Episode 35: A Chat with Will Braden- Henri the Cat

Henri the CatHenri the Cat is the way we pathetic Americans often refer to  the internet sensation Henri, le Chat Noir– the feline video series that has revitalized French Existentialism. I had the opportunity to speak with filmmaker and author William Braden for an insightful glimpse behind the scenes.

You will notice a theme that runs throughout the interview: procrastination. Braden actually credits procrastination with the origination of the Henri persona and the video series. He tells the story of the last minute film project that eventually went “viral.”

Will walks us through the consistent process of making an Henri video and talks about the somewhat different task of writing his first Henri book.

What about philosophy? Is Will an Existentialist? Does he even speak French? Find out the answers to these questions and the latest projects that Will is involved in as we explore the creative process!

In this week’s Bonus Feature, Will Braden shares about a time when the muse caught him by surprise. He tells the story behind his favorite Henri line, and how it just kinda “showed up” on a visit to the vet.

Be sure to visit the following links to learn more about Henri and Will’s work

 Henri’s Website        Henri on facebook           Henri on Twitter  Henri’s YouTube Page

Episode 34: A Chat with Colony House

colony houseColony House is a three-man band from Nashville. I had the opportunity to visit with Caleb Chapman, the lead singer and songwriter for the band. We talked about the things that inspire his creativity in songwriting.

He shared a few songwriters who have influenced and inspired him, and at the top of the list is his father, singer/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman.

Colony House is currently on the road in support of their album When I Was Younger. Caleb explained how track 7 (“Waiting For My Time to Come”**) surprised them and found its way onto the new record at the very last minute.

If you’ve heard the album, you may have noticed a vibe that sounds like it belongs on an 80s retro channel. I had to ask Caleb if that was something they were trying to capture.

If you haven’t heard the record, here’s your chance to check it out. It’s available on iTunes and Amazon. Give it a listen!

You can also learn more about Colony House at the following:

Colony House Website

Colony House on facebook

Colony House on twitter

Colony House on Instagram

** excerpt at the end of the interview is Track 7: “Waiting for My Time to Come”

Did You Have a Record Player Like This?

record playerWhen I was a kid, I had one of those really cool record players that came in its own case with a built-in speaker. I remember plopping old Disney records, like Jungle Book, onto the turntable and applying the scratchy needle. The sound was not as fascinating to me as the motion of the record spinning.  Yeah, I’ll admit even placing toy cowboys or Indians on the record while it was playing just out of curiosity. The record player was indeed a toy to me until…

At age 9 or 10, I saw a made-for-tv movie about four lads from Liverpool.  My interest was piqued, and as it would be, my father mentioned that he thought he had one of their records. After looking through his stack of wax, he handed me a bare slab of vinyl (no dust jacket, no cover) that would change the way I heard music.

“I’ve Just Seen A Face” met me at the door of Rubber Soul and welcomed me in; my young ears were hooked.  “You Won’t See Me,“Run for Your Life,” “The Word,” “Wait”… these and all the others would be played repeatedly on my little phonograph.  And now, I was being careful to apply the needle without a scratch.

record playerI remember that the record player had a channel dial.  With a turn of this control, Rubber Soul would instantly be only music or vocals. I didn’t yet understand the difference between mono and stereo, but I was thrilled to hear the different layers of the songs.

Well, those were the good ole days, and those days are gone, right?  Sort of, but not completely.  With the vinyl revival that’s well underway, records are still being made. And just the other day, I came across this treasure chest for Beatles fans:  The Beatles in Mono Vinyl Box Set (Limited Edition).

If you enjoyed the old records like I did, you might want to grab this set while you can.

What Beatles albums did you have on vinyl?

Episode 33: A Chat with Helena Sorensen

helena sorensen

Helena Sorensen has not written as many stories as we would think. That’s one of the things that surprised me about this interview! Her craft with imagery and voice are honed and seasoned, and her first novel, Shiloh, was a bold start, evidence that her fiction is inspired by many great works. Her second book, Seeker, (a prequel to Shiloh) will be available later this month.

In the interview, Helena shared about her earliest attempts at fiction and her “dabbling” in songwriting. We talked about what inspires her to write in general, and she provided a wonderful analogy to explain the importance of stories in our world.

A highlight of the conversation was when Helena read the prologue to her upcoming release Seeker. Full of vivid imagery and crisp language, the brief sampling makes us glad that the book releases later this month.

In the **Bonus Feature, Helena talks about Robin McKinley as an author who has inspired or influenced her writing.  I asked her for one question that she would ask Robin if given the opportunity. Sign up in the upper right of this page for this free Bonus Feature to find out what question she would ask…

Helena is a regular contributor to Story Warren.You can also learn more about Helena’s work at her website.

Episode 32: Winnowing by Bill Mallonee

Winnowing by Bill Mallonee

Last week, Bill Mallonee released a new album titled Winnowing, so I asked him to come back on the show to talk about the new record.  He describes it as “an Autumn record. The diminishing play of light, the signs of Earth going dormant, and the smell of wood fire suggesting a withdrawal, a strategic “retreat,” a tucking in of dreams– and an inventory to be taken of the past.”

Bill talked about the role the Matthew Arnold poem “Dover Beach” played in inspiring the opening track and setting the direction of the entire album. He also talked about the grouping of the songs on the record, a process that was far from coincidental.

Bill talked about some of the specific tracks on the record– ones that he is particularly proud of, and he even shared some of the stories behind the songs.  I included excerpts of “Dover Beach” and “Dew Drop Inn” in the interview, but you can listen to or Download Winnowing Here.

Finally, Bill mentioned plans for a (mostly house-concert) tour this fall.

**Bonus Feature The Bonus Feature includes 4 minutes of interview in which Bill talks about the questions that continue to find their way into the songs.  Plus, he responds to the following: Did you have any epiphanies or landmark moments in the writing and recording of Winnowing? The Bonus Feature is totally free for download. Sign up for it in the upper right of this page.


Episode 31: A Chat with Per Kristiansen

Per Kristiansen


Per Kristiansen is co-author of the new book Building a Better Business Using the LEGO Serious Play Method, and has been directly involved in the creation and development of the LEGO Serious Play method.

What is LEGO Serious Play? In the interview, Per provides both the short answer and the more detailed story behind the origin of this method which employs problem solving, imagination and discovery. In short, LEGO Serious Play is a process of using LEGO blocks to provide new perspectives and build collaboration related to problem solving and improved productivity in businesses.

Per shares some great stories about LEGO Serious Play, including the way it was first received by the corporate world and an incredible training opportunity that tops all others in his experience. He also shares why he thinks LEGOs are universally loved.

Writing the new book was a maiden voyage for Per. While he and his colleague had planned to write the book for years, the actual effort was challenging.  Never fear! They employed some of the LEGO Serious Play strategies in the process.

Grabbing a copy of Building a Better Business Using the LEGO Serious Play Method is probably the best way to learn more about the process.  You can also find more information about it at this site.

The BONUS Feature with Per includes 5 minutes worth of great dialogue around a couple of questions.  First, I asked him why LEGO blocks are so universally loved.  Then, we explored three key principles of LEGO Serious Play: Play, Constructivism and Imagination. You don’t want to miss his insightful responses to those questions. Simply sign up (upper right of this site) to receive the BONUS Feature.


The Muse Reviews: Boys of Blur by N.D. WIlson

The Muse Reviews

Boys of Blur by N.D. Wilson

Review by Catherine Dunlap

Oh, I thought, N.D. Wilson has a new book out. Looks like he’s taken a break from whatever fantastic, slightly disturbing genre he’s been writing in and has composed a story following the adventures of a couple of country boys. Fun. So, one night when I didn’t quite feel like Twain and was a little too distractible for starting another Dickens, I picked up this fun little book.

Ha. Ha. Ha.     boys of blur

This book scared the heebejeebies out of me. This was a strange sensation, because I neither knew precisely what heebejeebies are, nor had I known that I had them in the first place, but they are definitely gone. N.D. Wilson did it again—he did it once with 100 Cupboards, but I fell for it hook, line and sinker this time too. Let me warn you: DO NOT read this book at bedtime. DO NOT read this book if you do not have time to finish the whole thing in one sitting. DO NOT read this book if you are prone to nightmares about swamps. I knew the minute that black shape appeared in the cemetery that I was not going to sleep that night. Again. But enough about me. If I can’t take the fright, I shouldn’t read the Wilson. It’s that simple. What about the book?

Well, throw together swampy Florida, football, a small town, Beowulf, a child from said small town who has actually read Beowulf, and a newcomer and his broken family, who to my knowledge have not read Beowulf, and you may get a taste of what this book is like. Oh, there are a few stinky zombies too.

The book deserves its title—it moves fast. Really fast. And yet the descriptions are vivid and, in that twisted, Wilson-y way, beautiful. My throat started itching in his description of the smoke in the fields. In a few parts I found myself having to reread passages to be able to visualize what was going on more clearly. Part of that is intentional, I think—Charlie can’t see what’s going on precisely in the mist, and Wilson gets the sensation across through this literary fuzziness. The fogginess is part of the atmosphere.

I was a bit surprised, as I was with 100 Cupboards, to see the age recommendation for this book. Grades 3-6? I’m not sure I could have handled this when I was nine. I would have survived, I think, but I definitely would not have been fond of being left alone in the dark.  Parents know what their kids can handle, I suppose, but this is a very frightening book.  Read at your own risk.

I thought about inserting some good quotes here, but there are way too many and I am way too lazy to do it justice.  Let me just say that Cotton’s opinion on the Brontës is the best one from a literary expert that I’ve heard yet.

In conclusion, I find I can say little else about this book, not because there isn’t anything to say, but because I’m finding it difficult to avoid spoilers and I’m still wondering how Wilson managed to cram that many well-written characters and places and adventures and football and LIFE into 200 pages, make it all smell like swamp, and still make me like it.

So go read it.

Boys of Blur at Amazon

(Bonus: I have a theory about a possible connection to the Ashtown Burials series and this book–if you subscribe to the Muse I’ll tell you about it next time I see you!)

Episode 30: A Chat with Dave Radford (The Gray Havens)

The Gray HavensThe Gray Havens is a band made up of husband and wife Dave and Licia Radford.  Their music is a blend of folk, pop and jazz… what Dave describes as “narrative, folk pop.”  While Dave is relatively new at the craft of songwriting, his focused work ethic and his gift of melody have set him off on a sure footing.

We had a fun chat in which Dave shared how he started writing music. We spent quite a while talking about process and the balancing act between inspiration and revision.  Can you guess on which end of the spectrum Dave spends most of his time?

We discussed songwriters who have influenced or inspired him, and Dave even shared a great set of questions that he would like to ask Paul Simon if given the opportunity.  You’re in luck if you’re wondering how they landed on the name The Gray Havens.  You’ll also learn about their upcoming project Fire and Stone.

*In the Bonus Feature, Dave shared about a time when he was wowed by the Muse… when a song came quickly after watching a film.  Sign up in the upper right of this site to receive the Free Bonus Feature.

Be sure to click on the following links to learn more about The Gray Havens and their work:

The Gray Havens website

The Gray Havens on Amazon

The Gray Havens on iTunes

The Gray Havens on Bandcamp

*The excerpt at the end of the episode is from “The Stone” by The Gray Havens.

Episode 29: A Chat with Vincent Pugliese

vincent pugliese

Vincent Pugliese has been working as a photojournalist for eighteen years.  While he has covered many topics, his specialty is professional sports.  He recently started a great blog called The One Shot Blog: Life is not a Dress Rehearsal in which he posts a photograph weekly along with the story surrounding the shot.  Many of his posts move beyond the game or event associated with the photo and explore life issues and heartfelt stories.  Vincent’s authenticity is highlighted in each story, as he shares the lessons he has learned along the journey.

In the interview, Vincent shares the incredible story behind his career. It truly illustrates what can be accomplished when someone embraces sheer determination and refuses to take no for an answer. It also highlights how mysterious real life can be when we find ourselves in the right place at the right time.

Every photojournalist has “the shots that got away.” Vincent is no different. While he said there are many he would classify as “ones that got away,” one stands out the most to him. Listen to his account of what happened in a game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Also, you will not want to miss what Vincent says is the best bit of advice he has received from another professional.

For the Bonus Feature, Vincent shares the details behind the photograph below.  He explains why this is the favorite photograph he’s ever taken.


Click on the links below to learn more about Vincent and his work:

The One Shot Blog

Vincent’s Photography Business Site

Time for a Give-Away!

Give-awayTime for a give-away!


This week marked the twenty-ninth episode of Twelve Minute Muse.

Since we did a Rafflecopter give-away after Episode 14, we thought why not do another?

So here’s the scoop: There are several ways to enter, and each way provides a greater chance for you to be a winner.  You can earn entries by signing up for the Twelve Minute Muse mailing list (upper right hand column). You can earn entries by voting for your favorite episode. Scroll through the list of fourteen episodes and make your selection.

Earn more entries for leaving a comment on your favorite episode’s bloGive-awayg page. Earn more for a Tweet about the contest on Twitter. Finally, earn the most possible by rating/reviewing an episode on iTunes.

So what are you giving way? Great question!

Two randomly selected winners will each receive a Twelve Minute Muse coffee mug, and one lucky winner will receive a signed HB copy of Andrew Peterson’s The Warden and the Wolf King (Book Give-awayFour of the Wingfeather Saga).  Click on THIS LINK to register for your chance to win!

Thanks for participating in the contest & thanks for listening to the podcast!

Look for the next episode to post Tuesday!

exploring the creative process