Episodes

  • Marissa chats with Lindsay Eagar about her new middle grade novel - THE PATRON THIEF OF BREAD - as well as taking a trip to the bookstore in order to determine your primary genre; how to beat the querying slush pile (and why slush pile statistics aren't really as discouraging as they seem); using an alternate point of view to build on your story's major themes; upping the stakes in a "quiet" story by giving your protagonist an impossible choice; the fun dynamics of the rag-tag group of characters, and why we all love a found family story; and some top tips for becoming a more prolific writer... just keep in mind that productivity can and should have limits.

    Books discussed in this episode can be purchased from your local independent bookstore or buy them online from the Happy Writer bookshop.org store (that benefits indie bookstores) at https://bookshop.org/shop/marissameyer

  • Marissa chats with TJ Alexander about their debut romance - CHEF'S KISS - as well as some suggestions for writing luscious food descriptions, including actually testing out some of the recipes you're trying to describe; the oft-told (but debatable?) advice that if you can do anything other than write, then you should do that; considering your story's built-in tension and need for emotional distance when deciding between a single or dual point of view format; two of our favorite romance tropes - the slow burn and the grumpy x cheerful pairing - and how the two can work together to make for an organic romance; and some excellent advice for writers about to start looking for a literary agent: don't write a query letter, write the jacket copy for your future book. (Your future editor will thank you!)

    Books discussed in this episode can be purchased from your local independent bookstore or buy them online from the Happy Writer bookshop.org store (that benefits indie bookstores) at https://bookshop.org/shop/marissameyer

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  • Marissa chats with J.C. Cervantes about her YA contemporary romance - FLIRTING WITH FATE - as well as coming up with five "pinch points" in your story to build suspense and challenge your protagonist; surprising your readers by always looking for places to turn the story on its head, and how sometimes you just need a little more thinking time to let the story unfold; why main characters are so much harder to write than secondary characters; the strange overlap between writers and runners, and how it's super important to treat ourselves and our bodies well; and mining your own experiences to write dynamic family relationships. (No siblings? No worries! Try consuming books and media with the sorts of relationships you're aiming for.)


    Books discussed in this episode can be purchased from your local independent bookstore or buy them online from the Happy Writer bookshop.org store (that benefits indie bookstores) at https://bookshop.org/shop/marissameyer


  • Marissa chats with Hanna Alkaf about her new YA murder mystery - QUEEN OF THE TILES - as well as some challenges that are unique to the mystery genre, and how writing a mystery plot is a bit like conducting an ongoing excavation; what to do when your craft skills aren't yet to the point where you feel you can do your story justice, and how it's okay to set a project aside in order to focus on developing your craft and confidence (remember, you can always come back to it!); the difference between reading for pleasure and reading with the intent of uncovering another author's secrets; and how self-doubt can lead us to limit our creativity and our careers. Plus: You should totally bookmark this episode for the next time you need an encouraging pep talk and a reminder to trust your intuition. (You're not the only one!)


    Books discussed in this episode can be purchased from your local independent bookstore or buy them online from the Happy Writer bookshop.org store (that benefits indie bookstores) at https://bookshop.org/shop/marissameyer

  • Marissa chats with Emily J. Taylor about her debut YA fantasy - HOTEL MAGNIFIQUE - as well as writing a "setting-first" book by treating your setting as a character, with its own backstory and personality; using a variety of sources (many unexpected) to inspire unique setting details; digging deeper into your worldbuilding and magic system with every round of revisions; and constantly asking yourself what else you can add that will surprise your readers. We also discuss using your characters' secrets to build romantic tension, and how it's important that your love interests see each other as equals, even when they are on different levels of the social hierarchy; and taking a closer look at your characters' motivations when your story feels like it's gone off-course. Plus, the bonus round uncovers a simple and fun technique for writing dialogue and banter that Marissa will definitely be trying out.


    Books discussed in this episode can be purchased from your local independent bookstore or buy them online from the Happy Writer bookshop.org store (that benefits indie bookstores) at https://bookshop.org/shop/marissameyer

  • Marissa chats with Erin Entrada Kelly about her new middle grade contemporary - THOSE KIDS FROM FAWN CREEK - as well as including a multitude of points of view in your novel and how to give a unique voice and character arc to each one; some different ways to think about how you develop primary versus secondary characters; finding the middle ground when it comes to subtext, so that it is neither too vague or too obvious, and still leaves space for readers to draw their own conclusions; one fantastic question to ask yourself during editing that will help you decide what to cut and what to keep; how success does not make self-doubt or impostor syndrome go away, but how we can use those feelings to propel our work forward; and a question Marissa has never gotten to ask before: what was it like to win a Newbery Award?!


    Books discussed in this episode can be purchased from your local independent bookstore or buy them online from the Happy Writer bookshop.org store (that benefits indie bookstores) at https://bookshop.org/shop/marissameyer

  • Marissa chats with JC Peterson about her debut YA contemporary - BEING MARY BENNET - as well as the truth universally acknowledged that it can be difficult to talk to family and friends about your writing journey, and why it's important to have writers in your life who "get it"; writing character arc-driven books that contain genuine growth, not superficial makeovers, and how the relationships in the story can shine a light on the different ways your protagonist has changed; one technique to try if you're worried your character's voice might be falling flat; how to handle a secondary character that your readers will have a very different opinion of than your protagonist; writing a romantic interest that is both super dreamy and also very believable; and using humor, banter, and voice to make your unlikeable protagonist... well, likeable.


    Books discussed in this episode can be purchased from your local independent bookstore or buy them online from the Happy Writer bookshop.org store (that benefits indie bookstores) at https://bookshop.org/shop/marissameyer

  • Marissa chats with Joy L. Smith about her debut YA contemporary - TURNING - as well as finding ways to relate to your protagonist in order to capture raw, authentic emotions on the page, and using humor to balance out your book's really intense moments; choosing first person point of view as a way to manipulate what your readers will see and feel throughout the story; how both YouTube and sensitivity readers can help you get the details right when writing about unfamiliar experiences; developing complex relationships between your characters, and how they often change and deepen over the course of revisions; the simple yet effective advice we should all have posted in our writing space; and some strategies for protecting your own emotions and well-being when delving into difficult topics (musical theater, anyone?).

    Books discussed in this episode can be purchased from your local independent bookstore or buy them online from the Happy Writer bookshop.org store (that benefits indie bookstores) at https://bookshop.org/shop/marissameyer

  • Marissa chats with Lillie Lainoff about her debut YA novel - ONE FOR ALL - as well as some great tips for researching for historical fiction, such as using knowledgeable consultants and going beyond documents to also referencing objects and artifacts; writing a protagonist with a disability or chronic illness, and the challenges posed by maintaining the authenticity of that illness while keeping the plot moving how you want it to; the universally acknowledged truth that book deadlines always seem to coincide with real-life deadlines (why is that??); plus lots of self-care talk, including finding the life balance that works for you (and ignoring advice that doesn't), knowing that asking for help does not make you - or your characters! - weak, asking for a deadline extension when you need it, and allowing yourself to be vulnerable on the page.

    Books discussed in this episode can be purchased from your local independent bookstore or buy them online from the Happy Writer bookshop.org store (that benefits indie bookstores) at https://bookshop.org/shop/marissameyer

  • Marissa chats with Dallas Woodburn about her new YA contemporary - THANKS, CARISSA, FOR RUINING MY LIFE - as well as not giving up on a book that you really love, no matter how many years or drafts it takes; creating powerful character arcs by determining the endpoint goal, then figuring out the challenges that character will need to face to get there; the interesting challenge of writing a romance in which the characters are physically distanced from each other; how a book coach might just be the cheerleader and accountability partner you need to help you get your book written; the value of writing for yourself, regardless of whether or not you want to seek publication; and some tips on dealing with the universally frustrating mucky middle and shiny new idea syndrome.

    Books discussed in this episode can be purchased from your local independent bookstore or buy them online from the Happy Writer bookshop.org store (that benefits indie bookstores) at https://bookshop.org/shop/marissameyer

  • Marissa chats with Sarah Winifred Searle about her new graphic novel - THE GREATEST THING - and her contribution to the SERENDIPITY anthology, "Keagan's Heaven on Earth," as well as some reasons that Sailor Moon was so creatively nourishing for many people in our generation; the many different paths one can take to reach their dream of becoming a writer, illustrator, or creator; how fictionalized memoir can be seen as either a giving or a self-centered endeavor (and both interpretations are totally valid), and how much the genre should or should not stray from real life; using a story-within-a-story as metaphor to highlight some of the larger themes of the book; and how technology details help to establish your time period within a specific, almost-contemporary setting. Also... Valentines and secret admirers!

    Books discussed in this episode can be purchased from your local independent bookstore or buy them online from the Happy Writer bookshop.org store (that benefits indie bookstores) at https://bookshop.org/shop/marissameyer

  • Marissa and her favorite co-hosts - Sloane and Delaney - chat with Lisa Stringfellow about her debut middle grade novel - A COMB OF WISHES - as well as drawing on mermaid stories and folklore from around the world to create merpeople that feel both new and familiar; some of the "rules" of writing middle grade fiction, and how sometimes you need to listen to your own instincts in deciding what rules to break and how far to push those boundaries; reading your work aloud as a helpful editing tool, both to establish a pleasant cadence in the language but also to make sure what you want to say is really coming across to the reader; using traditional oral storytelling techniques in the written word to help establish a relationship between the reader and the writer; and how teachers can use NaNoWriMo's Young Writer's Program to inspire their students and create a community of writers in the classroom.


    Books discussed in this episode can be purchased from your local independent bookstore or buy them online from the Happy Writer bookshop.org store (that benefits indie bookstores) at https://bookshop.org/shop/marissameyer

  • For our 100th episode(!), Marissa chats with Nancy Balbirer about her new memoir - ALMOST ROMANCE - as well as deciding what stories from your life might connect with readers on an emotional level, therefore making them good fodder for your own memoir; how to translate real-life into an actual book that includes all the necessary elements of a good story; the importance of establishing trust with your reader and why highlighting what you don't remember can be just as powerful as highlighting what you do; understanding the gray area between truth and memory and using primary sources (i.e., friends and emails) to help you nail the details; embracing a life-long love of vocabulary and the rhythm of words; and some thoughts on dealing with criticism, even if you happen to have really thin skin.


    Books discussed in this episode can be purchased from your local independent bookstore or buy them online from the Happy Writer bookshop.org store (that benefits indie bookstores) at https://bookshop.org/shop/marissameyer

  • Marissa chats with Leslie Vedder about her debut fairy-tale-inspired fantasy - THE BONE SPINDLE - as well as crafting adventurous puzzles and booby traps in the written word, when we're so used to seeing them in a visual format; using backstory to develop realistic character flaws that will create lots of tension and drive the plot forward; deciding what to keep and what to change in order to make your fairy tale retelling feel new and interesting in the genre; balancing a mix of romantic and platonic relationships in one book, and how to keep each storyline unique from the others; and lots of love for our mutual fanfiction backgrounds and how - for many of us - writing fanfic helped to build a foundation of joy in the writing process.


    Books discussed in this episode can be purchased from your local independent bookstore or buy them online from the Happy Writer bookshop.org store (that benefits indie bookstores) at https://bookshop.org/shop/marissameyer

  • In our first episode for 2022, Marissa chats with Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera about their new contemporary romance - HERE'S TO US - as well as our semi-charmed road-to-publication stories; the expectations within the romance genre and how it can strengthen the story to approach every relationship as if you don't already know how it's going to end; lots of talk about writing loveable secondary characters, from best friends to boyfriends; how deadlines and pandemics impacted the collaborative process between two different books, and some pros and cons of each method; and the role of the capital-U Universe in both contemporary fiction and real life.

    Books discussed in this episode can be purchased from your local independent bookstore or buy them online from the Happy Writer bookshop.org store (that benefits indie bookstores) at https://bookshop.org/shop/marissameyer

  • For our final episode of 2021, Marissa chats with Chelsea Bobulski about her new four-book contemporary series - ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS - as well as the ins and outs of planning a series of rapid release companion novels, and why one might want to avoid overlapping timelines if possible; why your "learning" manuscripts are just as important as the book that gets published; the pros and cons of writing and releasing books on an accelerated schedule; the power of having a great support system at your side, especially when you're growing your career and raising a family at the same time; and choosing to focus your energy on social media channels and promotion strategies that you enjoy and can do well, rather than spreading yourself too thin and risking burnout.

    Books discussed in this episode can be purchased from your local independent bookstore or buy them online from the Happy Writer bookshop.org store (that benefits indie bookstores) at https://bookshop.org/shop/marissameyer

  • Marissa chats with Claire Winn about her debut sci-fi novel - CITY OF SHATTERED LIGHT - as well as some rules for worldbuilding, including guidance into how deep your knowledge of the world should go and how much to reveal to the reader in order to create an immersive experience; seeking out knowledgeable resources to assist with things you don't fully understand, such as advanced technology or brain science; figuring out your story's obstacles first and your plot second, so that you can lay out the story in an order that makes sense and keeps the action moving; using video games to inspire everything from battle scenes to worldbuilding to evoking a certain mood from scene to scene; and what to do with those "revise and resubmit" requests from agents, along with some words of comfort if that book still doesn't sell. (Spoiler: It's not the end of your writing journey!)

    Books discussed in this episode can be purchased from your local independent bookstore or buy them online from the Happy Writer bookshop.org store (that benefits indie bookstores) at https://bookshop.org/shop/marissameyer

  • Marissa chats with writing duo Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman about their young adult fantasy - ALL OF US VILLAINS - as well as using archetypes to guide your decisions when building a large cast of characters, then adding layers through personality details; developing a complex magic system and determining when and how to break your own magic rules; being intentional with your setting details and descriptions in order to evoke a certain mood; and lots of insight into the co-writing process, from things to consider when entering into a writing partnership (think: communication, trust, and a shared vision for the project), as well as some potential challenges (like technology hiccups and - gulp! - having to share your unpolished work with someone else).


    Books discussed in this episode can be purchased from your local independent bookstore or buy them online from the Happy Writer bookshop.org store (that benefits indie bookstores) at https://bookshop.org/shop/marissameyer

  • Marissa chats with Tif Marcelo about her contemporary YA romance - THE HOLIDAY SWITCH - as well as the importance of being flexible, whether that's making adjustment to your career path or trying something new with your writing to see where it leads; discovering your characters in your first draft, and "putting them together" in revisions - yes, even if it means having to rewrite all your dialogue; balancing romantic sparks with ongoing tension by first determining where your protagonist and love interest both attract and repel each other; why the power of changing your mind is just as important for us writers as it can be for our protagonists; some thoughts on how hosting our respective podcasts has helped us feel connected to other writers during the pandemic; and the idea that reading a book can be a little bit like reading your horoscope - we often get from it what we are looking for.

    Books discussed in this episode can be purchased from your local independent bookstore or buy them online from the Happy Writer bookshop.org store (that benefits indie bookstores) at https://bookshop.org/shop/marissameyer

  • Marissa chats with Jennifer Donnelly about her fairy tale retellings - STEPSISTER and POISONED - as well as Marissa's newest novel - GILDED! We delve into some of the deeper themes in our favorite stories, and how writers can use retellings to change an ongoing discussion in our society; how so many retellings come from a place of irritation with the source material and why creators are often drawn to "set the story right"; why embracing the darkness in fairy tales adds a layer of authenticity and can ultimately be empowering for young readers; writing protagonists that include a little bit of ourselves in them and also a little bit of who we'd like to be; using word choice, sensory details, and haunting music to capture an eerie vibe in your writing; and various techniques for developing villains and morally ambiguous side characters who are both alluring and multi-dimensional.

    Books discussed in this episode can be purchased from your local independent bookstore or buy them online from the Happy Writer bookshop.org store (that benefits indie bookstores) at https://bookshop.org/shop/marissameyer