Joanna Castle Miller – Writer and Producer

Joanna Castle Miller is a DC-based playwright and producer whose work has appeared on NBC, VH1, Food Network, and E! Entertainment. She is the founder of Wait Don’t Leave Productions and is currently writing a collection of monologues for women. These are her good things.

Good things to read.

Modern plays are a very quick read for the amount of storytelling you get. You can easily finish a whole play in a night, or over the course of a few rides on the train to work. Some of my favorites are laugh-out-loud funny. Try starting out with one of these: Theresa Rebeck’s Complete Plays (vol. 1 onward), Christopher Durang Explains It All for You, or David Ives’ All in the Timing.

I love returning to Pulitzer Prize Feature Writing winners. About once a year, I re-read “Fatal Distraction,” Gene Weingarten’s winning piece from 2010, as a powerful reminder that nothing is ever what it seems and that empathy matters.

Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (10th Anniversary Edition). I saw another writer on this site recently recommended this book. Great minds read alike? It’s an inspiring and down-to-earth memoir about writing, overcoming obstacles, and finding peace in your creative pursuits.

Good things to watch.

Live theater is the perfect conversation starter and makes for a killer date night or even family night out. It is unpredictable, exciting, and never exactly the same experience. Many theaters offer discounts for seniors, students, and 20-somethings. You can also look for pay-what-you-can (PWYC) performances, preview shows, and discounts online through sites like Goldstar. If you have kids, check out your area’s community theaters and children’s theaters for age-appropriate programming.

Ken Burns’ New York. This documentary covers the scope of American history through the microcosm of New York. I come back to it regularly because of its insight on immigration, urbanization, and political power. The story of the Big Apple is ever-relevant to America at large, and serves to prove history does in fact repeat itself.

Russell Foster – Why Do We Sleep? If you’re like me, you probably forget all the time how much sleep matters. I often don’t realize that whatever I’m going through is directly related to how much sleep I got the night before. Russell Foster realizes it, though, and his Ted Talk just might convince you to change your bedtime.

Good things to use.

A sunlamp. I suffer from acute seasonal affective disorder, and every winter I depend on sunlamps at home and work to help me get through the dark days. If you get the winter blues, light therapy may be able to help you as well. Use it properly, though, or you could get headaches and insomnia. Dr. Norman Rosenthal has a lot of great info on this subject.

Dyson Vacuum Cleaner. Investing in a Dyson was one of the best decisions of my life, after choosing to marry my husband and maybe deciding to grow my own basil. If you have a pet, get a Dyson. If you are hairy, get a Dyson. If both are true for you, get the equivalent of what we have: the DC65 Animal.

Vitamix. Another hefty investment, the Vitamix is a blender for the ages. It puts the pro in food processor. Ours was handed down to us, because they last forever. We use it to make healthy green shakes in the morning, hummus in the afternoon, pesto in the evening, and frosties for dessert.

Connect with Joanna on Twitter @jocastlemiller.

About these ads

Jeet Banerjee – Entrepreneur

Jeet Banerjee is a serial entrepreneur, having started StatFuse and Visionary Media Group. He’s also given a TEDx Talk. These are his good things.

Good things to read.

The Millionaire Fastlane, MJ DeMarco.

Rich Dad Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki.

TechCrunch.com every morning.

Good things to watch.

Shark Tank.

The Wolf of Wall Street.

Rounders.

Good things to use.

HootSuite.com. Simplifies my social media life by making it easy for me to manage the multiple accounts I have.

Wunderlist. Reminder style app that allows you to create lists, organize priorities and get stuff done efficiently.

My Fitness Pal. Keeps me healthy and in-shape by giving me in-depth analysis on the food I eat.

Connect with Jeet on Twitter, @TheJeetBanerjee.

Chris O’Byrne – President of JETLAUNCH

Chris O’Byrne is the president of JETLAUNCH, where his team provides self-publishing services for all writers, especially solo entrepreneurs, coaches, and creative giants. These are his good things

Good things to read.

The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness is my latest favorite book. Read it twice—it might change your life.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is one of those books that did change my life. (Okay, every book has changed my life in some way. And as long as we’re getting picky, every thought or event has changed my life. But some books have made a huge impact in my life and ZAMM is one of those.) My first time through this book I had trouble finishing it. I was in my 20s and my thinking ability was rudimentary compared to what it would be even 10 years later. The second time I read this book I was in my mid-30s, and I received far more from it. In fact, I read it again just a year or so later and received even more. I don’t know how to explain what was so impactful about this book other than to say it opened up my mind in ways that kept it forever open and changing.

Even if you are not Christian or even religious, The Holy Bible has amazing advice on how to live. If you’re looking for solid business advice or even advice on how to live every day, start with Proverbs. If you want your life changed forever, read the Gospels.

Good things to watch.

What Dreams May Come still makes me cry every time I watch it.

The Matrix blew me away and opened up my mind a bit more.

The Big Lebowski makes me laugh and think at the same time.

Good things to use.

Evernote stores everything for me. My brain is infinitely leaner without all of the information cluttering it that I can now quickly and easily access in Evernote via my laptop or my phone. If you want to get as much out of Evernote as possible, I highly recommend Evernote Essentials by Brett Kelly.

I have tried multiple task managers and Trello has proven to be the most useful by far. I love the visual aspect of Kanban and even bought the book, Personal Kanban, to help get even more out of it. I have several boards for various aspects of my life. My main work board has columns (called “lists”) for On Hold, Ideas, Backlog, Ready, Doing, Done, and Archive. Once a week I move the cards in my Done list into Archive. This gives me an feel for how much work I got done the past week and which tasks needed more attention.

I have used my French press mug from Planetary Design for over six years, and I literally use it every single day. I have an older model that holds 16 ounces, and one mug is usually enough for the whole day. It’s incredibly easy to use and makes delicious coffee every time. Unless I use Folgers, which I do frequently because it helps me to appreciate amazing coffee even more. The most amazing coffee I’ve ever had is by Sightglass Coffee.

Connect with Chris on Twitter, @JetlaunchLLC.

Yuvi Zalkow – Author

Yuvi Zalkow is the author of A Brilliant Novel in the Works, the Failed Writer video series, and the host of Neurotic Tornado, a podcast series where Yuvi talks about “married life, emotional issues, creativity, writing, or whatever is worrying me that day.” These are his good things.

Good things to read.

The Razor’s Edge by Somerset Maugham. I love this novel. I love this storyteller. I don’t hear people talk about Maugham so much lately. Then again, I don’t get out so much lately. The book starts like this: “I have never begun a novel with more misgiving.” How could you not love him after that?

The Night, and the Rain, and the River. Full disclosure: I should tell you that I know the publisher and I know the editor and I know a few of the writers. But it is a hell of a good book with some wonderful stories in it. And I think that Laura Stanfill at Forest Avenue Press is an amazing bad ass with an amazing mission. Oh. While we’re disclosing things here — I should also tell you that I submitted a story to this collection that was ill-suited for this collection. And I got rejected. Did it bother me? Hell yes. (Though I won’t admit it to anyone. Not even you.) It is a lovely book. Buy it. Read it.

The last thing you wrote. Or I just mean that if you do any kind of writing, it is good to read it like a reader. I have a boatload of tricks I use to get into this headspace — read it aloud, get someone else to read it, get the computer to read it, read it to a mirror, read it naked, change the font. Anything. And I should clarify that when I say “the last thing you wrote”, I don’t actually mean I want to read the last thing YOU wrote. I’m sorry to admit it, you probably are a very good writer, but I’m just too worn out these days to read any more than what I’m already reading. Sorry. It’s not you, it’s me.

Good things to watch.

Ira Glass on Storytelling. Every year, I rewatch this set of four short videos from Ira Glass about storytelling. The others are easy to find from there. So much wisdom about storytelling from him. I’m always a sucker for someone using themselves as part of the story of what not to do.

The Wire. Wow, I love that series. It really is worth the hype and all the arrogant chatter from arrogant people about its greatness. I actually didn’t want to like it because I was so tired of people telling me how it was the best show ever. And it took me a few episodes to get into it, I couldn’t keep up with all the characters and all the story lines. And then, when my guard was down, a few episodes into it, I became one of those arrogant assholes chattering about its greatness. I miss Omar Little.

Anything with your partner/spouse/lover/bff/buddy/neighbor/nemesis. My wife and I are in a particularly busy phase right now. Both working more than full time. Two kids. Multiple side projects. We are wiped out at the end of the day. But we try to spend at least one night a week watching a TV show together (usually via Netflix). Some phases we go highbrow (The Wire), some phases we go less highbrow (Buffy), but it is so nice to watch a show (and maybe analyze it a little) with someone you like.

Good things to use.

Public transit. I fucking love public transit. It works nicely in Portland. The light rail is good for writing. Lately, though, my commute involves a bus, and I get carsick (bus-sick) if I write, or even if I read. So I listen to audiobooks (last one was The Golem and the Jinni, thanks to @macdrifter). I sometimes listen to podcasts too. Sometimes I even listen to my OWN podcast  as I’m editing the thing, which is very narcissistic to admit, but I need to edit my arguments with my wife so that they are more digestible to our small and lovely audience.

Gin. I sure do like a gin martini. I love a gin martini. But when I’ve got Hendrick’s Gin, I like it so much that I don’t want to clutter the flavor with the vermouth or the olive, so I drink it straight. Though I try to only drink one or two shots’ worth of it, because I’ll get even dumber-sounding on my podcast after two drinks. And I can’t afford being dumber than usual.

Swim goggles. Not on land. That would be weird. But in a pool. I’ve just taken to swimming. Partly this is because my wife is making me exercise because I’m a miserable asshole when I work all day at my day job and all night at my writing. Sometimes, I’m an asshole even after exercising. But I love swimming in particular because it forces me to disconnect — from people, yes, but especially nice to disconnect from technology. (Please don’t send me info about waterproofing my iPhone — I don’t want to hear it.) It is quiet in there in the water. I can slow down my crazed thinking process. I can step back from the world in motion, though I realize that metaphor breaks down in a lot of ways, like how I’m more in motion in the pool than at my keyboard, or how swimming doesn’t really involve a ‘step’ back. I was never very good with metaphors or similes. They often break on me. Like a snow leopard in heat.

Connect with Yuvi on Twitter, @YuviZalkow.

Carey Morewedge – Professor

Carey Morewedge is an associate professor of marketing in the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University. These are his good things.

Good things to read.

Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely. Dan is an engaging writer who explains in simple language many of the judgmental and decision biases that even the brightest of us are subject to all the time. The book describes many fun and engaging experiments that have shed light into the common mistakes we make when making everyday and important judgments and decisions.

Mindwise, by Nicholas Epley. We constantly engage in mind reading. We think about our thoughts, others’ thoughts, and what others think we are thinking. Nick does a great job explaining the research on what kinds of mind reading we do well, and where our glaring blind spots lie.

How to Write a Lot, by Paul Silva. Writing has become a critical part of most professions, and is often a difficult challenge. Paul Silva gives useful tips on how to overcome the writers block that professionals and students often face.

Good things to watch.

Daniel Kahneman’s 2002 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, “Maps of Bounded Rationality.”
Kahneman is one of the founders of the study of judgment and decision making. His paper with Amos Tversky in 1979, Prospect Theory, won him the Nobel Prize in Economics and served as the catalyst for what is now referred to as behavioral economics. In his Nobel acceptance speech, Kahneman summarizes his program of research on how we make judgments and decisions, whether mundane or important. The cliff notes version of this speech appears in the September, 2003 issue of American Psychologist, “Mapping Bounded Rationality.”

Louie (FX). Louis CK is one of the most astute modern observers of human behavior, and his show on FX is dark, honest, and deeply psychological. It deals with topics like death and social interaction on a level that is rarely scratched by network or cable television.

Planet Earth ( BBC).  An epic documentary television series that elucidates the natural world by touring 11 different habitats on Earth, from mountains to jungles to seas. The end of each episode explains the lengths that the crew went to in order to capture each shot, which are often even in themselves stunning.

Good things to use.

A passport. Few things teach one more about the world and oneself than traveling somewhere other than where you live. Relationship experts also council that marriages benefit considerably from sharing new experiences. Research also suggests that we take more pleasure in the long run from experiences than from material possessions, and travel is one of the greatest wellsprings of experience.

Mint.com. Although several famous models of neoclassical economics suggest that money is fungible and people should make rational decisions with regards to their earnings, spending, and investments, keeping track of your finances is challenging even for people who study financial decision making. Mint provides helpful tools to get a clear picture of your financial health, allowing for wiser decision making in the present and for the future.

A good mattress. Pricing a mattress is truly an impossible task, but finding a comfortable mattress is one of the best investments you will ever make. You will spend one third of every day on your mattress (more or less). Do you want to spend that time in comfort or in pain?

Connect with Carey on Twitter, @Morewedge.

Zoe – Foodie and Photog

Zoe blogs at Z’s Cup of Tea where she writes about gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free foods in addition to Trend & chic and Writer’s Bone. She also does work with Pressgram; as a community manager, in Google+, and on Flipboard. These are her good things.

Good things to read.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield ­ I’ve just read this book and it’s a definite keeper. Without putting it lightly, it is one of those books that does change your life. The basic principle of battling Resistance, as described in the book, can be applied to all parts of life, it isn’t just for  artists. It’s for everybody who’s ever had a dream of doing something but hasn’t for a variety of reasons, whether it was something in their life that happened or they rationalized themselves out of it. My favorite example is early in the book, when Pressfield describes, as a way of illustrating the power of Resistance, Odysseus sailing home and, with Ithaca in sight, decides to have a nap when he falls asleep, his men cut open a sack in which they believed there was gold but instead contained the adverse Winds, which proceeded to drive back Odysseus’s ships and therefore delayed his homecoming for years. As well, the book is full of passages that can be highlighted for reference. Afterward, I chanced across this post about how The War of Art came to be and it’s a very cool story!

The Element by Ken Robinson ­ This is a book about people discovering their passion, what
makes them tick, which is what Ken Robinson calls “the Element”. Full of stories about people,
famous and everyday, who found their Element, it is an inspiring and uplifting read and it’s a book I recommend to everyone. Many people who read this book were so inspired that they wanted to find their own Element and that eventually resulted in the sequel, Finding Your Element (which I’ve also read and recommend).

It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden ­ Easy to read
with lots of graphics and short, succinct passages that drive the point home, Paul Arden’s book
is a great pick­me­up that can be read within a single sitting or read in small bites at a time.
There isn’t a single page that isn’t brilliant. It’s also great paired with his other book, and that I
think is considered a sequel, Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite.

Good things to watch.

RMR: The Rick Mercer Report. ­ Rick Mercer is a Canadian comedian, television personality,
political satirist, author, and host of the Rick Mercer Report, a show where he takes viewers to
different parts of Canada and explores all kinds of aspects of Canadian culture, often with a
hans­ome approach and always entertaining. You can watch clips from his show on YouTube
and he has also written two books based on his show.

BBC’s Sherlock. ­ I can easily create a list of British shows I watch, so I’ll keep it to just
one.Sherlock is a brilliant show and one that I’ve been watching since it started, so…long­term
fan here! While it would be easy to say I like it because of the two leads, that is only partially true
as I like ­ love ­ everything about its production, including its writing and cinematography (the
floating text on the screen was a stroke of genius and anything I watched afterward that showed
a cut to a phone’s screen so that the audience could read it seemed dated) and the production
design. I pretty much read/watch/listen to just about everything officially related to the show. Now eagerly awaiting series four….!

Unsung Hero.­ Spoken in Thai,with English subtitles, this video is so beautiful! Short but packs a punch: following a man who commits random acts of kindness for mere strangers, watching it, particularly the conclusion, has shed a tear or two. You wouldn’t even know it’s an insurance ad unless it said so at the end.

Good things to use.

Pressgram. ­ An iOS photo publishing app, version 2.0 was recently released that gives more
publishing options (no longer just WordPress) and features, including paid. I am a community
leader for the app, so I might be biased but I think it’s great and I use it for my own blogging with
ease.

Sleep Genius. ­ The first and only sleep app I really tried was the Sleep Genius app (available for
iOS and Android), developed by sleep experts for NASA to help astronauts sleep. Unlike the
majority of sleep apps available, this app is based on scientific research and, based on my own
personal experience, it does work. There are three different tracks (one comes free with the app,
the other two are in­ app purchases) to help you reach a deep level of sleep as well as one
specifically for a 29­minute power nap and you can eventually train yourself with the app to wake
up naturally and peacefully rather than jerking yourself out of sleep with the jangling of an alarm
clock.

SuperBetter­. This is an app (iOS) I’ve just started to use and that’s newer to me. Most of my
family downloaded it after watching Jane McGonigal’s inspiring and informative TED talk about
videogames and how playing a game, which became SuperBetter, saved her life. People with
health issues and life­threatening illnesses have used this app to get better, but you don’t need to
have a health problem in order to use it. You can use it to get better at anything, whether it’s
taking walks more often or even just practicing being grateful. It’s free to play online on their
website (https://www.superbetter.com), or you can purchase the app for $4.99 in the App Store.

Connect with Zoe on Twitter, @ZsCupofTea.

Patrick Rhone – Writer

Patrick Rhone is a writer who lives in Saint Paul, MN with his wife and six-year-old daughter. He says, “Writing is how I try to make the world a better, friendlier, stronger place.” These are his good things.

Good things to read.

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp.  This is a must read for anyone who creates anything. Twyla is one of the greatest dancers and choreographers of all time and, here, she gives practical and inspiring advice on how to make creativity a exercisable habit. It’s full of personal anecdotes, wonderful quotes, wit, grace, and timeless wisdom. It is honest and raw.

On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King.  I’ll be honest. I’m not a big fan of Stephen King’s fiction writing. The genre he normally trades in is just not my thing. That is why I resisted reading this for a long time. It was only last year that I, reluctantly, picked this book up. But, as soon as I started reading it, I found I could not put it back down. Because, at it’s heart, it is a really well written, honest, and compelling memoir. A unique and personal look into the history and life of one of modern literature’s foremost contributors. Sure, there’s lots of practical and “no-duh” writing advice to be found here. But the manner in which it is delivered is heartfelt, on the level, and born of the trial and error he details throughout. It would seem every writer must, at some point, write a book about the craft. I have read far too many. This one is the most human and my favorite.

Choose Yourself! by James Altucher.  A current fave. This latest book by James Altucher is a straight forward kick in the pants to anyone who needs it. It makes a very strong case for what many of us already know (and many others suspect) — that everything we used to rely on for safety (College, Employment, Retirement, etc) no longer can be relied on. No longer can we wait for someone to hire us, invest in us, or pick us. We have to choose ourselves. Parts of this will challenge you and likely piss you off. I like that he pulls no punches about the whats, hows, and whys of what he believes we all should do. But, I think even more important is that this is the first book of this type I have read that stresses personal health and well being as essential tools for choosing oneself. The idea that proper sleep, a healthy diet, and daily exercise are requirements for doing your best work. That these things are the first step to take in choosing yourself. Highly recommended.

Good things to watch.

Classic Albums: Aja by Steely Dan 1977 – YouTube.  All of the Classic Albums episodes are great. But, this one is fantastic. Steely Dan’s Aja is a deep look into the process of making a perfect hit record. The only “official” members of Steely Dan at the time the album was made were Donald Fagan and Walter Becker. So, they set out to find the best studio musicians available for each individual track. In other words, hand choosing specific artists for specific instruments on specific songs. Even going so far as auditioning several people for a single guitar solo until they found just the right one. What I like most is the sheer amount of artists and talent it took to execute such a singular vision. Listening to the album, you would never know the amount of collaboration by dozens and dozens of musicians it took to pull it off. And, ultimately, the reason it works so well is that they took their time finding exactly the right person for the task at hand. Truly remarkable. The thing I like most about the whole Classic Albums series is that it is the actual artists, engineers, and producers sitting down at the mixing board and taking you on a journey of the process. So. Much. Win!

Webstock ’13: Mike Monteiro – How Designers Destroyed the World. There is so much to unpack here I hardly know where to begin. This barn-burner of a talk not only applies to designers, it applies to everyone and everything. The main theme is that we all need to consider the full consequences of everything we put out into the world. We need to take ownership of the things we do and why it matters. And, most importantly, we need to stand up and defiantly say “no” when we are faced with something we don’t believe in or know to be wrong. This one literally left me giving a standing ovation in an empty room alone with my computer. It’s that good.

A sunset or sunrise. They happen every day yet how many of us go out of our way to see one. Let alone a really go one. You don’t need to wait for a vacation. Have a nice lake, or hill, or park in town? No matter where you live there just has to be a good place to catch one or the other. Wake up early or have dinner a bit late.Make this your new favorite happy hour spot. Whatever you do, make the time to enjoy one or the other every now and then.

Good things to use.

A good pen. Actually, consider two. One good one that you can enjoy using every day. And, one really good one that you use for special occasions. Like signing a bonus check, birthday card, or writing a letter to an old friend. I have far too many in both categories so I won’t recommend a specific one here. I will say that I keep a Uniball Signo 207 Micro on me at nearly all times. It’s a good pen that is inexpensive that I don’t mind losing and replacing.

Hobonichi Techo Planner. I’m a big fan of mine. I use it as a diary and daily log of my accomplishments. It is the only journal I have managed to use every day, consistently, for more than a few weeks. In fact, I have not missed a day since I started mine on December 16, 2013 (pretty proud of that). The main reason for this success is that it simply is a joy to use. The paper is, perhaps, the best I’ve ever written on. It’s well designed, functional, and has little bit of whimsy thrown in here and there. It just makes me unreasonably happy every time I use it.

My Dash/Plus System. OK, this one may be a bit self-promo, but hear me out. I designed this system for marking up and processing my notes and tasks. It allows me to concentrate on capturing first and sorting out where things belong later. It really helps me. Many, many, others have adopted it too. And if you are more of an “app” kind of person — there’s and app for it too. Every one who reports back about having used it reports that it really helps them. Perhaps it will help you too. I hope it does.

Connect with Patrick on Twitter, @PatrickRhone.

Andy Fossett – Builder

Andy Fossett is a “burger enthusiast” based in Honolulu who teachers martial arts, consults online businesses, and runs GMB Fitness. These are his good things.

Good things to read.

Prometheus Rising by Robert Anton Wilson. Parts of this book are a little dated, but the general principles have been life-altering to me and everyone I’ve given a copy. Not for the easily-offended, PR lays out a theory of human potential along with practical advice for making the most of “reality.”

Anathem by Neal Stephenson. I tend to speed read a lot of non-fiction for learning and info, but I’m careful to balance it with a healthy dose of pure escapism. Stephenson is one of my favorites, and Anathem was well-paced and fun to read slowly and get absorbed into the story.

BrainPickings.org. There are so many good things on this site, it just ridiculous. I love the focus on finding parallels and links between different thinkers and artists, and Maria is a fantastic aggregator of interesting ideas and thoughts from more books than I could possibly hope to read.

Good things to watch.

Video of yourself walking and talking. Seriously, you’ll be surprised. This is how you appear to others. Do you move with poise and confidence? Do you express yourself clearly and persuasively? We’re largely unaware of our habitual patterns and ticks; noticing them is the first step to improving how others see us.

The ocean (or the trees). Just get out in the open air and spend a few minutes a day with whatever nature has to offer in your part of the world. Breathe in. Breathe out. Listen. Experience the passage of time. Repeat daily.

This video about possibility. Yes, the talk is nominally about Parkour, but the deeper message is of exploring the confines of our surroundings and responding in creative ways. I tend to watch it at least a couple of times a month for a little inspiration and motivation.

Good things to use.

Your body. It’s a bit of a cliche, but if you don’t exercise the limits of your body’s strength and mobility everyday, it slowly diminishes with age. Regular exercise for health sounds boring, so think of it as increasing your personal freedom of physical movement.

Lumosity. There’s a ton of tools for exercising the mind, but Lumosity is the one I’ve been able to stick with. It’s available on the web or as an app and makes it fun to sharpen your memory, reasoning, and creativity with various cognitive tasks cleverly disguised as games.

Notebooks. I like Moleskines, but there’s nothing magical about any particular kind. Just carry one and write down ideas and lists. Write them and rewrite them until they’re ready to make real.

Connect with Andy on Twitter, @AndyFossett.

Nicole Feldringer – Writer, Scientist

Nicole Feldringer is a writer and atmospheric scientist living in Los Angeles. Her short fiction is forthcoming from the Sword & Laser Anthology, out in May 2014. These are her good things.

Good things to read.

Twenty-First Century Science Fiction edited by David G. Hartwell and Patrick Nielsen Hayden. A big beautiful anthology featuring stories from science fiction writers who came to prominence in the current century. The handful of stories I’ve read so far (by authors such as Vandana Singh, Paolo Bacigalupi, and M. Rickert) have all been exceptional.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. It would have to take something pretty special to get me excited about a young adult vampire book, but Holly Black manages it. The story moves from a high-school party massacre to a walled-off vampire ghetto called Coldtown, as the main character tries to save her annoying ex-boyfriend from infection. This book reminded me of how much I enjoyed Robin McKinley’s Sunshine.

Gentleman Bastard series. Book 1, The Lies of Locke Lamora, is about an elaborate con game in a fantasy setting with shades of Renaissance Venice. Books 2 and 3 are out as well. With laugh-out-loud banter, outrageous situations, and great characters, this series by Scott Lynch makes you feel smart without having to work too hard at it.

Good things to watch.

Misfits. A BBC series about five delinquents sentenced to community service who get superpowers during a freak electrical storm. Between picking up trash and dealing with a series of probation officers, they must uncover the mystery of their powers, and who else was affected. One thing I love about this show is how each power gained is unique to that character–and is their own worst-case scenario. The shy awkward kid who is always ignored? Power of invisibility. I’m in season 2 now and just getting into the deepening of the show’s mythology.

Bob’s Burgers. Specifically, Tina Belcher. When I first attempted Bob’s Burgers, I have to admit I wasn’t sold on it, for all that I’m a huge fan of creator Loren Bouchard (of Home Movies) as well as actor H. Jon Benjamin (of Archer and Home Movies). To be honest, I think I was distracted by the pink bunny ears. In any case, fellow writer Kelly Lagor re-introduced me to Tina’s obsession with butts and erotic friend fiction, and I was hooked. Even when Tina is being a little … weird, the show celebrates that weirdness. She’s shy but never at a loss for one-liners (delivered in her characteristic monotone)–except for when she’s overloaded and just groans. She’s wonderful. “Bad Tina” the eighth episode in Season 2 is a great place to start.

Ip Man (2008). Martial arts biopic following the life of kung fu grandmaster Ip Man, who later taught Bruce Lee, during the Japanese invasion of China during World War II. One of the things I love about this film is that it combines WWII history with plenty of martial arts duels, and many of the fight scenes are between practitioners of different styles, including wing chun versus karate, which is great fun to watch. Though, I study wing chun so I may be a bit biased.

Good things to use.

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. From the creator of the popular and eponymous blog, home cook Deb Perelman creates non fussy, tested recipes out of her tiny New York City kitchen. Her cookbook is a real winner, and every recipe I’ve tried has gone into our regular cooking rotation. Favorites include Eggplant and Three Cheese Calzone and Mustard Milanese with an Arugula Fennel Salad, among many others. Everyone I gift this book to gushes over how wonderful it is.

Strava App. Tracks and analyzes runs and bicycle rides. My favorite part is checking out the elevation profile post ride (whoa, that was a giant hill), and planning outings based on routes that other users have entered. The app also gives awards for personal bests, and there’s a social media component if you’re the competitive sort–but you can turn that off in the settings.

Farm box. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) offers a way to buy food directly from local farmers. Memberships come in a bunch of varieties, and it’s stupendous to have fresh fruits and veggies dropped off on your doorstep. Plus, it encourages creativity in the kitchen as you figure out what the heck to do with all that fennel.

Connect with Nicole on Twitter, @NicoFeld.

 

Katherine Vetrano – Writer

Katherine Vetrano is a Portland based writer. You check out her work at Daily Blender, Thrillist, and Serious Eats. These are her good things.

Good things to read.

Remember Me Like This (out May 13th, but I won an early copy on Goodreads!)

Bret Anthony Johnston’s first novel has all of the aspects that make his short stories memorable: gorgeous lyrical description, and deep, inspiring characters, with a dash of thrill, much like Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl: you want to keep reading because you must know what happens. I can’t put this book down.

Grubstreet Diet column. This is a guilty pleasure of mine. Every Friday, Grubstreet (a site similar to Eater.com) posts a food diary from someone famous (almost always in NY). They’ve had comedians, musicians, fashion people, athletes, and actors. It’s fascinating to see people’s eating habits, what restaurants/delivery services they’re using, and more. I like to pull this up Friday morning and read it while I drink my tea.

LA-Screenwriter.com. I’ve seen a lot of writing craft books in my day, but I feel like this site has tangible, useful writing advice that is harder to find elsewhere. The site’s owner, Angela Guess offers a comprehensive guide to script writing (TV and film!) and everything that comes along with it, including real world advice like how to sell your script, several scripts from current films/shows, and inspiring quotes. Her newsletter gives me regular inspiration for my writing, scripts or otherwise.

Good things to watch.

Bridgetown Comedy Festival. This is a Portland only festival (sorry out of towners! But this is a good excuse to visit) that’s one of the pioneers of US comedy festivals. Amazing comics from all over (and some of our best locals) perform at a handful of venues all around town. Unlike other festivals, it’s very affordable, and has a really relaxed, community vibe to it. I’ve heard it called “summer camp for comedians” more than once.

This season’s’ SNL. I know. I know, you’re thinking, ” SNL from ____ year was so much better! It’s different now!” But when was the last time you watched this season? Kate Mckinnon and Aidy Bryant especially are out of this world funny. Be open minded!

Inside Amy Schumer. Can you tell I like comedy? This show is Amy Schumer’s sketch show that is unapologetic, inappropriate and wonderful. I’ve heard it’s On Demand right now so you can go catch up on both seasons.

Good things to use.

Can you use a podcast? Does that count? I use them to improve my commute…so here’s two I like:

Selected Shorts. This podcast, recorded in NYC at Symphony Space, is famous actors from television and film reading short fiction: both classic and current. I can’t think of a better way to get you inspired early in the morning than this.

Dinner Party Download. This is one of my favorites because I’m fascinated by its form. In a short amount of time (I think a little less than an hour?), they have brief segments that cover quirky history, food, music, a non-predictible interview with a famous guest, and a hilarious etiquette section.

I use this to-go cup to haul around my favorite green smoothie: protein powder, spinach, parsley, mango, lemon, raw rolled oats and Matcha powder.

Connect with Katherine on Twitter, @Kat707.