Become a Writer Today

What Are the Conventions of Your Genre? With Amy S. Peele

January 31, 2022 Bryan Collins Season 2
Become a Writer Today
What Are the Conventions of Your Genre? With Amy S. Peele
Show Notes Transcript

Amy S. Peele is a successful indie author who’s written across several genres, including medical mysteries and, more recently, rom-com.

Amy says that when you start writing in a new genre, it’s natural to feel a sense of imposter syndrome. After all, this is something that you haven’t written in before. But, with a little bit of practice and some know-how about the genre, you can easily overcome this natural part of the creative process.

Amy proves that it is possible to build a writing career on the side of a busy job. Amy is a registered nurse and a retired organ transplant expert, and she uses many of her insights and anecdotes from when she worked in that field for her medical mystery books.

Maybe stories from your career could be fodder for a future book?

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The key to switching genres
  • The conventions of a good rom-com
  • Taking improv classes to improve your writing
  • Outlining stories vs. freewriting
  • Breaking down mental blocks
  • Having a tribe that you can share with


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If you enjoyed the show please leave a review on Apple. And if you have any questions you can find me on Twitter @BryanJCollins

Thanks for listening!

Amy: I started outlining or scaffolding the first book while I was still working full time at the hospital so I would — when I started doing that, my awareness changed. And I had my day job that needed to get done, I had 120 employees and surgeons, and doctors, but the way I looked at the floor, the transplant floor, and the things that we do that put people on the list, they all took on a different dimension because I would think to myself how would I explain this meeting or how would I bring you to the hospital floor? 

What would it smell like? What would it — you know, when you’re in that world all the time, all that just fades away because it’s just where you go to work, right? So, if you never go to the hospital and you never are in a selection meeting of deciding who gets on the list, you wouldn’t know so I kind of backed away and increased my powers of observation. 

And what my readers have said is that they feel like they got a sneak peek behind the curtain. And they did. They did because I bring you right into some of these scenes that were real scenes and that’s the way the world flows.

Introduction: Welcome to the Become a Writer Today Podcast with Bryan Collins. Here, you’ll find practical advice and interviews for all kinds of writers.

Bryan: What are the conventions of your genre? Hi, my name is Bryan Collins, and welcome to the Become a Writer Today Podcast.

Before you start writing a book, it’s always a good idea to ask yourself what are the conventions of this genre. Understanding these conventions upfront will help you create a book that your readers enjoy.

In other words, if you’re writing a police procedural book, there are several boxes that you’ve gotta tick if you want the book to sell and also resonate with readers. That’s actually a lesson I learned from Robert McKee. He’s the author of the fantastic book, Story, and in that book, he talks a lot about genres.

Now this week, I had a chance to catch up with a successful indie author who’s written across several genres, including medical mysteries and, more recently, rom-coms. Her name is Amy S. Peele. 

One of the key lessons for me in this interview was when you start writing in a new genre, it’s natural to feel a sense of imposter syndrome. After all, this is something that you haven’t written in before. But, with a little bit of practice and with a little bit of know-how about the genre in question, you can easily overcome imposter syndrome. In fact, it’s a natural part of the creative process.

Another key takeaway from this interview with Amy is that it’s possible to build a writing career on the side of a busy job. In fact, Amy is a registered nurse and a retired organ transplant expert, and she uses many of her insights and anecdotes from when she worked in that field for her medical mystery books.

So, if you’re working in a demanding career, perhaps stories from the office, or whatever your career is, could be fodder for some future books or perhaps keep notes in the form of journal entries and so on. Because readers love hearing about how other people spend their working day. That’s one of the great things about books, they transport you into a different world.

At the time of recording this interview, I’m in the final stages of ordering a proof copy of my new book, I Can’t Believe I’m a Dad. So, it’s quite timely because this book is in a completely different genre to what I normally write in. In other words, it’s not an instructional writing book, it’s not about creativity or productivity. It’s a type of memoir for new dads so I was fascinated to hear about Amy’s insights into switching genres and into writing this type of book.

Now, if you enjoyed this week’s podcast episode, please consider leaving a short review on the iTunes Store. You can also share the show with another writerly friend on Overcast, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you’re listening. And if you really enjoy the show, please consider becoming a Patreon supporter. For just a couple of dollars a month, I can invest in more editing and production for shows like this and I’ll give you discounts on my writing courses, software, and books. I’m also on Twitter if you wanna get in touch or if you’ve got questions or feedback about the show. It’s @bryanjcollins.

Now let’s go over to this week’s interview with Amy S. Peele.

Bryan: So, what I wanted to dig into, Amy, is how you transitioned from a lengthy career into writing medical mysteries. Could we start there?

Amy: Why not? I’ll distill it down for you. I’ve been a nurse since 1974. I don’t know if they have this in Ireland but I’m guessing — we have a lot of community colleges here and I was interested in creative writing in high school but then took a career in healthcare so I started taking creative writing classes and I was lucky to have a safe instructor, because there’s writing instructors who actually can tear people apart and they go away with their, you know, tail between their legs, so I started writing short stories back, oh, goodness, 30 years ago, and just for fun, and that pathway took me first to a collection of short stories that I’ve self-published as a memoir, in 2009, called the Aunt Mary’s Guide to Raising Children the Old-Fashioned Way

So we could certainly talk about that. And then I had a 35-year career in organ transplantation so I started working and attending murder mystery writing classes and workshops when I was also working and then when I retired, I decided that I was just gonna kill people I didn’t like at work and use their organs for transplant, because I know better than to waste to kill so that’s kind of some of the grit and nit that kind of is influencing my series.

Bryan: Yeah, it’s interesting you were writing short stories. That’s actually how I got started writing too. When you were transitioning from writing short stories and then working in your career, were you still writing on the side?

Amy: I was writing little things. I mean, mostly in healthcare, you know, you publish or perish so you’re required to write clinical articles but transitioning from the black and white clinical fact-based to making things up or recalling things, if it’s a memoir, was very freeing so always just seeing the world, noticing the world, and using kind of prompts from my writing teachers that helped me kinda excavate both my creativity and also use my imagination, which, as you know, we all come into the world with but sometimes, as we become these mature adults, we forget about our imagination muscle. 

So that helped. And the other piece that contributed is that in my world of transplantation, you know, it’s life and death, it’s serious, and I decided to send myself to Second City Improv School in Chicago and so I took a year of improvisational, which is just so much fun and exercising my imagination so I worked to have some balance for that. And that also fueled my murder mysteries collection, which they say are mysteries with a mission and a side of humor.
So I think it’s kind of — as all of us writers, we kinda grab things off the shelves of our world, whether it’s a community college, a friend, people who love what you do and collect your tribe that kinda makes us the people and the writers we are and those are just a few things that have contributed to my writing career.

Bryan: How many books have you written during your career?

Amy: There’s three now. I have the memoir, two murder mysteries, I’m writing a third, and my literary agent wants me to write a romantic comedy, which will be very freeing after the murder mysteries because it’s all fluff. It’s fun, but it’s fluff. So, yeah, I’ve got three already written.

Bryan: That’s a big genre switch. How come they want you to do that?

Amy: Well, she was gonna represent the murder mystery series, I’m working with She Writes Press on that here in the United States and the big five here in the United States, publishers, want a debut novelist. 

So because people think I have a good sense of humor, which apparently I do, I was raised by a single mother and there were six kids and so you know how that rolls, either you get a good sense of humor or you’re not in the game. 

She wants me to be a debut rom-com writer, which, actually, I’ve already written the outline, it was so freeing and fun. And, you know, it’s not the taboo that it used to be where you weren’t allowed to jump genres in the world. I think the rules have changed quite a bit, at least over here and I’m guessing over in your world, but it was fun, because it’s still, at the end of the day, you’re writing characters, scenes, plot, all the components in your writing toolbox can be applied to different genres, I believe.

Bryan: Do you read a lot of those types of books?

Amy: Well, I was never — because I was more science based, I never read a lot of rom-coms. I like mysteries, I like nonfiction, I like historical fiction. I watch a lot of rom-coms because they’re light and fluffy and, you know, as you know, in the last year and a half, we all need a little bit of that. 

So I’m reading ’em now and I have to say, what a treat, you know? I don’t know that we always have to struggle so hard to have this intense, beautiful relationship with this piece of literature, although it’s a gift and I enjoy those, I also think it’s okay to have a little dessert and light rom-com on the side.

Bryan: I took a course a few years ago by a writing instructor, his name is Robert McKee. Have you heard of him?

Amy: Yeah, I have, yeah.

Bryan: You have? Yeah, he’s well known in Europe too and Ireland.

Amy: I have his book right in front of me.

Bryan: Oh, do you? Great. Which one do you have?

Amy: Story.

Bryan: Story, that’s the one, it’s a fantastic book, recommend to anybody check it out. But I got to talk to him at the end of the workshop and one of the things he said was you need to understand the conventions of a genre before you can write in it, so, I mean, I don’t know much about rom-com apart from when I watched rom-com movies, so what are the conventions of a good rom-com book? What’s it supposed to do?

Amy: Well, rom-com is a boy meets girl, they hate each other but they have to work together and then they still don’t like each other but you can feel the chemistry and then, through process of scenes and tension, that they begin to see the goodness that they, you know, each have and then, at the end, they get together. 

So, it’s just building that tension and you don’t know until almost the very end if they’re actually gonna be together. Could be boy meets boy, girl meets girl, doesn’t really matter what sex it is. And then at the very end, the nickel drops and you set the scene so that the audience is relieved, because, at some point, they’re figuring, “Oh, this is too bad, they really would have been great together,” but you get them to that point of accepting that they’re not gonna be together, and then you create another scene that almost forces them to finally have their aha moment.

Bryan: Interesting. Interesting. Now, what about medical mysteries? What would you say the conventions are for that genre?

Amy: Well, the conventions of a medical mystery is that, you know, in the first couple chapters, you really do have to either have a dead body or some pretty intense scenes that something’s not right. So, in my murder mystery series, of course, my dead bodies do show up pretty quickly and then — but why are they dead? Who did it? It’s kind of a whodunit, and then you take the reader in through the plots and subplots to figure out who it could be while — the murder mysteries are interesting because you see lightly things about certain characters, but not necessarily, unless the reader is really paying attention, to the end, they’ll go, “Oh, yeah, that was in chapter four,” so the murder mystery evolves and you take your reader through this, again, slope of tension, climax, a little fun. 

I tend to sprinkle food into mine because I like food but my editor says I can’t put too much food in it because unless my characters are gonna be chefs at the end of the book, they can’t because I distracted them with these delicious meals that I like to write about. But then — and it’s tense. So, I’ve had people mad at me because they were reading my book and it kept them up ’til two in the morning and they didn’t get a good night’s sleep. But, you know, that’s not my fault.

Bryan: That’s a good complaint.

Amy: It is a good complaint. People say they read my mysteries. One gal, or several people have said, you know, they read it like in two days, and I just go, “You know, it took me a long time to write that. You read it in two days?” I mean, I’m honored and — because you know when you’re crafting and you’re crafting and you want that all to just be so, it takes time.

Bryan: That’s a year of my life and you read it in two days.

Amy: Right.

Bryan: You said something interesting there, Amy, a few minutes ago. “I don’t waste a kill.” What did you mean by that?

Amy: Well, because I’m in organ transplantation, I was director of clinical operations at University of California, San Francisco, it’s one of the biggest transplant programs in the world, about 600 solid organs, kidney, livers, hearts, lungs, that kind of thing, pancreas, islet cells, I know what donors would be viable donors. In your neck of the woods, Eurotransplant is the group that facilitates organ donation and transplant.

But here, I’ve worked on both the donor family side, talking to people when the loved one was brain dead, and then also orchestrating all the events that culminated in organ donation, so I know how to kill my victim such that I can use their organs for transplant. So, in my first mystery, Cut, it’s can you buy your way to the top of a liver transplant list?

And the second book, Match, that just came out in April, is about kidney transplant, the opioid crisis, kidney exchange and I must be — to tell you the truth, though, Bryan, I did kill a politician in the second book. Wasn’t my fault but he was dead and I have to say it was very cathartic.

Bryan: He probably deserved it.

Amy: He definitely deserved it. It was such a nice, oh, that’s where writing can be such a relief. And the person I killed in the second book was somebody that was just horrible to work with and it had to be professional and kind so when I started writing this character, of course, I changed the name and the hair color and, you know, all those things. 

But it was — and my hands were going faster than my mind so I realized I really didn’t like this person so that was even better because I got all her organs for transplant.

Bryan: Medical mysteries would have a lot of research so did you have notes that you were able to review or journal entries or did you write it all from memory?

Amy: Well, a lot of it is from memory because I was in the world of it for 35 years. I started outlining or scaffolding the first book while I was still working full time at the hospital so I would — when I started doing that, my awareness changed. I had my day job that needed to get done, I had 120 employees and surgeons, and doctors, but the way I looked at the floor, the transplant floor, and the things that we do that put people on the list, they all took on a different dimension because I would think to myself how would I explain this meeting or how would I bring you to the hospital floor? 

What would it smell like? What would it — you know, when you’re in that world all the time, all that just fades away because it’s just where you go to work, right? So, if you never go to the hospital and you never are in a selection meeting of deciding who gets on the list, you wouldn’t know. So I kind of backed away and increased my powers of observation and what my readers have said is that they feel like they got a sneak peek behind the curtain. 

And they did. They did, because I bring you right into some of these scenes that were real scenes and that’s the way the world flows. And another gal, I just did a book club here in Northern California, she said, “I felt smarter after I read your book because I understand the world a little bit more than I would have ever known,” and I think that’s a gift. 

That’s why the critics or the readers and the result, the folks who do the reviews have said it’s a mystery with a mission and a side of humor, because you will learn about healthcare, transplant, organ donation, but I don’t beat you over the head with it. And like I said, I did take pictures and I do have some notes but because like it was my day-to-day job and much of that was just innate, but I also sent it to the surgeons to read because I knew that, you know, if there was a minor problem, they would let me know upfront right away. They don’t suffer fools. So the accuracy of the medical content, I always double checked with the people and who are the people that are my beta readers.

Bryan: Interesting. Interesting. Yeah, I think readers love hearing about people’s working day. We love hearing about how a different world operates, maybe one that we don’t get to see very often. It also sounds very intense. How did you manage your intense career with writing and not get burnt out?

Amy: Well, that’s why I took improv classes and I surround myself with some light-hearted people. And I also created my two main characters for the series, they’re two best friends from nursing school, two nurses, so I lightened up the topic with two fun women, one is married to her wife in San Rafael and the other one is single and is devoted to her transplant career. 

So, I infused some humor and lightness because I needed to infuse humor and lightness in my life in that life and death world. And when you’re in that world, there’s always some gray humor, it might be dark humor and it doesn’t get out of the operating suite or the conference room, but we did have fun. We did have a good time because we needed to have, and when it was time to do business and be serious, it was, you know, everything had to be perfect. So you need that balance.

Bryan: And how did the improv class help with your writing?

Amy: It helped me be more comfortable to just be creative. There’s the facts of a mystery and the medical stuff, which I know, but you can make a beautiful scene and so I think, for me, improv helped me expand my imagination. 

I think it’s a muscle and if you don’t flex it, it doesn’t get used. And, you know, when you watch kids play, they don’t care, they’re making stuff up, they’re light-hearted, it’s great, and I think we lose it as adults. So I was really glad I took improv in Chicago, I graduated from Second City Players Workshop and then when I came to San Francisco, I found an improv class. 

And the playfulness of it, I think, informs the creative process in a way that, you know, I can make up pretend places or I can make up characters and combine them. There’s no like wrong way to do it as long as my readers like my characters, and they say, many people have said, “I wanna hang out with them,” which I think is a compliment when you write a good character.

Bryan: And are you outlining your stories in advance or free writing or seeing where your characters take you?

Amy: Well, I work with a developmental editor and I’m also part of Sara Connell’s Thought Leadership Academy here in the United States. That’s been extremely helpful when I hit roadblocks in my writing process. So, what I do is, Brooke Warner was my coach when I did my memoir and she owns a press called She Writes Press. She had me — she calls it scaffolding. You may call it outlining but I don’t think it’s an outline. 

So what I do is, say, chapter one, Bryan’s point of view, so I know that I’m in your head while I write a couple paragraphs of what I think’s gonna happen in chapter one. Then chapter two, Amy’s point of view and what’s gonna happen, so I usually do third person rotating POV, I usually like three character POV rotating and that reminds me whose head I’m in so that I can’t, you know, I can’t say, “Bryan really enjoyed their coffee. It looked like he had a delicious hot cup of java.” If I’m not in your head, how am I gonna know unless Bryan told me that that coffee was the best he’s ever had? 

So that helped me because I was having some point of view challenges and that helps. So I have the whole scaffolding done. And then I read it, but then I start writing and what happens, and you know this, is that once you start writing, your characters take over. 

And my characters have done some things that, you know, I would not have gotten on the back of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle drunk and go find a rum bar in Miami, I just don’t think that would have been a good idea. However, Jackie Larson, one of my characters, there she is and I’m sitting there writing going, “Yes, not a good idea,” but you know what? She did it. So it’s fun and so then I take the scaffolding, I put it aside once I’m on my roll and go, and then I usually don’t even look at it, because it’s already in my head and then the characters, as you know, take you somewhere that you might not have anticipated.

Bryan: Do you spend much time rewriting your drafts?

Amy: Well, what I do is I pace with a developmental editor who helps kind of keep me on track. If I start going off in one direction or another, she paces with me so that I get constant feedback. And we — I just started with my third book with her and just sent her my first 27 pages, we’ll talk, I’ll keep writing, but I do write like a whole first, terrible, awful, you know, they call it the shitty first draft, as you probably know. 

And then I go back, so that’s done, and I put X’s if I don’t know the name of a place or I need to do research or all that, I don’t let that stop my process, I just go and start writing. And then when I go back now to take that piece of clay that I’m molding and molding into a story, then I go and have some fun with the research but research can take you down a rabbit hole so you gotta be careful with that. And then that’s how it shapes, you know? It’s like putting sand in a sandbox that eventually you’re gonna make a castle out of but it’s a process and that’s my process.

Bryan: I got stuck at that last stage of the process or making the castle, kinda struggled with perfectionism and some self-doubt. How did you get around mental blocks like that?

Amy: Well, it is a hard black. The memoir, because I’m from a family of six, it took me a long time to finally decide that I had to write a declaration at the beginning of the book that says I’m writing the story that I remember as a child and to my siblings, if you remember differently, then you write your book and we’ll sell them in pairs, because they were always critical. “It wasn’t a yellow car, it was a white car.” 

So I needed to almost — and it took a while to get to that because it did stop me because I thought it had to be perfectly 100 percent accurate. And I worked with Linda Joy Myers who’s quite a wonderful psychologist and memoirist as well, she has a national memoir association here in the United States, and that was helpful because there’s only so much you’re gonna recall and then you have to just move forward and it kept stopping me. The other thing is I’m in a writing tribe. 

I have three other women. We’ve been together 21 years. So when we get to that, what was I thinking? You know, what? I’m never gonna be, you know, Steinbeck, Hemingway, you know, the great authors that we all know and love, and I would never even pretend that, but we call them gremlins and I’ve learned tips and tricks where you let the gremlin talk, uh-huh, yeah, I mean, you know, this is not a mental illness but you know these doubts, they get big, and then give them, “Yeah, okay, I hear you,” and then I set them aside. 

My best friend and I, Betsy Fasbinder, we gave them names and so — because they’re so bold sometimes, and they can be paralyzing. And so if I’m really stuck or I’m like in such self-doubt, I’ll call my friend Betsy. My inner critic’s name is Ursula, hers is Dominic so I’ll just call Betsy and go, “Yeah, Ursula wants to talk to you.” It’s not schizophrenia but you know those voices, they can really stop you, and whatever genre but, you know, depends on your family with the memoir, because my family didn’t want me to write a memoir either. So my brothers were like, “Yeah, you don’t need to write these stories.” I’m like, “Yeah, I’m writing these stories.”

Bryan: My inner critic’s name is Frank. It’s interesting you say that because when I was working for a corporate company a few years ago, a behavioral psychologist gave the entire team a talk about how to overcome self-doubt at work, but one of the strategies he recommended is what you just described, if you, you know, are feeling self-doubt, to give the person saying all those things in your head a name and that helps you disassociate yourself from them. 

So it’s interesting you’re using a similar approach. Are the other women in your tribe, are they also writing medical mysteries or are they writing something else?

Amy: No, my — I have a great diverse tribe. Betsy has written a memoir, fiction, and a how-to, From Stage to Page. She teaches authors how to present publicly because it’s a very solo event, as you know. So she — and she also has a podcast called The Morning Glory Podcast, which is an inspirational, really wonderful podcast. Linda Joy Myers is a psychologist. She writes memoir, she teaches how to memoir, she — oh, you might wanna pick up her workbook too because it’s really good on how to write a memoir, Linda Joy Myers.

And it really steps you through, I used her old prescription when I wrote mine and it was really informative and helpful. She’s trying her hand for the first time in fiction and she’s got one coming out next year and she is having a time because she’s been so in memoir and nonfiction her whole career but it’s really been fun to hear her process.

And then my friend, Christie Nelson, writes fiction and her last book was called Beautiful Illusion and it’s about the World Exposition in San Francisco in the 1930s before Pearl Harbor, and it’s really well done and it’s real descriptive. So, we get together, we talk about our work, we support each other in a variety of ways when we get the doubt monster or the “Uh…” and it’s really helpful to have that level of trust. And their writing is really wonderful and delicious. So I’m the only mystery writer in that crowd.

Bryan: Lots of writers crave a community. I’m also wondering, you got into self-publishing quite early, Amy. Your first one was self-published in, now correct me if I’m wrong here, what? 2009?

Amy: Correct, and that’s when I was working with Brooke Warner. She was a coach, she was working in the industry. She was the acquisition editor and she helped me put those stories together and also talked me off the ledge when I’m like, “Nope, I can’t. It’s not — I can’t do it,” because I was working full time when I did that. “I can’t do it. I can’t write this. I don’t have the time.” “Amy…” Because, you know, accountability, as you know, is really important so I knew — I paid to have her connect with me and help me. She then held my hand and helped me through that whole self-publishing because there’s no way I could have known what that —

Bryan: I’d imagine it was a lot harder in 2009 —

Amy: Yeah.

Bryan: — just even to find a book cover designer and prepare a book for — Did you self-publish in Amazon back then?

Amy: I self-published it through Lulu Press —

Bryan: Yeah.

Amy: — sell it but because Brooke knew the industry, she helped me with the cover, of course, the copyediting, you know, all the ingredients that are necessary, she had at her fingertips, so I didn’t have to go seek someone that I think I could trust that didn’t know. She knew them so she was my conduit into self-publishing. And then, fast forward, because she was an acquisition editor, she saw so many women’s books get thrown to the side, she started a press, I don’t know, 10, 15 years ago, called She Writes Press. It’s a woman-owned press. She’s the editor. Her press has got — my books have won a lot of awards because it’s — she knows the standard production process of a good book so if you saw my books or She Writes Press-authored books anywhere, you wouldn’t know that it wasn’t like the big five that — we refer to them as the big five here. There’s good work coming out in a variety of ways and it’s not all through traditional press so I think that’s really great.

Bryan: And you found your way back to traditional publishing over the years.

Amy: Yeah. Well, with the first mystery, I got a literary agent, because I didn’t have an agent for my standalone, in my first mystery. I pitched an agent and she took the book, which she — well, I pitched her because there was a murder mystery writing conference here and I was really nervous. 

And she says, “Well, I’ll take —” you know, you’re never supposed to give them a copy of your book, right? So she goes, “I’ll take a copy of your book,” and I really don’t have a copy of my book so I had to go buy a copy of my own book at the bookstore, bring it to her, she goes to Paris every year, she brought the book to Paris, read it, and then she signed me at Bouchercon, an international mystery writing conference. So I have a wonderful literary agent, Kimberley Cameron, and, you know, so the story goes. So it’s been a journey, certainly, as you know.

Bryan: Yeah. Writing is a journey. You know, you write a book and then you’re on to a new project starting —

Amy: The next is the starting. I mean, you know, publicity and even when you get signed by whatever, whoever, that doesn’t mean they’re gonna do all the marketing for you. Unless you are like a big, big wig, Harlan Coben, Louise Penny, you know, where they have amassed people, even mid authors, even beginning authors, they’ll publish you but they’ll tell you what your cover is gonna look like and what you’re gonna get but a lot of times, as you know, that heavy lifting is on you to do to get the word out.

Bryan: Yeah, I’d agree with that. You need to spend time marketing your book as well, which can be difficult for writers because we tend to be more introverted. One last question, side connection to writing, do you practice chair yoga after a difficult writing session? Because I was at a yoga class yesterday and got some good work done after.

Amy: Oh, yeah, that’s funny. I actually teach it. I went to the Chopra Center, Deepak Chopra, I don’t know if he’s kinda big in your world but he certainly is over here.

Bryan: Yeah, he’s well known here, yeah.

Amy: Oh, yeah, so I got to meet him and I was an instructor, certified Chopra Yoga instructor. And at the time, my knees weren’t in great shape because I was on the legs all day so I decided — and I had been practicing Iyengar yoga for a long time and this is hatha yoga so I learned how to adapt as I was teaching from mat to chair so that you can do sun salutations, you can do any pose you want in a chair. 

And now when I’m being asked to speak at national conventions, one of the things they want me to do is teach them chair yoga, meaning there’s little things you can do with your hands and stretch your fingers and, you know, get your shoulders peeled off of your ears, because as writers, you know, we’re always bending over —

Bryan: Hunched over, yeah. Yeah, it’d be interesting to see chair — or doing a sunset pose in a chair.

Amy: Yeah —

Bryan: A sun salutation.

Amy: I did teach my Iyengar instructor when I came back, you know, you wanna — I gave her a session, she goes, “I think I got a better side twist in the chair than I ever get on the floor,” like, “Thank you very much,” because anybody can do it, you know? It’s not — I mean, we’re all not pretzel people and we’re not all spinning minis either. So, it’s kind of — it’s very cathartic. So I love teaching breathwork and chair yoga.

Bryan: Fantastic. So, Amy, where can listeners read your books or learn more about you?

Amy: Well, my website is That’s got everything you need to know. You can get a sample chapter of both books, you can order my memoir. There’s all kinds of fun stuff there that I’ve built in over time and I hope your podcast will find its way there too so you’ll have to let me know when that’s coming out. 

And I always really push people to buy books from their independent bookstore or order through your library, because Amazon is really taking a huge effect on our independent bookstores and we’re lucky here in Northern California, near San Francisco that we have Book Passage, but please take the time and be patient to order any book you want from an independent bookstore. And if you can’t afford it, it’s not in your budget, the libraries are always willing here to order it. 

So, that’s the first two places that I send people and on my website,, there’s a little button, it’s called IndieBound, and if you hit the IndieBound button and it’s there, you put in your zip code and it’ll tell you where your independent bookstore is, if you don’t know. So that’s also something that I’m very passionate about, you know, sharing.

Bryan: Oh, I need to get one of those buttons for my site. Thanks, Amy. It was great to talk to you today.

Amy: Thank you so much and keep writing and what’s the name of your memoir?

Bryan: It’s called I Can’t Believe I’m a Dad, so at the time of this interview, it should be out so it’s all of the things I wish I’d known when my first son was born back when I was 23 or 24 and had more hair.

Amy: Yeah, that hair, that seems to go. I’ve got white hair. It wasn’t white when I started my journey, but at least I have hair. Well, be well and I’d love to hear when your book comes out. That’s great.

Bryan: Thanks, Amy.


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