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Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing

Aug 6, 2021

Mark interviews Tessa Smith McGovern an award-winning and best-selling author who has taught writing for 22 year.

Prior to the interview, Mark says comments from recent episodes, a personal update, and a word from this episode's sponsor.

This episode is sponsored by Findaway Voices.

You can learn more about how you can get your work distributed to retailers and library systems around the world at


During their conversation, Mark and Tessa talk about:

  • How, during the lockdown and covid-19 pandemic isolation, Tessa had to come face to face with herself while stuck at home
  • The recognition of guilt, misery, and self-doubt that led to self-sabotage
  • Tessa having been an author for thirty years and being traditionally published and indie published
  • Finding herself humiliated in a situation with a writer whose work Tessa quite adored
  • Tessa's experience with teaching writers, and how writers often bring a significant amount of material to those lessons
  • How we have to find the belief in ourselves
  • Lighting the candle for someone else when the flame of inspiration goes out
  • Things we can do to avoid self-sabotage
  • Setting a goal that doesn't end up engaging your ego (which can often introduce self-doubt to the equation)
  • The Westport Writes writers program in Westport Connecticut
  • How love and kindness meditation can improve your focus, your memory and your productivity
  • The importance of creative rest, and recognizing when we need that
  • If you understand your creative process and what works, you can be more in control of it
  • The fifty+ short stories Tessa had from her writing career and how she found particular connections between the stories, based on themes, similar characters, and other factors that can be patterned
  • How the process of linking short stories can be a delightful process
  • Tessa's book Cocktails for Book Lovers
  • The value of a good editor, and how sometimes working with an editor from a traditional publishing house can offer perks that are difficult to buy from freelance editors
  • The way that the right editor can help an author turn something that is good into something that is fantastic
  • And more...

Links of Interest:


Tessa Smith McGovern has taught writing for 22 years and, for the last ten years, at the Writing Institute, Sarah Lawrence College, NY. She is an award-winning writer whose linked short story collection, LONDON ROAD: LINKED STORIES, received a ‘Featured’ review from Kirkus, is an Amazon best-seller, and a gold medal winner in the 2012 eLit Awards. Her non-fiction book, COCKTAILS FOR BOOK LOVERS (Sourcebooks), is also an Amazon best-seller. Her many publication credits include the Connecticut Review and Equinox, a UK poetry journal archived by the English Arts Council at the Southbank Centre, London. She’s currently writing a contemporary fantasy novel inspired by British mythology and pursuing her MFA in Writing at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

She is founder and editor of eChook Digital Publishing. eChook won a silver medal in the 2012 eLit Awards and its stories have been read by thousands of readers in 100+ countries.

Tessa is also host, writer and producer of BookGirlTV (BGTV), an award-winning digital channel that promotes books and reading. BGTV has 6 million+ minutes viewed on YouTube and 10,000+ likes on Facebook.


The introductory, end, and bumper music for this podcast (“Laser Groove”) was composed and produced by Kevin MacLeod of and is Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0