Episode 008 - Rena Lesue reads at Voices Heard

Photo credit: Nathan T. Gross.

This special episode is a recording of host Rena Lesué reading "Inheritance," a personal essay about what is gained--both the positive and negative--from our relatives. She performed the piece at a storytelling event called Voices Heard at the Sugar Space Arts Warehouse in Salt Lake City on March 18, 2019. The Voices Heard organization's mission is to allow writers and storytellers with sundry backgrounds to share their unique narratives in a safe, inclusive space. For information about future events, visit the VH Eventbrite page here. Rena is an English professor at Utah Valley University and former correspondent for the Daily Herald. She has an MFA in Creative Nonfiction, and her prose has appeared in Ruminate, Segullah, Superstition Review, Gris-Gris, Pinball, Bloody Key Society, The Salt Lake Tribune, and The Washington Post. She earned First Honorable Mention in the 2018 League of Utah Writers CNF contest and a finalist in the 2018 Writers@Work CNF contest. Rena is the author of How We Die: Essays, available on Amazon. She is the host of Crack the WIP.

Website: renasprose.com
Instagram &Twitter: @renasprose
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rena.lesue

Episode 007 - How to write about religion for a mainstream or secular audience

Introducing foreign religious ideologies to readers can be a challenge in both fiction and nonfiction genres. It’s something I’ve struggled with when memoiring about my childhood as a Mormon. For a reader who is unfamiliar with my faith, the ordinance of Baptisms for the Dead can and has given the uninformed a visual of a congregation of Dr. Frankensteins in church dress dipping cadavers into a baptismal font. So I wondered, how can I seamlessly describe it without bogging the reader down with lengthy explanations or halting the flow of the prose? And what of a younger perspective, how would I explain complex doctrine with a child’s voice? How does an author fluidly and organically introduce religious holidays, doctrines, and edicts? And how does she differentiate between culture and doctrine?

These questions haunted me as I began my first memoir and discovered my fellow students had little understanding of my Mormon faith. I analyzed some of the great faith memoirists and one fiction writer to unearth strategies used to make faith as natural to the reader as the scenery in a film. I tackled four faiths, Catholicism in Frank McCourt’s Pulitzer Prize winning memoir, Angela’s Ashes; the Mennonite faith in Rhoda Janzen’s narrative, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress; Laestadian Lutheranism in Hanna Pylväinen’s novel, We Sinners; and Mormonism in Book of Mormon Girl by Joanna Brooks. Only Mormonism and Catholicism were familiar faiths to me, but with all four I examined writing styles, focusing on how each book addressed the creed versus culture divide. While all were Christian faiths, what I found can still be applied when writing about non-Christian faiths. Here's the link to our podcast. Good luck writing, friends! Rena

Works Cited

Baxter, Charles. “Against Epiphanies”. Burning Down the House: Essays on Fiction. Saint Paul, MN: Greywolf Press, 1997. Print.

Eliot, Thomas Stearns. "Hamlet and His Problems." The Sacred Wood. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1921; Bartleby.com, 1996. Web. 20 May 2016.

McCourt, Frank. Angela's Ashes: A Memoir. New York: Scribner, 1996. Print.

Russell, Karen. “Engineering Impossible Architectures.” The Writer’s Notebook II: Craft Essays from Tin House. Portland: Tin House Books, 2012. Print.

Pylväinen Hanna. We Sinners. New York: Henry Holt, 2012. Print.

"William Faulkner - Banquet Speech"Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2014. Web. 23 May 2016.

Episode 006 - Author Interview: Wendy Jessen

Wendy Jessen, author of Hope and Healing: 

In this episode, Rena interviews Wendy Jessen about her new book, Hope and Healing: A Survivor's Faith-Based Perspective on Recovering from Sexual Abuse, available on Amazon. As a survivor, Wendy made it her mission to support other survivors. She launched a blog for survivors, Hope and Healing, and encourages victims to seek self-care and therapy as needed. Rena and Wendy discuss big-picture revisions and line-by-line editing techniques.

Enjoy our episode here on our Patreon.

Here are the links to the books Wendy references in her interview:

Also, check out Rena's new book on Amazon!

Book Cover Art by Nathan T. Gross

Happy NANOWRIMO, writers!
Now, get back to the keyboard and Crack that WIP!

Episode 005 - Q&A about the creative process

In this episode, Rena and Nate tackle questions about the creative process.


Or enjoy our RSS feed link.

Thanks for your support, friends!

Episode 004 - Structuring Narrative Essays with Karin Brown

In the latest podcast, Rena interviews Karin Brown, 2nd place winner of the first chapter contest (general fiction category) at Storymakers 2018 and author of the newly released essay, "Falling," published in Segullah. It's about the sweet nostalgia and crumbling heartache that stem from life's seasonal changes. Other essays by Karin Brown can be found here.

Rena and Karin also explore the narrative essay structure with some tips from expert essayist, Sheila Bender. For more information on structuring other types of essays, Crack the WIP highly recommends her book, Writing Personal Essays: How to Shape Your Life Experiences for the Page.
Also mentioned: The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer, (mistakenly referred to as "The Feminine Persuasion" in the podcast), A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas, and essays by Colleen Kinder.

How to use Submittable Discover and Querytracker

So you wrote a narrative essay. Or a Canadian vampire fantasy. Or maybe you're like my friend Beth who takes photos of dogs defecating. Now what? Where do you publish?

In today's podcast, Nate and Rena explore the features of Submittable Discover, an online tool for finding journals and magazines that publish poetry, short stories, essays, and art, and QueryTracker, a database of agents for writers ready to submit book-length work.


Listen here, or check us out on patreon.com/crackthewip. Tell your writer friends. We'd love your support!

Now, go crack your WIP! Whipppppaaaccchhh!

Meet Krista M. Isaacson

In the latest podcast, Rena interviews Krista M. Isaacson, 3-time winner of the first chapter contest (nonfiction category) at Storymakers Con. This year (2018), her submission earned her the runner-up spot for the Grand Prize.  They discuss Krista's history with writing and the harrowing events that led to her current WIP, go-to lessons, writer tics, and favorite books. Listen here.

You can read her Storymakers submission here for a limited time.

Find Krista online:

Write on!

Episode 008 - Rena Lesue reads at Voices Heard

Photo credit: Nathan T. Gross. This special episode is a recording of host Rena Lesué reading "Inheritance," a personal e...