The Mommy’s Pen Podcast

S5, E2: Chapter 2 of The Cat, the Cash, the Leap, and the List

An episode of The Mommy’s Pen Podcast

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By Sue and Nora Campbell
Writer Sue Campbell talks books, stories and story structure with her eleven-year-old daughter, Nora. Great for budding young writers and #kidlit lovers. New episodes every Friday.
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S7, E6: School Visit Recap
We describe a school visit we did —in matching outfits—where we tried to convince a bunch of kids to become writers and gave them the secrets they need to know.
13:33
October 6, 2019
S7, E5: Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell
We are SO excited to talk about the release of the second book in the Simon Snow series from Rainbow Rowell. No spoilers!
13:09
September 29, 2019
S7, E4: Moana
Nora’s got homework so Alma is our guest cohost for this episode. So, we’re looking at the story structure for Moana. Because the four-year-old got to choose the story.
10:57
September 24, 2019
S7, E3: Nora's Foolscap Continued
This week we brainstorm and work through some ideas in Nora's story plotting—playing with the idea of time travel in different eras. There might be a climax that takes place in the kitchen at Hampton Court Palace! Read full show notes at Mommyspen.com.
17:05
September 1, 2019
S7, E2: Nora's Foolscap - Part 1
In this episode, 12-year-old Nora starts brainstorming some details to plan her story and confesses that wearing headbands makes her feel "elevated," a feeling she shares with her protagonist. Read full show notes at Mommyspen.com
23:30
August 23, 2019
S7, E1: Nora Starts Story Planning
This season 12-year-old Nora is going to write a short story using all of the story structure principles we’ve been discussing for the past year on the podcast. We discuss how to start story planning. Follow along and write your own story!
15:05
August 17, 2019
S6, E8: The School for Good and Evil
Nora had to pilot the podcast ship this week due to severe little sister interference. She analyzes book 1 in the popular series The School for Good and Evil using the four-act structure.
18:42
August 4, 2019
S6, E7: Mary Poppins
This week, we're going backwards, looking at the original Mary Poppins movie after our analysis of Mary Poppins Returns last episode. This time, we're looking at it through the 5 Commandments of Story developed by Shawn Coyne of Story Grid.
16:51
July 26, 2019
S6, E6: Mary Poppins Returns
It’s summer and we’re lazy so we’re doing a movie instead of a book. We liked Mary Poppins Returns way more than we thought we would and we’re analyzing the four act structure.
26:04
July 13, 2019
S6, E5: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
This week we dissect Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, looking at the five commandments of storytelling for both Eleanor and Marianne’s story arcs.
18:44
July 6, 2019
S6, E4: The Book of Boy
This week we discuss the BRILLIANT middle grade novel THE BOOK OF BOY by Catherine Gilbert Murdoch. The first part of the episode we tell you why you should read the book, then deconstruct the book’s structure, complete with spoilers.
24:48
June 29, 2019
S6, E3: Front Desk by Kelly Yang - Review and Story Structure Analysis
If you're looking for books that feature diverse characters and tackle inclusion themes (and you should be), this lovely little book deserves a spot in your stack. It's the story of a young Chinese immigrant, Mia Tang, who helps her parents manage a hotel and uses her ever-improving English skills to help just about everyone around her.  Full show notes at Mommyspen.com
21:05
June 21, 2019
S6, E2: One Mixed-Up Night
We start off with a few Alma anecdotes and then launch into this week’s book review: ONE MIXED-UP NIGHT by the brilliant and lovely Catherine Newman who is everything, amen.
24:40
June 9, 2019
S6, E1: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell - Story Structure Analysis
This week we’re gushing over a young adult novel we love: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. First we talk about why we love it. Then we switch to spoiler territory and look at the four act structure of the book and break down the genres.
54:37
May 31, 2019
S5, E5: The Fort
This week is the last chapter in the beginning hook of my novel: The Cat, the Cash, the Leap, and the List.
17:21
May 24, 2019
Season 5, Episode 4: Six Rafters Back
We're reading from my novel, The Cat, the Cash, the Leap, and the List. In chapter 4, we find out what Martha's parents have to say about her secret cat adoption and we see Sanjay hide something he was supposed to share with his brother.
14:17
May 17, 2019
S5, E3: The Closet Door Opens - Chapter 3 of The Cat, The Cash, The Leap, and the List
Since my book, The Cat, the Cash, the Leap and the List will be published on May 17, we decided to give you a preview by reading from it up to the first plot point. This episode is Chapter 3, where Martha's secretly stashed cat is discovered.
14:47
May 10, 2019
S5, E2: Chapter 2 of The Cat, the Cash, the Leap, and the List
For season 5, we've decided to read aloud from my forthcoming middle grade novel, The Cat, the Cash, the Leap, and the List. Chapter 2 is called "Sticky Situations." We'll keep going until we hit the first plot point.
13:13
May 3, 2019
S5, E1: The Cat, the Cash, the Leap, and the List - Chapter 1
New season, new format! Since my book, The Cat, the Cash, the Leap and the List will be published on May 17, we decided to give you a preview by reading from it up to the first plot point. The story has three main kid characters, Martha, Sanjay and Anand. Nora will be reading all the scenes that are in Martha’s point of view, and I’ll be reading the scenes for the other two characters. (Man, I wish Alma could read already because it would be so cool if she could read Anand’s parts.) Preorder for the book will be available soon!
16:56
May 1, 2019
S4, E8: Harry Potter Series - Overarching Story Structure Breakdown
We’ve completed the analysis of all seven books in the Harry Potter series so now we’re taking a look at the overarching structure of the entire series.
18:51
April 5, 2019
S4, E7: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Story Structure Analysis
In this episode, we look at the four-act structure of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, pointing out the first plot point, midpoint shift and second plot point. Then we analyze the scene where Harry sees the Silver Doe and it leads him to the sword of Godric Gryffindor but then the necklace almost strangles him to death and Ron has to save him. Finally, we talk about the term “epilogue.”
17:39
March 29, 2019
S4, E6: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince Full Story Structure Analysis
In this episode, we look at the four-act structure of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, pointing out the first plot point, midpoint shift and second plot point. Then we analyze the scene where Narcissa gets Snape to make the unbreakable vow to help Malfoy with this "task." *SOB* Finally, we explain what an "archetype" is.
17:53
March 22, 2019
S4, E5: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Story Structure Analysis
We break down the overall story structure of the fifth book in the Harry Potter series, do an in-depth scene analysis of the scene where Harry is interviewed by a blackmailed Rita Skeeter, and explain the term verisimilitude.
23:11
March 15, 2019
S4, E4: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Full Story Analysis
We look at the four act structure of the fourth book in the Harry Potter series. Then we analyze the scene where Winky gets drunk on butter beer. Finally, we take a look at the concept of POV.
29:28
March 8, 2019
S4, E3: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Story Structure Analysis
We look at the four-act structure of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, pointing out the first plot point, midpoint shift and second plot point. Then we analyze the scene where Harry gets a Firebolt for Christmas from a mysterious patron. Finally, we take a look at the concept of exposition, using the scene where Harry learns that Sirius Black supposedly betrayed his parents to Voldemort.
15:38
March 1, 2019
S4, E2: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Story Structure Analysis
This week we look at the four-act structure of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, pointing out the "tent poles" that hold the story up: the first plot point, the midpoint shift and the second plot point.  Then Nora uses the Five Commandments of Storytelling from the Story Grid to analyze the scene where Harry tricks Lucius Malfoy into setting Dobby free.  Finally, we take a look at the concept of foreshadowing, using the whomping willow as an example.
17:57
February 22, 2019
S4, E1 - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: Story Structure Analysis
In our newest season, we’ll be analyzing the story structure for each book in the Harry Potter series using a four act “circus tent” structure. We’ll also choose a juicy scene to analyze using the 5 commandments of storytelling based on Story Grid methodology. This week, it's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. We look at the global story and analyze the scene where Harry finds out he's a wizard. Finally, we look at the concept of narrative drive and learn how it makes us keep turning pages!
23:02
February 16, 2019
S3, E12: Aeschylus
We look at the Aeschylus and his visit to the Oracle and his tragi-comic death. And there’s a bunny health update.
09:34
February 2, 2019
S3, E11: Lady Jane Grey
Poor Lady Jane Grey -- named to succeed Edward VI, it came as a bit of a shock to her. Still, she stepped up and reigned for a total of nine days. Nora tells the story and Sue points out the story structure. 
16:18
January 25, 2019
S3, E10: Mary Tudor, the first ruling queen of England
We tell the story of Mary I, or Bloody Mary, and then discuss how Nora got into history in the first place.
16:22
January 18, 2019
S3, E9: Tudor Love Triangle
This week we tell the story of King Henry VIII of England and how his wish to ditch his first wife lead to the establishment of the Church of England. And we talk about Nora’s new wig and our dirty laundry. Literally. Episode art of Anne Boleyn by Nora Campbell. Full show notes at mommyspen.com
14:50
January 11, 2019
S3, E8: Hamilton!
This week we're back to stories from history and we're looking at our favorite Broadway musical, "Hamilton." We're also adding an extra layer of story analysis, using not only the 5 Commandments of Storytelling, but also a four-act structure I learned from Larry Brooks.
28:12
January 5, 2019
S3, E7: Wizarding World Chat
It's the end of the year and we're straying from our usual format for this season to just chat -- mostly about Harry Potter because SOMEONE has spent her entire holiday break on Pottermore and reading Fantastic Beasts screenplays. We also talk about our favorites among the books we've read this year.
18:20
December 28, 2018
S3, E6: The Manning Murderers
This week we're telling the story of a pair of Victorian murderers -- husband and wife no less. And we're joined by a very special guest, who's NOT Alma. 
09:40
December 21, 2018
S3, E5: Joan d’Arc
Nora tells the story of Joan of Arc whole breathing like Darth Vader. Special guest appearance by Moana/Alma.
12:46
December 15, 2018
S3, E4: The Crimes of Grindelwald - Spoiler Alert!
We are so obsessed with the new Fantastic Beasts movie we're taking a break from history this week and instead looking at the 5 commandments of storytelling in "The Crimes of Grindelwald." Full show notes at mommyspen.com
21:47
December 7, 2018
S3, E3: The Affair of the Diamond Necklace
Marie Antoinette was already reviled, but the Affair of the Diamond Necklace made things much, much worse. My 11-year-old and I tell the story and point out the 5 Commandments of Storytelling along the way. Full show notes at Mommyspen.com
14:41
November 30, 2018
S3, E2: Empress Matilda & Stephen
Nora tells us the story of how Matilda, Empress of Germany, was cheated out of her crown by her cousin Stephen. Sue points out the 5 commandments of story telling during the tale. Then they dish on the new Fantastic Beasts film “Crimes of Grindelwald.
16:05
November 23, 2018
S3, E1: The Rise of Cleopatra
Season 3 begins! This time around we're doing stories from history and pointing out the 5 commandments of story telling along the way. This week, Nora tells her how Cleopatra became queen of Egypt. Full show notes at MommyPen.com
12:08
November 16, 2018
S2, E12: Status Stories
This is our final episode for season 2 and we’re looking at the Status genre. It’s all about characters trying to come up in the world and whether we glory in their success or pity their failure.
19:43
November 9, 2018
S2, E10: Morality Stories
Few kids are going to knowingly sit down to a Morality story, so you better add lots of humor to make it worth while. We look to Spirit Riding Free to show us how to make a morality story lots of fun using episode 3 of season 2: "Lucky's Super Amazing and Fun Cousin Julian." Full show notes at mommyspen.com
22:16
November 2, 2018
S2, E9: The Crime Story
Crime stories for kids are just plain fun. No, really. We take a look at all the elements of a crime story and look at a great example in season 2, episode 2 of Spirit Riding Free. Full show notes at Mommyspen.com
20:48
October 26, 2018
S2, E8: The Love Story
We continue our exploration of genre, this time with the help of Jane Austen. We look at Emma, and really, this novel is even more brilliant than I realized once we start looking at the ways it meets the obligatory scenes and conventions of the Love genre.  Full show notes at MommysPen.com
28:04
October 19, 2018
S2, E7: The Action Genre
This week we explore the Action Genre using the Netflix series "Spirit Riding Free."
17:04
October 12, 2018
S2, E6: Nora Berates Etsy Sellers for Historical Inaccuracies
We're taking a break from our genre series this week with a little slice of life from our house. Listen as Nora surfs Etsy and berates shop owners for historical inaccuracies in their period costumes. No actual shop owners are named (or harmed) in this episode.
08:42
September 27, 2018
S2, E5: The Horror Genre
Nora and Sue dive into what makes something a horror story by taking a look at Neil Gaiman's "Coraline." Horror for kids! What fun!
23:13
September 20, 2018
S2, E4: The Performance Genre
This week we take a look at what makes a Performance story by analyzing another episode of Spirit Riding Free: Lucky and the Price of Freedom. Full show notes at mommyspen.com
15:59
September 13, 2018
S2, E3: The Western Genre
We continue our exploration of genre with the help of the excellent kids series "Spirit Riding Free" from Netflix. The episode "Lucky and the Unbreakable Spirit" (season 1, episode 1) is a great example of the Western genre. Full show notes at MommysPen.com
19:00
September 6, 2018
S2, E2: The Worldview Genre & Spirit Riding Free
Sue and Nora start their exploration of genre with the help of the excellent kids series "Spirit Riding Free" from Netflix. The episode "Lucky and the Treacherous Trail" (season 1, episode 2) is a great example of the Worldview genre with a Maturation subgenre.
18:48
August 30, 2018
Season 2, Episode 1
This season we're exploring genre. In this episode, we give you the big picture before diving into genre examples in future episodes.
20:51
August 23, 2018
S1, E6: Ivy and Bean and the Four-act Structure
This week we take every story element we've learned in the five previous episodes and put them together to analyze "Ivy and Bean" by Annie Barrows. We also get excited for the eleventh book in the series, due out later this month. Nora is on a roll in this one -- thankfully, most of the screaming has been edited out. Full show notes at http://mommyspen.com
20:58
August 9, 2018
S1, E5: Second Plot Point (on Gardam Street)
We review "The Penderwicks on Gardam Street," the second book in the five book Penderwicks series, and use it to illustrate the story structure concept of a second plot point. We also discuss how cool it is to wear slippers to a book signing and the various things that make Sue cry. Full show notes at mommyspen.com.
16:15
August 2, 2018
S1, E4: Midpoint Shift
We review "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell" by Susanna Clarke and geek out discussing our favorite characters. This episode's art features Nora as Lady Pole for Halloween 2014 (all seven-year-olds choose to costume themselves as obscure literary characters, right?). Sue explains what the midpoint shift is and why it's her favorite piece of story structure. Nora creates brilliant sound effects to illustrate the character's mindset change at this point in a story. Full show notes at mommyspen.com.
20:16
July 26, 2018
S1, E3: First Pinch Point
We review "The Blackthorn Key," the first book is a fabulous Blackthorn Key Adventure series by Kevin Sands. For this week's story structure lesson, Sue explains what a pinch point is. You also get an entertaining rundown of Britain's Restoration era from amateur historian, Nora. Incidentally, the art featured above for this episode is a Nora original in watercolor pencil. The gentleman William III (a nephew of Charles II). See the full show notes at mommyspen.com
10:54
July 19, 2018
S1, E2: First Plot Point
Nora reviews Cleopatra VII: Daughter of the Nile from the Royals Diaries series. Sue explains the function of a first plot point (FPP) and Nora takes a stab at identifying the FPP in Cleopatra and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Nora also clues us in on how ancient Egyptians handled body odor (hint: it involves snakes) and points to some great places to learn more about history. Full show notes at mommyspen.com
12:01
July 4, 2018
S1, E1: Inciting Incident
A writer and her eleven-year-old daughter discuss the book “My Name is Victoria” by Lucy Worsely and the concept of an inciting incident. We fight about Lucy W.'s eyebrows and whether or not she has the help of a ghostwriter for her novels. We also discuss our plans for the podcast: we're gonna talk about books, stories, and story structure. Specifically, in each episode we'll discuss some aspect of story structure. This time around, it's "inciting incident." This is an event that thrusts a character into a particular situation and sucks a reader into a story. Full show notes at mommyspen.com.
10:12
June 25, 2018
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