In this special bonus episode, Marissa chats with C.J. Redwine and Mary Weber (who was first a guest in episode 8) about their online and sometimes in-person writing craft community, The Writer’s Sanctuary, how it came to be and what they do. Also discussed: tips on creating a joy-filled writing life, avoiding negativity pitfalls like perfectionism, comparison, and the pressure to perform to expectations. They also discuss advocating for ourselves and asking for what we need, even if that means requesting more time (rubber balls vs. glass balls – brilliant!), and so much more!
The Writer's Sanctuary: https://www.the-writers-sanctuary.com/
Query: Everything You Need To Get Started, Get Noticed, and Get Signed by C. J. Redwine: https://bookshop.org/a/11756/9781499642735
Find out more and follow The Happy Writer on social media: https://www.marissameyer.com/podcast/
[00:10] Marissa: Hello and welcome to The Happy Writer and this special bonus midweek episode. This is a podcast that aims to bring readers more books to enjoy and to help authors find more joy in their writing. I am your host. Marissa may thank you so much for joining me. What is making me happy this week? I don't know, maybe weird. It's super uncool, but I'm okay with that. I am happy that during our move, I found the box of my grandmother's old milk glass collection. So if you maybe your mom or grandparents were from that generation where they collected things like this, like glassware and porcelain and teacups and china and all of this stuff. Not something that I think a lot of people in my generation or the younger generation do. But my grandma had all sorts of this, and a lot of it was gotten rid of after she passed away. But I did go through and keep some of my favorite pieces from her milk glass collection, which again, like super not hip, but they remind me of her so much. And so moving into this new house, I have this new office that has these really cool dark wood bookshelves and I thought, I think this milk glass, which is all bright white, would look really pretty on it. And so I dug it out of storage and I've redone my bookshelves with it kind of scattered amongst the books and it's so pretty and it kind of makes me feel like there's a part of her with me in my office now. So it makes me smile every time I look over there like I'm doing right now and see my grandma's old milk glass collection. I am also, of course, so happy to be talking to today's guest. We've got CJ. Redwine, who is the New York Times bestselling author of the Defiance trilogy, the Ravenspire series, the Rise of the Vicious Princess Duology, and an audible original titled The Disappearance of Emily Downes. She is also the author of the nonfiction writing resource Query everything You Need to Get Started, get Noticed and Get Signed. And then we have Mary Weber, who is the author of the Siren Song trilogy, the Evaporation of Sophie Snow Duology and to best the boys. She also helps other authors with their careers via the Cherry Pie Author services. And she happened to be one of my very first guests here on the Happy Writer podcast way back on episode nine, which was like a lot of episodes ago. So if you haven't listened back that far or maybe you just feel like it's time for a re, listen, I hope you will go check that out. Together, CJ. And Mary are the driving force behind the Writers Sanctuary, which we will talk all about that and what that is here in a few minutes. For now. Please welcome CJ. Redwine and Mary Weber.
[03:28] C.J.: Thank you so much for having us. I'm so excited to be here. And Marissa and I debuted the same year, 2012, ages ago in publishing. And so it's super fun to hang out with you for an hour and chat.
[03:41] Marissa: I'm so excited to have you, too, CJ. We are like Apocalypses forever.
[03:46] C.J.: Yes, absolutely.
[03:49] Mary: And this is Mary, and I am so grateful to be on here again. I absolutely always love getting to chat with you, Marissa. And I think my very first encounter with you was after, I think Cinder had just come out and I did a review because I was a book blogger way before I was an author. And I had emailed you and asked if you would consider doing an interview with me. And I sent you all these silly interview questions and you were so gracious and you sent them back the very same day. And I just remember being in awe. And then we had stayed in contact ever since then. And then when I think it was.
[04:26] Marissa: Winter'S, paperback came oh, no, the Crest.
[04:29] Mary: When Crest paperback came out, you asked if I'd want to do an interview for the back of that, and I got to do that. And I just absolutely loved so and then I love listening to this podcast. Obviously, I was thrilled to be on as an early guest because I love everything that it stands for, just finding that happiness in being a writer and in the writing world because there's so much other things going on in the world around us. And so I'm honored that you invited us. Thank you.
[05:01] Marissa: Well, thank you. And I remember that interview that we did on that blog way back when and how much we bonded over a shared love of David Bowie.
[05:10] C.J.: That's right.
[05:11] Mary: Like Labyrinth Day.
[05:12] Marissa: I see my David Bowie records and I still think, oh, I wonder what Mary's up to.
[05:16] Mary: I love oh, same.
[05:20] Marissa: All right, so before we start talking about the Writer's Sanctuary and just kind of the writing life and all the fun things we're going to chat about today, I do want to start by asking each of you to tell us a little bit about your origin story and how you became writers.
[05:36] C.J.: If you could have seen the way my eyes lit up when you said origin story. I immediately glanced over at the six foot tall cutout, cardboard cutout that I have of Loki in my office and was like, oh, they want my villain origin story. And then I remember nobody's supposed to know that I'm a villain and you wanted something different. So the origin story for me for writing is really as far back as I learned that people could write stories, which was second grade. In first grade, I was the last kid in my class to learn how to read. I remember my teacher being very concerned. We had groups like Sat by Colors and I couldn't seem to graduate out of the Red Group, even though everybody else did. So I didn't learn to read until almost the end of first grade. But then once I did learn to read, it was like this whole world opened up for me. And by second grade, we were assigned to write a story, and it was supposed to be, like, three paragraphs long, and mine was four pages front and back about a sentient school bus who had strong opinions about the children who were writing inside of it. Not great opinions, as it turns out. So maybe I have always been a little bit of a villain. I don't know. But I used to just fill notebooks with writing, and I think computers came about I'm ancient computers came about when I was in high school and in college, I started typing on those. But I've just always had that voice. That's always been how I translated my life experiences and how I managed things, how I escaped from things, how I understood things. And so life got really busy after college. I got married. I was a teacher. I had three boys in four years, which is like, surprise. Oh, my gosh. It was like the apocalypse in my house every single day. All I did was make sure that it didn't spread to anybody else's house. And so I really lost my creative voice. I just was so tired all the time. I was barely even reading, much less writing. And then when I turned 30, we had just moved from Los Angeles to Tennessee. I knew nobody. And I started having some strange symptoms that were scary, and they were so scary that I put off going to the doctor, which I realize makes no sense, but in my mind, I was like, I don't want to hear bad news, so I'm not going to go get bad news. Which, if you are currently listening to me and that's your situation, stop. Go get the bad news if it is bad news, because it only gets worse as time passes. So when I finally went in, because I could no longer ignore things, it turns out that I had cancer.
[08:10] Mary: Yeah.
[08:10] C.J.: And it was really sobering to me, because somehow, in my mind, I thought I was too young at 30 to have cancer. That's not true, obviously. But I remember the night before I went in to get a hysterectomy, I was just sitting there thinking through things, and I was praying and asking God if he would please just give me enough time to raise my kids. Just grant me that much more time. And I thought, what am I doing with myself? Because all I ever wanted to do was be a wife, a mom, and a writer. And I kept putting writing off because I kept thinking, my life is too crazy. It's so busy that I don't have time to write. And I kept putting that dream off for when life would slow down and everything would be perfect. The stars would align, and I would have all this free time lying in heaps around me. Just decadent piles of time. Well, that never happens. And instead, you need to intentionally go after your dreams and carve out the life that you want. And so I made a commitment to myself that if I survived, I was going to start writing. And I did. And the first book that I wrote was Atrocious. I spent five pages on the weather at the very beginning of the book, which was like four and three quarters page too much, but I just didn't know what I didn't know. But I finished the book, and then from there, I started networking with other writers. And it was a long journey because there weren't a lot of places for community, for writers. I didn't really know how to plug in and where to go and how to learn, but I did. And eventually, a few years later, my first book was published.
[09:40] Marissa: Just like that. I feel like we maybe skipped some.
[09:43] Mary: Steps right there at the end of the story.
[09:46] Marissa: I published a book. Boom.
[09:47] C.J.: Done. We skipped the part where I signed with an agent during 2009, during the time where it honestly seemed like everybody that had written a book and signed with an agent sold in two or three weeks. I mean, everybody around me was selling. Friends that I connected to my agent were selling, and I couldn't sell a book to save my life. Everybody with pulse in publishing and probably some that no longer had a pulse, they all said no. Everybody said no. And I wrote another book, and we went out with that one, and everybody said no. And I was watching people get these massive deals all around me, and I was just like, I just want someone to publish my book. You don't even have to pay me at this point. I just want to see my book published and my name on the COVID And it was really discouraging. And it was something where I finally had to just have that kind of come to Jesus, talk with myself and say, is this something that I want badly enough that even if it never happens, I would still write stories? And I decided, yes, even if publishing crumbles tomorrow, I'm still me. And this is what I do. And so I'm going to sit down and I'm actually going to try this really kind of big, scary idea that I have that pushes me to the edge of what I think I'm capable of, craft wise, because people are going to say no to me anyway, so what does it matter? Let me just try this thing. And I turned that in. I wrote it in two and a half months, which is the fastest I've ever written anything. I was working 30 hours a week outside the home. I had just brought our fourth child home from China. We had adopted our fourth and fifth child from China, and so I had a baby in the home, and I was also homeschooling two of my kids in the morning, and so I had no time, but I made it. I made time twice a week to write. I turned that in, and I fully expected just rejections to come flying at me. I was already just completely emotionally divorced from that project and sitting down and outlining the next thing that I would write, when my agent called me and said, this is going to auction next Tuesday. And I just sat there, sat at my desk and cried because I thought I was the poster child for The Girl that couldn't sell a book. And so it did. It was defiance. It sold at auction, and that was my first trilogy that was published.
[11:58] Marissa: Oh, my God, what a great story. So if it's not too personal to ask, how are you health wise these days?
[12:06] C.J.: I have been cancer free now for 19 years.
[12:12] Marissa: Oh, congratulations. I'm so happy.
[12:14] C.J.: Thank you.
[12:14] Marissa: So happy to hear that.
[12:15] C.J.: Thank you.
[12:16] Marissa: All right, Mary, your turn. How did you get here?
[12:20] Mary: My origin story is slightly different than CJ's. I think part of what lent to me, feeling like not a real writer. I was the faux writer of the world. I was sure of that in my late 30s is, because I'd always heard all of these writers talk about how they knew they were a writer since the womb, basically since the day they were born. And I thought, oh, I didn't always know that. In fact, I grew up in a home that my dad read to us all the time, right? So I grew up in a home with tons of literature, tons of books read above my age. Once I learned to read, I would just consume everything. The library was where I just wished I could live all the time. For me, it felt like life, all these beautiful books, but every time, as a ten year old to 16 year old to 20 year old, that I would sit down and try to write stories because I loved them so much, I wanted to create my own. I could not write. They were horrible. You know that thing where you just kind of, like, crumble and think, yeah, keep going. Don't quit your day job? I just knew I was the worst writer in the world because nothing came out the way that I wanted it to. And now I look back and I realize I just hadn't learned the craft of writing, which is one of the things that CJ and I help other writers do at the just I just thought, wow, I just don't have that skill or that talent or that gift. And so I thought for sure I must have blocked it off in my mind, because I thought for sure that I just never tried writing again after that. Until a few years ago when we moved, my husband came in with a giant box and they were full of notebooks of short stories, poems, songs, and they were the most angsty, horrific dialogues that I was having with myself and with my journal ever. And on one hand I was mortified because here's my husband and he's like, oh my gosh, Angsty Mary, you were so cute at 13 and you know, everybody, it was the end of the world, and you were sure you were walking through life alone. But for me, I was like, oh my gosh. So I must have just blocked that out, thinking like that. I must have never even tried to write. Apparently I kept trying even though I was sure I was so terrible at it. But funny enough, it was, and I know that this is many people's, part of their origin story. I went through a period of life in my late thirty s or mid 30s where I read Twilight and I.
[15:08] Marissa: Was like, these are super fun.
[15:10] Mary: This is kind of a different style. And I really enjoyed them. And when I was reading them, I wasn't thinking of being a writer. But shortly after that, I just went through this season where I felt like life just all of a sudden went on pause. And it was just internally for me. And I remember looking at my husband and telling him over the course of about three, four months that I know who I am as a wife and as a mother. I had three kids and as an employee, all these different areas of my life, but I felt like I couldn't find me. And that's exactly how I said it to him. I said, I miss me and the me part of me that makes up me, but I don't even know what that is anymore. I'm all of these things, but yet I feel like I've ceased to be me. And so he was, of course, so supportive and said, what do you need? And I'm like, I don't know, I'm just reading Twilight because I'm sad. But out of that I felt like I kind of internally just sat down and just kind of looked out the window for three months and just studied the roads. We have this long, winding, beautiful road that goes through trees that leads to our home. We live on a ranch. And so it just felt like that, like I would just walk that road over and over. And in the process of that, I felt like something that had been in little Angsty Mary came up again to the surface and I began to write fiction as a way to just kind of explore, I think, who I am, who I was, to try and figure out what I really loved in life again. And so fiction, just like it had when I was younger, and it gave me that freedom to imagine a world bigger than my home life and what I was living in and my small town writing. It gave me that opportunity that books so magically do, to be able to rediscover who I was and discover new parts of me. And so in the process of that, I wrote a book. And the book was very terrible. And so I rewrote it three times, and I started querying it because I didn't know any writers at the time. I didn't know what I was doing. And I had a couple of friends that they actually did write, but they wrote like, nonfiction or articles, things like that. So here I am writing literature for teens, fun fiction for teens, and I'm sure that they didn't even know what to do with me. And so in the midst of that, I learned, okay, you're supposed to query. So I started doing that. I went to my first little writers conference, and I started getting rejections. And so I told myself, I'm going to query for a year. And so I queried for exactly a year. I racked up a beautiful 87 rejections. But I started noticing that I would get personalized notes sometimes, and then I'd get revise and resubmits. And so I kept rewriting that manuscript, but it just never went anywhere. And so after a year, I thought, well, maybe I give up or I'll just start on something new. I didn't know. But I knew that this was something that was healthy for me, right. It was my thing, that was my own, that didn't belong to anybody else, that I could just be myself in. And so I went with a friend of mine had invited me to a writer's conference, and I didn't want to go. Weirdly enough, I think I felt too shy and intimidated, which is funny because that's not my personality now, but at the time, I didn't know what I was doing. And so they were so kind and gracious, and they said, I really think you should go. I'm going to pay your way. And of course, how could I say no? I was very honored. And of course, me not knowing anything, I decided to print up this manuscript. You could send them in ahead of time and get feedback. And so I didn't know anything about how that process worked. So I printed it up. I got it in to the mail the day it was supposed to be due. And of course, when I look down, I'm at the post office and I'm looking down and it had printed my ink on my printer had been running out, and so it printed the whole thing in pink. So I had like this pink lavender manuscript that I was turning in. So I sent it off to them and I marked the box. You're supposed to mark who you want to take a look at it. I didn't know who anyone was, so I marked this one. It was like the name at the very top just said, okay, well, this person can look at it. I found out later on it was a major publisher for Harper Collins. So me and my pink paper, the only thing I could do is spritz it with perfume. Maybe that would have really helped. Kiss the box.
[19:52] Marissa: Little lip. I know.
[19:55] Mary: So I sent it off and I get to the writers conference and the editor I get a note from the editor asking to meet with me. And so I go to meet with him. And I was only one of two appointments he actually took that weekend. And he said, we really can't use this. And I was like, yes, I know, I get it. It was a long shot, but he said, however, I read your bio, and your bio was so humorous, I thought I would go read your website. And I went on your book blogging website and I just thought, you have such a fun voice. Have you ever considered writing for teens? And of course I'm like yes, of course I had. He just he was so kind and gracious and just really tried to help to mentor me. And he know, if you are interested in writing a book for teens, I'm a publisher for HarperCollins, and we'd be interested in looking at it, so why don't you submit some pitches to us? And so over the next couple of months, he allowed me to submit a couple of pitches to him. And they went with one of the pitches, and that was what ultimately became Storm Siren, which Marissa, you blurbed storm. Siren for me. And I'm thankful to this day. But the day I found out that they were going to publish it, I'd only written five chapters total of it. I didn't know how to really decently write a whole book, so I immediately hired a mentor to mentor me on how to complete writing a book. But the day I found out they were buying that, plus the whole trilogy, I got a rejection in the mail from a writing contest. On the exact same pages that they were buying, I got a rejection from a writing contest saying with all marked up from people's comments, saying, this isn't realistic. This would never happen. We don't like the voice. It's got too much sass in it. And on one hand, I started crying when I got it. And then of course, I open this other email and I'm finding out I'm getting published, and I started crying then. And that was in 2000. It published in 2014. I feel like it's a wandering writer story, but what I've discovered is everybody has their own wandering writer story, right?
[22:10] Marissa: No, it's true. And that's why I love asking that question, because no two stories are the same and yours is particularly unique.
[22:20] Mary: It's all the angst. It really worked for me.
[22:22] Marissa: Well, I also have a box of angsty journals tucked away somewhere. My husband has not found the name. Goodness. All right. And so then, now here we are. Many years have gone by. Both of you have numerous books to your name, and you at some point founded the Writer Sanctuary. So tell listeners, what is the Writer Sanctuary?
[22:49] C.J.: Do you want to take that one, Mary? And then I'll talk about how it started?
[22:52] Mary: Sure, yeah. So the Writer Sanctuary, it's basically a community that CJ, she'll get into the origin story of that, but she developed this, I want to say entity, but it's a community called the Writer Sanctuary years and years ago. And we became friends shortly after our debuts were published. And over the years, we started becoming more writing buddies, right? Just writing friends. And at one point, I don't know, was it 2017, CJ. I think that she invited me to be a part of this. And essentially what the Writer Sanctuary is, is CJ. And I have, like, 20 years of experience combined as bestsellers award winners. And what we discovered is we were working with all of these different writers, and we wanted kind of a one stop shop place where people could come and they could get community, they could get one on one mentoring, they could get master classes, they could get editing, they could get marketing, but also retreats. So I feel like the way I'd best describe the writer sanctuary is what CJ And I had been looking for for years in our own writing careers, because as we came up through our writing careers separately, there were so many things that we had to figure out and learn as you go. Right. You have to learn about how the publishing world works. You have to figure out the business side of things. You have to go out and research and ask questions about whether it's agents or what publishers, or how to format a manuscript, or who knows the best editor in the area so that I can get my book, a developmental edit cleaned on my book so it'll get cleaned up, or which conferences, those types of things. And then you throw in marketing into the mix. And I felt like I spent more of my time learning the business of writing than actually doing the writing. And so what we decided to do is really provide a one place, one stop community where people could come and they can get all those questions answered. They can participate, they can have critique partners, they can watch webinars, they can go on retreats with us or listen in on virtual conferences, but where they can find all of that without having to spend so much time and research. We just wanted to do it for them and go, hey, come exist with us, and let's do this together. So I almost would consider it a mastermind group, but everybody is welcome, if that makes sense. So essentially what we do is we work with internationally bestselling writers and brand new writers. We've worked with Hollywood film directors. We have some multi million entrepreneurs that we've either done editing or ghost writing for. But we also do coaching, we do teaching. And our goal really is just to bring out the best in each client so that we can position their stories to sell best in whatever today's climate happens to be. And so with that in mind, we essentially do one on one mentorships, virtual, in person classes, conferences and retreats, like I said. But our goal really is just to be kind of a writer's best friend or best resource, I would say.
[26:14] C.J.: Yeah. And it delights my heart to no.
[26:18] Mary: End that I get to give two.
[26:19] C.J.: Origin stories in one podcast.
[26:22] Marissa: So amazing.
[26:24] C.J.: Look at me sitting here without my cloak. Shameful, honestly. So in 2013, I went on a writer's retreat with some friends and I thought this was really cool. We went to a cabin, there was four of us. It was really neat. And we started talking and we started comparing notes. And it was like pulling back the curtain on the publishing process because I learned really insightful, intriguing things from somebody who was at a different publisher than me and someone who was at the same publisher as me. They learned things from me. And we had a couple of people who were not yet published in our group and they learned a lot from all of us. And I thought, why is this not a thing that exists for writers where we have a place to build community and pull back the curtain? There's so much secrecy in publishing, and the secrecy never, ever helps the writers. It only ever helps the publishers. And it's so much better to have all of the information in front of you so you can make the best informed decisions for your career, so you can manage your expectations and your mental health, and so you can have friends and build true community with people as you move through this business that can have these incredible highs, but also these really devastating lows. It's so important to have that community. And what I saw at the time was a lack of that type of community, but especially the few places where there were some offerings. There was such a line between published and non published writers, as if published were superior to unpublished writers. But also there was this line between people who wanted to publish indie and people who wanted to publish traditional. And I just found all of that to be sad. I think that if you are a creative person and you are a writer and a storyteller, who am I to tell you which path is best for you? That's ridiculous. You're smart enough to choose the path that you love and that you think is best. And it might change story by story, or it might be you're all in in one lane. Or another, but there's no one lane that's better than another. There's not something that's more valid than another. And I don't consider myself to be superior to people who aren't yet published. I was once not published. We all were. And there's no sense in forgetting that when we suddenly sign a publishing contract, we're on the same ladder. We're just a couple of rungs above. It doesn't make us superior, it just makes us slightly further down the exact same path. And I wanted to create a community where we got rid of all of those barriers and where we had friendships and shared knowledge and talked about publishing, we talked about marketing, we talked about the craft. But we did it in such a way where it was just very warm and welcoming and inclusive of everyone and every path. And so that's how the Writer Sanctuary was born. And at first it was simply in person retreats and the occasional online teaching. This is before zoom and crowdcasts and stuff like that were a thing. And so I was using Yahoo groups, which I think are dead now.
[29:33] Marissa: I don't even think anymore.
[29:35] C.J.: I'm not sure. I'm pretty sure they're dead, but I was using know as a way to teach a class and formulate lessons. I have a degree in education and a lot of experience as a teacher. It's something I'm really passionate about, something I love. And so I was doing that, and I would teach workshops at the retreats. And it was such an incredible experience to have that community, but I had such big dreams for where this could go, and I knew that I didn't have the bandwidth to do it myself. And I also knew that I didn't have all of the skills I needed to either learn a lot more skills or find someone that complemented those. And it was in talking with Mary as we became closer and closer friends, that I just went, you know what? We're very much cut from the same cloth in that we value people and community over things like profit and recognition and stuff like that. That's how we're built. And she has complementary skills to mine, and I have complementary skills to her. And she's someone with a lot of integrity, which is very important to me. I built this business, and it was five years old at the time, and I didn't want to just bring in somebody that might end up shredding the reputation I'd been so careful to build. So I talked with her and she got really excited about it and brought her on. And at first we were like, okay, so we're just going to continue what I was already doing, but maybe we escalate a little bit. We do two live events a year, and then we'll see. And then the pandemic hit, and so there were no live events. And we went, well, we don't want to lose the community that we've built let's pivot. And Mary and I, if there's nothing else that can be said about us, it is true that we are really good at the pivot. We are just really good at it. And so we took the temperature of the situation pretty quickly and went, you know what, let's figure out how to do everything online.
[31:31] Mary: And we did.
[31:32] C.J.: And we just completely pivoted our business model to online and we discovered this freedom to do so much more. So we've built this online publishing conference. We've built webinars that we do Masterclass every month and we do webinars every month. We have in person retreats still. We're going to Scotland in October. Super excited about that.
[31:52] Marissa: My gosh, how exciting.
[31:54] C.J.: It's going to be so much fun. Like we're staying in this chateau but it looks like a castle because of course it does. We're super excited and we keep it changing. We keep saying what's next? What else does our community need? What else do we wish was in existence? So something we rolled out this year for the first time was this incredible little secret writers society called the Red Herrings Society. We rolled that out in January and it's a monthly subscription program for the exact same cost that one of our webinars a month would be. But you get the webinar for free. You get the master class that we offer every month for free. You get all of our university classes on our website for free. You get publication opportunities. We have an anthology coming out in December with our members in it. You get all of this just incredible newsletter with all this rich industry info and tips and tools for marketing and for writing and then you get giveaways and mentorship. But really I think what keeps people mean we have all these great offerings for them. But we have a Facebook community plus we have writing Sprints every month and so we see everybody and we interact with them and they interact with each other and we have seen incredible relationships. Have we've had our members go on to get published and sign with agents and meet their critique partners and it's just been incredible, this experience that was a very long origin story. And I realize I'm no longer in origin and I'm up to the present day, but that's where we were born and that's what we're doing now. And we can't wait to roll out the new stuff that we're doing for next year.
[33:37] Marissa: I love that and I love what the Writer Sanctuary stands for. I love what you guys stand know, just this idea of embracing community. And Mary, you mentioned that you respond a lot to the idea of the happy writer podcast because finding joy in writing is so important and something that kind of gets overlooked in the industry. I feel, I feel like the three of us, we are just like all.
[34:05] Mary: On the same wavelength. Absolutely. Writing is such a lonely profession. I think it's why writers do everything but write. Sometimes they get online, they play a game, and they go out to coffee with friends and it's kind of the big joke about, oh, are you writing? Okay, get back to writing. But it's because it is a profession where you do it alone. You can do all the talking and brainstorming you want, but at the end of the day, you have to still sit down at your computer and you have to write and you're in your own head so much. And so we just thought, well, we're passionate about being not I was going to say we're passionate about being in everybody's heads, but that sounds a little weird.
[34:49] Marissa: We're also passionate.
[34:50] C.J.: Way to make it creepy.
[34:53] Mary: But the idea of how can we be alone together?
[34:56] Marissa: How can we do this together?
[34:58] Mary: And along with that, there are not many professions that change at the speed of light that the writing profession does, the publishing world, marketing, all of that, it changes so fast. Of course, we have to learn to pivot and then we're constantly teaching our writers how to pivot and with their writing, but also with their careers, just because things change so frequently in this business. And so it's helpful to not feel like that you got left behind because the world went on and changed without you. It's so good then to be in a community where everybody knows, okay, we're all in this together, right? We're riding these waves together. And I just love that. We always say that we think that writers create better when they're surrounded by community. And I know. I certainly do. Absolutely.
[35:50] Marissa: 100%. So when I was kind of preparing to talk to you guys today and was thinking like, oh, they're such a great resource.
[35:59] Mary: We could talk about craft, we could.
[36:01] Marissa: Talk about marketing, we could talk about hosting writing retreats, I mean, there's just so many directions and we could probably talk for 6 hours if we wanted to. But what I thought would be kind of fun is to focus on this idea of happiness in writing, because I feel like this is kind of a thing that ties what I do together with what you guys are doing and just maybe give some really practical tips to the listeners for how they can create a more joy filled writing life. And so on that note, to start, I wanted to ask each of you what are some things that to you tend to just take the joy out of writing and out of our writing journeys. And what can a person do to avoid those things, if possible, or overcome them if it's not something that can be avoided?
[36:59] Mary: So this is Mary and I think one of the number one things that we tend to hear both from each other, ourselves, but also from the writers that we work with. The thing that seems to drain joy very quickly is that pressure of expectation and perfectionism that we all put on ourselves. And it's usually us, it's not somebody else so much putting that on us, but it's that sense of obligation and making sure that we're at the top of our game, or is our writing good enough? Or have we edited and reedited that page to death so that we don't actually end up moving on into the rest of the story? And so that's one of the things that I think that we hear really frequently and we're familiar with, is just that sense of pressure that we need to perform to a certain set of our own expectations, or even sometimes maybe publisher expectations or family expectations, and that whole thing of, well, is your book published yet? Because you told someone a week ago that you started writing, and somehow they think that magically, you must be published. How long does it take?
[38:11] Marissa: So all those pressures that get put.
[38:15] Mary: On us, that's what I think really drains that joy out of writing, because it robs that level of creativity and that space where we can just be our own creative being and instead, it gives us kind of a checklist or that ladder even, that we need to jump up to and hop up all the rungs. And that expectation of, oh, well, when will you be a New York Times bestselling author? Or when will you be know, international bestseller or a public speaker? Things like that. And instead of, you know, whether you ever do any of that or not, are you enjoying it? Is it something that you love to do? Is it something that brings you joy and brings you life? That creative aspect is really at the heart of writing and at the heart of publishing even. And so I know that it seems like money is at the heart of publishing, but at the end of the day, if publishing didn't have writers who were so fascinated and passionate about being creative, publishing wouldn't exist. So I think that's something that we very often see.
[39:19] Marissa: No, I love that you use that as like that was your first go to response. Because I noticed when both of you were telling your origin stories of how you became writers, both of you separately touched on this idea that even if I can't get published or even if this never goes anywhere, I'm still going to be writing because this is who I am. And I love to do this.
[39:44] C.J.: Yeah, it's really important to make sure that as far as your mental health is concerned, that your identity is not publishing, because publishing is so fickle. The market goes up and down, and your genre sales go up and down, and one book performs well, and then another book maybe doesn't perform as well. One time you're the publisher's darling, and they're sending you places and they're marketing you, and then the next two books they don't even remember that you are part of their imprint. This is normal. This is just part of publishing. But if your entire identity is bound up in how you perceive yourself through the eyes of others based on their treatment of you or based on your marketing plan or based on your mean, that is a trip to incredible discouragement and an incredible loss of joy. It's so important, as Mary was touching on, to have your identity separate from that so that if publishing crumbles tomorrow, you're okay. Disappointed? Yes. But you're okay because you're not your sales numbers, you're not your cover design, you're not your reviews. You're separate from those things. When you asked that question, though, I sat here with just, like, way too many ideas hitting my head, going I thought, what thing do I say? What do I say? But I'm going to say that one of the things that I've been hearing a lot from my clients and from our community lately is this idea of somehow finding balance between writing and work and life and feeling like you're overwhelmed and you've got that kind of loss of enjoyment in a lot of things because you feel stretched too thin. And so when I hear that from people, first of all, the question that I get asked honestly the most often whenever I do events or I'm teaching, is, how do you balance writing with the rest of your life? And I just look at them and I just say, you don't. There's no perfect equation that exists out there that if you apply this mathematically to your life, everything's going to be fine and it's all going to make sense. There isn't one. Instead, there's this concept that I use of balls, rubber balls and glass balls. Some things in your life are rubber balls. If you drop them, they'll bounce. Some things are glass balls. If you drop them, they'll shatter. So when you're in a season where things are feeling kind of overwhelming and super busy, you have to be really careful to look and say, okay, what can I delegate? What can I say no to? What can I move? What can I come to somebody and say, I'm actually going to need a few extra days on that project? Or actually, I know I said I could do this interview, but I'm going to need to put that off for another month. I'm very sorry for the inconvenience, because those are rubber balls. But your family is a glass ball. Your mental health is a glass ball. You can't sacrifice those things for writing. And when you start to do that, you quickly lose your joy and your passion. You start to feel like you're being treated and you're treating yourself like some sort of book vending machine, and you're not, that you have to refill your creative well. And it's really hard to do that when you're not paying attention to the signals that you're in a season of. I need to actually pull back, or I need to communicate to others around me, hey, I'm on a deadline. So this week I need somebody else to be taking care of these three responsibilities that I usually take care of. It's only for the week, and after that, I'm going to return full force and be involved. However, you need to figure those things out. Balance is just one of those things that's an ever shifting target. And there's some seasons where writing has to take the front seat for a little bit and some seasons where it's okay for it to take the back seat. But there have been plenty of times, I've learned the hard way, there's been plenty of times in the last few years in publishing where the ball that I needed to drop was publishing. And so I would let my team know, hey, this is what's going on. And so I actually need to move my book by a catalog season, I'm not going to be able to make those deadlines. And I did. And I moved.
[44:05] Marissa: It obviously didn't just fall apart.
[44:09] C.J.: My career didn't fall apart. My publisher didn't kick me out, and my readers are still asking for more books from me. And I am in a better place to be able to deliver those books because I didn't continue to drive myself into the ground.
[44:23] Marissa: Yeah, and arguably, most likely the books are better because you gave yourself the.
[44:29] Mary: Time that you needed.
[44:30] C.J.: Yeah, significantly better. I turned in a book. Now, the latest release of mine was last year. It was rise of the vicious princess. I'm super proud of the book. I feel it's one of the best things I've ever written. But the iteration that was going to go to press before I made that call with them, I was so disappointed in it that I was like, well, I hope people forgive me.
[44:52] Marissa: Oh, no. And then I was like, Why am.
[44:55] C.J.: I allowing my why? Just so I can say that I hit my deadlines and we went to press on time. It's a book. I'm not doing heart surgery. It can wait. Okay.
[45:09] Marissa: I'm so glad you told this story because this is one of those things that terrifies us, the idea that we're going to disappoint our readers, disappoint our publisher, our editor, that if we ask for more time or ask for what we need, that oh, that's it. I've proven that I'm not reliable, and.
[45:28] Mary: They'Ll never give me another contract.
[45:29] Marissa: And we have these fears in our heads constantly. Well, not constantly, but they certainly come. So I think it's so good to hear a story in which I asked for more time and it was okay. In fact, it was probably better. Almost certainly better.
[45:48] Mary: And this is Mary, and I'll just hop in and say that I don't know, that I've rarely ever heard a man, especially in this industry, say, I'm afraid of not pleasing them, or I'm afraid of asking for more time. And that's not to say anything negative about men, but I regularly will hear women bring up that concern, right? Women are going and I think it's just that some of us have been trained from a younger age to not inconvenience, not put out, make sure that we check all the boxes. And yet I think it's so healthy and so powerful when especially female writers are able to say, you know what? I'm going to ask for what I need. Because half the time we forget to even take the time to ask ourselves, what do I need? And so being able to give ourself that space, even if it's just checking in every single day, just before bed or whatever, of, how am I doing and what do I need right now? What do I need this week? What do I need to change? And I think that we have more control than what we realize we do. And I know that's a weird thing to say, because in publishing, we basically say, you have no control. Like, good luck. You can't control your cover or your publishing schedule, or whether an agent takes you on or how your query hits someone. And yet we do have so much control over us and over ourselves. So while we don't have control over the vast overarching realm of publishing, I think that that's also where we lose a lot of our happiness is when we get our focuses on that and on if this would only happen then, or if they say this, then I must have not done a good job. Or if I've been rejected, or if I don't meet this deadline, I won't make them happy. And I think it's so important to step back and go, okay, but so much of that is not in my control and to accept that and go, but what isn't in my control? What's in my control is what will make me happy? What is going to benefit my life and my family and the people that matter to me, and what can I do about that? But I think we first have to ask ourselves, what do I need today and what do I need this week? And what's going to bring me joy? And then we go from there to go, okay, how can I then walk this out into my career? And I think when we do it from that place, that positioning, it allows us to make healthier decisions and to get over that fear of know, I've done the same thing with my, you know, over at Harper, can I have more time for something? And flat out just told them, this book is not going to be what it needs to be, and I need more time to get it to where it can be, because partly it is your career on the line. Publishers have a lot of authors and this isn't a criticism of them, but they have a lot of authors to choose from. With authors, if we put out something bad, our careers sometimes will struggle for years to recover from that right, because it didn't sell well. And well, if it doesn't sell well, then maybe publishers aren't as inclined to pick you up and readers get nervous. And so being able to put out something that we are proud of in the process of also being a professional and understanding that publishing is a business and it's not just all about the writer. We don't get to be divas, but we can say, hey, have that conversation, at least to say, hey, I think that this would be better. I need more time. Here are X, Y, and Z reasons and let's talk about this. Advocating for ourself is really, I think, just such a powerful tool.
[49:34] Marissa: Yeah, no, and you do have to kind of have that long term thinking that it's not just this book or this season. It is a career that you are trying to build. And if you put out a book that you're not proud of, you will always have that in your backlist. It's never going to go away. I know for me, yes, it can be really hard to ask for more time or ask for an extension or ask for what I need, but that is not nearly as terrifying as the prospect of having a book out in the world that I am not proud of.
[50:13] Mary: Yes, exactly.
[50:15] C.J.: Agreed.
[50:17] Marissa: Okay, so back to the topic of the things that suck joy out of this life. The one that first came to my mind and that I hear all the time is comparing ourselves or our careers or our books to other writers, other books. And the very common issue of jealousy, whether that's you're the only one in your writing group who hasn't gotten an agent yet, or maybe your book comes out, but, oh, that book hit New York Times and mine didn't. Or oh, that author has a movie deal and I don't. I mean, no matter where you are on your path, it feels like there's always someone else that has something that you don't yet. And that can certainly be one of.
[51:03] Mary: Those things that just kind of sucks.
[51:05] Marissa: All of the joy and excitement out of things. So how do you deal with that? Or how would you recommend somebody deal with comparisons?
[51:16] C.J.: This is CJ. I really believe strongly in keeping your eye on your own test paper. And I know that it can be hard because we all have different markers of success that we really want. And it helps to remember that publishing is a marathon and not a sprint and things don't have to happen immediately for you for them to happen at some point. We have evidence of people going into publishing at like 75 years old and we're still talking about their books. I mean, this is a unique industry in that there are so many different opportunities available. And I think that it's just really important, mental health wise, to focus on what we can control because there's so much in publishing that is out of your control. So if we focus on what we can control and for us, for me, that is the writing that I'm doing, the ideas that I'm pursuing, and the parts of myself that I am putting out there basically for public consumption in my newsletters and on social media and at appearances, that's what I can control. I can't control the rest of it. And so I've just really learned to let that go. Obviously, I'll fight some battles. If I see I need to say something through my agent about my cover or about marketing or something like that, I remain aware. But there's a difference between being aware of what's going on around you and being so caught up in it that it feels like what happens to somebody else is a personal attack on you. It's really healthy instead to do your absolute best to rejoice for other people and to be cheering them on and not see people as competitors. I don't see other writers as my competition. I see them as my colleagues. And if you can stay in that mindset and just focus on what you can control, there's so much joy in that because I get to just be sitting here in my happy little bubble, working on my books and the things that I really love and nurturing writers through writer sanctuary, which I really love. And just all of my energy is constantly all day long consumed by things that I love. And the rest of it, I just cultivate oblivion.
[53:32] Mary: This is Mary, and I think I have two things to add to what CJ said. And the first one is just I really strongly believe, especially just from a psychology perspective, that community really is the great equalizer. And I know we've kind of pushed in on community quite a bit in this podcast, but there's a reason for that. There's a reason why we are so passionate about it. And I think that when you are in true community with people and you're interacting beyond just the headlines, right, oh, I sold a book, or oh, I got an agent and you're the only person that didn't. I think that when you are interacting on the regular want to do a writing sprint or hey, anybody have an idea about a title for this? Or does anyone know what's going on with this publisher? But when you're able just to sit there and have those conversations, even if it's virtually, but you're able to have that interaction, I think that takes a lot of that competitiveness out because you know each other beyond the headlines and you know that you're for each other and for me. I noticed that if I'm jealous, it's because I'm unhappy with something in my own life or I'm frustrated with something in my own life. And I don't think that jealousy is actually a bad emotion. I think that jealousy is a symptom, right? It's a tool to let me go, okay, let's dig deeper. Where is that coming from? It's never just its own emotion. It's pointing the bat signal to something deeper that's going on. And that could be, like I said, frustration, unhappiness, discouragement. But that's also the opportune time to be able to be in community with people who can surround you and go, we are for you. How can we help you with your discouragement? Hey, how can we help cheer you on? And that's one of the things I've seen, is just part of even with the writer sanctuary, with helping people get agents or publishers and things like that, it just happens to be because somebody knows somebody and hey, let me recommend you to my agent. Or the other day I recently, two weeks ago, I got to recommend a client to an agent that I just happened to know, but I thought her work would fit perfectly for her, and she got signed within four days. And the agent instagrammed me and was just like, oh my gosh. And I was like, right. So it's that ability to network, right? But it's beyond networking. It's being able to just live the writing life with other people. And I think that that really takes that competitiveness out of.
[56:09] Marissa: That.
[56:09] Mary: And then I also just think living a bigger life, like CJ said earlier, than whatever you're writing, whatever's going on in your writing world, that's only one aspect. But being able to step back from that and live a bigger life, it reminds me that life is so much more adventurous and so much more beautiful and so much more magical and wild than this little career that we have called writing, right? That's just one element of this big wildlife. And so I have this commitment to myself, and I've had it since I very first started writing, which is, like CJ said earlier, to not get my identity wrapped up in this is who I am, but to always live a bigger, more wild life than any story that I'm going to write about. Because for me, that keeps that level of balance in a very unbalanced industry.
[57:00] Marissa: All right, my last question, and we're.
[57:03] Mary: Just going to do kind of speed.
[57:05] Marissa: Round ish what is like your number one tip for how a person can bring more joy into their writing?
[57:13] C.J.: Please insert over my head a spitting blue circle. Loading, loading.
[57:18] Marissa: Loading. Is that because you're drawing a blank.
[57:22] C.J.: Or because you've got no idea?
[57:24] Mary: How do we choose one? Which one do we land on?
[57:27] Marissa: Gave me 20 ideas, and I was like.
[57:31] Mary: We want to pick the perfect one, but they're all so good. So I'll just jump in here and just say. That this sounds so boring and practical, but it's really pay attention to your mental health, because I think that so much of our creativity is either stopped or staunched or crunched up with mental health, or else it's given the freedom to explore. And so I think just paying attention to your mental health and what your needs are and what's going on around you a number of times heard writers get frustrated that they're not writing fast enough and they don't even feel like writing at all. And then you found out that they just had some tragedy in their life. And I'm like, well, of course you can, because you're grieving, and you have to allow yourself that space to grieve before your creativity comes back. I would just say paying attention to your mental health and giving yourself the grace and space to be who you need to be in that moment.
[58:27] C.J.: Yeah. And I will say that it kind of goes along with that. It's just really be careful. Pay attention to the voices that you surround yourself with, the voices that you are giving the power to speak into your life, into your writing, into your creativity. We can't always choose sometimes we're related to them. We can't always choose people. Everybody around us is positive. But the people that you really trust the most with your friendship and with your creativity and with your work. Let those people be ones who are uplifting to you and that speak life into you, that are not super critical and super down either on you or on themselves all the time, but people that really believe in you. And help you see the best version of yourself and strive towards that version and feel like you've got that uplift gas in the tank to continue on and to go after your dreams. There's a thing that happens, and I don't know if it happened to you, Marissa, but I know it did to me. It did for Mary, and it's done with a lot of people. We've talked about where a friendship or two might fall by the wayside after you get published, and it was always somebody who couldn't handle that you were published in this really weird know, for me, it was somebody who was also a writer, and I never saw it coming. Yeah, it happens. And these are people that, rather than be all in on your dreams the way you are for them, they were all in on your dreams as long as you didn't succeed, because they hadn't succeeded yet either. And then when you do, it becomes just this weird, toxic kind of mess. And that doesn't always happen, but I think everybody's got someone in their life where you're like, yeah, I really don't trust that person super close to me. So, anyway, all that to say, there's something really valuable about, first of all, speaking positively about yourself and your own work and your own creativity. Yes, you wrote a messy first draft. We all do. That's why they're there. Yes, you have more to learn about your craft. We're all constantly learning about our craft. But you are a worthwhile storyteller. Your stories have value. You have value. And what you're producing is going to continue to grow and shift and change and become something absolutely amazing. And that's the kind of thing that you speak over yourself, and that's the kind of friend that you need. Those are the voices you need in your life. And one of the ways that I've accomplished that is to really look, I'm going to be real with you. I turned 40, and something shifted inside of me where I was like, I actually don't think that I have the emotional bandwidth or the desire to put up with ****. That's just not going to be part of who I am stepping forward. And now I'm almost 50, and I am very firmly entrenched in that particular mindset. And one of the things that I do is I just tell myself all the time whenever something comes at me and it feels a little off or it feels negative, I think if I wouldn't cry for you at your funeral, I don't have to care what you think about me now. And there's so much freedom in that because why spin your wheels caring about what everybody else thinks about you and then caring about what everybody thinks about your work? Hand pick carefully. Choose the people that are going to be part of your team. If you're getting a developmental editor, choose somebody that's positive, that really helps you shape and helps you learn and helps you grow. When you're choosing writing communities, choose ones that are positive, warm, welcoming, and inclusive and that help you help you grow and that remove obstacles rather than putting more in your past. When you have close friendships, just be careful. Everybody can come by your gate, but not everybody gets invited on your porch, and even fewer get invited in the house. So that's my advice.
[01:02:25] Marissa: I think these are both excellent pieces of advice, and I'm just going to throw in my own. How to make your writing journey a little bit happier is to take time to celebrate things. I'm always surprised how often I talk to writers and you're like, what did you do to celebrate? Your book launched? And they're like, I wrote a chapter because I'm under deadline. Have that bottle of champagne, go out to dinner, watch a movie with your kids. Yes, big things and small, too. Like, you finished a chapter.
[01:02:59] Mary: Cool.
[01:02:59] Marissa: Have a cookie. Or you got a rejection.
[01:03:03] Mary: Have a cookie, right?
[01:03:07] Marissa: All right, for our bonus round, my first question what book makes you happy?
[01:03:16] Mary: I just finished a really fun book, and I was thinking as soon as you asked that, I was like, oh, it's called The Thursday Murder Club. It's by Richard Osmond. And I know it's been out for a little while, but it's about some senior citizens who live at a senior citizen center over in Europe, and they have decided to form this murder club to try and solve murders from old cases, case files. One of them used to be an officer and a murder happens on the premises. And so they decide to help the cops, so to speak, solve the murder. And it's just a riot. I listened to it on Audible and loved every moment. It made me smile.
[01:04:02] C.J.: Oh, that's super. Um, lots of books make me smile. Books in general make me smile. And recently I was recommended The Fourth Wing by I think it's Rebecca Yarrow, if I'm not mistaken, and so highly recommended. It's just an addictive Ya fantasy read. And so that's been lots of fun so far.
[01:04:24] Marissa: What are you working on next?
[01:04:28] Mary: A couple of things. So first of all, CJ and I actually have a joint project that we just sold. And so it's a nonfiction and that will be coming out in 2024. So the next three days happen to be ones where we are wrapping up that nonfiction. So what we're directly working on next is writing our little hearts out to finish this, to get it into the editor by the 20 eigth. And then separately, I'll just speak for me, I am in the middle of working on an adult thriller that is due to my agent pretty soon. And so we'll see what that I'm branching out into the adult writing world, so we'll see where that goes. But so far it's been a lot of fun. My agents love the concept and so we'll see what happens.
[01:05:14] Marissa: Exciting. And congratulations on the Co writing project. I can't wait to hear more about it. Thanks.
[01:05:19] C.J.: Thank you. And yes, I actually just turned in the final sequel to Rise of the Vicious Princess. So that'll come out next year. So aside from the next three days of work on our nonfiction project, I am going to be actually doing two different things. One is. I'm going to be writing a fist. Brave inspire book. I constantly get asked for more of those. And I did have ten planned in the series. And so I was like, you know what, I'm going to go for it. And if a publisher doesn't buy it, I'm just going to publish it myself because I love the series so much. And so I'm really excited about it. It's my take on Beauty and the Beast and Yay love it. And then I will also be branching out into adult. Super excited about that. And the project that I'm currently looking at pitching is basically Supernatural meets Santa Clarita Diet.
[01:06:07] Marissa: Awesome. Lastly, where can people find you?
[01:06:13] Mary: Well, for the writers sanctuary. Yeah.
[01:06:15] Marissa: Instagram.
[01:06:16] Mary: For the Writers Sanctuary, we have a pretty good strong Instagram account, a pretty strong community on just, you know, the handle is the Writer Sanctuary. If you look that up on Instagram, you'll find us and we give out, I think, five or six days a week. We put out publishing advice, writing advice, craft advice, tips, all that type of stuff, plus random fun videos here and there. But we just have a lot of fun with our community on there. And then online they can look us up at the Writers sanctuary.com. And we have a website, and it has all of our offerings and all of our fun community stuff people can get a part of. It has freebies on there. We have free Master classes that people can watch on there, and then we have some that are in the university that are paid, and then, of course, they can join the Red Herring Society and be a part of our little secret club on Facebook from there. So that's where you can contact us, obviously. My own Instagram handle, if people want to follow me, it's Mary Webber, author on Instagram, and then my website is maryweber.com.
[01:07:29] C.J.: Yes, you can also find me on Instagram, it's at CJ redwine and at my website, Cjredwine.com. I also hang out on TikTok, but so far I basically just post about Taylor Swift. So if that's your jam, I'm there.
[01:07:47] Marissa: Awesome. Mary CJ, it has been so delightful to have you today.
[01:07:51] Mary: Thank you for having us. I always love getting to hang out and chat with you, and one of these days we have to do that in person again. But you're always just such a delight. And thank you for all you put out into the writing world and writing community. Marissa, because this is such I've heard so many people over the last two years, just a year and a half, whatever, talk about how much this podcast has encouraged them, empowered them, that it's one of their favorite writing podcasts. So I'm so grateful that you do it.
[01:08:22] Marissa: I love to hear that. Thank you. I appreciate that.
[01:08:25] C.J.: Thank you so much for having us. I'm so grateful to have spent some time with you again, and I hope that we get to hang out in person again really soon.
[01:08:33] Marissa: Me too. I get all of your emails. I'm subscribed to the Writer Sanctuary newsletter and I'm always like, oh, now where are they going?
[01:08:43] Mary: Yeah, there's 35 of us in Scotland in October and we cannot wait.
[01:08:49] Marissa: That's incredible. I'm so jealous. One of these days, one of these.
[01:08:53] Mary: Days I will be on one of.
[01:08:54] Marissa: Those yes, readers, be sure to check out, or I should say, writers and readers, be sure to check out the Writers Sanctuary. And if you're enjoying these conversations, please subscribe and follow us on Instagram at Marissa Meyer, author and at Happy Writer Podcast. Until next time, keep writing, stay inspired, and whatever life throws you today, I do hope that now you're feeling a little bit happier.