By J. Grace Pennington
"Science Fiction is the improbable made possible," Rod Serling said. As a sci-fi writer, sometimes I've believed as many as six improbable things before breakfast and I'd like to share them with you!
Improbable ThingsMay 18, 2023
Making Letters, Cults, and Imperfections
My book will be released in two days, so I've been busy! Also, my daughter has found a creative way to express the alphabet, I'm learning a lot about cults, and I'm discovering how impossible it is to be perfectly consistent when writing a long series.
May 18, 202319:55
New Poetry, Closing Libraries, and Letting Go
One of my current projects is forcing me to write poetry for the first time in years, our library is closing, and I'm reading a book about an octopus. Also, is there a difference between letting things slide and intentionally letting things go?
May 04, 202320:15
3rd Edition, A Grief Observed, and Failure in Stories
I have lots of news about my series, including the 3rd edition of book 1! Also, I'm reading an unusual book by C.S. Lewis, and watching Lost in Space has me thinking about how failure can be used for the good of a story.
Apr 20, 202321:21
Progress, Tweedle-Beetles, and Biographies
I can see the light at the end of the tunnel of revisions on my series! Also, how exactly does one act like a Tweedle-Beetle? And what is the absolute BEST part about writing, reading, or watching a series?
Apr 13, 202321:43
Series Decisions, Noisy House, and Indie April
Which is better for interesting readers, a summary or a sample scene? How can one get good audio recordings in a loud home? And is indie publishing really a better path than self-publishing?
Apr 06, 202320:35
Old Writing, Imagination, and Year 33
I got to look over some of my VERY old writing this week, which can be both fun and embarrassing, my kids are starting to use their imaginations, and I had a great opportunity this week to think back over the past year and how I've grown and all that I've accomplished.
Mar 31, 202326:46
Release Date, Getting Things Done, and Shazam
I have a release date for my next book! I also have an idea for sharing about how I get so much done with little kids around. Meanwhile, what do Shazam: Fury of the Gods and Ted Lasso have in common?
Mar 24, 202328:35
Writer's Group, Charlotte's Web, and Books vs. Movies
Work on my second editions is going slow but steady, and I finally attended a group I've intended to visit for the past 7 years! I'm also watching Charlotte's Web and reading a LOT of books, including The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. And I have thoughts.
Mar 16, 202324:35
Writing Style, Impact, and Feelings
Going back and revising my books for new editions is like taking a tour over the development of my writing style, for better or worse. I'm also teaching my daughter to read and immersing myself in Jane Austen. And how do I stay motivated when feelings and mental health fluctuate?
Mar 09, 202328:03
Bad Writing, Jane Austen, and Motivation
Revising my old works is making me see that my writing was really, really bad back then. I'm also deciding what to prioritize in my series, and of course reading more Jane Austen. And how can I use the approaching end of a project to motivate myself?
Feb 23, 202320:02
Revisions, Superbowl Parties, and Commitment
Still working on revising the early books in my series and it's been very revealing. Can word choice show a fear of commitment? Also, how do little bookworms behave at a Superbowl party? And why is C.S. Lewis's writing just SO good?
Feb 16, 202318:45
Revisiting, Math, and Limitations
Revisiting and revising the early books in my series has been more bittersweet than I expected. I also always forget how much I dislike math until I have to do it, and I've been thinking a lot about how my writing can fit well into my life as a mom.
Feb 09, 202322:11
Planners, Questions, and Spending Money
New month means time to break out the planner and keep track of those goals! Also, there are people in my life who ask questions during movies, I'm reading Jane Austen, and it turns out you do have to spend money to make money.
Feb 02, 202319:41
Giveaway, Reading Skills, and Timelines
I've got a new story on Kindle Vella, new bookmarks, and news of a really awesome giveaway! Also, I'm learning HOW to read (I thought I already knew how) and am debating making a big change to my series.
Jan 27, 202320:47
Sneak Peeks, Bookmarks, and Taking Risks
My book is FINISHED and off with my editor, and podcast listeners get the first sneak peek of the synopsis! Also, I got my kids a CD player, I'm reading all the Jane Austen, and if I want to grow my business that means I need to change how I do things -- right?
Jan 12, 202320:11
Planners, Persuasion, and Passion
Welcome to 2023! I'm making great progress on my work in progress, making plans for the new year, and making decisions about what projects to focus on. How does one find balance between personal passion and the business side of things, anyway?
Jan 06, 202319:49
Fun Facts, Allegories, and New Year Goals
I'm rewriting chapters, publishing a Christmas story, and gathering bookish fun facts. Also, I discovered this week what a difference your perspective makes when reading, and I'm thinking about my goals and hopes for 2023.
Dec 19, 202221:21
Periphery, Chocolates, and Pregnancy
Editing is finally speeding up a little! I'm also still publishing short stories on Vella, and I posted my first TikTok. Plus, now that news of my pregnancy is out, I can share how that's been affecting my writing journey.
Dec 09, 202218:55
Lifetime Earnings, TikTok, and the Future of the Podcast
I checked what my lifetime sales and earnings for all my books are and it was fascinating! I'm also trying TikTok, against my better judgment, and am getting to beta-read the next book in a series I love. Also, what is the purpose of this podcast? What should it look like going forward?
Dec 03, 202218:11
Kindle Unlimited, The Introvert Advantage, and Anne of Green Gables
Editing is going slowly but steadily, and I got a peek into one reader's journey through my series! I also got new bookshelves, plan to teach my daughter to read, and have been thinking about what an oasis of purity and joy a good story can be.
Nov 23, 202216:55
One Year, Playing Ball, and Aphantasia
It's been a year since I started this podcast! I've written and published a lot since then, plus we now have our own back yard -- though I'm using it a bit differently than I intended. Also, how does my inability to visualize things impact my writing?
Oct 27, 202218:21
Paperbacks, Undermining Characters, and Writing in Heaven
I finally received my copies of my latest book and I'm so pleased with them! I also voice my discomfort with the "everything you thought you knew about this character is a lie" trope, and I contemplate whether we will write in Heaven. If so, will we write fiction? What would perfect fiction look like?
Oct 20, 202216:53
Big News, Buying Books, and Killing Your Darlings
I have major updates on all three of the stories I've been working on! I also bought a bunch of books over the weekend because one can never have enough, I'm reading quite a hefty book currently, and I have been pondering how to "kill your darlings" without losing what you love about your story.
Oct 13, 202215:47
Much Progress, Babies Reading Books, and Harnessing Procrastination
Big things are afoot for the next three books in my series! I also have a cute story to tell about my baby, I love reading entertaining grammar books, and I'm learning to use procrastination as fuel for productivity.
Oct 06, 202219:53
Reworking, Military Stories, and Quantity vs. Quality
I've had to completely rethink huge chunks of both stories I'm currently working on, I have a new project I'm releasing, and I'm wondering why I struggle with reading military and action-based stories. Also, which is more valuable when it comes to art -- quantity or quality?
Sep 30, 202220:43
First Drafts, Book Girl, and the Joy of Habits
I'm more than halfway finished with my work in progress, but I'm struggling with it. I'm also back to reviewing my 2021 reads, and I have a recommendation from my 2022 list as well! And can faithfulness in building habits actually bring, not only momentum, but joy?
Sep 22, 202216:28
Newsletter, Sign Language, and Lack of Inspiration
I give updates on my works in progress, talk about my struggles with my newsletter, and explain why and how I'm thinking about learning sign language. Also, I finished Project Hail Mary, and it's kind of amazing how much I love writing and yet hate... well, writing.
Sep 15, 202218:06
Higher Shelves, Exposition, and Narrative Lensing
I have exciting writing updates to share, plus I finally finished a show I've been watching off and on for half a decade! Also, do you know what narrative lensing is? I didn't, but now that I've learned about it I think it's going to help my writing a lot.
Sep 08, 202222:60
Openings, Silly Stories, and Theme vs. Point
One story is publishing, I'm about to start editing the next, and I've started writing another! In the midst of all that, I have some thoughts about a children's book we enjoyed, a grown-up book I'm not enjoying so much, and how theme and point affect your protagonist.
Sep 01, 202218:08
Websites, Letter Sounds, and Self-Limitations
News about writing, publishing, and my website! Also, my daughter is learning how she can use letter sounds to figure out words, I'm re-reading an old favorite, and I'm doing lots of thinking about the word "can't."
Aug 26, 202222:15
Victories, Rankings, and Exploring Topics
I reached an important writing goal yesterday, and other good writing-related things are happening lately, too! Also, I hot to see firsthand how kids can be influenced in small ways by stories, and I ponder gratuitous content in books and how you can explore complex topics in unusual ways.
Aug 18, 202222:46
Promotion, Previewing, and Punctuation
I'm staying busy publishing, writing, and promoting, and still finding time to take my kids to the library! I'm also reading a lot, which gives me thoughts about grammar and punctuation, why they matter, and what it communicates if you don't use them.
Aug 11, 202219:46
Easy Readers, Brave New World, and Fear
Progress on the Firmament series marches on slowly but surely, including wrapping up the first draft of the next book. Meanwhile, we found a better section of library books, I'm continuing my journey through classic dystopias, and I am forced to face the real reason I don't actively market my books.
Aug 04, 202218:14
Boxes of Books, Star Trek, and a Writer's Identity
Continuing to publish on Kindle Vella, and starting to work on the paperback! Also, I have a lot more books in my home now than I did last week, which is good because my daughters appear to love books. Meanwhile, I'm reading Star Trek fiction and pondering what it means practically to be a writer.
Jul 29, 202216:17
Book Release, Colored Pencils, and Personal Things
My book is out! Sort of. I'm doing something a little different this time. My daughter also learned how to tell the difference between two of her colored pencils, and I ponder the reasons it's difficult to write and share about personal things.
Jul 22, 202220:19
Worldbuilding, Reading Goals, and Story Aspects
My book is on track for publication, and I'm having great discussions with my editor about worldbuilding! Also, I'm announcing my secret reading goal for the year and considering the different aspects of storytelling and how we are drawn to different parts of the process.
Jul 11, 202218:11
Slightly, Storytime, and the Firmament Series
Major update on editing and a much less happy update on libraries. Also, why do I use the word "slightly" too much? What do I admire about N. D. Wildon's writing? And as I look back on a decade of the Firmament Series, I ponder the purpose of it all.
Jun 30, 202215:35
Prioritizing, Weird Kids Books, and Spoilers
Rewriting is going faster now, but it's hard to keep up with all the details from all the books in a series! Also, why are so many kids books so... weird? And what are we looking to get out of reading? Are spoilers good or bad?
Jun 16, 202220:25
Details, Bookshelves, and Stranger Things
Editing, as usual, has been slow but steady. There are a lot of details to be filled in in the story. Also, I need more bookshelves and I have thought on the new season of Stranger Things!
Jun 10, 202215:56
Rewrites, Red Rain, and Angel
I'm doing official rewrites, and I love it! In this episode I talk about some ways I'm trying to improve the story, how much my daughter loves her pencil, what the show Angel has to teach me about the emotional ups and downs of a series, and more!
Jun 01, 202219:09
Atmosphere, Myth, and Doctor Strange
Editing is going well, but there is one major flaw my first drafts always have that I'm having to work on. I'm also reading Till We Have Faces and I have a few thoughts -- and I watched Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which I have a lot of thoughts about!
May 23, 202222:37
Alternating, Time Lapses, and Perfectionism
I've found an unusual way to help motivate me to get my editing done, and I have a plan to finish my draft! I also talk about my first ever "book," problems with leaving large time gaps in a series, and how my perfectionism affects my writing process.
May 13, 202214:57
Routines, Reading, and Rest
Trying to find new rhythms and routines for my writing and editing, and learning that part of that is allowing spaces for rest! Also, I'm realizing the series I'm reading had a big impact on the Firmament series, and I'm so happy seeing my kids already becoming story-lovers!
May 06, 202216:15
Editing, Domains, and Writing With Depression
I'm editing the next Firmament book, but it's been a bit of a struggle lately. Also, my website is down, my daughter loves my red pencil, and I'm fascinated by how tone affects our perspective of a story!
Apr 29, 202218:40
Editing, Stephen King, and Satisfying Stories
I'm finishing up writing one book and about to start editing another! Meanwhile, my daughter wants to learn how to spell everything. I also started reading my first Stephen King book, and have thoughts about that and about good Hollywood stories.
Apr 15, 202222:11
Research, Library Cards, and Page-Turning
Research can have an enormous impact on stories, at least for me -- which is currently what's happening with my work in progress. Also, I got a library card, am reading books I disagree with, and have the definitive answer on whether ebooks or hard copies are better.
Apr 08, 202218:56
Cover Art, Decisions, and Reality
Another Firmament writing and publishing update, along with a little of what makes me so excited about this book and about sci-fi in particular. Also, how is one supposed to choose what book to read next? And when if comes to realism in fiction, how much is too much? All thos and more on this week's Improbable Things.
Apr 01, 202219:39
Writers Block, Star Trek, and Endings
Does writers block exist, and if so, do I have it? What exactly do I love about Star Trek, and how does that relate to the Firmament Series? And how in the world do you write a good ending, anyway? I discuss all this and more on this week's Improbable Things.
Mar 25, 202219:44
Descriptions, The Beekeeper's Apprentice, and Disbelief
My writing and publishing are moving along well, but I do have certain struggles -- like writing descriptions. Also, I finished reading Allegiant, started the Beekeeper's Apprentice (again), and have been wondering, how far is too far when it comes to suspension of disbelief?
Mar 18, 202218:35
10,000 Words, Continuity, and Making Things Up
An update on both Eleftheria and Humanoid -- there's good news for both! Also, I talk about one of the struggles with writing a long series, and I question what it means to feel like someone was "making up a story as they went along."
Mar 12, 202221:48
Outlining, Vacuuming, and Ugly Things
I've finished outlining the next Firmament book, after many upset and downs! So how is the writing going? I'm also doing other things, like vacuuming the house when my kids wanted me to read to them. And what is the purpose of darkness and evil in our stories?
Mar 04, 202217:17
New Goals, Children's Books, and Romance
I've started work on the next Firmament book! I also took a listener's suggestion for what to read to my kids, and thinking about what makes a good children's book in general. And why do so many writers not get romance right?
Feb 25, 202216:18
Firmament, Audiobooks, and Dystopia
What's next for the Firmament series? I have a couple of new goals. I'm also continuing my search for read-alouds for my small children and wondering -- are audiobooks real books? And why do people love reading dystopia so much?
Feb 16, 202217:11
Reviews, Read-Alouds, and Agendas
Writing and receiving reviews, reading aloud to my kids, and considering agendas in books and movies and when they are and are not done well -- just a few of the things I'm up to this week! Oh, and I also announce the title of the next Firmament book.
Feb 10, 202216:44
Eleftheria, Castle, and Choosing What to Read
Did I manage to finish Firmament: Eleftheria last month? What are my plans for the series going forward? Was my last read any good? And how in the world should you go about choosing what to read next when you finish a book? I discuss all this on this week's episode of Improbable Things.
Feb 03, 202211:35
A Desk, Book Club, and C. S. Lewis
Finally settling into our new home! I discuss my new writing area, my book club, all the C. S. Lewis I'm suddenly reading, and my thoughts on making a book out of bits and pieces of other books.
Jan 25, 202214:06
Moving, Reading to Kids, and Spider-Man
We are moving! Which means I'm not currently writing, but I'm still able to make progress in one specific way. In this episode, I share some book-related moving details, talk about reading to my kids, and give a few (spoiler-free!) Spider-Man: No Way Home thoughts.
Jan 11, 202214:19
Holidays, Plans, and Facts vs. Philosophy
I'm back after two weeks of holidays and sickness! In this short episode, I give updates on my writing, finally finish a very long read, and pontificate on the difference between what we can observe and what we should do about it.
Jan 03, 202212:24
Outline Issues, Reading Goals, and The Midnight Library
I'm glad to be finishing my novel, but why didn't I realize what I had planned for the last few chapters was so boring? Should I raise my reading goal for next year since I've been able to easily surpass it? Also, I read The Midnight Library and it's got me thinking about how to make sure worldview is flowing naturally from the characters and not being forced. I cover all this and more on this week's episode of Improbable Things!
Dec 14, 202115:24
Holiday Busyness, Home Libraries, and Dune
Busy holiday seasons leave little time for writing -- or even for missing writing! Also, I read Dune and my opinion may or may not surprise you. Will I ever have a home library? And is it okay if not everyone likes the same books? I discuss all this on this week's Improbable Things.
Dec 06, 202116:15
50,000 Words, Skillful Writing, and Theme vs. Message
Did I finish NaNoWriMo in time? Should I keep up my writing or take a holiday break? How in the world was Ayn Rand able to get me to read 1000 pages about railroads? And is there a right and wrong way to give your story a message? These are the questions I try to answer on this week's Improbable Things.
Nov 30, 202117:29
Limitations, Propoganda, and Semi-Autobiographies
NaNo update, favorite times to write, and how limitations with kids around has actually helped me be more productive! Also, is propoganda ever a good thing? And how much is too much when it comes to injecting reality into our fiction? We'll discuss all this and more on this week's episode of Improbable Things.
Nov 22, 202118:45
The Halfway Point, Talented Writers, and Canceled Shows
NaNo update! Will I be able to make it to 50,000 words this month? Is writing fun, or is it miserable? And if your TV show gets canceled, should you rush to wrap things up or just let it end and leave people hanging? We'll discuss all this and more on this week's Improbable Things.
Nov 15, 202122:53
Word Counts, Humanism, and Romance Tropes
In this episode, I give updates on my NaNo novel, talk a little bit about my blog, expound on Humanism in science-fiction, and express my frustration with a common television romance trope.
Nov 09, 202119:21
Lost Files, Mysteries, and Impossible Things
In this episode I talk about finishing my latest Firmament novel -- and the disaster that followed -- give preliminary NaNoWriMo thoughts, ponder Liane Moriarty's mysteries, and give my opinion on what separates fantasy from science-fiction.
Nov 01, 202115:49
NaNo, Atlas Shrugged, and the Problem with Maze Runner
Welcome to the Improbable Things podcast, where I share six thoughts about writing, stories, or science-fiction! In this episode I share updates on my writing plans, compare Atlas Shrugged to 1984, and explain my theory on why the Maze Runner movies are actually better than the books.
Oct 28, 202115:58