Retrospective: Diana Spechler

One problem a lot of us suffer from is getting partway through something and then dropping it . . . but what if you finished it first, and then made that decision? It could be very surprising. And I’ve found breaking through those times of feeling discouraged has often resulted in my best work.
— Diana Spechler

Diana Spechler is the author of the novels Skinny and Who by Fire.  In this episode of Retrospective, Diana talks about:

  • fiction, nonfiction, and where your secrets come out
  • dealing with being seen during a very personal book release
  • "punch and get out" --lessons learned from storytelling
  • keeping ego untangled from the creative process, and
  • wrestling projects into submission.

Click on the player above to listen, or subscribe to Retrospective in iTunes. You can find previous episodes here.

Diana Spechler is the author of the novels Who By Fire (Harper Perennial, 2008) and Skinny (Harper Perennial, 2011). She has written for the New York TimesGQ; O, The Oprah MagazineCNN Living; EsquireNew YorkParis ReviewSelf;Details; the Wall Street JournalSalonSlate;NerveSouthern ReviewGlimmer Train Stories; and elsewhere. She is also a four-time Moth StorySLAM winner and has been featured on NPR. She received her MFA degree from the University of Montana and was a Steinbeck Fellow at San Jose State University and the writer-in-residence at Portsmouth Abbey School. A 2012-2013 LABA Fellow, she teaches writing in New York City and for Stanford University's Online Writer's Studio.

Retrospective: Dr. Christiane Fröhlich

What I learn from my research is that conflict, regardless on what level—whether it’s international, national, local or interpersonal—it always comes down to the stories we tell each other . . .
— Dr. Christiane Fröhlich

Christiane Fröhlich studies how narratives and stories affect conflict, from a personal level to a global level, and her work informs and influences national politicians, educators and decision-makers in Germany. 

In this episode, Christiane shares about:

  • seeking peace close to home
  • navigating a post-war personal family history
  • completing a PhD thesis as a new mother
  • building an urban community, and
  • pioneering a career as a freelance conflict researcher

Dr. Christiane J. Fröhlich holds a PhD in sociology from Marburg University, as well as a Master of Peace and Security Studies and an M.A. in English, History and Psychology from Hamburg and Warwick Universities. From 2004 until 2011, she worked for the Protestant Institute for Interdisciplinary Science in Heidelberg, most notably as co-editor of the annual German Peace Report. She is a fellow at the Centre for Democracy and Peace Studies at Osnabrueck University, and specialises in discursive conflict transformation and resource conflicts, currently with a regional focus on the Middle East.

Retrospective: Liz Lamoreux

Photo by Vivienne McMaster

Photo by Vivienne McMaster

It felt like I would be able to say, ‘That title is not gonna work for me’ . . . I felt very seen throughout the process.
— Liz Lamoreux

In this episode of Retrospective, Jen and Liz take you behind the scenes of a creative collaboration. Click on the audio player to hear about:

  • the difference between being a guru and being a companion
  • offering supports to share instead of trying to "fix" people
  • invitations versus sales pitches
  • the journey from idea to tangible object, and
  • what it's like to be seen all along the way.

Liz Lamoreux is a retreat host, an artist, the author of Inner Excavation: Explore Your Self Through Photography, Poetry, and Mixed Media, and the creator of The Gift of This Moment Home Retreat Kit. She believes that beauty and truth are found when we share our stories through creativity and community, and she facilitates opportunities for women to shine a light on the stories just waiting inside them.

A trained yoga instructor, her experiences of community with other artists has encouraged her to see creativity as a form of yoga and she now honors creating and writing as part of her personal yoga practice. She lives in the Puget Sound Area with her husband, young daughter, and golden retriever. Most days you can find her in her studio surrounded by fabric, vintage lockets, and poetry as her daughter practices twirling beside her, or maybe she is practicing what she teaches and they are both taking a nap.

You can also subscribe to Retrospective in iTunes. If you're enjoying this series, it makes a big difference if you rate or review it there.

Retrospective: Micaela Blei

Micaela b&w bio.jpg

"I was a classroom teacher for so many years, and feeling like I wasn't allowed to be an artist because I was a classroom teacher. And people would ask me, 'Are you an artist?' And I would say, 'I'm a classroom teacher.' So I'm growing into being able to say, 'I'm a scholar and I'm an artist and I make things and do these other things as well.' . . . I'm allowed to have these other pieces of myself." --Micaela Blei

In this episode of Retrospective, scholar, artist and educator Micaela Blei shares:

  • what working with children has taught her about being herself
  • what storytelling on stage and having a conversation have in common
  • what she tells vs. the image Georgia O'Keefe gave her for what stays "in the vault"
  • how her work and studies now weave all her interests together, even as she creates what's next

MICAELA BLEI is a storyteller, teacher, writer and scholar. She's appeared onstage at the Moth, the Story Collider, Told, BTK Band and in elementary classrooms across New York City. Micaela is working on her PhD in Educational Theater, and she's also currently creating a story/performance for young audiences about New York City and a big, strange museum heist.


Click the player above to listen, or listen in iTunes.

Retrospective: Jeff Simmermon


"I feel like storytelling shows get real sweater vesty, like if you have too many people, like, talking about their difficult childhoods at a time, my ass starts to hurt pretty fast--my mind's ass starts to hurt. Then, burlesque shows--you get too many of those folks in the same room and it gets skanky after about an hour. And then comedy shows can get too mean. I want to take all that and mix it all up." --Jeff Simmermon

Jeff Simmermon is a live performer whose hallmarks are originality, daring and heart. In this conversation, Jeff shares about:

  • what he learned from having a ska metal band as a teenager
  • the performers who inspired him
  • creating since toddlerhood
  • love in his 30s, and
  • what no one told him about hosting a live show.

You can read one of my favorite posts by Jeff here:

One Year After: When the Curtain Calls for You

JEFF SIMMERMON is a writer and storyteller who regularly appears at shows around New York. He has written for Vice Magazine, appeared onstage at The Moth's GrandSlam, on the Moth's podcast, and on This American Life. He produces, hosts and performs in And I Am Not Lying, a comedy storytelling burlesque sideshow that has appeared around NYC, at SXSW 2012 and most recently at the Black Cat in Washington, DC. The show is based on a blog packed full of stories, art, and other weirdness at And even though he's been writing for years, he never gets any better at doing these bios.


Click the link at the top to listen, or listen in iTunes.