Episode 43: Eco-happiness for Writers with Sandi Schwartz

Welcome back to Alchemy for Authors!

In this episode, I talk with author and freelance journalist Sandi Schwartz about Eco-happiness for authors. Sandi shares her journey to publishing her books, Finding Ecohappiness and Sky’s Search for Ecohappiness. Sandi also shares how we can use nature to reduce stress, and boost our happiness, productivity and creativity.

Connect with Sandi on Instagram here

Connect with Sandi on Facebook here.

Visit Sandi’s websites here: https://www.sandischwartz.com/ or https://ecohappinessproject.com/

Find out more about Sandi’s Environmental Writing Podcast here

Please note: Alchemy for Authors will now release fortnightly. Episode 44 will drop on January 2nd 2023.

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Find the full transcript of this episode below.

Episode 43: Eco-happiness for Writers with Sandi Schwartz

Jo: Hello, my friends. Well, Christmas is just around the corner, as is 2023. Can you believe it? It really has been another crazy, busy and unexpected year. One of the things that I’ve enjoyed most about 2022 has been starting this podcast. Today’s episode is episode 43. And I have learned so much, completely pushed myself outside of my comfort zone with creating Alchemy for Authors, and also had an absolute blast in doing so.

So I just wanted to let you know that Alchemy for Authors will be continuing in 2023. So you’ll still be getting more wonderful interviews from authors and writers just like today. With some solo episodes from me, sprinkled in as well. There’ll be lots more conversations and tools around mindset, the craft of writing, manifestation and how to create for ourselves writing lives that we love.

However, one thing we’ll be changing. Rather than weekly shows, episodes will be releasing on a fortnightly basis from here on out. So on every other Monday. So that means that the next episode will be released on the 2nd of January, 2023. The reason is simply that no matter how much I love this podcast and its listeners, I need to claw back just a little more time for my own writing. And it makes sense, right? I can’t very well preach on about writing and publishing those books and all that, without actually doing it myself in the background.

So I hope you’ll continue to listen and support this show. You can subscribe on whatever podcast platform you listen to this on, or you can sign up to my newsletter, so that you’re kept in the loop of new releases, if you like. And I just want you to know, it certainly was a hard decision to make because I really enjoy putting out these episodes weekly. But it is incredibly time consuming. And so I am also really excited to just reprioritize my writing a little more, and allow myself that time to get those books written, and also to refuel a little bit in between these episodes so I can bring my absolute best to the show.

So onto today’s show. I have a wonderful episode lined up for you today. Today’s guest is all about ecohappiness. A term that I had not heard up until now. So we will be talking about how to use nature to reduce stress and boost our happiness, productivity and creativity. Which is just perfect for this time of year. So when you are ready, grab a drink, find a comfy chair, sit back and enjoy the show.

Hello, my lovelies, welcome back to another episode of Alchemy for Authors. Today I’m talking with award-winning environmental author and freelance journalist Sandi Schwartz. Sandi’s work has been featured in the Washington Post, USA Today, National Geographic, Good Housekeeping, Library Journal, Chicken Soup for the Soul, BobVila.com, mindbodygreen.com, and more.

As the founder and director of the Eco Happiness Project, her mission is to inspire and educate families to build a nature habit to feel happier and calmer. Both her parenting book, Finding Ecohappiness: Fun Nature Activities to Help Your Kids Feel Happier and Calmer, and the children’s book she co-authored, Sky’s Search for Ecohappiness, are available and out in the world now.

So welcome to the show, Sandi. It’s so great to have you here.

Sandi: It’s wonderful to be here. Thanks for having me.

Jo: So from your bio alone, I can see that you are a prolific writer. You’re a journalist. I know you have done blogs as well, and you’ve written two books. So I would love if you could share how your writing journey began.

Sandi: Yes. Well, I thought I was going to be an environmental lawyer, and that didn’t really work out. So I, I switched gears really quickly. You know, in college I was an environmental studies and political science major. And then, like I said, I just thought I was gonna be an environmental lawyer and I had my senior year of college, I was actually just telling my son about this cuz he’s a freshman in high school. So I was telling him the importance of internships and jobs when you’re young to know what you love and yeah, don’t love moving forward. Um, so yeah, I was working at a law firm, a very small little law firm, trademark law, at my senior year of college and I just did not enjoy it.

And then I also took the LSAT and I just didn’t do so well. So I switched gears and I ended up getting my first job, was at the US Environmental Protection Agency. It was like, um, a temporary position for one year, like a contract. And that’s when my environmental communications journey began because the other person in that same sort of program was more technical and science oriented. So she took all that chemical analysis work and I was put on the website development team and the team that wrote articles to get published. And you know what? I fell in love with it. And then that sparked the journey of really focusing on the communication.

Jo: That’s great. That’s great. So had you always wanted to write, had you always had a little bit of a burning desire to write? Or was it just that you were thrown into having to look after the website and that?

Sandi: So again, it’s funny, when I’m talking to my son now and trying to reminisce about my high school experience, it was kind of, you know, a give or take. So on one hand I could not handle the AP, that’s the highest level, I don’t know if you have the same level, uh, in New Zealand, but AP class. It was an English AP class, I think in 10th grade, but it was all literature focused. And as you’ll learn more about me, I’m more of a, a non-fiction writer and reader. So I, I ended up dropping out of that class after a few weeks cuz it was too intense and I just didn’t enjoy that. Right? So, so on one hand I wasn’t like some super duper amazing English major. On the other hand, I was a newspaper editor in high school. I should have thought back then, well, I loved the journalism piece, and then it didn’t really occur to me again until later on, I guess out of college. I do remember taking a college course, we had some requirements. I took an argumentative essay class and I loved that as well. So yeah, it wasn’t necessarily always my dream to be a writer. I know a lot of creative writers who were, are writing fiction. That’s just, you are born with that, you know, capability. Um, for me it kind of developed over these experiences in different, you know, career opportunities.

Jo: That’s really cool. And it does always seem, whenever I hear about different authors journeys and that, that there quite often are little clues that we don’t necessarily pick up on. But just like you said, you were, you know, the editor of your newspaper and whatnot, like, uh, yeah, there’s those little clues that we get along the way, which is really cool. And so now you have written, so not only have you been a freelance journalist and written prolifically that way, but you’ve also written two books on Ecohappiness as well. Can you talk a little bit about the journey to writing those books, because it’s a little bit different than writing articles, right?

Sandi: Yeah. Yes and no. Although I have to say, well, lemme back up a touch. So I, I was at the EPA and then I did some environmental consulting work actually for the EPA. My next job was at the National Academy of Sciences, and I was tasked with taking these very large technical reports and boiling them down to like a two page, you know, public document, right? With a lot of bullets. So that’s really the most comfortable type of writing, uh, for me, when I can really synthesize, like I love the research. And then I love synthesizing and organizing research in a, you know, easy to understand way. And of course, my love for the environment has just been there since high school. So, uh, I, I was in Washington, DC. I had just gotten married. My husband’s job took us to Florida. And I was able to hold onto that job at the National Academies for a little bit, like contract wise. And then it kind of fizzled out as, as time moves on. And then I also was trying to have kids, so I started blogging. So that was a whole new world, you know, was back then. Oh, what year was that? Uh, around 2007 maybe?

Jo: Mm-hmm.

Sandi: And that blogging was huge. I mean, this is before videos were big, before TikTok, before podcasting, and so everyone was blogging and I got really, really involved with that. And so long story short, some of the blogs that I had been writing, the blog posts on my own site, and actually some of the articles I had been writing for, uh, a variety of, of parenting type publications, that kind of spurred this idea of, you know, writing the book. So some of the content actually in my book, came out of some of that older writing content and then I updated it and I know blow it up into a book. So what I’ll say about that is, as a writer, it can be intimidating to have to write a whole book. But if you think about it in these little pieces, like blog post articles, and you look at each chapter, like I was writing, my goal was to write one chapter a month and then every day I may have written a section. And so it was like writing an article. So for me I loved it. Yeah.

Jo: That’s a really cool concept. Yeah, I find it really fascinating because I’m just dabbling with the idea of a little bit of non-fiction myself. And so hearing how you kind of break it down like that certainly makes it seem so much easier and less overwhelming than, yeah, just looking at the book as a whole. Right? So you were doing these blog posts so you, you already had a little bit of the information and then I’m sure you did a lot of research and everything as well. How long did it take for you to write then your first book, the Finding Ecohappiness book?

Sandi: So that’s an interesting question because I was collecting research for, I have to say, at least two years. And I was, again, I’m a little Type A organized, I would find articles and I would save them in, you know, file folders of my email, which was really great cuz when it was time to actually write the book, I could go back to all that research and print it out and organize it and all this. And then it was about a year, uh, when I, I forget in the moment, you know, I said, oh, I wanna write a book.I know that the first idea for the book morphed, you know, it was much broader. And then I kind of morphed it down. Uh, I think it was more, it wasn’t just environmental, nature, mental health, that was like all kinds of ideas of mental health, like positive psychology. It was too broad. And so I went back to my, you know, my own personal roots of environmentalism and was able to pull that together. But it was about a year from the time I wrote the book proposal and then signed with the publisher.

Jo: Wow. That’s relatively fast.

Sandi: Really?

Jo: Oh, well, I dunno. It sounds quite fast to me, I think. Minus like the research and everything, but from writing it to signing with a publisher. Yeah.

Sandi: Yeah. Well, that’s writing the proposal. So in non-fiction, remember you only write it’s like 30 pages. You’re really outlining what you’re gonna say. Unlike with fiction, you, you, you have a draft. Yeah. So it’s a little bit easier cuz it’s not as big of a commitment. Once I had the contract and I was ready to go, I had already written maybe two chapters for the proposal, cuz you do need to, to provide that as well. So once I had that, uh, I had about, I think I had like nine months, but I was kind of two months early on it. And the funniest part was, I remember being so excited and I sent it to the, the publisher, oh, I’m already done. And he’s like, oh, that’s so wonderful, but I can’t look at it until for two more months. And it didn’t occur to me that he has a whole, you know, all these other books he’s dealing with, not just mine.

Jo: For sure. For sure. Oh my gosh. So what did you find then was the most challenging part of writing the book or getting the book together or getting it published? Like what was the most challenging?

Sandi: Of the whole process? The most challenging thing is marketing the book.

Jo: Ah, okay.

Sandi: I loved the research and the writing and the organising, and also I was writing it. I signed the contract in June, 2020 at the early part of the pandemic in the lockdown, and I was very lucky because it’s exactly what I needed to get through the pandemic. I had this amazing project that I could just dive into. My family that summer, my husband and my daughter actually went away for a little while. And so I had, it was just my son and I and it was so quiet and I just, every day I wrote and wrote and wrote, and so I didn’t have any distractions. So that was a blessing. I can’t think of anything that was so terrible. I guess getting people to get back to you that you really wanna quote in your book.

Jo: Yeah. Yeah. I can imagine.

Sandi: Yeah, that’s probably the hardest thing. But I had a lot of incredible interviews throughout the process. So many people contributed.

Jo: That’s really cool. So did you just reach out via email or were these people, other published authors, did you have to go through agents or what was that like, having to get quotes and things like that for your book?

Sandi: You know, very easy. A lot of it was just finding people through online research or, or other authors, like you said, and then just reaching out to them by email. A lot of people are very happy to respond by email. Other times it was, you know, phone interviews. I don’t even know if I was using Zoom that much at that point. I feel like Zoom really kicked off a little bit later in the pandemic. A lot of it also was quoting from other books and authors because that’s, you know, for everyone. I mean, I really felt like my job was to pull together what the, what information was already out there in a cohesive, interesting way. And lots of bullet points.

Jo: Yes. Yes. Oh, I love that. I love that. And so you said the marketing was a little bit challenging, so can you talk a little bit about that?

Sandi: Yes. Marketing is always challenging and it never ends, right? So I will say the hardest part for me in the whole process, and this book was just released in May, so it’s only been a few months, but I had a real, um, you know, you really build up to that book launch. I’m sure other authors can relate to this. You build up to it and you are working so hard. I mean, I had booked tons of podcast interviews, just very, very busy. And the day came and it was okay, like nobody cares kind of thing, right? Like, I mean, I was on Amazon thinking, I was going to have all this incredible news, or people were gonna start calling me on the phone. And the reality is, for most authors, and my publisher warned me, he said, you have to look at it like drip, drip, drip. You know, put a little bit in your bucket as you go. And there’s sort of this falsehood around book launches, and I think we all fall into that trap.

So that was in May, the book launch. And then through the summer I had a real kind of let down, right? Like I was feeling unmotivated and sluggish and needed a way to kind of figure out my next move, and then eventually just kind of hits. The best news I can report now is I, in the last couple weeks I just won a book award. And so that really rejuvenated, um, you know, the process and, and able to market it again. So you’re always, you’re always able to market. It just may go in cycles.

Jo: That’s wonderful. Congratulations on the book award. That is so great. So can you talk about how did you, like, did you apply for this book award? How did you come across it?

Sandi: Yes. So book awards, that’s a whole other, um, you could spend a whole podcast discussion on that. But basically, you know, there are plenty of book award programs out there. You do have to pay a fee to enter. I think all of them. I haven’t seen any that you don’t. And of course they cover a wide range of genres. And what happened was my publisher chose I think about three that he submitted the book. We’re still waiting for those results. A lot of them are a very long lead time. He applied maybe two, three months ago and we won’t hear till the spring or even the summer. So it’s a, it could be a year till you hear back. Wow. And then there were about three that I applied to myself. This one that I won was from the Non-Fiction Authors Association. So very, very niche. And it kind of gives you a boost. Kinda rejuvenates your book marketing and your energy and it, it’s kind of life changing, you know? It’s a goal that, that’s the other thing I wanna bring that I think is challenging for authors and all writers. We’re always moving the target of our goals, and sometimes we’re just too hard on ourselves.

Jo: Mm. Yes. Yes, I would agree with that. 100%. 100%. So that is amazing that you got the book award. That’s fantastic. And I would think too, that having an award or something like that, or even having your book nominated for one, um, which can happen as well, it increases that credibility, particularly with non-fiction. So, have you found that you’ve been able to utilize that a lot to increase marketing or has that helped you be able to market your book a little bit easier?

Sandi: Yes. Well, it’s still very new, but being able to apply to speaking engagements, podcasts, um, and such, and then also as a freelance journalist as well, when I pitch articles, that is, I think a huge leg up, because when editors are looking to assign, you know, when they see something like, oh, this is an award-winning author that wants to write this piece, I think that’s gonna be really beneficial to me. So that’s really exciting. And it’s something that it doesn’t go away. Yeah. I was thinking about it because I was a little hard on myself about book sales, because again, it’s all relative. And I was always moving the needle. Like I actually met my, my own original goal, but then I was like, oh, I want more. I want more. And now that never ends, right? You could spend your whole life saying, I want more sales, but, once you’re an award-winning author or a bestselling author, which I’m not that yet, but, um, the award might help that. Who knows? But once you’re, that, you’re always that. And so a suggestion is definitely apply to book awards. And like I said, there’s so many out there and just kind of do it soon after you’re published because a lot of them have guidelines as far as the one year published date is.

Jo: Cool. That’s great advice. And as far as finding the awards and that, is it looking through different, author/ book associations or is it just Googling? What’s your recommendation for finding some of these awards?

Sandi: Yeah, I think Google’s really the best. And then I definitely get some writing emails from different people. I can’t think of the names off the top of my head. Sometimes they put them together. But I think, I think just Googling. I don’t know that there’s a book out there that has it. I think, I think Google’s probably your best friend, really. And then, you know, of course if it’s fiction versus non-fiction, Google your genre, see what’s going on. And also, I do recommend getting involved in your genre writing group, cuz I’ve really made a lot of connections and learned a tremendous from a couple of those out there as well.

Jo: That’s wonderful. That’s great advice. Now you’ve talked a little bit about that being hard on yourself and I think, I know I’ve experienced that as well, it was with my second book and I spent a bit of money on marketing and I kind of went a lot more all in than I did with my first book, but the launch was not at all what I was expecting. It was, if anything worse and I couldn’t understand it. Cause I was so proud of my second book. And so I definitely understand that feeling of, you know, being disappointed and a bit hard on yourself because you’re not getting the attention that you aspire to right off the bat. How did you work through that? What’s your advice for any author going through that? Because we can go through that at any point in our career, of course.

Sandi: Yeah. I think what I had to learn is go back to why did I do this in the first place? And my husband was very good at reminding me. He said, why are you obsessing over how many book sales when that was never your goal? And so I think what happens is we, we sometimes getting involved in too many webinars and listening to too many other people can get in our head. Another kind of path that I started to go down, and I had to quickly pull back, was this idea of a lot of people build a business around their book, and that works for some people. I had to go through this process of realizing that I am not a salesperson, right? I’m not really interested in being a business person around a brand. I’m also not like interested in being an influencer like some people are very successfully. What I love, and as you probably gathered when I described the book writing process, what I love most was the writing.

 And so I brought myself back to that core and I’m focusing more now on content marketing and freelance journalism, and using the book as a little bit of a platform for the content. And I’m also really niched down and I’m like, you know, I decided I just wanna write about environmental content now instead of before I was writing about parenting and health, and a little bit more all over the place. So I think with every step you just have to keep asking yourself why am I doing this? What do I enjoy most? And how does it work for you? Clearly, if you need to put food on the table, then building a business around your book, there’s amazing opportunities to do that if that’s what you wanna do. So, yeah, I think it’s about finding what works for you.

Jo: That is so important. I totally believe in that whole idea of remembering your why and always going back to your why so you don’t get lost in comparisonitis or imposter syndrome or that disappointment because your book’s just not flying off the shelf as much as you want. So if you are enjoying the process, and I think you and I have that in common because I, I write because I love writing, then that’s what matters most. And it’s a bonus if your book ends up in somebody’s hands. It’s always, yeah, fantastic.

Sandi: I was gonna say, anytime you get the feedback too, you know, those gems where someone says, oh, I really enjoyed… Just save it and savor it, because that’s the whole point, right? As writers, we wanna try to make a difference and influence somebody.

Jo: Absolutely. And so you were saying that you don’t really have a desire to create a business or anything around your book, you just, you enjoy writing about this topic and everything. Yet you do have the Eco Happiness Project. I’ve seen that on your website and that, can you explain a little bit about that?

Sandi: Yes. So, I am happy I did that branding around it. I have two websites. I have like my freelance, which is sandyschwartz.com, and then the brand ecohappinessproject.com. I really describe it more as an information portal at this point. I, like I said, I have had ideas to make t-shirts and lessons and trainings and all kinds of other… And it could happen. You never know, ideas can come later. But I just decided what I really love is the writing. So everything on there involves the intersection of mental health and nature, and the benefits of nature for our wellbeing. And so I have tons of blog posts. I have, uh, all my interviews posted up there, lots of podcasts and online summits. So, you know, as I still talk about it, this topic, it’s marketing my book. And it’s a topic I’m very passionate about. And it was something I believed that needed to come in the, out into the world. We’re dealing with a youth mental health crisis, an adult mental health crisis. We have environmental crisis, you know, and I wanna, I want people to understand and appreciate the benefits of nature and so that we can all feel better, and we can protect nature and feel better at the same time. So, yeah, it’s really an information portal and I just think it worked better housing that separately. But , it means I have to manage two websites. So it all depends on how you wanna do things.

Jo: Absolutely. Absolutely. I do like that idea though that you’ve kind of got this branding around it so you can keep it as is and it works really, really well, or you could always expand upon it at a later date if you felt the need as well. But yeah, so I really like that. What we haven’t talked about though is what is ecohappiness? Like you’ve touched on it, but I’m just thinking, because it was actually, it was a new thing for me until we kind of crossed paths. I hadn’t thought of it before, but there could be a lot of listeners right now who are like, what are we even talking about? What is ecohappiness? So if you can talk a little bit about that.

Sandi: Right. So I think I mentioned that I was writing a little bit more broadly for a while there. And I was basically digging in deep to the world of positive psychology to address my own stress and anxiety. And I was looking for natural ways essentially to reduce stress. And through that research I was exploring mindfulness, diet, exercise routines, gratitude practice, volunteerism. And all of those different aspects alone, in general, there’s so many health benefits and science backed benefits. So what I did is I layered on the nature and environmental lens of looking at mindfulness, looking at creative arts, looking at volunteerism. And that’s really what I feel like I was bringing into the world that was unique. Because there are all these people doing all this work. Again, they’re the practitioners and I was, I’m the writer, researcher, communicator, bringing it together. And no one had done it yet. Where looking at ways, it’s mental health toolkit that involves nature. So ecohappiness is kind of a name, you know a word I made up. You hear a lot about eco anxiety now. People who are very worried about things like climate change. Instead of writing about all that negativity, cause I wanted more positivity in my life, I flipped it and I made it ecohappiness. How can nature help us feel happier and calmer?

Jo: Ah, I love it. I love it. Nature’s definitely my go-to. I have a really little backyard, but my house back’s onto a ravine, so we’ve got lots of beautiful trees and all the native birds you can imagine. And it’s just, it’s beautiful out there. Me just sitting in my little garden space out there, and it really is just very, very small, but it definitely revitalizes, you know, when you’re feeling stressed and things like that. So I think it’s such an important thing. And I love that you have put a real positive slant on it so that we can kind of step away from the eco anxiety and, and yeah, and really invest in that positivity.

It’s such an interesting niche to me as well. Like I hadn’t really thought of it before. It’s common sense, but I hadn’t thought of it before. So as authors and writers or anybody really, but people in the creative field, we of course have a lot of, you know, come across a lot of challenges. We’ve talked a little bit about that. Those mental blocks that can come up, that imposter syndrome and that self-doubt and comparisonitis, and sometimes there’s also those creativity blocks and that that come up as well, as physical ailments sitting at our desks or typing or whatnot, so would you have maybe top three ecohappiness tips for authors or writers to share with us? Can you think of maybe three things that you would maybe recommend we do or consider that could help us?

Sandi: Yes. And it’s really important to add a nature habit into your writing career, because not only does it reduce stress, and it’s been proven scientifically, but it also boosts productivity and creativity. So I’m sure a lot of people have the experience where, yeah, you’re at your desk inside all day and now you’re like trying to write the next paragraph, the line, the chapter, whatever it is. And even, you know, non-fiction writers, we need sometimes, you know, we do some storytelling, we need some creativity. You just hit a roadblock. And so number one, get outside. Go take a walk. For me, I’ve written so many blog posts in my head, on a walk. So a walk or a bike ride. If you’re exercising and you know you have, you like your treadmill or your stationary bike, if there’s a way to put it on a balcony or even by a window, and a sliding glass door and open that up. That is so helpful. And so you’re getting, it’s like a double boost cuz you’re getting the physical fitness boost that we know all the study shows good for us. And then also the nature connection. That’s number one. Get outside.

Jo: Cool. Cool.

Sandi: Number two is you can actually add a lot to your workspace. So even if you’re not going outside, you can have, you know, decorate your office with beautiful imagery, photographs, pictures, maybe your own photographs of nature and you know, your trips to the beach. Just looking at those images, again, the research shows that also helps us feel calmer, happier, more inspired.

Jo: So I hadn’t thought of that one. I don’t know why, but it’s one of those things. Like the get outside, I’ve thought of that one, you know, I love that, the nature habit. I hadn’t thought of the idea of the imagery in your office. I mean, I, I love a nice office space, but yeah, I hadn’t thought of that, bringing even just those pictures of nature into your space.

Sandi: Yeah. And it could be a screensaver, you know, a video. And then also, you know, nature sounds. I happen to be one that needs silence to work, but plenty of people do enjoy some sort of background music and nature sounds, you know, birds chirping, the creek flowing, or just even putting that on maybe during lunchtime, something where you’re really escaping. It’s that idea of how we feel when we’re on vacation. So we wanna bring that into our day. And it’s all about connecting to mindfulness as well. We hear a lot about sitting in the corner for five minutes a day and meditating. I’ve tried that. It doesn’t really work for me. My mindfulness moments are more like a walk outside. So we have to find what works for us.

Jo: That’s great. And there is definitely something to be said for the creative energy that comes from nature. It really does fill us in a different way than sitting inside in a room or in an office cubicle or something all the time. That’s really cool. Thank you for sharing those. So what is your next project then? Do you have a new project or are you just focusing on the marketing of your book at the moment? Or do you have an idea to write a follow up? Or what’s your thoughts?

Sandi: So fortunately, this topic is pretty evergreen. Mm. And is very needed. And you know, my goal is to just spread the word about it. And so I’m kind of combining my freelance writing with information from the book. For example, right now I’m working on an article for Mother Earth about Oshibana, which is pressed leaves, pressed flower art. So that’s, you know, kind of part of coming out of the creative arts chapter, but digging much deeper into a very specific topic. I’m also working on an article about nature volunteering and the benefits for teens for your Teen for Parents magazine. So I’m really trying to do as much as I can with taking the little bits and pieces from the book and writing freelance. I also have uh, been working a lot with BobVila.com which has been really great. And what’s cool is that, that’s like a content marketing gig, but I get byline, like I, I get byline articles, and so they assign me topics and a lot of it’s the home and garden space or sustainability in the home. And I just, I love it. So, I really enjoy kind of broadening into that space and hopefully writing more in that topic as well.

Jo: So that is so great. You know, something I haven’t touched on, and I really want to, is, because you haven’t just written the one book, you’ve also co-authored a children’s book as well, which is Sky’s Search for Happiness. So that I would think is a completely different thing than writing a non-fiction book or writing articles. So if you’ve got time, if you could just talk a little bit about that project as well?

Sandi: Yes. So that was definitely interesting. So, I had this idea that the book Finding EcoHappiness was for the parents. Although I have to say, oh, and I’ve gotten a lot of feedback, it’s really for everybody. But as you probably know, when you write a book and you market a book and the publisher, they wanna kind of niche down. So it’s officially a parenting book. So, I really love the idea of having a book that accompanied it that would speak directly to the children. And so I contacted a friend of mine who’s a teacher who also has always had the dream of writing and publishing. I presented kind of the outline and my ideas and my vision and some of the content from the other book. She brought it to life. And then back and forth we edited it together and then we worked with an illustrator as well. It was a very, very hard process. Children’s books are, they seem like they would be easy, but that was very difficult. We also tried to get a publisher and we had a lot of close calls. It never worked out and we ended up self-publishing. So I learned a lot. I don’t know that I will be, you know, in the children’s book business anytime soon. But I’m really proud of that book and I hope more people will grab it because it’s so important for kids to have, you know, a way to talk about their emotions. And then this also provides a fun solution, a healthy and fun solution to their, you know, this little girl in the beginning is sad. So whether they’re sad or they’re anxious, they’re fearful. And it talks about just going outside and doing these amazing nature activities and that, you know, it’s something as simple as that could boost a child’s mood. So, yeah, it was a learning experience and you’ll, I’ll show you the cover.

Jo: It is so cute. So cute. Oh my gosh. I don’t know how much marketing you put into that particular book, but it would be very different again than your Finding EcoHappiness book. Have you put much marketing into the children’s book?

Sandi: Yeah. Well, you know. I think with marketing, my big tip too that I, my lesson learned is that, we wanna try to do everything and we hear what other people are doing. And I did try some things and I wasn’t, I didn’t love and I wasn’t comfortable with. And so, what I’m comfortable a lot with is like the online summits, the podcasting and writing. I am not really, you know, gonna be going out into schools and giving book talks. My co-author does cuz she’s a teacher, and I think that’s really something authors don’t really realize. We all wanna write and then when it comes time to market it, a lot of authors are introverts and a lot of authors are not interested in running around and having such intense schedules. So, do what makes you happy as well. But also try new things.

Jo: Yeah. I think that’s so important and I think that’s so great that you branched out and you tried this children’s book. You found that maybe for the moment it’s not for you. It’s maybe not your passion that you wanna continue down, but I think it’s really important that we do sometimes try these other things because it can surprise us. And the learning I’m sure, cuz I’m an Indie published author as well, so, the learning curve for that is pretty high, but I think even as a traditionally published author, having that background knowledge of some of those things behind the scenes would be really beneficial for you. And so that learning that you’ve got, I’m sure will, you’ll be able to carry with you in future projects as well.

Sandi: Yes, uh, definitely. If I ever do decide to publish, even if it’s more like an eBook or something, or a workbook in the future. Cuz I’ve toyed around with that based on Finding Ecohappiness, yeah, now I know. I learned so much. And the other thing I wanna also point out, and on the website, I mentioned there’s lots of resources and, uh, there’s also, we took the children’s book and the illustrator suggested she just strip out the color, and so we also sell it on Amazon as a coloring book. Which is really cool. Yeah. Yeah. So it makes a great gift .

Jo: Yeah, that is a really cool idea. I hadn’t thought of being able to do that before, but that is a fantastic idea for maybe other people listening to this who have written children’s books and maybe their illustrator would be kind enough to consider that as well. That is great. I love that. Really neat. Yeah. Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate chatting with you today. I would love if you could just share again how everybody can connect with you and find your books.

Sandi: Yeah, so head over to ecohappinessproject.com and that’s where you’ll find everything about the books, and you can actually click from there to my other site, but I’ll give that site as well sandyschwartz.com. And that’s where my freelance work is. And also I should premier the fact that I am starting my own podcast. I’m very excited and it’s called the Environmental Writing Podcast. And if you go to sandyschwartz.com, I have a tab for that and my trailer is up. But, it was really neat because like I said, my passion really is environmental writing. And so the fact that I, you know, I’ve had these different buckets of writing and experiences, I’m really excited to share that with folks and interview other people that are in that world. That is my next project, I guess.

Jo: Yeah. Yeah. That’s exciting. Well, congratulations on starting that. That just sounds amazing. And yeah, from my experience, podcasting is so much fun. So you will love it. You’ll love it. Uh, well thank you so much for coming on today’s episode, Sandi. I’ve so loved chatting with you and I’ll be making sure to put all those links, including to your podcast as well, in the show notes as well. Thank you.

Sandi: Thank you so much for having me.

Jo: Takeaways from today’s show:

1. When writing a book, it can help to break it down into smaller pieces, like imagining each chapter as a blog post article.

2. Marketing is an ongoing process. It doesn’t end with a book launch.

3. Consider applying to book awards to build credibility. You can find them by Googling or by getting involved in writing groups suited to your genre.

4. When making decisions around your author business, always keep in mind your why. Why did you write this book?

5. Adding a nature habit into your writing career can reduce stress and boost creativity and productivity.

6. Sandi’s number one, ecohappiness tip is just to get outside.

7. Consider bringing the outside inside by dressing up your working space with pictures and images of nature to help you feel calmer, happier, and more inspired.

And 8. Find ways to add nature sounds into your writing routine, whether you listen to bird song or running water sounds while you write or during your breaks.

So I hope Sandi has inspired you to include ecohappiness as a part of your writing routine. Make sure to check out Sandi’s websites for more information about ecohappiness and her books, and keep an eye out for her Environmental Writing Podcast, releasing in January.

Thank you again for tuning in, my lovelies. Just a reminder, that Alchemy for Authors will be changing to a fortnightly format from here on. So the next episode we’ll be dropping on January 2nd, 2023. Until then though, have an amazing festive break and a happy New Year.