The Happy Writer with Marissa Meyer

Guest: Sara Elizabeth Santana

June 29, 2020 Marissa Meyer Season 2020 Episode 22
The Happy Writer with Marissa Meyer
Guest: Sara Elizabeth Santana
Chapters
The Happy Writer with Marissa Meyer
Guest: Sara Elizabeth Santana
Jun 29, 2020 Season 2020 Episode 22
Marissa Meyer
Transcript
Speaker 1:

Oh,

Speaker 2:

[inaudible]

Speaker 1:

Hello and welcome to the happy writer. This is a podcast that aims to bring readers, more books, to enjoy and to help authors find more joy in their writing. I'm your host, Marissa Meyer. Thanks so much for joining me today. One thing that is making me happy this week is my hammock. Uh, my mother-in-law gave me a hammock for, I think Christmas a few years ago, and every summer I wait and I wait and I wait for the rain to finally stop, uh, so that I can put it out. And that finally happened this week. And so I've spent hours and hours over the last few days, just rocking in my hammock and swinging under the shade of a Dogwood tree and reading books. And if that isn't one of life's greatest little pleasures, I don't know what is a and one of the books that I got to read this week happens to be the one that we're going to be talking about today.

Speaker 1:

So I'm super excited to welcome today's guest. She is the founder of the popular book blog. What a nerd girl says as well as the author of the apocalyptic. Duology the awakened and it's, CQL the sanctuary, both of which just released on June 16th, please welcome Sarah Elizabeth Santana. Hello. Thank you so much for having me on. Thank you so much for being here. How was life in your bunker? It's pretty good. I work part time at home and part time at the office. I feel like I get a little bit more human interaction than most people do. So it keeps me a little sane.

Speaker 1:

I feel like the, the cabin fever is really setting in. Oh yeah. Yeah. Definitely. Like I, like, I find myself just kind of going, like, I love this apartment, but Oh my God. I don't want to stare at these walls anymore. Yeah, I know. I know. And you're in Southern California and so I imagine the weather has been beautiful. It has, it's been, it's been great because kind of ever since, um, we know we went on lockdown, it was right when like spring hits. So, you know, we're still encouraged to kind of go outside, take walks and, and, and do all that kind of stuff. So it's nice. Cause it's, it's nice outside to do that. And you kind of, you know, people are still social distancing, but you see way more people outside than you would normally see. Most people stay inside and all that, but I'm seeing more people like ride bikes and go on walks and stuff.

Speaker 1:

And so that's kind of nice. That is kind of nice. I feel like once the spring and the summer hit dealing with corn team got a lot easier. Yeah. Yeah. So, okay. So I have to start out with this question, um, that I, when I was researching your biography, I learned that you have two cats. I do Kaz and Kai. I do arrogant of me to time might be named after mine. It's so funny. My best friends, you have to drop this in the podcast. So you have to do that. Yes. Kai is absolutely named after Kai from, um, from the lunar Chronicles. Yes.

Speaker 1:

We got cast first and we named her after the main kit. Well, one of the main characters in I'll leave already go six of crows. Yes. And when we got hired a year later, we just kept, we couldn't figure out a name and he was very shy at first. We couldn't even figure out like a personality. And, um, my boyfriend had just started, I had just finished reading the letter Chronicles cause I told me he had to read it and he's like, well, what about Chi? That works really nice. And I was like, I'm sold. So yeah.

Speaker 1:

Oh yeah. Which at the time sounded like a great idea, but the longer that we've had them, the more that it's been like Kai Kaz, I don't remember who it was. I always hear it. When parents name all of their kids with the same first letter, I always think, how are you not just constantly stumbling over those names? I don't, I, I would, I can use my cats all the time. I can't imagine with like the kids, I had a friend in high school who they were once she was one of seven and they all had J names. Oh my God. I don't know how, I don't know how your mom keeps you apart. Like, there's just, how does she do it? Yeah. You'd be constantly doing mental flip-flops. Right. Yeah. So I definitely do that with my cats. And I think they don't know their own names because they're so similar.

Speaker 1:

So, well, I hope after this podcast, you'll give Christ some extra snuggles for me. I can definitely do that. Why don't we kick off this episode with you telling listeners what is the awakened about, um, so the you in kind of very timely right now, um, the way we can smell a high school senior named Soay, who is just kind of, you know, doing very normal high school things, going to school. Um, you know, she lives a very overprotective dad who kind of makes her take self defense classes to make sure she's safe in their New York city neighborhood. Um, and then, you know, out of the blue, a pandemic kits to the United States, um, and it happens real, real fast in re real serious. And it kind of just wipes out part of the population really, really quickly. Um, and obviously we kind of know how scary that can be.

Speaker 1:

We're living in something like that right now. Um, but to make matters, even worse, um, all the bodies that are kind of starting to, you know, sort of pile up, um, suddenly all disappear. And then they reappear a few days later as, um, the awakened, um, and the weekender they're zombies, but they're kind of my take on zombies. Um, they still chase humans. That's what they want. They feed on human flesh, but they're smarter. And they retain the personality and memories of the people that they were before they died. So they're much faster, much smarter, much scarier. Um, and the awakened follows Zoe, her dad and her very cute, but very annoying nextdoor neighbor as they kind of, um, you know, fight to survive. And, and this, this country that's torn apart by pandemic and zombies. So that is the weekend. No, I like that.

Speaker 1:

You mentioned how timely it is. Cause of course it's impossible to be reading it and not, yeah. So what's happening in the real world. Oh yeah. And it was funny cause I also, of course the lunar Chronicles had a pandemic, um, yes. As a big part of that plot line. Um, and so I like had this Venn diagram in my head of like lunar Chronicles and the awakened real life pandemic in the middle. And it's funny cause I've been thinking about putting awakened, like this relaunch for so long and I'm like, okay, I'm going to do it. I'm ready for it. And then like, as I'm going through the motions of getting ready for it, I'm like, Oh, well, okay, like now real life is reflecting fiction and this just feels weird. Now imagine it would feel weird. What has it been like trying to launch a book about it, terrible deadly virus in the midst of all this.

Speaker 1:

It's definitely like, it's definitely a challenge. Cause there's a lot of people that don't want to read about that stuff, which is totally understandable. People are looking for more of an escape than to read more about what is kind of going on. So yeah, that's definitely been a little bit of a struggle, but I found that most people are like the opposite. They're like, this is what we're dealing with. I gonna read this, you know, it's, it's funny. Cause people like, wow, this is about a pandemic and zombies like sign me up. And I'm like, you're totally good to go. Like, so I've had kind of both reactions either that like I'm okay. I think I'll, I'll, I'll pass on that for now. And then the people that are like, no, that's what I want right now. I want the stuff like that. And I'm like, okay, well that works for me.

Speaker 1:

It's funny how we have different coping mechanisms for it. I kind of felt like in reading it know cause I, as a reader I tend to be the worst times are in real life. Then the happier I want my fiction to be sure. Yeah. But in reading the awakened, there was like this weird reverse psychology thing happening where it was like, well, I mean what's happening with coronavirus is nowhere near as bad as what sort of attitude I almost feel like. Yeah. Like it's okay guys. It could be so much worse. Like no idea. Yeah, definitely. So one thing, so it is a zombie story and kind of true to, you know, the zombie genre, if things start out bad and then they get progressively worse as the book goes on. Yes. I guess I could kind of be said of, you know, most fiction, but I feel like zombie novels like really take that to the extreme as just the awakened.

Speaker 1:

And one of the things that felt really unique about this take on zombies is that their intelligence, um, and they, they can speak and they can be manipulative and I'm reading it and just thinking like smart and som is that when you decided you're going to write this zombie book and you were going to have them be intelligent, like, was that just you thinking, you know, what would make zombies even worse? Smart zombies kind of. I do remember, um, when I started writing the book and I've always written contemporary before, I've been like a strict contemporary writer I've before the weekend, I never wrote any speculative fiction, like at all. Um, and I was very into the walking dead at the time, you know, watching this show and nothing, he gives the show and it was great, but I got to a point where I was just sort of bored and I was like, ah, you know what?

Speaker 1:

I don't know. I don't know if I'm going to stick with this. And I remember thinking like, well, why like what's, what's happening. That's like not making me stick with it, you know? And I was like, I just kind of found the zombies boring. And it was, it was just cause it's like every zombie story tends to be the same and the storyline, like it's hard to continue with like a show to me because the zombie just keep doing the same thing. You know what I mean? Like there's nothing that changes. And so I thought, well, okay, what, what could you do to make zombies more exciting or more scary? And I was like, well, you can make them faster. That would help. You know? And I'm like, okay. And then I'm like, Ooh, what if they talk like zap scare? And it just kind of built from there?

Speaker 1:

Like what can I do to make them like a little bit more interesting? Yeah, no, it's creepy. It's a horribly creepy idea. Um, and that, you know, not only can they talk, but they, like you, you mentioned in, in your synopsis, they retain their memories and they can find their way back to their friends and their loved ones. And I mean, you have some really dark, horrible scenes with regard. I thought it made it also interesting too, because it's like, I think a lot of zombie FIC, whether, you know, whether it's TV or movies or whatever, you know, they do often show characters, struggling to like take down family members or take down friends, but they always kind of have that idea of like, well, that's not there. That's not them anymore. And it's easy to convince themselves. But in the awakened, I think I tried to make it a little bit harder for them because it's like, okay, it's not what it is.

Speaker 1:

You know? And when you have your dad, your best friend, your teacher, whoever it is in front of you talking to you and stuff, it's like, there's a, there's definitely more hesitation than there would be if they were just, you know, what we know as normal zombies. And so I kind of wanted that to be a big thing. Yeah, no, it would be a total mind trip and trying to put yourself in the situation of those, how difficult the choices would be to make if you were faced with that. And I think, you know, I don't know what I would do. I'd get off the time. Like what would you do in a zombie apocalypse? I'm like, I'd be the person hiding in the basement. Like I would not be as brave as these characters. Like I put all the like wish I have for bravery into like Zoe the main character, but Oh yeah.

Speaker 1:

I would not be that person at all. Yeah, no me either. I am not anything like Zoe people and girls who are like Zoe, I wish I could be more fierce, which is part of the reason why I love reading about them. Um, but I did cause we also used to watch the walking dead. Um, and same, like I just kind of burned out on it after so many seas. Yeah, exactly. But I do remember like when walking dead was like the most popular show on TV and everyone you knew was watching it and we would have these long conversations about like, what is your zombie apocalypse plan? And I actually ended up buying a book about survival. That's amazing. My tactic, like if I don't like I'm going to buy a book, it sits in my bookshelf, untouched. I still haven't learned anything there.

Speaker 1:

If I need it ever happens, you can just grab it off the shelf and take it with you. That's what I felt like a learn on the run, yours zombie apocalypse plan. You know, I think I said, I wish I could say that I'd be the person that knows exactly where they'd go and know exactly what to do. I think I would just be like, ah, I don't know what to do. Um, but I'm lucky I live with my boyfriend and I live with his best friend and they're both super nature, super hikers, like super into all that. I just like, you guys lead the way I'm following you, whatever your guys' plan is. I I'm in with you. You guys have probably got the better ideas and I will just pack up the cats and let's, let's go bring the cats.

Speaker 1:

I don't know if that would make the most sense, but I would definitely try. All right. Well good luck with the care. I don't think they, I don't think they'd like it very much. Oh no. You know, people don't usually talk about what happens to the pets in the zombie apocalypse. Um, but I have a feeling that it doesn't go well for them. I don't think so either. Yeah. Yeah. I definitely don't want to spoil anything in my book, but I do touch on that a little bit and I definitely have people that are not very happy with me because of it. Right, right. But realistic, you know, it's easy in your day to day life to say, Oh, I would totally rescue my cat or my dog or whatever. Right. But what it actually comes in, you're actually having to run for your life. I'm not sure it'd be such an easy decision to make. Yeah. The logistics of it is just like, there's, there's just no way, unfortunately like to like think, Oh yeah, I can absolutely grab my, my cat right now or my dog. So you're absolutely right. Okay. So I want to talk about your kind of publishing journey. I'm sure you have kind of an interesting story that you don't hear very often. Um, in fact, you tell the story.

Speaker 1:

I do. Um, so like I mentioned before, I was always a contemporary writer. Um, I've been writing contemporary for as long as I can remember. And then I got this idea for this story and it was kind of when like Saifai dystopian, all that kind of stuff was really big. And so, you know, I don't know if I was just inspired by it or whatnot, but, um, and that's what I ended up writing. And then by the time I went to go sell it, contemporary, come back in a big way. So I was like, well, okay. And it did take me a while to get there. And eventually I was published through, um, a small press publisher and um, my bookstore available for about three years and not to go into the super long story or anything, but unfortunately, you know, my contract was ended.

Speaker 1:

It wasn't renewed. And, um, the publisher that I was even with ended up going under, they don't exist anymore. And so I kind of just put them aside for awhile. I felt sort of, you know, sad about the way things had ended because they had done so well when their first run and, and, uh, it didn't, you know, it kinda just, I put them aside for a while then maybe about, I don't know, like six, nine months ago, something like that. I decided like I kept having people ask me in, where can I get your books? I'm like, Oh, they're not available anymore. You know? And sorry, like maybe someday. And I just, I still put on like, you know, I'm just going to put them out there again, let's get them new covers, let's do it. Like, you know, I don't even want to like clearly about it.

Speaker 1:

Like they've already been out there, let's just republish them. I'm going to do it myself. And I spent a lot of time researching how to self publish. And I spent the majority of that time, like making sure I was doing kind of the right things. Um, and eventually decided that was the best way to do it. Um, put them out myself and that way it was, it was all me. I didn't have to give them to anybody again. And, um, yeah, that I, I relaunched them about a week ago. So you've kind of now seen the publishing side from, from two different perspectives. Um, you know, the author who is, is more traditionally published, uh, through a small press. And then now going the self publishing route, uh, would have been, what would you say is maybe been some of the biggest challenges of making that transition into self publishing?

Speaker 1:

Um, the hardest part is, is, is it's both a bonus and it's the hard part is doing everything yourself. And you can definitely like, there's definitely people to reach out to, you know, I had a new cover designer. I had a new editor and you interior designer, but instead of having a publisher that is like, Hey, this person's designing the cover. I'll send you the stuff. It's like, I had to go and find somebody who had work that I thought was great and maybe would match something I would want. It was, it was definitely more like, Oh, I don't have to do any of this before. And now it's sort of like my responsibility to do it. And I'm like, Oh, okay. And people would send me, let you know, I would get like mocks for the cover. And I'd be like, I think it's good.

Speaker 1:

Like I didn't have to choose this last time. Right. And it was great. I mean, it's definitely like a bigger freedom, but it's also like, this is way more choices than I had before. And so it's, it definitely has its ups and downs on it. Well, the covers look fantastic. Thank you. I'm very, very happy with them. Yeah. They're really, really great. Did you look for, and you kind of touched on it, but did you go out there and search for freelance artists or what would, I don't even know what the process would be for finding a cover artist? It's pretty great because so many people are self publishing now that there are a lot of people out there who do that kind of design for a living. And it's great because a lot of people do, um, sort of a package deal. All, you know, I will design your ebook, cover your paperback cover, and then we'll do the interior design of the book as well.

Speaker 1:

And you know, a lot of this stuff is it's really not like complicated graphic design work and stuff. And so a lot of people do it and it's just a matter of, you know, finding somebody, um, that will produce something that you want for your book. And there's a lot of 'em, I'm part of a lot of like indie author groups too. I've kind of joined a lot of that kind of, you know, tried to reach out to other self published authors and they've recommended people to try. And it's, it's, it's a, it's a pretty great community, the self publishing community I was gonna ask cause I have some friends who have self published and I get that vibe from them that it's, they're constantly helping each other promote. Um, and, and I know that there are forums where they, you know, kind of talk through the nitty gritty of how to do various, uh, whether it's cover design or promotional things.

Speaker 1:

Um, yeah. Talk more about the, the self pub community. Cause I think that would be one of the, the highlights it is. It's really great. It's one thing that is, that has definitely helped and definitely makes you feel stronger and self publishing, um, is that there's so many other people doing it and there's so many different levels of, you know, success and there's so many different levels of experience. And so if you have a question that you think is just silly or small, there's someone out there that totally knows the answer to that question. You're like, do I need this? And they're like, yes, you do. And it's like, it's just stuff you never think about when you have a publisher because they figure out everything they figured out cover and promotion and even things like your ISB. And it's like, I never had to worry about that.

Speaker 1:

Right. And it was until I wasn't like, it was honestly only like a month until publication that someone was like, Oh, you have your ISBNs right. And I was like, what, what are the, you know, like, I mean, just didn't even think about it. And yeah, they're self publishing community because for the most part, I mean, we don't tend to hit bestseller lists. We don't tend to have a lot of competition. We don't tend to, you know, whatever happens kind of happens, at least for me, you know, I'm putting this out there, you know, I definitely want it to sell. I definitely want it to do that, but I'm not, I don't have to prove anything to anybody, but myself. I don't have to, you know, sell my advance or any of that kind of thing. And so there's kind of almost less competition with, with the authors because everybody's doing the same thing and everybody wants everybody to be successful.

Speaker 1:

So, you know, everyone's like, yeah, absolutely. Like I wrote a book like that too. Let me tell you how I did it. And so, yeah, it's a really open community. That's great. Now I very much feel like the more we can all lift each other up the better. And I feel like, like, it's not like we're all after finite resources. Like we, the more readers care, then you pulled more people into the genre. Then they go out looking for other books and it benefits everybody. Oh yeah. I definitely granted, I mean, it's like, if you like book a, you know, you're probably gonna like book B and you're going to keep searching for that kind of genre. Like I would never be upset if someone was like, Oh yeah, I wrote, you know, a young adult zombie novel too. I'd be like, that's great. Like there should be more of us out there.

Speaker 1:

Like, I love that, you know, let's work together. Let's promote each other. You know, our readers, our readers are probably similar, so let's help each other out. Definitely. Did you make any changes between the book as it originally came out and then when you released it, not any plot changes. And that was really hard for me. I went through and I definitely re edited and I did a little bit of that. And would they have been originally published? The first book came out in 2015 and then the SQL followed in early 2017. You know, I, I do kind of what, probably every writer and every author does is like you go through and you're like, Oh, I should've changed that. And not, not, not. And it's like, no, it's gone. It's over. Like, you can't look at it anymore. You just let it go. It's finished.

Speaker 1:

You know, and I definitely didn't want to change anything. Like, I didn't want to take this as an opportunity to just change everything. It did find the way it was. And I was afraid if I started to change things and it would just end up to be being like a totally different book. And I was just like, Hey, that's the book you wrote back in 2015, definitely 2020 Sarah writes a little bit better, maybe a little bit different, but that's, that's the book that I like and that's a book it was supposed to be, so I just kinda left it, but it was so hard not to change everything. It was very, very hard. I kind of had to, I work with a friend who's an editor and I just kind of had to be like pleased at like reign me in and let them, let me change everything about this story.

Speaker 1:

Like, it's fine. I don't need to do that. Yeah, no, it would be so hard. And I know like when I'm writing, I wait until the very last minute, like when the editor is ripping it out of my hands, you're constantly making changes up to the end. And then even when it does get published, there's always things that you want to go back and tweak. And, um, so I can imagine that would be really hard. Like when do you say that enough is enough, especially now that you kind of have your own self-imposed deadlines. Right. And it's definitely like, you know, once both of them were published, you know, people like, Oh, do you read your books? I'm like, I can't, because I'm always going to be wanting to fix something and it's done, it's stuck, it's published. It's a real thing now. And I don't, I can't change it now.

Speaker 1:

And so, and that's usually true for most people, but I had that, you know, different experience of getting to go back and redo re-edit it for republishing. And it was like, okay, that doesn't mean you should go well, though. He mean like just, you know, it was, it was great the way it was just leave it the way it is. If you start to, you know, fixate, you're just going to get obsessed with quote unquote fixing it. And it's fine. So I just kind of was like, just let's edit it and let's leave it. Yeah. Yeah. I can see how it would be difficult. But I think the decision you made sounds like was maybe good for your, your mental health.

Speaker 1:

It's great. Cause a lot of the people that have been buying the books and stuff were people that loved it the first time. And they were excited because new covers and all that great stuff. And so I was like, I didn't want to change it from, you know, for the people that already loved it. You know what I mean? Like I want to give them the same book just in a different package. Sure. Was there any part of you as, as the coronavirus pandemic hit, like where you tend to go in and add like, and now they're married wearing masks or the little thing about social distance? I was funny cause I was, I was like, you know, it's only really the first maybe, I don't know, like quarter that you really get that part before. Like it's pretty much focused on the zombie part, but what I was like working on that part, I was like, I do okay with that, you know, everyone kind of locks themselves in doors and stuff, but like, I didn't know what people would do in a pandemic. I've obviously never dealt with the pit.

Speaker 1:

I did kind of go through it and go like just kind of comparing it to like what we were already doing. Like, okay, I didn't do half bad considering I'd never experienced it before, but I was like, this is definitely like, you know, a little different than I expected. Yeah, yeah, no, I think back to sender and like in the midst of this deadly pandemic, the market was still open and the Royal family is still planning on having the annual ball we know better. Now. I think there's a, there's a chapter where it's always best friend goes to a concert and she tells her best friend not to go, but your best friend goes anyway. And I'm like, I feel like the concert wouldn't have happened anyway. Like that wouldn't even been like that wouldn't even have been like a decision to make because they would have been like, no, absolutely not. Like people are not coming to this concert. Right. Right. I know I've had a number of concerts canceled on music.

Speaker 1:

It would have been like an underground, like only the cool kids know about it constantly. Right, right. Like this is not like a, you know, a illegal concert we're having right now. Yeah. Yeah. Um, so going through the self publishing process where you're now making all of the decisions, you, you get your cover art, you get it, uh, re edited, I think I'm assuming. And then now doing all the promotion yourself and everything, was there any part of the process that you found that you really enjoyed maybe in a way that kind of surprised you? I think a lot, like I definitely liked the cover being able to do the cover because I mean, I had a lot of freedom with my first covers because I was published through a small publisher and the, I didn't get a lot of pushback on what I wanted, but with this, it was like, I, you know, I had commissioned someone to, you know, to do this for me.

Speaker 1:

And so I kind of enjoyed that. We have this, you know, back and forth of okay like that, but can we change that? Like, it just felt like I was more involved with it and I really liked it because when the final product came out, I loved it. And I remember like really, really liking my original covers. But when I saw these covers, it was like an instant love cause I had so much to do with it, you know? Um, and so I really, really, really enjoyed that. And I've really enjoyed just working when you, when you're more traditionally published, you know, you work with your editor, you work with that kind of stuff, but you don't really work with a lot of other people. Like a lot of that's behind the scenes. Um, I loved it. I got to work with the person that did like the interior design and format.

Speaker 1:

Like I, I just felt like more appreciation. I think for it, you know, is, is you work so hard and the inside looks great. Like, thank you. Like I really enjoyed like being able to work with each individual person. Yeah. So aspiring writers, um, you know, so many of us, we come into this, we have dreams of being published and you worked so hard to get the agent. You worked so hard to get that first book deal. Um, and I think a lot of people, when they're going through this process, maybe aren't aware that, you know, your book can come out and be out for a number of years and then the rights can end up reverting back to you. And it might not be on the shelves anymore, or sometimes publishers do clothes and then you get those rights back. And that's a reality that happens that doesn't really get talked about very often.

Speaker 1:

I mean, I imagine it must've been so hard when you learned that it was going to be that your publisher was going under and the rights were becoming, becoming back to you. Um, how did you kind of handle going through that? Oh yeah, it was definitely, especially since, I mean, the book had done so, so well, like I really was just blown away, you know, for a small press. And for all of that, like I was, I was really blown away with how well it did and, and kind of all the opportunities that had happened because of it. And so when it happened, it did happen very, there was no like buildup to it. So it was also very sudden, so everything was fine. And it was actually like right about to appear at a T like a teen book festival around here too. And I had found out and I ended up not having any books for that teen book festival because it was that sudden, like it just happened.

Speaker 1:

Wow. Yeah. So, um, I think I was able to like, you know, Hey, can I just buy some copies before, you know, I go, I'll just sell them myself. Like I have this book festival in like two weeks, you know? Um, so I was very, very like shocked and very kind of disappointed at the time, because like you said, that's not something people talk often. I think oftentimes it's this, well, once you get published, you're published forever. And every book you write after that is totally going to get published. And it's, it's not like that, unfortunately. So I, you know, I'd had a good publishing run with both of the books and I think all of that kind of extra stuff was just definitely not on my mind. And it took me a while to kind of like almost get over it like to, you know, I felt almost like I hate to say better, but a little bit.

Speaker 1:

I did kind of like, okay, well now what, you know, like, do I have to start over? Like, I don't want to start over. That just feels, you know, like [inaudible], you know, um, um, and so it did take me awhile. Um, I remember that, cause that was like in September, that year in November, it was the first time of ever skip NaNoWriMo. Cause I just couldn't even make myself. Right. I was like, I just need a break. And it did take me awhile to, to get back to all of that. But by the time I kind of like, you know, processed everything and realized that everybody's publishing journey is kind of different and there's so much more to each journey that we just don't see behind the scenes. I was like, you know, I worked really hard on these books and you know, I'm not gonna let this kind of like set me back, you know what I mean?

Speaker 1:

Like I still have so many more stories to tell and I really want these stories to be back in the world. So it was, it was definitely a, like a, like a lower, you know, time of just kind of, I didn't write a lot. I didn't really think about being awakened a lot. And then it kind of, you know, I kinda came out of that and went, okay, I think I'm ready to like bring them back. No, that sounds like a really natural progression. Um, and I think you had every right to be there, but I'm glad that you were able kind of to come out on the other side and, you know, decide that it was not going to be the end of your, your writing and your publishing journey. Yeah, definitely. I think, you know, I've been very much on the other side for many years.

Speaker 1:

Um, as you mentioned, the beginning of the podcast, I've been book blogging for about eight years now. So I've definitely know a lot of the process, but on like the other side of it. And so on my side of it, before it got published, it was very sunshine and rainbows and beautiful. And then coming on the other side, it was like, Oh, okay, there's a lot more to it. You know? And I think I just needed a moment to kind of process that. And then once I did, it was like, but I still really love what I do, you know? And just because it's not that sort of sunshine and rainbows fantasy that I thought it was on the other side doesn't mean it's not totally worth it to like work hard on my books. So I'm so glad you said that. Cause I think that we do like pre publishing.

Speaker 1:

It's so easy to look at published authors and think they've made it, they've hit the dream everyday and sunsets from forever on. Um, but it's, it's very often not the case. Um, and, and there are other struggles and, and more things to overcome. But like you say, the important thing is that you still love what you do and love writing. Yeah, absolutely. It's certainly something I've been very like vocal about too. Like, Hey, like sometimes publishing sometimes even just querying outlet stuff will just hit you over and over again, it feels so hard, but like the end result is all worth it. Yeah. So I get a lot of emails from aspiring authors. Um, and I know that there's a fair amount of sparing authors who are listening to this podcast. Um, and I feel like I'm constantly being asked, uh, you know, like people who are I'm on the verge of finishing this novel, what do I do?

Speaker 1:

Do I try to find an agent? Do I go the self publishing route? And I know a lot of people are looking for guidance, um, and trying to determine those next steps and what is the right path for them? Um, what would your advice be to someone I have to think about that? I think it's very hard because I mean, I'm, I self published the awakened do ology again. I relaunched them and then I have another book coming out September that I'm also self publishing, but I very much have a goal to be traditionally published again. Like I'm not, you know, throwing traditionally published, you know, stuff out the window. It's just maybe not for now. For me, it was more just, it felt right to do the book this way. Um, the relaunch was a little different because it was just the, I just want to get these books out into the world again.

Speaker 1:

But with my new book, I've been working on this book, some version of it. Anyway, um, since I was in high school, it's gone through so many different variations and I picked it up and let it go. And after a while I just felt like I just want this one to belong to me. It's belonged to me for, you know, 15 years now. I want this one to still belong to me and I want to make the decisions. I don't want anyone to change it or anything. Um, so it's, I don't know it was hard cause you, you, you query and it can be very hard. It can be very stressful. It can be very exhausting and it can be very discouraging. And I think at some point too, I also was like, you know, I don't know that anybody really wants this right now.

Speaker 1:

Um, maybe they'd want it in the future depending on how the market goes. Cause it goes up and down, but right now they don't want it. And I've been sitting on it for awhile. I think I know enough that I'm just going to do it myself and I'm, I, I it's, it's hard to say, I think it's a kind of an individual decision and I think, you know, you just kind of know this book I want, I know can do it. And this book is like, I just want to keep this one to myself and I know I can do right by it by myself. So you talk about your new book coming. Uh, is this the baseball book you're talking about? So you tell him about it. I'm very, very excited. Um, the, um, the story is about a girl named Evie who, um, is growing up in a, who's grown up in a, um, a coastal town in central California.

Speaker 1:

And it's a very much a baseball town. Everybody in the town is very obsessed with the college baseball team. The quakes, her dad is the head coach. Her life has definitely been surrounded by baseball her entire life. She's loved baseball, um, until she's in high school. And something happens where baseball quote unquote breaks her heart. And we don't really know the reader doesn't really know what what's going on with that. Um, but she doesn't really have a choice to avoid baseball. It's, it's, it's the life of the town and she goes to college and, um, she's immediately pulled into this baseball world again, even though she's not really ready for it. And, um, there's a brand new baseball player on the team, a transfer that comes in name Austin and, you know, immediately they kind of hit it off and, and he kind of, you know, starts to bring out that part of her that she's been trying to hide for a really long time.

Speaker 1:

I'm very, I'm very, very excited. Like I said, I've been working on some version of this story for a very, very long time. So it's a long time coming. It must feel good to have it close to being out in the world. Oh yes. Definitely leave it announcing it just felt like, Oh, thank goodness. Like finally I know how that is. Um, okay. So I just have like a total non book non-writing related topic to bring out because when I was in your blog, um, you have a kind of a bucket list of sorts. Um, I think it was 40 things to do before you're 40. Yes. And one of them was that you wanted to at some point do a half marathon. Um, and I love that because that is also on one of my bucket list things. Um, and I've, I've kind of recently started a running habit just in the last two, maybe three years.

Speaker 1:

Um, and so I've also been kind of like progressing and building up to these longer distances. Um, so I just, I just think that's really cool and a cool goal to hear about. Yeah. I've, I've never been an athletic person. I've always been, Oh goodness. Um, I've always just been the, the, um, the kind of person that would just rather read about sports or watch sports and do sports. Um, but I've been running for about, uh, about two years now. Um, I got diagnosed with diabetes a couple of years ago and it's very jarring when it happens. It's like, you need to change your diet, your exercise, all of this. And I started exercising and I don't like exercise. I'm not a fan of it. And so I kept thinking, okay, what's the weight? Like maybe if I find something I really like, you know, an exercising, maybe it's lifting or maybe it's, I don't know, maybe a sport out there that I just haven't tried or something.

Speaker 1:

And I thought, well, my, my brother was a competitive runner through high school and college. He ended up coaching, um, high school cross country. So I was like, look, I guess I could try running. I've never tried it before. And I immediately fell in love with it. I'm so slow. I get there. Eventually I hit the finish line eventually. Um, but yeah, it's just been, you know, I never thought I could do like a five kid than I did a five K and I never thought I could do more. And I've been kind of very slowly, like you said, building up to that ultimate the ultimate goal of a 13.1 miles. Yeah, no same. Yeah. I'm the exact same. I was never athletic, um, and was very intimidated by athleticism and a lot of ways. Uh, but having the goals of like slowly trying to do, uh, longer distances and longer distances has been one of the few challenges that has really inspired me.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So my dream is to someday do the Disney world half marathon. I would love that they used to do cause I'm about 15 minutes from Disneyland. I've grown up around Disneyland. I used to work there. Um, I've always like thought, Oh, maybe one day. And now I run my, like, I love to love to do a Disneyland run, but they don't do them at Disneyland anymore. So I have to get myself to Florida to get that, to get that one done. Right, right. I figure if anything can motivate me, it would be a trip to Disney world. So it's true. This is very true. I know I was originally hoping. So I think this happens in January. Um, and so I was thinking January 20, 21, which of course is not going to happen now. Right. But maybe 20, 22. I dunno. But anyway, we'll see each other there we'll, we'll both be at the start line.

Speaker 1:

Awesome. I would love that right there. She'll slowly run 13.1 miles. I said, I will get to that finish line. Eventually. I can't like guarantee that, you know, the, the, the, you know, the medical people that follow, like the last people, I can't guarantee they won't be right behind me, but I'll get there eventually. Yeah. Know, I'm not speedy at all, but it is. You just keep going. Definitely like the more distances you do, like once you hit a mile, you're like, okay, I could do two of these and then you do a five K and you're like, okay, I could do a little bit more like breaking it up into smaller pieces helps. Like when you first think about 13.1, you're like, there's no way, like the more you like, the more, like you said, the more distances you do, the more that you're like, Oh, I think I could get there, like this just baby steps.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. No, it's funny how it does build up your confidence over time. Um, and I feel like there must be a parallel here to the writing life in some way, because I love to run, but I love to run after I'm done running, when I'm running, I'm like, this is the worst idea I know. And the same thing as with writing there's times when I'm writing and I'm like, why? Like, yeah. And then like you get to a good part where you write really well or you finished something and you're like, Oh yeah, that's right. Like, I really love doing that. It just was not so great in the middle. Yeah. No, that feeling of accomplishment afterwards is the absolute best. Oh yeah. Being in the very mixed in the muck of it. Yeah. There's definitely that like middle. Yeah, definitely. I hear you. Okay.

Speaker 1:

We are going to wrap this up with our happy writer lightning round. Okay. Let's do this. What book makes you happy right off the top of my head. I would say fan girl by rainbow row. Oh, that's such a cute book. I love that book. I read it at least once a year. Yeah. And having written fan fiction that I felt like that book really got me. I also used it because, you know, Simon snow is very based off of like a Harry Drake open fiction. And that's kind of where I got started with writing when I was like 13 ish. So I also have a very close like, Oh yeah. I understand that fan fiction very well.

Speaker 1:

Do you have a writing ritual? Honestly, not really. I write when I, you know, I still work a full time job and I wrote the blog, which is also kind of a full time job and I try to find a lot of time for running and stuff. So my writing is okay. I have time right now. I'm going to sit down and write. Um, but I definitely always have to have noise, some kind of noise music. I put the TV on as background noise. I cannot write in silence. What is your favorite zombie movie? That is a fantastic question. The problem is, is for like three years while I was writing the awakened, the novella, and then the sanctuary is I avoided everything zombie, so I'm hatching up now. So the past couple of years I've like been catching up on stuff that I haven't watched.

Speaker 1:

Cause I didn't want anything to like influence my own story. So I just avoided all of it. Um, so I really do like the original Dawn of the dead. I haven't seen it in a very long time, but I do remember watching that probably when I was like way too young to watch it and just being terrified by it. And yeah, so that, one's kind of the one that pops out the most. What do you do to celebrate an accomplishment? I always go to trader Sam's, which is the, um, Tiki bar, um, at the Disneyland hotel. I am so jealous of yourself. It is next to Disney land. It is my go to, I go every year for my birthday and I did get to go this year because my birthday was right before everything closed. Um, and yeah, it's my, it's my big thing.

Speaker 1:

And it was really exciting to go there for, um, when you wake and was originally published five years ago because they have a drink called, um, zombie head really comes into the little zombie mug. And I was like, I just need to get a picture of my book with this mug because it's, you know, we're celebrating today. So it's still stayed like a tradition. That's awesome. Can I ask, when is your birthday? It's February 27th. Okay. Minus February 19th. So yeah, so we're really close. Yeah. I was actually in Seattle for my birthday this year, so I kind of went to Seattle for the first time and then came home and then everything just went pandemic crazy.

Speaker 1:

What advice would you give to help someone become a happier writer? The biggest piece of advice? I kind of give anybody who, whether they are just like starting writing or they're anything is you're going to be so much happier when you give yourself permission to write badly. Um, everybody writes badly and I think it's really hard to know that because you read these books all the time and they're, they've been through so many edits and rewrites and they're perfect, you know, they're on the shelf and they're great, but you don't see all that background of when that book was probably totally awful. Um, and so I know that that was something I struggled with. I would sit in front of my computer and just be like, this is awful. I can't write, I can't do this, but once I kind of told myself, like, it's gotta just be bad and that's okay, because then you're going to go back and fix it.

Speaker 1:

It just writing became so much easier. Um, it's okay. Just put the words on the page. They don't need to be good. Like this is not the book that people are gonna see. They're gonna see, you know, four or five drafts from now. They're not going to see this one. Lastly, where can people find you? Um, I can be found, um, like I'm found kind of in two different places as an author, you can find me at S E Santana writes on pretty much everything. Um, and then if you want to follow my blog side, which is just a bunch of fingerling and book loving and all that good stuff, you can find me at 100 girls says, thank you so much for joining me today. Sarah, thank you so much for having me. I was really great to be here. Oh, I'm very glad.

Speaker 1:

And I so enjoyed the awakens is creepy and timely readers. Definitely check out the awakened and it's sequel. The sanctuary both are out now. Uh, and of course, if you can support your local independent bookstore, we always encourage you to do so. Please subscribe to this podcast. So you will always be in the know about new episodes and you can find me on Instagram at Marissa Meyer author and at happy writer podcast until next time stay healthy and cozy out there in your bunkers and whatever life throws at you today. I do hope that now you're feeling a little bit here.

Speaker 2:

[inaudible].