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Books of My Life

Every now and then, Entertainment Weekly magazine will ask a writer a stock set of questions about books they’ve read or written. This week I thought I would interview myself with those same questions. Who else is going to do it?  

A Book I Read in Secret as a Kid

This is a great question because the only reason I have an interest in reading is because of the books my dad gave me to read.

Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys were typical reading for me as a kid. One day my dad said I needed to read a real book and he gave me Twins by Bari Wood and Jack Geasland. Now this might seem like an extreme, but it changed my world as to what stories could be.

Books I’ve Read Over and Over

"Ender's Game" by Orson Scott CardEnder’s Game is the only book I can think of that I physically re-read. Since I didn’t read for most of my 20s, I lost a lot of time so I don’t spend it re-reading. So many books, so, so little time. I also know I won’t be able to capture that thrill the first time I read something that moved me.

There are more books that I’ve read and then listened to, like Ready Player One and Life of Pi.

The Classic I’ve Never Read

Actually, there are a lot on my bucket list. The top ones would be Catcher in the Rye, Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, and The Grapes of Wrath. My Kindle should be buried with me because I probably will only read these in the afterlife.

The Last Book That Made Me Cry and/or Laugh

Mark Watney in The Martian is so witty and personable I found myself laughing, gasping, and even talking out loud as I read it. Kudos to Weir for writing a character I want to be friends with.

"The Martian" by Andy WeirBooks I Wish I’d Written

To Kill a Mockingbird is such a layered story of relationships and society while being approachable by and relatable to anyone. It’s is one of the best all-around books of all time.

My Favorite Movie Adaptation

There are more of these on my list than you might think but I have to go with The Hunger Games series. Young Adult fiction is not my favorite genre so I’m actually surprised I finished reading the trilogy. Katniss is a difficult character to identify with and I felt the author jerked the reader’s loyalties around whenever it came to Peeta and Gale. But the films capture the world and relationships perfectly. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is especially wonderful and Katniss is a real tragic hero for me.

A Book I’ve Pretended to Have Read

"House of Leaves" by Mark Z. DanielewskiBasically I’m a terrible liar. Coupled with my logical, OCD personality I don’t even see the sense in lying about having read a book. Wait, I take that back. I’ve lied about finishing House of Leaves. More than half way through the book I was so confused and frustrated. Was I supposed to read all the gibberish and rambling? If I didn’t was I missing something? If I did was I a fool? I had invested so much time in it I couldn’t admit I couldn’t finish it so I just read the last chapter and declared it sufficiently read.

The Books People Might be Surprised to Learn I Love

'Machete Season" by Jean HatzfeldThere are concepts in life that elude us. We can’t wrap our brains around them. Genocide is one of those for me. The definition is simple but the fact of it is incomprehensible. I’ve read several books on the subject but Machete Season is one of the best. Jean Hatzfeld is a foreign correspondent who interviewed several Hutus who participated in the massacre of 50,000 Tutsi friends, family, and neighbors in Rwanda.

The Genre I’d Pick if I Could Read Only One

Hands down it would have to be sci-fi. I have romance so those books are fallacies to me. Fantasy is too detached from my world, places that I can’t attain. Horror is great but I don’t think I could take the constant downer. Everything else I can get in sci-fi. It appeals to my love of science, adventure, possibilities, and mystery.

On Your Nightstand Right Now

"What Remains" by Tim WeaverWhat Remains by Tim Weaver. Some of you may remember our interview with Weaver. Since then I’ve read all the Raker series and just saw on Instagram he’s already working on the next one.

Books That Changed My Life

After reading Twins, I raided dad’s paperback stash in the bathroom and found The Stand. This opened up the genre of horror and science fiction. I read everything Stephen King published after that.

I’ll Give You a Topic

What book changed your life?

Are e-books good for writers? publishers? readers? libraries?

Do you buy more books now because of e-books?


August LIVE Hangout! Sunday, August 9th at 2pm Pacific

Hey Everyone!

We are looking forward to hanging out with you on Sunday, August 9th at 2pm PST. Check us out on YouTube and send us comments or topics @game_on_girl on Twitter

This month, our theme will be our favorite geekdoms and why we love the characters we love. 

See you Sunday LIVE!

Game on!



Talk to Us: The How To’s of Podcast Interviews: Part 3 of 3

In Part 1 of Talk to Us, I discussed who to ask as a guest on your podcast and how to go about asking them.

Last week was a check list of logistical information to email once a guest is confirmed for your show.

This week, in the final segment: Before, During, and After the Show




Do your research. Learn about their past, present, and future. Know what your guest has done and what they’re currently working on. Have they done interviews before? Are they published? There’s nothing that will discredit you as a host more than if you know nothing about who you’ve invited.

A radio personality got the opportunity to interview actor Jeff Daniels. Flippantly the host asks, “So why haven’t you ever been to the Oscars?” This embarrassed Daniels because he had to inform the ignorant host that you don’t go to the Oscars unless you’ve been nominated or have won. #HostFail

From your research, write the guest’s show introduction and email† it to them for their approval. They can catch errors, delete outdated information, or inform you of things they don’t want mentioned.


Make sure you pronounce their name correctly. Just come right out and ask them. Even if their name is Joe Smith, ask them, “Do you go by Joe?” If they have a title use it and verify with them what they prefer, “How would you like to be referred to on the show? Dr. Smith?” 


Always do an equipment check no less than thirty minutes before the show: reboot your computer, make sure your software is updated, check your internet connection, turn off noise makers like cell phones and email notifications, shutdown all unnecessary apps, etc.


You never know how an interview is going to go. The guest could be talkative, they could ramble, or it may be like pulling teeth to get them to talk. The best way to be prepared is to have material or backup questions to fill your full interview time slot in case the interview runs short or needs more ideas.


Let your guest talk, that’s what your listeners want to hear so don’t squander the opportunity by talking as much or more than your guest. But there’s also a fine line that you’re in charge of.


If your guest has a hard time staying on topic or rambles, help them get back on track. Tangents can be fun but a good host knows when they become boring or are heading into interview gold.

emcee Chuck Barris of "The Gong Show


Finally, don’t hesitate to cut the interview short if it’s just a disaster and there’s nothing you can salvage in post-production. Sometimes you get bad guests but this doesn’t mean you have to post a bad show. You’re trying to build an audience as well. You have no obligation to post a dud.


Send the guest an immediate thank-you for appearing on your show. Emails are fine.

If your show is pre-recorded, prep it in a timely manner and post it when you said you would. Don’t forget to include the guests promotional contact information.

When the show is posted, send your guest a direct link so they can conveniently include it in all their social networking.  


Each guest should receive the same three emails I’ve discussed:

  • Asking them to be on the show
  • What they need to know about being on the show
  • Thank you for being on your show.

Once you have crafted the emails I suggest you save them as drafts so you have the copy to reuse for future guests. It’s also a good idea to highlight the parts of the draft that should be customized for each guest. These visual reminders hopefully will prevent you from sending an invite to William Shatner from a draft email original addressed to “Dear Mr. Patrick Stewart.” Ouch.


In actuality, you should probably try to schedule guests for two to four weeks’ worth of shows. Most people need more than a week to schedule time for an interview so if you’re posting weekly shows, schedule at least two weeks out so you’re not scrambling at the last minute to find someone you can interview

I'll Give You A Topic

Name one person alive and one person dead you would like to interview.

Is there a place in media for ambush journalism?

† Last week I mentioned limiting the number of pre-show emails to your new found guest. Last week’s email was about logistics. Send the bio in a separate email because you really want this to get their attention.


Talk to Us: The How To’s of Podcast Interviews: Part 2 of 3

Last week I talked about who to ask as a guest on your podcast and how to go about asking them.

This week is Part 2: things to do after your guest has said yes.


Yes, there have been times I’ve done a happy dance when a guest has agreed to be on the show. Do this in private.

Although you should proudly publicize your upcoming interview with your fabulous guest, be professional. Avoid phrases like #InURfaceSucka or #NaNaNaNaNaNa.

Once your guest agrees to an interview, there’s a lot you can do to make them feel comfortable about coming on the show. The main thing is to send a follow-up email with the nitty-gritty details spelled out. Compose this email succinctly but include all the info they need. Don’t send a bunch of follow-up emails unless the situation warrants it. They are not your new best friend…yet.

  • Repeat the date and time of the interview, including the year and time zone.
  • List any equipment they’ll need (internet access, a camera, headphones, microphone, etc.). Most of the accommodations should be on your end; your guest shouldn’t have to buy equipment to be on your show. Laptops and iPhones have cameras and microphones. If they do not have their own microphone, simply suggest they borrow one from a gaming friend. Sound quality will ruin an interview with a great guest.
  • Let them know what service, if any, you’ll be recording over (Skype, Google hangout, etc.) because they may need to create an account and get invited to be in your contacts. Don’t do this the day of the show.
  • Give them your Skype or Google account ID so they can send you an invite or simply know that @naughtymanbitts is actually you and not a stalker (although I recommend changing that handle immediately).

  • Let them know if your show is pre-recorded or live. If pre-recorded, communicate with them when and where the show will be posted.
  • Make sure your guest knows if you do video as well as audio; they may want to shave, put on makeup, or wear pants that day.
  • If you have co-hosts or you will have multiple guests on the show, let everyone know and to what extent they will each be participating.
  • Tell them how long the show lasts and if they are expected to be there for the entire show or just a portion. Don’t have guests sitting through segments they won’t be participating in.
  • If you can, send the guest sample questions ahead of time. This is another way of making them comfortable.  A guest doesn’t want to look or sound stupid. If you make the guest look good, they are more likely to share your show with their network. I’ve also been surprised by how many guests have told me they were nervous. The preemptive interview questions help.
  • Have the guest provide you with any social media contact information they want to pass on to your audience as well as details of any of their upcoming events. This lets your guest know you are ready to promote them.

This may seem like a lot of information but, again, I want my guests to relax. When an interview goes well, the time flies, you have so much fun, and you feel like old friends. And your guest will tweet, link, like, and post your show which is equivalent to cha-ching in podcasting.

You've sent your email off and now you're waiting for the show date. This is a good time to brainstorm about other guests you'd like to invite on the show. Keep a running list and be active in social media, listening to podcasts, and news in your field for other potential guest ideas.

Morton Downey Jr. on "The Morton Downey Jr. Show"If you’re doing shock podcasting or attack interviews, most of this information isn’t necessary. Your point is to catch your guests off their guard and possibly make them look bad. It’s not the kind of interviews I like to do but keep your mission in mind when applying these tips.

I’ll Give You a Topic

If Patrick Stewart was a guest on your show, what one question would you ask him?

Same for William Shatner.

What’s preventing you from starting your own podcast?


Talk to Us: The How Tos of Podcast Interviews: Part 1 of 3

It is a huge responsibility and honor to interview guests on our podcast and it’s one of my favorite jobs with GameOnGirl. A week ago at ConGregate, we discussed the Dos and Don'ts of interviewing.

Pretty much all normal social and professional rules apply when interacting with guests. Hopefully you have a resource for this etiquette because my advice pertains to logistics, which goes a long way to making you look professional.

This is Part 1 of this topic and it will address who to ask as a guest, how to ask them, and when.

Part 2 will be what to do immediately after your guest says yes.

In Part 3 I’ll cover the before, during, and after to-do list for the day of the interview.


The adage, “the worst they can say is no,” is totally true when asking someone to be a guest on your show. In three years, no one I’ve asked has said no. Maybe five people have simply never replied to my email requests, but that’s it, so I say go for it.

The type of show and type of interviews you do also determines who you should ask. If you want to do man-on-the-street interviews, you need to go to the streets to find your guests. If you want to discuss apps on mobile devices, don’t ask a luddite to be a guest.


The chances of a guest saying yes greatly increases with how you ask.

Respect the time and place of where the guest is. If they’re at lunch, generally, leave them alone. (If it’s Patrick Stewart, though, all bets are off.) People expect to network at cons or other professional events so that’s the perfect place to meet potential guests. Of course, don’t introduce yourself in the restroom or follow them into the parking lot.

Remember, professional.

If you miss that great opportunity for a face-to-face, contact them through social media immediately after the event. Reference the event in the first sentence. If you heard them speak, mention that as well, being specific about what you liked. This separates you from the stalker emails they get.

The email interview request to Kelly Sue DeConnick after meeting at a con.

About fifty percent of my email requests were cold contacts — people I never met face-to-face, but learned about them or their project through social media or the news. Include the following information when making a cold or even a warm contact. You can see these in the example above.

  • Your name, not just your handle
  • Your podcast name
  • What your podcast is about
  • Why are you interested in them as a guest
  • List the dates and times you record/stream your show
  • Include links to existing episodes
  • Your contact information

Con season is already in full swing. Learn how to record on you mobile device and jump into interviewing this year.

I’ll Give You a Topic

For a man-on-the-street at a con, name two great questions to ask.

What’s the best interview you’ve ever heard?

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