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!

Episode 28: A Chat with Andrew Peterson

Andrew PetersonAndrew Peterson is the award-winning author of The Wingfeather Saga. Today marks the release of Book Four of that series,  The Warden and the Wolf King.  You may also know Andrew for his music. As a singer/songwriter, he has more than ten albums to his credit.  He is also the founder of The Rabbit Room, an online community focused on the intersection of life and the creative arts.

In the interview, Andrew talked about his earliest attempts at writing fiction (spoiler alert: Fans of Batman, Comics, and Mopeds will love this!). From there, we discussed a comparison of writing songs and fiction, as well as the source of inspiration for The Wingfeather Saga.

Are you interested in learning about the process Andrew employed in writing the series? You’ll want to listen in as he describes the process that began with a sketch pad. And if that were not enough, Andrew provides a splendid treat by reading a portion of The Warden and the Wolf King during the twelve-minute interview.

**You do not want to miss the BONUS feature with Andrew Peterson. In this ten minute session, AP responds to the following question:  How much of your children are in the Igiby children? The BONUS feature also includes a couple of blooper-ish moments and a fascinating discussion of what Story Warren refers to as holy imagination.  Andrew explores this idea and addresses his journey and understanding of the artist’s role in dealing with the sacred/secular split.

Click on the following links to learn more about Andrew Peterson and his work.

Buy The Warden and the Wolf King at The Rabbit Room

Buy The Warden and the Wolf King at Amazon

Andrew’s Website

The Rabbit Room

Episode 27: A Chat with Erin Casey

Erin Casey

Erin Casey is passionate about writing. Not only has she authored a series of children’s books and a recent work of nonfiction, she has worked for years as an editor and writing coach.  She believes that everyone has a message worth hearing, and she desires to help people communicate that message in a clear, compelling manner.

Erin shared with me her early start into writing and the different forms those early ventures took. She also talked about the similarities and differences between writing children’s literature and nonfiction and the role revision plays in the creative process.  Just like you’d expect from a successful coach, she walks us through the steps of the editing process.

A highlight of the episode is when Erin read a passage from her latest book, Get Personal: The Importance of Sharing Your Faith Story. You’ll be encouraged by her account of a divine message in what others might see as an annoying inconvenience.    

In the BONUS feature, Erin discusses why writing is important. She also responds to the question Who are some writers who inspire or encourage you? Sign up for the free Bonus feature in the upper right of this website.

Be sure to click on the following links to learn more about Erin Casey’s work and her books:

Erin’s Website

Click here to visit My Writers Connection.

Share Your Faith Story

Zany Zia’s Hats to Where

Episode 26: A Chat with Ken Davis

ken davisKen Davis is a seriously funny guy! Originally from Minnesota, and now living in Tennessee, Ken has been using comedy to inspire and encourage audiences for many years.  Our interview explored his creative process of writing and delivering humor with a purpose.

We discussed the roles raw inspiration and revision play in his work.  Inspiration for Ken occurs in day-to-day life, as he observes the humorous things around him. Revision is a constant flux of trial and error, experimenting new material with his audiences. It’s not unusual for him to chuck a bit if it receives poor feedback after a couple of tries.

Ken talked about the difference between what stand-up comedians do and what he does—which is more like storytelling. That makes sense, since storytelling lends itself to Ken’s purpose of encouraging and inspiring his audiences. He also shared a couple of reasons why he thinks comedy is important.

In the BONUS session, find out which couple of comedians had a big influence on Ken.  Can you guess who they are? Here are two hints: the first was a mentor of Robin Williams and the second is someone who was associated with NBC’s The Tonight Show.

Be sure to visit the links below to learn more about Ken and his work.

Ken’s Website

Ken’s Fully Alive on Amazon

Ken’s Lighten Up & Live







Episode 25: A Chat with Blimey Cow (Josh Taylor)

blimey cowJosh Taylor and his brother started Blimey Cow nine years ago.  What is Blimey Cow?  That’s the first question I asked Josh.

Blimey Cow’s Messy Mondays is a clever, humorous video series (aired on Mondays) that explores issues like relationships, conflict, hypocrisy, and religion—and always with sarcasm or irony. In addition to talking about how it started, Josh shared about the creative process of producing the weekly video from start to finish.

I expected to stump Josh with the question about his favorite Messy Monday episode, but he was prepared.  Tune in to find out what he said. Josh also filled us in on the latest Blimey Cow project: a Patreon campaign.  Find out more about that by clicking the Patreon link at the bottom of this post.

In the BONUS session, Josh talks about his parents and some of the Messy Monday episodes that have drawn the largest response. I even asked him about the origin of the name Blimey Cow. (Sign Up in the upper right of this site to receive the free Bonus session.)

Check out the links below to learn more about Josh and Blimey Cow.

Blimey Cow (Homepage) 

Five Reasons I Don’t Care About Poor People

Blimey Cow on Facebook

Blimey Cow on Twitter

Blimey Cow Patreon Page