'd like us to do more episodes like this or have suggestions about what would help you the most, let us know! You can email us at or can talk to us on facebook, instagram, or twitter.   If you'd like to know more about how to support our podcast, you can find out more here. To find out who will be coming on the show to critique first chapters next, check out our website.
Caitlin, Kristen, and Aliah chat about the roles mentors take in (mostly!) fantasy and sci-fi narratives, their purpose and the shape of their place in a story. For the chapter we critique with all our notes go here! To find out how to support the podcast, go here! (We're about to do a live q&a, so if you want to come as us questions in person, now's the time to join our Patreon!) For more about the podcast and how you can submit your work for a critique (and our next upcoming guests!) visit our website.
Eric Smith joins the Lit Service crew to talk about what it is (and what authors can do!) that makes relationships arcs in stories satisfying. Eric Smith is a literary agent and author living in Philadelphia. An agent with P.S. Literary, he's worked on New York Times bestselling and award-winning books. As an author, his books include Don't Read the Comments (Inkyard Press) and the forthcoming You Can Go Your Own Way (Inkyard Press) and the co-edited anthology Battle of the Bands (Candlewick) with Lauren Gibaldi. Find out out more about him and his books here.   The chapter we critique with all our notes is here. If you'd like to find out more about how to support this podcast (we'd really appreciate it!), you can visit our Patreon.   For more about the podcast, how you can submit your work for a critique, and an upcoming guest list, visit our website.
Sarah McCabe joins the Lit Service crew to talk about the publication process once a book has been acquired and what to expect from editing and collaborating with an editor. Sarah is an editor with Simon & Schuster/McElderry (which is pronounced "mackle-derry", who knew). For a look at the chapter we critique (with our notes!) go here. Don't forget to check out our Patreon for extra content (want to hear Caitlin's story about the haunted house she came very close to renting? It's up now!) here. If you'd like a first chapter critique from us or an upcoming guest, check out our submission guidelines here.
Ever wondered what happens after you start working with an agent? Listen in while Ben and Caitlin discuss what happens behind the scenes, using one of her projects as a frame of reference from when she finished it to when it was sold.    The chapter we critique can be found here. Submission guidelines if you'd like a first chapter critique from us are here. If you like the show, please remember to check out our Patreon
Do you ever stumble when you begin a new story? Maybe you're not sure where it should start, or you have a great opening, but stall out once you get to the middle? Namina Forna's got some advice for you :)   Namina Forna is a young adult novelist based in Los Angeles, and the author of the upcoming epic fantasy YA novel The Gilded Ones. Originally from Sierra Leone, West Africa, she moved to the US when she was nine and has been traveling back and forth ever since. Namina loves telling stories with fierce female leads and works as a screenwriter in LA.   The chapter we critique can be found here. Patreon (if you like our show and want us to keep going, please consider becoming a patron!) Future guests/submission guidelines if you'd like a critique from us are here.
Ever think training montages are boring? We chat about how to show your character training (both in magic or in fighting or in...schoolwork? Anything) without it feeling boring. Or like a sports movie. Check out the first chapter we critique with all our notes here  If you'd like first chapter critique, visit our website to see upcoming guests and our submission guidelines. If you enjoy the podcast, please consider checking out our Patreon. It's patrons that keep us going, and you can get access to extra content and even a writing group hosted by Lit Service Crew members.
To round out the year we're doing one last bonus hot seat critique! We also did a bonus episode with our reactions to the newest season of the Mandalorian now that the last episode finally landed--to listen, head over to our Patreon:
Aliah, Caitlin, and Kristen chat about how to get your characters to squad up.   The chapter we critique can be found here.   Don't forget to check our Patreon for video versions of episodes and other bonus episodes and content! 
You can find the chapter we critique here Isaac Stewart joins the Lit Service crew to talk about picture books and illustration and how to get a whole story out of so few words (and how illustrations have to pull their own weight!). We also chat about maps and collaboration between authors and artists. During the course of his life, Isaac Stewart has had more dreams than there are freckles on his back. When he was eight, he wanted to invent faster-than-light travel. At eleven, he dreamed of being the first person on Mars. At thirteen, he thought there could be nothing better than owning a sled-dog team and winning the Iditarod. Despite these passing obsessions, one dream never left him: He wanted to write and illustrate books. Since then, Isaac has lived in the Philippines as a missionary, graduated with a BFA from BYU, and has worked for two decades in entertainment, video games, and publishing. Though he hasn't yet made it to Mars, he loves to travel and has lived in Germany twice. He currently works for Dragonsteel Entertainment as Brandon Sanderson's art director, and has created many of the maps and symbols related to Brandon's works. Recently Isaac ran a successful Kickstarter for his first children's book, Monsters Don't Wear Underpants. Isaac hasn't yet found the sled dog team of his dreams (he's discovered he prefers warm climates to cold), but he did marry the woman of his dreams. They live in Utah with their four children and two weird cats. Check out his book here  Find out more about Isaac on his website here and Isaac's instagram (which is a delight to follow!)  For more about how to submit your work for a critique, you can visit our website. To support the podcast, please check out our Patreon.
Join the core crew to talk about why having a good range of different kinds of relationships in a story is important and how to do it well.   The chapter we critique can be found here. If you want a critique from us, here are our submission guidelines. We encourage you to check out our Patreon for extras (like the video version of this episode, extra hot seat critiques, occasional extra episodes, live q&a opportunities, and even a critique group with Lit Service Crew members)--we appreciate your support!
Sara B. Larson joins the Lit Service Crew to chat about romantic arcs in YA, why they're so prevalent, and how to balance them against your plot in your own work. Sara is the author of the Defy Series, the Dark Breaks the Dawn Duology, and the Sisters of Shadow and Light duology (the newest one just hit shelves!!) To learn more check out her website. If you'd like signed copies of her books, you can get them here (be sure to put in the special instructions that you'd like it signed and to whom). You can find the chapter we critiqued with all our notes here. If you'd like a first chapter critique from the podcast or an upcoming guest, check out our submission guidelines. Please consider supporting us on Patreon! We're going through some growing pains right now, and need some extra help around here (and want to pay that extra help!). We really appreciate your help and that you listen to our dodgy writing advice!!
Caitlin live reads and critiques a submitted chapter, digging into why it isn't quite working (though the concept is pretty fun! A little embarrassed romance goes a long way!). Some episodes Caitlin recommends to think about the questions she brings up: 4:19 with Aminah Mae Safi and 4.11 with DongWon Song   If you want to hear more Hot Seat Critiques (and support the podcast!!) check out our Patreon.
Debut author Amparo Ortiz joins the Lit Service Crew to talk about why sports in fantasy and how to do it well (even if you don't like sports yourself!).  Amparo Ortiz was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and currently lives on the island’s northeastern coast. Her short story comic, “What Remains in The Dark,” appears in the Eisner Award-winning anthology PUERTO RICO STRONG (Lion Forge, 2018), and SAVING CHUPIE, her middle grade graphic novel, comes out with HarperCollins in Winter 2022. She holds an M.A. in English and a B.A. in Psychology from the UPR’s Río Piedras campus. When she’s not teaching ESL to her college students, she’s teaching herself Korean, devouring as much young adult fiction as she can, and writing about Latinx characters in worlds both contemporary and fantastical. Her debut novel, BLAZEWRATH GAMES, hits shelves on October 6, 2020 from Page Street Kids. To view the first chapter we critiqued with all our notes, go here. For more about Amparo and her books, you can check out her website. If you'd like a first chapter critique from us, check our submission guidelines here.
The Lit Service Crew chats about how to foreshadow plot twists and what sorts of things to avoid. If you want a first chapter critique from Lit Service, check out our submission guidelines. This podcast only happens with help from people like you! To see how you can keep Lit Service Episodes coming (and get some extra content and help with your writing too!) visit our Patreon.
Aminah Mae Safi joins the Lit Service crew live at Teen Author Bootcamp to chat about how characters make the romcom (and every other story!). Aminah is the author of Not the Girls You're Looking For, Tell Me How You Really Feel, and This is All Your Fault.  Check out her books here: Don't forget to take a look at our Patreon for extra content!  
Tracy Deonn joins the Lit Service Crew to chat about how to use tropes to dig into real issues while making your story timeless. Tracy Deonn earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication and performance studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has worked in live theater, video game production, and K–12 education. When she’s not writing, Tracy speaks on panels at science fiction and fantasy conventions, reads fanfic, arranges puppy playdates, and keeps an eye out for ginger-flavored everything. Tracy is a champion for diversity and representation in science-fiction and fantasy literature and media. And when Tracy’s mother told her that the women in their family were Black Bene Gesserits, she believed her.   Please support the podcast on Patreon! It takes a whole team of creatives to produce the show and it can be a little expensive sometimes. You guys can help us by donating, and even getting free extras like hot seat critiques, early access to our episodes, and live q&as with the cast. Cameron also hosts a writing group with members so you can get cast eyes on your work every single month . Every little bit helps!  
Caitlin, Cameron, and Kristen chat about what tone is and how to utilize it to tell your story to a specific audience or to elicit a specific response in a reader.
Dr. Darcie Little Badger joins the Lit Service Crew to talk about how to survive the ups and downs of the publishing world both as an aspiring writer and as a published one.  Darcie is an Earth scientist, writer, and fan of the weird, beautiful, and haunted. Her debut novel ELATSOE will be launching on August 25th and you can find it here.
Join Cameron and Caitlin as they read a past submission out loud and do a live critique as they go. let us know if you like this on social media! If you do, we'll do more of these!
Holly Root, the founder of Root Literary and agent to many a New York Time Bestseller, joins the Lit Service crew to chat about what author-agent relationships look like.
Samantha Hastings joins the Lit Service Crew to talk about how to approach writing a historical romance. Samantha is the author of The Last Word, The Invention of Sophie Carter (which is available for pre-order now! It will be available July 14) which is a Jr. Library Guild Selection. Her next book A Royal Christmas Quandary will arrive October 6, 2020.
Caitlin, Cameron, Aliah, and Kristen chat with Bridget Howard about building a social media platform. Bridget owns the bookstagram account @darkfaerietales_ which has over 116,000 followers. She is also part owner of Storygram Tours, a Bookstagram Tour company that has run over a thousand successful instagram tours. She works closely with publishers like Harper, Little Brown, Disney, Macmillan, Scholastic, Random House, and many more on a weekly basis. Storygram has also run tours for many authors such as Kendare Blake, Kerri Maniscalco, Tricia Levenseller, Adrienne Young and others. 
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Podcast Details

Created by
Caitlin Sangster, Kristen Evans, Cameron Harris, Aliah Eberting
Podcast Status
Sep 17th, 2017
Latest Episode
Apr 14th, 2021
Release Period
2 per month
Avg. Episode Length
28 minutes

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