Does writing a prescriptive nonfiction book seem complicated? Do you want to learn how to write a prescriptive nonfiction memoir?

Kathi and her guest, Susy Flory, are back today for part two, in which they discuss more in-depth ways to write a prescriptive nonfiction.

Listen in and learn:

  • How to be creative.
  • How to decide what photography to choose.
  • How to decide what how-to’s to use.
  • How to create ways for them to implement the how-to’s.

We hope this episode encourages you to start writing and creating. If you missed part one of writing prescriptive nonfiction, go back and listen. Sign up here to get notified when new episodes are released.

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Meet Your Hosts

Kathi Lipp

Kathi Lipp

Author, Speaker, Writing at the Red House Creator and CEO

Kathi Lipp is the host of the Clutter Free Academy podcast, the Writing at the Red House podcast, and the bestselling author of The Husband Project, Clutter Free, Ready for Anything, and An Abundant Place. She and her husband, Roger, live in the mountains of northern California, where they run the Red House Writing Retreats.

Over the past 10 years, Kathi has helped hundreds of people increase their platform through teaching and coaching. She is a frequent teacher at writer’s conferences and has helped countless authors and speakers find their audiences.

Kathi’s desire to help fellow speakers and authors avoid the mistakes she made, increase their confidence, and be the person God made them to be inspired her creation of Communicator Academy. Her newest adventure is The Red House, where she offers writer’s retreats and Writers in Residence events. Learn more about the Red House at

Susy Flory

Susy Flory

Author and Expert Memoir

Susy Flory is the New York Times bestselling author or co-author of sixteen books. A graduate of UCLA, she has a background in journalism, education, and communications. She loves reading and writing stories about unforgettable people who are living lives of adventure, courage, hope, redemption, and transformation.

A breast cancer survivor of four gnarly surgeries, Susy celebrates life by chasing great stories in places like Cuba, Haiti, Turkey, Israel, and her own backyard. She’s written with celebrities, heroes of the faith, athletes, explorers, and the girl (and boy) next door. She owns a feisty ex-racehorse named Stetson, and loves hiking in the High Sierras, and skiing black diamond runs whenever she can.


Kathi Lipp

Well, hey, friends. Welcome to the writing at the Red House podcast, where we gather at the table to break bread and tell tales with some of our favorite writers and creators who share their wisdom to help us all share our story. Well, we are back for part two of my conversation with memoir expert Susie Flory, where she’s interviewing me about a prescriptive nonfiction memoir. We’ll talk about the layers that make a memoir truly unforgettable. From recipes that are worth 1000 words to the nostalgia of a life woven in passion and love. Let’s continue to look through the lens of a lived experience and the craftsmanship of writing that caters to our deepest desires for connection and contentment.

Susy Flory00:01:02 – 00:01:44

Yeah, I think you’ve hit on something that I think is one of the hardest things in memoir, which is thinking about your reader. You are thinking about the reading experience and what stories you can choose and how you’re going to tell those stories that’s going to be meaningful to the reader. You’re also reading in that area, figuring out what people are interested in. People are very interested in chickens. That’s such a huge hook right now that happened during the pandemic. People wanted something, I think, that reminded them of family or their grandparents and the feeling of being in the country. And if they could do that by having a hen, they were so into it. And I love that you tapped into that.

Kathi Lipp00:01:45 – 00:01:52

I’m shocked at how many people have had chickens in their lives. Totally. I had no idea. Sorry.

Susy Flory00:01:52 – 00:02:20

And if they don’t have chickens, they’ve got like chickens on their towels or chickens on their curtains or they’ve got something with chickens. I don’t know. There is something. Kathy and I talk about chickens all the time because it’s a big thing. My daughter keeps chickens here. They’re always doing something. I love that you’re thinking about your reader and that you have honed that over these years of writing. And it’s something for those of you listening to really think about that.

Susy Flory00:02:21 – 00:03:03

What are your readers interested in? What parts of your life? How are you going to frame that? How are you going to serve up, I guess in a way, or craft or pull out stories, skills, things that you’ve learned that are going to help your reader. So let’s now talk about message because you have a setting. Know you’re on the western side of the Sierra Nevadas, you’re at elevation. You get snow, you have big trees, you have wild animals, you have a beautiful red house, you have the people, your roger. You know, everyone that’s kind of around involved in this life. But what are you trying to say with this book? What is the message that people are going to come away?

Kathi Lipp00:03:04 – 00:03:39

You know, I start off by defining homesteading with the traditional Webster’s dictionary, but I’m also homesteading. To me, and I hope this comes through in the book, is that you love where you live so much that you ignore the fact that your house is actively trying to kill you. And it’s so mean. We’ve had a tree fall on our house between where Roger and I sleep, and there’s not much space between where Roger and I sleep, but, I mean, that was the worst way.

Susy Flory00:03:39 – 00:03:44

These are big trees up here. We’re talking massive trees. Yeah.

Kathi Lipp00:03:44 – 00:04:22

And we didn’t even know that it had damaged our house until we got home one day after a big rainstorm, and our walls were cottage cheese. I mean, it’s just nuts. And it’s really about. The setting is a character. It’s like it gives and it takes, right. We get to have this big, wonderful garden. We get to go cut down our own Christmas trees. But it also might kill you because we’ve had our generators shut off in the middle of a huge snowstorm.

Kathi Lipp00:04:24 – 00:05:23

I think about you and where you’ve been and breaking your ankle while in the middle of a snowstorm. I mean, I can’t even imagine so much going on. And so to say, the overall message really, for me, and I hope it came out, is that follow God, no matter what. Sometimes it doesn’t even make sense, but that I think about how different our lives would have been if we had just gone down the expected route. And our marriage is stronger for living up Roger, like, I feel like I’m a pretty happy person. Roger’s happiness level, he’s always been a happy person, but his happiness level has gone up exponentially. Living out here, like, he goes to cities now, and he’s know it kind of crowds in on him.

Susy Flory00:05:23 – 00:05:26

I feel the same. Like, on the freeway, I’m just.

Kathi Lipp00:05:27 – 00:06:00

Yeah, yeah. Driving in the bay area. I don’t want to become that person who’s like, oh, we live in such a magical place that I cannot stand to be anywhere. Like, and you and Roger are not like that at mean. We all love our city. Comforts free. That’s why we go to the city, because sometimes there’s fun stuff, you know, to be able to say, I can live anywhere. I can be content anywhere, and I’m grateful for that.

Kathi Lipp00:06:00 – 00:06:08

I just feel like we get an extra dose of contentment here, and we would not be experiencing that if we had gone with the plan.

Susy Flory00:06:09 – 00:06:16

I love that there is something about living up here, and we could talk about this for hours, but it does make you feel more alive.

Kathi Lipp00:06:16 – 00:06:17

It really does.

Susy Flory00:06:17 – 00:06:58

Kind of hard to explain why. I mean, you’ve covered a lot of it, I think, being closer to the land, feeling like you’re a guest in this forest. You don’t own it, you don’t control it. You’re just part of it. And you enter into the life of the forest and the ways that the seasons work and everything, you enter into that kind of with respect. And I see that so much in your book, and even the way it’s organized by seasons and the photography just gives you the feeling of these places. So you’ve hit so many beautiful, deep ways to connect to a reader that a typical memoir doesn’t always hit those well.

Kathi Lipp00:06:58 – 00:07:49

And I really had the cheat code of photographs, like most people don’t get that. That’s why it’s so important when we do anything with memoir prescriptive. There are so many different kinds, which you’ve taught me, but that’s why it’s so important to have other places to see your story. We got to know the donkeys in sanctuary because of your online presence and by videos and things like that. And so there’s really this world building that we owe our readers through the written word. But also we have. One of my favorite books is animal, vegetable, miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. And I’ve listened to it probably 20 times at this point, and I have built my own world.

Kathi Lipp00:07:49 – 00:08:26

But even with that, I have gone online, I’ve looked at their farm. I’ve listened to commentary on the book. We have other places that we can put those little cheat codes in to help people really start to build that. I mean, some people, like me, and I think you’ve described yourself this way, Susie. We’re not really good at imagining pictures. Like, we can’t close our eyes, and pictures I can’t. And so it’s really helpful to me when there are things that I can kind of grab onto. So that’s why this is such a fun book to read.

Susy Flory00:08:26 – 00:09:06

Like apple cake. We can all imagine apple cake in our belly. I love this, Kathy. There’s so much I love about this, and I think part of it, too, thinking about types of memoir being a memoir nerd, is there’s a little bit of fish out of water here. Know you’re the San Jose girl, city girl. Dropped into this wilderness experience. There’s transformation that, you know, kind of a stunt memoir idea to it, too, that you’ve got this project you may or may not survive, your house may kill you. You’ve got all these rich, rich elements.

Susy Flory00:09:06 – 00:09:21

And I think what I would love for people to take away is that you need to think about the reader experience, and you need to make it extraordinary. You need to make it extraordinary. And that’s going to vary from book to book, right?

Kathi Lipp00:09:21 – 00:09:50

Whether it’s personally extraordinary and environmentally or setting extraordinary. But you’re so right. There are only two types of stories. A dark stranger comes to town, or you go on a long journey. These are the two kinds of stories that most of us tell. And this is definitely the fish out of water, but lots.

Susy Flory00:09:50 – 00:09:58

I had to show a couple of pictures, so this is up. Can you see the moose one, or is it just you and me?

Kathi Lipp00:09:58 – 00:10:00

I just see the one of you and me.

Susy Flory00:10:00 – 00:10:07

Yeah, hold on 1 second. I have one of moose, too, that I want to show. Go ahead. Sorry, I just want to.

Kathi Lipp00:10:07 – 00:10:19

That’s to. Everybody is in situations that they don’t understand. I love that you and moose are reading together.

Susy Flory00:10:19 – 00:10:26

Yeah, moose is enjoying it. We’re in front of halfdome there, talking about exotic places. Love it.

Kathi Lipp00:10:26 – 00:10:56

But yeah, the extraordinary can come from a lot of different places. It can come from your situation. It can come from your location. It can come from your internal struggle, your health. I mean, there’s a million places it can come from. But with that extraordinary, you have to offer practical help in a prescriptive memoir, you have to offer something that is going to give your reader hope. I really feel like that there has to be hope for a different kind of life or a different kind of experience.

Susy Flory00:10:56 – 00:11:26

Yeah. So there’s a promise there that’s woven into the book, that when you’re talking to an agent, an editor, or a reviewer, or someone who might be interested in your book, you’ve got so much more to talk about than just, oh, I spent a few years in the mountains, and it was really fun with the chickens, and I have a lot of stories about that. Whatever your personal stories are, there needs to be these added dimensions. And that’s what I love about what you’re saying.

Kathi Lipp00:11:26 – 00:12:20

Well, we have so many felt needs, and when we get into different situations, there are so many people who want to write about their cancer journey. And I get that because is there anything more deeply personal than a cancer journey? But I also know there has to be a new angle or a new felt need because it sounds terrible. I sound like the worst, most heartless person in the world. But cancer is not enough. Like, my mom’s been through an extraordinary cancer journey. You have in a much different way. We’re going through one right now with moose, but we’re not going to write about it because we have nothing new to offer. And maybe someday that will be a part of something that you’re doing.

Kathi Lipp00:12:23 – 00:12:39

My mom’s has been a part in very small ways in like a devotional or a speech. But there has to be something where a reader says, oh, I need that. I need that. Hope that’s not already out there.

Susy Flory00:12:39 – 00:12:46

Yeah. Hope is why we read. Okay. There we are together. We are friend of half dome. That was okay.

Kathi Lipp00:12:46 – 00:12:50

That is the most wind blown I’ve ever been in my entire life.

Susy Flory00:12:50 – 00:12:53

I know. Look it, we look crazy. We just do.

Kathi Lipp00:12:54 – 00:12:56

We look like adventurers.

Susy Flory00:12:56 – 00:12:58

We were camping in the mountains.

Kathi Lipp00:12:58 – 00:12:59


Susy Flory00:12:59 – 00:13:18

It was awesome. We were doing the thing. All right, so we can find accidental homesteader pretty much everywhere books are offered. And then I’m going to give you a link to the website for the book. And there’s some downloads and other things you can get a little preview of the book.

Kathi Lipp00:13:18 – 00:13:33

Recipes, more recipes. Recipes that aren’t in the book. And then also some DIY projects, like for our checkerboard and our tic tac toe on wood stumps and some made of rocks.

Susy Flory00:13:33 – 00:13:36

You just need some rocks and some paint.

Kathi Lipp00:13:36 – 00:13:46

Yeah, they’re fun. It’s fun. And hopefully you’ll be inspired. You probably won’t do every project, but you might do one or two, and I think you’ll enjoy it.

Susy Flory00:13:46 – 00:13:56

And I love this picture of you guys on the back. See how it’s set up. Even the photography. You’re entering into this world. You’re inviting people into your world.

Kathi Lipp00:13:56 – 00:13:58

I love that. I love it so much.

Susy Flory00:13:59 – 00:14:11

Yeah. So think about that. When you’re writing memoir, you’re not just telling your story. You’re inviting people into this world. You’re creating your world. Building the words. Kathy said you have a reason. You’re writing.

Susy Flory00:14:11 – 00:14:34

You’re meeting needs. You’re offering hope. There’s so much more than just a simple retelling of your story. So be creative. Think of new ways to tell your story. Consider photography. Consider how to craft things, recipes, all sorts. The options are endless for how you can make your story come to life.

Kathi Lipp00:14:34 – 00:14:56

Yeah. Especially if you’re doing something aspirational. Give people a little way to try it. People often ask, well, I can’t homestead. I’m like, but you can. You can start a salsa garden. You can make soup from scratch. Homesteading is just learning to be more reliant on yourself.

Susy Flory00:14:56 – 00:14:59

It’s a state of mind. Homesteading is a state of mind.

Kathi Lipp00:15:00 – 00:15:06

It really is. You don’t have to be as crazy as we are. You can take your crazy in little doses.

Susy Flory00:15:07 – 00:15:43

I love it. Well, maybe we are going to breed, you’re going to breed a whole new generation of homesteaders with this book. And thank you so much for explaining what a prescriptive memoir is. It definitely seems to be something that the industry is a little more interested in than just a straight kind of personal story. And so it’s a great option for you to think about if you have something that’s unusual, interesting to people. You have skills, you have talents, you have experiences that you can write about in this way and share the mistakes that you made along the way as well.

Kathi Lipp00:15:43 – 00:16:10

It’s really important to be transparent and share. And Susie, I’ll just say I was just meeting with an editor two weeks ago, and they were looking for prescriptive nonfiction on some very specific know because they want that personal experience. But they also want to give their readers really practical. So, you know, it’s a great avenue to look at.

Susy Flory00:16:10 – 00:16:38

I love it. Well, Kathy, thank you for joining us from your homestead. And I’m sure Moose is asleep there at your feet, and you probably got some yummy baked things and cooked things. I mean, you’re living what the book is about, and I love that. So we will leave you to your homesteading, and we’ll take away some of that with us. And thank you so much for sharing your journey about writing the accidental homesteader.

Kathi Lipp00:16:38 – 00:16:42

Well, it wouldn’t have happened without you, my friend, so we are always grateful to you.

Susy Flory00:16:42 – 00:16:44

That’s a whole other story.

Kathi Lipp00:16:44 – 00:16:45

Other story.

Kathi Lipp00:16:45 – 00:17:16


Friends, I hope you have enjoyed this conversation with author and memoir expert Susie Flory and talking about my memoir, the accidental homesteader. I just love these rich conversations as we can delve deeper and we can all learn from experts like Susie in how we can tell our own stories. You’ve been listening to the writing at the Red House podcast. I’m Kathy Lipp. Now go tell your only you story of God’s extravagant love.

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