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269: Interview with Sarah Ward, Author of VICTORY GALLOP


Are you looking for a great middle grade book that highlights equestrian sports and mental health challenges? Listen in to hear author Sarah Ward share about her debut middle grade novel Victory Gallop, which is available exclusively on Amazon.


Jen and Ashley talk with Sarah about her inspiration for the novel and her passion for the writing she's doing. We also hear a little about some of the other projects Sarah has in the works as she prepares to share more writing soon!


Listen in to learn more about the middle grade novel, Victory Gallop, directly from the author, Sarah Ward.



Bookish Check-in

Ashley - Abigail Hing Wen’s Loveboat, Taipei (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)

Jen - Emily X. R. Pan’s An Arrow to the Moon (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)

Sarah - Sarah J. Maas's House of Sky and Breath (Bookshop.org)


Main Discussion

Sarah Ward's Victory Gallop


About Sarah Ward

Sarah Ward has been writing and telling stories for as long as she can remember. She lives in Georgia with her husband and dog. Her hobbies include daydreaming about dragons, watching baseball, and drinking copious amounts of hot chocolate. A former teacher and library assistant, Sarah writes stories for both children and adults. Her debut middle grade novel, Victory Gallop, is out now.


You can get the e-book of Victory Gallop for FREE this coming weekend! From March 15 - 17, go to Amazon to get your free e-copy.


The epilogue to Victory Gallop will be available to newsletter subscribers this fall, so sign up on Sarah's website to subscribe to her newsletter!


Connect with Sarah

Learn more about Sarah's books and editing at her website, https://sarahwardbooks.wixsite.com/sarah-ward.


You can find her on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/sarahwardbooks.



Spotlight

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Check out the full transcript below:


[00:00:00] Jen: Hey everyone and welcome to Unabridged. Today we have a special episode. We are doing an interview with Sarah Ward, the author of Victory Gallop, which is a great pick for middle grade March, if you're looking for some excellent reads. Before we get started, we just want to remind you about our presence over on Patreon.


[00:00:52] If you're interested in supporting the podcast, in exchange, you get an extra episode every month and you get some great text based resources, book recommendations, lists, all kinds of things. So you can check us out at Patreon.com/unabridgedpod. All right, to get us started, we are going to do our Bookish Check-In.


[00:01:10] Ashley, what are you reading?


[00:01:12] Ashley: So this is one I just started, so I don't have much to report yet, but I have had this on my Kindle TBR for quite a while. And it's Loveboat, Taipei. It's by Abigail Hing Wen. And I wanted to read it because I've seen it on a lot of lists. It has a great cover and I've just heard really good things about it.


[00:01:30] So I've been wanting to read it, but really didn't know anything. When the book first opens we meet Ever Wong and she is getting a series of responses from colleges. And so all of those are coming in and a lot of them she did not get in. There was a medical school program like pre med program that she does receive an acceptance to. And then there is this other program that is a dance program that she did not receive an acceptance to, but got waitlisted for.


[00:02:05] So it seems like a lot of very academically focused programs, a lot of which, I mean, they're very high end Ivy League schools. so some of them she didn't get into, and then we're kind of seeing that all playing out for her. And then we also find out pretty quickly that her family has a plan for her and the plan is to send her to Taiwan to study Mandarin.


[00:02:30] And so she's got these things coming up the next year, but she's also got this thing that they want her to go do. And we see the tension, a bit of tension, right away between her and her parents. And then she and her sister Pearl have their, like, methods of kind of ... Pearl is helping her at the beginning there, like, get out of having to discuss things with her family.


[00:02:54] And so they have this, like, sibling relationship where they can kind of help each other navigate their parents and figure out how to handle those dynamics. So, I'm really enjoying it so far, but again, I am at like 1%, so I have very little to report. But that is Abigail Hing Wen's Loveboat, Taipei.


[00:03:14] Jen: Oh, that sounds really good. I have that one on my Kindle, too, and have had it forever. All right. Sarah, what are you reading?


[00:03:23] Sarah: So I'm reading a couple of things right now, most of which are manuscripts that I'm editing for some indie author clients. So I'm kind of dabbling in a few of those right now, but I'm also in the process of rereading House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J. Maas. I am rereading pretty much everything before I get to House of Flame and Shadow.


[00:03:46] I feel like a lot of people did. I'm a few weeks behind, but I'll, I'll get there. Her Crescent City series is my favorite series that she's written. So I'm really excited to get back into House of Flame and Shadow, but I wanted to make sure I was in like tip top shape on all the details before I got back into it.


[00:04:04] So that's kind of what I'm focusing on right now. I'm also listening to The Fellowship of the Ring on audio, which has been a really fun experience. It's my first time. I am a Lord of the Rings movie fangirl, a soundtrack fangirl. We played the soundtrack at our wedding. so we're really into it, but I had never actually read the books.


[00:04:27] So I'm listening to them on audio right now. so kind of a little bit of everything, which is pretty typical for me.


[00:04:35] Jen: Oh, that sounds great. Yes, I am so excited to read that newest Crescent City book. And I'm debating whether I can make myself re read or if I just need to dive in and like read some summaries online. I can't decide because, yeah.


[00:04:48] Sarah: Summaries are good, and there's also people on YouTube that do, like, recap videos. And that's what I did when I read the second one, because I didn't remember everything. But, I mean, people have made graphics, there's full Reddit threads. I mean, it's a whole, it's a whole thing.


[00:05:04] Jen: I love it so much. Oh, my goodness. All right. Well, I am reading like, actually, I just started this one. It is Emily XR Pan's An Arrow to the Moon. I picked this one up. I actually pre ordered it. It came out in 2022 because I love The Astonishing Color of After so much, and then shamefully, as so often happens with pre orders, it's been sitting on my shelf ever since.


[00:05:28] But it's marketed as a sort of mix of a Romeo and Juliet retelling with Chinese mythology, which is very intriguing to me. I'm a few chapters in. So at the very beginning, it's set in China when the terracotta army is found by the farmers. So, I feel like I've heard that story before. So it's 1974, I think, when it was found, and as the farmer finds the first signs of this terracotta stuff, like shards of pottery above the ground, and then he sees this head...


[00:06:05] Something magical happens in the sky. There's like this light, and then there's a feeling of an earthquake, and then it flashes forward to the early 90s. I think it's ‘91 and there are two characters Hunter Yee and Luna Chang who meet at a party for the very first time and that's basically where I am. I know a few things that are coming because of the synopsis, but already even just in their first meeting, there is a strange light, and there is a little bit of a feeling of an earthquake, so I think just like The Astonishing Color of After, there's going to be this magical sense surrounding what is happening that is otherwise quite realistic, so, and her writing is just beautiful, so I love it so much already.


[00:06:51] Ashley: I can't wait to hear what you think about that one, Jen. Same, that I have been wanting to get to it since it came out, and I haven't yet. So, I'll be eager to hear your report after you've read some more. I love her work.


[00:07:02] Jen: I know. I'm really looking forward to it. It's also on my 24 in ‘24 backlist, so I get the satisfying feeling of checking off that box, which always feels good. So, all right, well, we are going to move on to our main discussion, which is our interview with Sarah. Sarah, we are so glad to have you here today to talk about Victory Gallop and other things as well, of course. Just tell us about yourself and what you're up to these days.


[00:07:26] Sarah: Sure, so, my name is Sarah. I am full time in higher ed and education, but I also am an indie author, and I'm an editor for indie books. I do a lot of content creation, all that sort of stuff, in the bookish world. I have one book currently published. It is a middle grade called Victory Gallop, which we're going to talk about today.


[00:07:50] And I also have two, maybe three things in progress. One is a YA that I'm querying hopefully later this year. And then I have an adult sports romance that I am currently drafting and is hopefully going to be released this summer. So a couple, a couple odds and ends going. I'm also an equestrian, a coach.


[00:08:16] I just love working with sports, working with young people, all that sort of stuff. So, a lot of that comes through in my writing. It's the context and perspective for a lot of my manuscripts and things like that. So, it's what makes writing really fun for me.


[00:08:33] Jen: I'm so excited to read your upcoming books. I love the little teasers you've been dropping.


[00:08:38] Sarah: Oh, thank you.


[00:08:40] Jen: Well, let's focus on Victory Gallop. So what inspired you to tell this story?


[00:08:46] Sarah: I kind of always wanted to write something. I always wanted to publish a book, but it was kind of more of an inside joke with my family at this point, because to me I didn't have the patience or even enough knowledge to do the traditional publishing thing. And, at that point, I didn't really know anything about self publishing.


[00:09:09] I didn't even know it existed or anything, and so once I started learning about self publishing back in probably 2020, when I was getting on Bookstagram and first starting Booktube and all those things, getting back into reading after a 10 or 12 year break, as a lot of us have done in our lives.


[00:09:26] I started learning about it, and I thought, okay, if I'm going to write that book that I said I was always going to do, this is the one thing I know. I've always told myself my entire life, you're not a creative person because I've never been an art, music, performance... and that's just never been in my wheelhouse.


[00:09:46] I've always done sports, and not that you can't do both, but that was sort of where I was focused, and I always thought I wasn't creative, and I said, this is the one thing you know about. You know about horses, and you know about working with kids, so that's your avenue. And, you know, since then I've learned that that's not the case, I am a creative person, I have a lot more stories to bring to the world.


[00:10:09] However, for me, Victory Gallop was like, it was the story. It was the, if I was going to write one thing in my entire life, it was going to be that. And that's what makes me really proud of it. but it also made it something that I was really excited to tell. So, yeah, I'm, I'm really. happy that that was the first story that I picked to write.


[00:10:33] I know a lot of people, I've seen a lot of people say, you know, don't, don't pick your heart book as your first book that you write because you might not know at that point as much about the craft. but I'm really excited that I did write it cause it's what catapulted me into wanting to write more.


[00:10:53] Jen: Absolutely. I think that's so interesting that you didn't yourself as a creative person. Because I think I hear students say that a lot. They have this idea that creativity has to be the visual arts or you have to be a beautiful singer. And I think figuring out the ways that we are all creative is such an important part of understanding who we are.


[00:11:09] And that acknowledging that everyone is creative, just creativity can look different, is so important. So I love that you found that with this book. Yeah, yeah. And I will just say I was privileged to read this in eGalley. And so I was so excited, and I just loved so much the messages it has for young people.


[00:11:31] And I think it could be the book that a kid needs to read at a given moment. And so I think it's such a beautiful thing that you were able to share thoughts and experiences in that way that, yeah, it could be so powerful for a kid to pick up that book. I just hope... I hope they find it at the right time. And yeah, you will want to push it into people's hands.


[00:11:54] Sarah: and I really appreciate you saying that. When I saw your feedback, it just... I respect y'all's opinion so much, and you guys read so much, and you know, have so much in your database or repertoire, if you will, of literature, and it's a review that I love to share, so I appreciate that.


[00:12:13] Jen: I'm so glad I'm so glad I could help because yeah, I want it to be in all the libraries everywhere.


[00:12:18] Sarah: I'm trying, I'm trying. 


[00:12:22] Ashley: And I think, Sarah, I love what you shared about discovering the creativity in yourself and how you could be all those things. And I think we see that in Harper. I think we really see the way that she learns that she can be a lot of different things. And that she's not all, I mean we see it with her anxiety and her working her way through that.


[00:12:40] But even also just her space in the world and that she can be a lot of different things at once, and again, I think students really... Kids need to see that. They need to see characters who work through hard things but who also are complex, because people are complex... And I think a lot of times we, especially in school, and especially at the middle school age, I think we feel a little typecast.


[00:13:04] People tend to feel like we get flattened in a lot of ways, and I think that then we start to flatten ourselves and think of ourselves as only being able to do, and a lot of times that's the age where you're starting to really get serious about something... so, you know, if you, like I did do music, you know, then all of a sudden you're like all in on music, and like I danced, and I did music and I felt like then I had to like make these choices and that those were really hard and I do think, of course, our time is limited and we do have to make some decisions but I think it, there's gotta be some way of like honoring all part of ourselves while also trying to find our path forward and I think we see Harper navigating a lot of that.


[00:13:40] Sarah: Absolutel, yeah, when I wrote this book, I wanted to make sure, because, you know, when I wrote it, I was in the classroom, but I was also transitioning to working in the children's library, and I wanted to make my characters, Not just one dimensional, right? And you'll, you'll see that with a couple of them.


[00:13:56] I didn't want to feel like you could pull from the stereotype for, you know, every middle school class has the cheerleader or the athlete or the nerd, right? And I didn't want it to feel that way. Because you're right, we are really complex and even when we're kids, right? That, that doesn't just exist in adulthood.


[00:14:20] And so you'll see that with our main antagonist, if you will. You know, she's got a few layers to her that are more than just the bully. And yeah, I wanted our characters to, especially Harper, to have not just that stereotype of, oh, I'm the horse girl, or oh, I just read books all the time, or I don't have friends, right?


[00:14:42] So you see Harper kind of go on this journey from thinking she's just the horse girl who has anxiety all the time and just doesn't, doesn't have friends and it's just, that's just how her life's going to be you know, transitioning to you know, working with a really good coach and learning how to make friends.


[00:15:03] And you can have friends even if you are going through tough things. And you can still be successful while you're going through tough things. You know, your mental health. battles that you're fighting don't stop you from being able to do the things that you want. It's something that you might have to deal with along the way, But it's not one thing or the other so I kind of wanted to show all of those Layers and how, you know, as people we can go through the hard things, which kids do, and I wanted to show that, that that was normal.


[00:15:38] and, and still grow up and find friends and find success and, you know, find adults that are going to listen to you and help you and all those sort of things.


[00:15:48] Jen: Yeah. Yeah, I think that Harper's journey to understanding her anxiety is so powerful. What shaped the way... because she had a suspicion at the beginning when she started having the panic attack. She's a smart kid. So she had done research. What helped you to shape that journey that she takes to understand her own mental health?


[00:16:09] Sarah: Sure, so, obviously my writing is inspired by things that I know. And then it's inspired by things that I've seen or experienced. It's not autobiographical, but a lot of that is informed by my experience because I wanted to make sure that what I was writing about was true to someone's experience.


[00:16:31] And so in terms of the way that the anxiety manifests, some of that is just based on what I know. And as a kid I had anxiety to level 100. And it, that's just how I grew up and it is what it is, you know, and I wanted to show that as being something that exists. It can be normal, although not fun.


[00:16:55] It is something that exists with kids, even at a young age. and there is something we can do about it. So, for example, I chose to include a scene where Harper goes to therapy.Because that's something that even as a young kid, that's something that I did because that, that was the path that the people who cared about me thought was helpful.


[00:17:19] So I wanted to show that being normal and I got inspired to do that from Starfish by Lisa Phipps, which is one of my favorite middle grade books in the history of all time. and she includes therapy in her book too. And I was like, Okay, I'm just going to do it, because I was worried when I was writing it that, you know, it might not fit everyone's experience or that people might not agree with it or think that it's appropriate for a kid.


[00:17:47] And I remember telling my husband, he was like, that's the one thing you have to include. Like to me, that's the thing, you know? And so, I tried to shape what I wrote based on what I know worked for me, what I know has worked for other people. and not everything works the same for everybody, obviously.


[00:18:06] But, just showing that there are options. You can have adults in your life that are trying to help and, and care for you. And, You know, you can see her, her parents through the book are trying to navigate what, what do we do here? You know, what's the right thing? And nobody, nobody really knows the right thing.


[00:18:25] We're all just trying our best, right? So, I tried to include some of that, too, but I really did just try and shape it off of my experience and also try not to say that this has to be everyone's experience. 


[00:18:39] Jen: So one of the really beautiful parts of the book, I think, is the way Harper connects with animals, both with the horses that are, of course, so central to the story, but also to the dog who's there at the farm. And we have a therapy dog at my school. Shout out to Maggie. And I just see the way...


[00:18:58] Our students are experiencing a lot of stress. We've got juniors and seniors who are going through a lot and they'll go in and sit with Maggie and just, you can just see the calm. Yeah, so there was a scene in the book that really reminded me of that when she's talking to Miss Taylor and I can't remember the dog's name.


[00:19:15] I'm so sad, but the dog comes up and is just pressed up against her leg and just, yeah, she just feels better. All of the interactions. So, yeah. , is that something that connects with you as well? Or, or why did you decide to include


[00:19:28] Sarah: Absolutely. So Bailey was actually a late add. I don't even know if Bailey was in the arc. I can't remember. The farm dog was a late add. One of my friends said, this book needs a dog. And I'm like, oh, every book needs a dog. And I was like, wait, but I'll actually add the dog. And I think it added another little layer to it.


[00:19:45] But for me, yeah, I mean, it was definitely rooted in, in my experience. I, I will confidently say now as a woman who is 30, not very long ago have I stood in a horse's stall crying and just held them and it feels fine. Like things start to soften. Right. So, you know, I think things like that are universal towards whether you are 11 or 12 or whether you are 90, right?


[00:20:18] I really wanted to include the healing power of animals. I feel like a lot of people have that universal experience. That's part of the reason why we got our dog when we did, was, you know, mid pandemic and like just needing that something. Right. so I really wanted to include that.


[00:20:41] I wanted to show that You know, she can have a really hard time when she's riding because riding is a very difficult sport. You're trying to communicate with an animal that cannot talk, and it weighs 1, 500 pounds. If it does not want to go, it doesn't go. If it wants to go faster than you want to go, it's going to go faster than you want it to go, right?


[00:21:03] So, I wanted to show that while you can have difficulty riding, you know, I've had many a bad ride, or a not fun lesson. And afterwards I can be frustrated. I can say, I wish I did better at this. I wish I had been better at that. And then I can stand there and the horses stall and say, but I got to ride a horse, right?


[00:21:23] Like I got to sit on top of a giant animal and attempt to guide it in the direction I want it to and to me that is a beautiful thing, you know? Your horse is never going to try and punish you; your dog is never going to try and punish you. They just exist because they want you to be happy, you know and I really wanted to show that when you're dealing with those tough things, your horse, your dog, your cat, your goldfish is not going to give you a hard time.


[00:21:58] Right? It might be having a hard time. Our horses have a hard time a lot. Our dogs have a hard time a lot. They're not going to give you a hard time. they're not going to ask you questions you don't want to answer. You know, you can just stand there and be in their presence and think, How cool is it that we get to share this space with them? And I know that sounds a little, I don't know, but that, I just, I really believe in that power and I wanted to show that through as much as possible because again, that's something, I mean, I wish the school that I went to had a therapy dog when I was there.


[00:22:29] You know, because just sitting in their presence, and giving them a nice pat, it just takes the nervous system down a notch, and maybe you can't go to therapy, maybe you can't afford that, maybe that's not something that your parents are interested in doing with you. But if you have an animal, or have access to an animal, you know, it's not a cure, but it's definitely something that helps.


[00:22:54] Jen: Yeah. Yeah. I see that with my boys at home as well. My older son came home the other day. He'd had a bad day. And our dog is Jax, and he immediately went in with Jax and just sat for a few minutes. And, and again, like you said, it didn't solve any of the problems he was having, but I could tell that when he came out of the room, he felt better.


[00:23:13] It was like he had the mental capacity to tackle the things that were happening, which is powerful. 


[00:23:20] Ashley: Yeah, I think we see that element of recharging and I definitely see that my youngest daughter and our dog, I mean, they are best buds and the last thing she does before she leaves in the morning and the first thing she does when she gets home in the afternoon is spends some very serious time in the cuddling positions and giving all the love.


[00:23:38] And yeah, I think it's, I mean, it's such an important and powerful bond. I think it really is amazing, but again, what I liked in the book was that, like you said, Sarah, like it's not a cure, and I think that there I mean, therapy also is like, not a cure. I think that in the book we really see that for Harper, it is a journey and I really appreciate that and I think the kids need to see that, that like, we're not, these are not problems that have simple solutions, and that if they just do this one thing, like, everything is going to go away. And yet we do see her, like, I loved that scene where she shows back up at the barn where her mom is like, you need to go,


[00:24:14] and Ms.Taylor is like, yes, we want to have you and you know, that we see that, yeah. There are lots of people supporting her to continue a thing that she loves, even if she needs to do it in a different way. And I think that part is really powerful.


[00:24:27] Sarah: I appreciate that you noticed that because I think, you know, that was something for me too. And I know a lot of people that have grown up riding. Riding is one of the only sports that you can still do at a highly competitive level as an adult and still be an amateur. We don't see that very often.


[00:24:44] Once you, you know, say you've played soccer your entire life, you're a high level athlete, you went to college and now you're done. It's like there's pickup games, but you're not going to a national championship. and so riding is one of those things where you can still do that and you know, I'd be lying if I said I haven't stopped riding and then started again in a different capacity.


[00:25:04] You know, a couple years ago, I stopped. I was just having a hard time. It wasn't fitting what I wanted to do. I was having less fun when I went than when I You know, when I didn't, and a lot of that had to do with the state of the world. It wasn't that I didn't want to be riding or I didn't like horses.


[00:25:23] I just, I could not do the competitive stuff that I wanted to do with the way everything was. And so I took a little break. I came back, and I started riding Western with no interest in horse showing. I didn't care if I did anything special. I didn't care if I just sat on the horse and walked.


[00:25:42] And for someone who is very competitive and has done some of the higher levels of the sport, sitting on a horse bareback and walking previously would be like, why did you even go? You know, like what, what was the point of that? You didn't do anything. But it's taken moments like that for me to realize, like, You are with a horse.


[00:26:04] That is so cool. It doesn't matter what you do And sometimes that's what it takes to get you back into something that you've loved but maybe you've gotten burnt out or the situation isn't fitting your life anymore. You know when I was a kid I was at horse showings 20 weekends a year and I loved that. I'm a very competitive person. If I could go to a horse show tomorrow, sign me up.


[00:26:28] I would do it. Without practicing. But you can only do that for so long. You know, and then being an adult and having responsibilities and all of these things. Sometimes it's just, it doesn't fit anymore. And so, I have stopped and started many times. And, I wanted to show that in Harper that you don't have to go and do all the things.


[00:26:50] You don't have to be perfect. You can just stand there in the stall. You can muck a stall. You can look from afar. But just being in there in the animal's presence is powerful enough, you don't always have to be the winner every time to be worthy of spending time with the animals.


[00:27:11] Jen: So Sarah, is there anything that you want to share that has been really meaningful to you as an author?


[00:27:18] Sarah: Well I, I just want to say thank you to everyone that has reached out to me about it. I had a mom reach out the other day and say how much their child loved it. And to me that, that is everything because I, you know, my book presence is on instagram and other social media and you know, I'm not interacting with my readers on a routine basis. And so I don't often get to hear from the actual kids who have read the book at the library, etc.


[00:27:52] You know what they think, so... that was really exciting to hear so I appreciate the the parents and the guardians and the the other adults who are reaching out on behalf of kids and saying how much they loved it, but I wanted to give a shout out to my friend Maggie who has been my like horse mom my entire life. She is a lovely lovely human and I've worked with her recently, and right now, as we speak, Victory Gallop is being given away as a prize at a really big horse show this weekend, so, it's one of the horse shows that I did as a kid. It's the International Interscholastic Equestrian Association, which is the group that sponsors the national horse shows for kids and anybody who is in middle school who won a class at the horse show this weekend gets Victory Gallop as a prize along with their ribbon And I I cannot thank her enough for helping facilitate that So like trying not to cry over it, but I'm just... it's exciting for me because… You know being on Instagram.


[00:28:55] My audience is not middle grade readers. Right? Obviously some of them might be parents of middle grade readers or adults who also like to read middle grade or teachers and all that, but, that's, that's not really who follows me. So it's, it's nice to see, it's nice to have someone helping me out, out of the goodness of their heart, getting my book in the hands specifically of those people who the book was written for.


[00:29:19] And I just, it. It just overjoys me. So I just wanted to add that. So, thank you to anyone that's helped me get the book in the hands of people that it is made for. Because it just makes my heart sing. Everyone that's requested it at libraries, has it in their school, all that sort of stuff is incredible. 


[00:29:48] Jen: Oh, 100%. So Sarah, I know you talked a little bit about the other books that you're writing right now, but I want to make sure you have a chance to shout those out if there's anything else you want to say about them, and also let people know where they can find Victory Gallop, where they can follow you for more information.


[00:30:03] Sarah: Absolutely. So my book Victory Gallop is available, exclusively on Amazon. I have it in paperback and I have it in Kindle, so it is available there. It's also on Kindle Unlimited. So if you are a teacher, a parent, or a librarian who's interested in reading it before you decide to buy it for your collection, I've got it there.


[00:30:23] If you have a subscription, you can read it for free. I am now on all social media as Sarah Ward Books. I recently changed my handle, so that is where I am now. I am on Goodreads, I am on Instagram, now on TikTok. I am on YouTube… Probably other things, but I already forgot. So I'm pretty much everywhere.


[00:30:44] And everything is on Amazon. So, in terms of other things that I'm working on right now, my YA that I'm querying is contemporary. It is realistic fiction. It does not have any romance. But it's centered specifically on two sisters who play on a soccer team together, and that is what I'll say about that.


[00:31:04] I have it about halfway drafted, but I don't want to give, give too, too much on that one. It is going to be queried later this fall, which is something that I haven't done before, so I'm learning that process now. And then my book that's coming out this summer is an adult college sports romance. It focuses on a basketball player and a college equestrian, which is an NCAA sport, which is really cool.


[00:31:30] So a new, new variety of college romance that you might not have seen before. But that one I am indie publishing again, and it, like I said, is going to come out this summer. Fingers crossed. It has a title that is not disclosed right now. It has a cover that is not disclosed right now. But all that lives on my little Canva, and I can't wait to share all of that.


[00:31:53] yeah, I've got it in works with alpha readers right now. It's going out to betas pretty soon, but I'm excited to be heading in the direction where now, I know I'm more than just one type of author. I have more than one type of story to tell. And, I'm, I can write whatever I want. Which is, which is a really fun thing.


[00:32:15] You know, it doesn't have to fit in a certain box. And I think that's really nice about indie publishing. Not that you can't do that as a traditional author, but, in indie publishing, you can write what you want, put it out when you want, and you can change it whenever you want. So I'm, I'm loving that process and I'm excited to be putting more books out.


[00:32:35] Jen: Oh, that's fantastic. I know. I cannot wait to read that sports romance. I'm so ready. All right. Well, we want to end today's episode with our spotlight. Ashley, what do you want to spotlight today?


[00:32:47] Ashley: Oh gosh, well, as we were sitting here recording, I thought I would share a standing desk. If you are in a space where you can choose your desk and you're on the fence. I Should not have waited so long, but I made the purchase. It was a pretty low cost actually and it's one of the ones I had not had before. But it's one where you can push the button and it goes from being at whatever height you want to the next height and it has been... I've had it for about a week or two… Maybe just a week now and it has been a game changer for me. So again, if you work some out of your house, even if it's just on the weekends or whatever, you know I wish I had done it sooner.


[00:33:28] So I just yeah I would spotlight any of the standing desk options are totally worth it. But the ones now I just wasn't even familiar with but this one plugs in and it just makes it super easy to go from one to the other and I do it all day long. So it's great.


[00:33:43] Jen: I have one of those at work and I absolutely love it. Yeah. And you have the little preset heights.


[00:33:49] Ashley: Yes. Yes. It's very satisfying. So I have had the manual ones before and like, I mean, that, that was great too. And I didn't have it at home and I should have made the change, but anyway, somehow having those preset heights and being able to push the button is somewhat magical. So there you go.


[00:34:05] Jen: Sarah, how about you? What would you like to spotlight?


[00:34:07] Sarah: So I'm going to spotlight the gym, just as a whole. So, I've been a gym fanatic my entire life but I've moved around a lot recently and haven't been settled in one place and now we are settled and It feels really great to be back in the gym. It makes me feel strong. It makes me feel confident. I love wearing cool matching outfits.


[00:34:31] It's like a whole... it's a whole thing, right? And I just loved being back and feeling that, you know, rush of being able to accomplish something when you, when you lift something heavier than you thought you could. And just going out and being able to accomplish that at the gym has been really fun.


[00:34:51] And it's something that I've missed in my routine. And it's one of those nice things where, you know, now I'm working an office job and I get my lunch break and I can go to the gym and work really hard and come back for the rest of my day. So it's been nice to get back to it and feel semi strong again.


[00:35:09] Ashley: I love that. What about you, Jen? What do you want to spotlight?


[00:35:12] Jen: So I am watching with my family, The Traitors, which is, I will just say a reality TV show that has no ethical merit, but I love it so much. So it is hosted by Alan Cumming. It's in its second season. He is over the top in the best way. I mean, the way that man pronounces murder is like he somehow makes it three or four syllables.


[00:35:37] And the premise is, You take all of these people, and in season two, they're all former reality TV stars and you put them in a Scottish castle and they are all trying to get a pot of money, but they know... Most of them are faithfuls, but there are two or three traitors who are trying to undermine the others, and every episode someone is banished by vote of the whole group.


[00:36:05] And someone is, air quotes here, murdered by the traitors, and it is just the best kind of trashy reality TV show. Fun. I absolutely love it. There are people, I'm a long time Survivor fan, and so there's some ex Survivors on there. Poverty and Sandra are on this season. There are Real Housewives, which I've never watched, but they're really fun.


[00:36:26] Yeah, so Sarah just had a visible reaction. So yeah, I have never watched Real Housewives. There are people from.Road Rules, Real World Challenge that, yeah, it's just, if you're a reality TV fan, I feel sure that there will be someone you recognize. Yeah, it's just a good time. It's on Peacock. So I highly recommend it. Ashley has no interest.


[00:36:48] Ashley: I did my best to keep my neutral face on.


[00:36:49] Jen: It is okay. It is like the anti-Ashley show.


[00:36:52] Ashley: Well, and we've talked about this before, but it's been a long time, that reality TV just stresses me out. So like, other people think it's fun, and they enjoy it because they find it relaxing. But I just stress out. So I am positive that my reaction, seemingly, is not the status quo.


[00:37:11] Sarah: I watch a few. I'll watch Love is Blind, and I will watch Selling Sunset forever.


[00:37:16] Jen: Oh, yeah.


[00:37:17] Sarah: But I'm not a, I'm not like a Survivor or that kind of thing. I watch a select few.


[00:37:23] Jen: Yeah. Well, this one might be fun to try. My kids say, my boys say that it is like Among Us as a reality show. So if there are any Among Us fans out there, it's kind of like that, but it's a lot of fun. All right. Well, Sarah, thank you so much for joining us and for your wonderful book, Victory Gallop.


[00:37:39] I really cannot encourage everyone enough. If you know a kid who this is right for, absolutely pick it up for them, but read it yourself, too. It was such a great experience to read it. So thank you so


[00:37:51] Sarah: Well, thank you, and I appreciate y'all being such champions of this book. It makes me really happy, and I appreciate y'all's support.


[00:37:59] Jen: All right, everybody. Thanks for listening.

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