Storytelling to Convey Complex Ideas with Maggie Ostara (part 1)

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Storytelling to Convey Complex Ideas with Maggie Ostara (part 1) – How To Write the Future podcast, episode 97

“Human brains work. We live in story.” – Maggie Ostara 

In this episode of How To Write the Future, podcast host Beth Barany talks with Amazon Bestselling author, Maggie Ostara. Together they discuss the concept of Feminine Sovereignty explored in Maggie’s book “Feminine Sovereignty: 8 Pillars for Regenerating Ourselves and Our World.” They delve into how the book engages readers, the writing process, and the importance of storytelling in conveying complex ideas to empower people and inspire change. (Storytelling to Share Complex Ideas with Maggie Ostara, part 1)

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Ensouling Language: On the Art of Nonfiction and the Writer’s Life by Stephen Harrod Buhner

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About the How To Write the Future podcast

The *How To Write The Future* podcast is for science fiction and fantasy writers who want to write positive futures and successfully bring those stories out into the marketplace. Hosted by Beth Barany, science fiction novelist and creativity coach for writers. We cover tips for fiction writers. This podcast is for readers too if you’re at all curious about the future of humanity.

This podcast is for you if you have questions like:

– How do I create a believable world for my science fiction story?

– How do I figure out what’s not working if my story feels flat?

– How do I make my story more interesting and alive?

This podcast is for readers too if you’re at all curious about the future of humanity.


Image of Maggie Ostara

Maggie Ostara, PhD left her prestigious job as the Director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Columbia University when she realized she’s not meant to work for anyone else. 

She’s the author of the international Amazon best-seller, Feminine Sovereignty: 8 Pillars for Regenerating Ourselves and Our World (2023). In 2024 she’ll be offering the Feminine Sovereignty Explorers Club and the Feminine Sovereignty Leadership Incubator based in the principles of the 8 Pillars. 

With over two decades of experience supporting 20,000+ students and hundreds of clients, Maggie teaches how to build your power within, make consistently reliable decisions, avoid overwhelm and burnout, create a bigger impact with less effort, and transform inner liabilities into powerful assets and allies. 


She’s a certified Human Design and Quantum Human Design Specialist, Level 4, a certified Radiant Body Yoga Instructor, and a certified Clarity Breathwork Practitioner. She supports her global audience through her thriving YouTube channel and works with clients 1:1 and in groups.


What’s your Feminine Sovereign Archetypes?



Transcript for Storytelling to Share Complex Ideas with Maggie Ostara (part 1) 


Hey everyone, welcome to How to Write the Future. I’m Beth Barany, an award-winning science fiction and fantasy novelist and writing teacher, and coach, and I offer up this podcast as a gift to the world with tips for writers and anyone who cares about the future because I believe that when we vision what is possible, we actually help make it so.

From time to time, I interview awesome thinkers and doers who are making our world better. And today I’m so excited to introduce you to and share with you a new book by my guest Maggie Ostara. Welcome, Maggie. 


Thanks, Beth. I’m glad to be here. Thanks for inviting me. 


You and I have known each other for a long time.


It is a long time, isn’t it? 


Yeah, gosh, over a decade, Maggie and I met each other in the local San Francisco Bay area in the women’s networking circuit. That was so cool and I’m really excited to share with you all about Maggie and her new book. So Maggie, I’m going to read your wonderful bio to everyone so they can get to know you, here it is. 

Maggie Ostara, PhD, left her prestigious job as the Director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Columbia University when she realized she’s not meant to work for anyone else. She’s the author of the international Amazon bestseller, Feminine Sovereignty: Eight Pillars for Regenerating Ourselves and Our World, out in 2023.

In 2024, she’ll be offering the Feminine Sovereignty Explorers Club and the Feminine Sovereignty Leadership Incubator, based in the principles of the Eight Pillars. With over two decades of experience supporting 20,000 plus students and hundreds of clients, Maggie teaches how to build your power within, make consistently reliable decisions, avoid overwhelm and burnout, create a bigger impact with less effort, and transform inner liabilities into powerful assets and allies. She’s a Certified Human Design and Quantum Human Design Specialist, Level 4, a Certified Radiant Body Yoga Instructor, and a Certified Clarity Breathwork Practitioner. She supports her global audience through her thriving YouTube channel and works one-on-one with people and in groups.

So welcome again, Maggie. 


Thank you, Beth. Happy to be here. 


It’s really fun reading your bio and all that you have done. so today –


It’s always funny hearing it, like when you listen to somebody else read your bio, you’re like, who’s that? 


I know, right?  I know. That’s all. I like to read people’s bio on air because it’s such a fun interchange. We have a persona that we share in our bio, but then, of course, we’re so much more than that.

And so one of the things that you have been working really hard on is this amazing book that I have read a little bit of in preparation for today. And I’m really excited to share about it to our listeners because I think writers are not only writers, but writers indeed are often very curious, very much want to understand the world better.

And I think this is a great fit for our listeners. You can tell me your response to Maggie’s book, and I encourage everyone to check it out because your book serves to do what I also aim to do, which is empower my audience, empower the people I work with, the writers I work with, and the forward-thinking organizations I work with.

So I love how in your book you open up with a second-person narrative, a little story where you’re talking directly to the reader and inviting the reader into an experience. And I love how you’ve got that in your book. You’ve got experience through that story. And then you’ve got instruction and guidance and the teacher voice comes forward.

And that’s so beautiful. So here we are in a podcast about writing the future. Also a podcast writer who cares about making the world a better place really, because that’s what I feel like I’m, my vehicle is fiction, and often my audience’s vehicle is fiction.

Marker – How Feminine Sovereignty Helps Fiction 

So how does your book, Feminine Sovereignty, what can it offer, what does it offer to people who are working on their stories or work on their novels, their fiction that is maybe about the future, maybe about another world, like a fantastical setting.

Yeah. Can you connect how your book connects to what we’re working on? Storytellers. 


Yeah. So in terms of writing the future I just want to say Beth and I really reconnected in a class called Thrutopia, which was offered by Manda Scott, who wrote one of the forewords for my book and has been a mentor of mine for a few years now. And I just love her. 

And so by going through that genre is about how do we get from where we are now to the culture and the society that we would be delighted to leave to future generations. And so it stimulated even more for me, the question about how are we getting to the future that we would be proud to leave when we go, right?

How do we get there? What does that entail? 

Marker – The Cool Thing About Thrutopia 

And the cool thing about Thrutopia is it’s there’s many things, but one is it’s not about writing a utopia. It’s really much based in what is going on in our lives now and what are the next steps that we need to do. And originally it was conceived as a fiction genre, fiction or, the short stories or poetry or film or whatever, very much narrative, focused on narrative.

And one of the things that I learned and that was really important to me in writing my book. 

Number one, I wanted to write a book that people were going to read.




So many books that are published these days and frankly, a lot of them are not very readable. I’ve tried to read certain things that I was like.

Okay, so I wanted to write a book that was readable, but I also ask my reader to confront things that can be really difficult for them.

I asked them to look at our history of colonialism, for example, and where they are situated inside: What kind of privilege do they have? How much entitlement do they feel like they have?

What are the things that have been provided to them? How do they feel about inclusivity or not? And also what’s our relationship to the living world and how can we actually face what we’ve done to the living world and what we continue to do a little bit more?

These are things that are a lot of us choose not to pay a lot of attention to.

And so my question for myself was, how do I do this in a way that people engage? And can digest what I’m suggesting that they take a look at and integrate and don’t turn away?

Or if they turn away, they come back like they don’t get turned off.

So one of the things I did was, is I made the reader a character in the book.

She’s the main character. And I write to a she, but it’s really for people of any gender. There isn’t anything super like this is only for women. There are certain parts of the book that are like that.

You mentioned second person. Here she is. We step right in and every single one of the chapters has a narrative piece at the beginning where she’s having an experience.

And, because I wanted her to feel like she was a part of the story, this is her story. There’s aspects of this that are her story. 

And then also I pause a lot. So I’m also a character in the book, a nonfiction book. It’s not a fiction book, but there’s characters, lots of narrative. And I’m also a character in the book and I relate to my reader a lot.

And so when we’re asking our people to read about things that are challenging and when we write about the future, especially if we’re doing it in a way where it’s actually connected to the present and not just something we’ve completely imagined. Sometimes we’re really asking people to look at things that are hard.

Marker – How Do We Keep Readers Engaged? 

And the question is: how do we keep people engaged? How do we make them want to stay the course? 

And so my strategy was to be a character in the book and to have my reader be a character in the book and for us to develop a relationship with each other over the course of the book so that my reader really felt like she-.

Number one, I had her back, I was right there, and I was providing guidance, and like you said, some recommendations and invitations about what she can do with this material. But also, the idea was to transmit this understanding that we’re actually all in this together, and to break down the kind of habitual isolation and separation that Western culture enculturates us into, but then also COVID really emphasized. 




So I would just say that it’s like. 

How do you invite your reader to be able to process and digest and integrate and work with the things you’re asking them to look at that might not be easy? 


Yeah. And from a teacher standpoint, I totally see what you’re doing. It’s really the call and response. You’re really including the concerns of the reader and you’re also talking to them, not just lecturing at them. There’s a sense of invitation and also, it’s a different way of writing content.

A lot of people might write content and you feel like they’re standing up giving you a very entertaining, interesting, in depth lecture, but that’s something different that you’re doing in this book. Just from what I’ve read so far, I found that really engaging and I did initially have my guard up because there is something confronting about the topic.

But then as I read, especially that first narrative that opens the book, I softened into it. I got into it and I could see how what you were doing was such a useful tool, writing the inviting narrative. Nicely done. 


Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, The writing process of the book was extremely challenging.

I’ve been writing for a really long time. It says in my bio, I was a professor and I published my first book in 1998. It’s a very academic book. And I’ve been writing pretty much ever since, but the project of this book, because it does have many different genres in it was how the genres and then topic areas that are quite different from each other.

So the writing was: how do I write it so that it’s seamless? And the reader doesn’t feel lost and she can just keep going. Even if, we’re here and then we’re there and then we’re talking about this and then I’m asking her to do that. And so there’s all these different things, but I placed a very high priority on that kind of seamless you can just keep reading it through. So that there’s no moment where ideally she stops and goes, wait a minute. Why are we here? 


Yeah. So how did you manage that? I was reading the introduction and you tell us that you’re pulling from a lot of wisdom traditions, not just Western. You tell us that you’re going to be inviting us to reflect inward and then to decide how do we want to act outward.

And I could see just from the scope of that introduction that you worked hard to make that happen. So I’m wondering how did you overcome that challenge of encompassing so many things in your book? Did you have help? Did you hire an editor? All of the above? 

Marker – How Maggie Improve the Book 


I did have, an editor writing coach.

The main thing that she did for me that I think really improved the book was there was a point at which, because I’m actually a really good editor. I’ve been writing a long time. I’ve edited a lot of things and I’m actually a really good editor. And she was like, dang, you’re really good at editing.

And I’m like, I am. But there would be times where I would be like, I know what the problems are. What I would love to hear from you is what works. What is the best of all of this? And I’ll do more of that. And she’s actually the one who said; “The way that you walk side by side with the reader is extraordinary.”

She said, I don’t see books do that. And given your topic, your subject matter, I think it’s really beneficial for your reader.

Once she said that and she kept pointing to it. I was like, okay. And so then that became a larger structure for what I was doing. And as I did that, it enabled me to be like, okay, we’ve been talking about this and now we’re going to go over here. And the reason that we’re going to do that is, is that this was really important, but it’s not everything we need to know. Now we need to go and look at this. So that’s what I mean by like me being a character in the book, right?

Is I’m like actually talking to my reader and I’m saying, this is what we’re doing. And so if we do have some kind of a big thematic shift, I actually talk them through it. Like I say, we’re going to do it or, I don’t, do you know who Stephan Buhner is? Is that a writer who means anything to you? He has an incredible book.

He’s published like 17 books. He has an incredible book called Ensouling Language. Putting soul into language. 


I have heard of that, or maybe you’ve mentioned it before. 


I have mentioned it before. He’s amazing. 

And he’s also written, he’s also a master herbalist. He’s, he passed on last December, but master herbalists written incredible books about plants and anyway.

So I read Ensouling Language and it’s for nonfiction writers, but he was talking about how he, he does certain things, but I noticed the seamless way that he would pull together the material of a chapter and summarize it in a way where you weren’t going, Oh, I’m reading a summary, but you were like, Oh yeah. Okay. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. We thought about that. We thought about that. And he goes, and now the next step is to explore this. And that would be the end of a chapter. 

And then the next chapter would be about that thing. And so I employed that throughout, because it wasn’t just chapter to chapter for me. It was actually inside of a chapter.


That’s great. 


And so I employed that same kind of writing strategy that I think really just helps the reader be like, Oh, okay, we’re switching gears now. We’re moving into something else and that just helps people relax and go, Oh, okay, we’re going to do something different. Whereas if you just go from A to F, they’re like, wait a minute, we were just in A. Where are we now?

Whereas if you say, okay, we’re done with A, and now we’re going to F and this is why. Yeah. So I did a lot of that. 


That’s great. And from a fiction perspective that likens it to in scene structure at the end of a scene after the crisis, Oh no, the choice, the difficult choice. And then the climax, the choosing.

Then you want to have the resolution, a moment of digestion, as one of my writing teachers says.

And I love that moment of digestion and often that’s where you can have the protagonist say,okay, that happened. And you feel a certain way about it and then you’re like okay, and now I got to go over here. I got to go do this thing.

It’s very similar. And I think there’s something in the, in, must be deep in our human wiring around story. That we need this. that this allows us to have that moment of digestion and reorient to the next thing. So it’s very beautiful. 


And realization often happens in that moment too, right?

Because we’ve been through this whole experience and then the protagonist or whoever the Main character is in that moment, oftentimes, as they’re digesting, they have a realization. They’re like, Oh, that’s what that was happening. Or I never thought about this person that way, or right. There’s this whole kind of epiphany that can arise.

And then that creates the foundation for the next thing. Absolutely. Yeah. Totally. I, and I completely agree with you about story. I’m a huge fan of story. I knew when I wrote this book that there, it was going to be full of stories. And, because I think that’s how we understand anything. I’m not one of those people who thinks, Oh, we should get out of story.

I’m like, number one, I don’t think you can. Human brains work. We live in story. 


I totally agree.

Enjoy part two next week where I talk with Maggie about her book, Feminine Sovereignty, envisioning positive futures, and revolution.

So that’s it for this week everyone. Please like, and subscribe, and share. 

And I just really appreciate you for listening and for showing up for your creative work. 

Write long and prosper.

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Image of Beth Barany

Beth Barany teaches science fiction and fantasy novelists how to write, edit, and publish their books as a coach, teacher, consultant, and developmental editor. She’s an award-winning fantasy and science fiction novelist and runs the podcast, “How To Write The Future.”


Learn more about Beth Barany at these sites: 


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