Happy Saturday, everyone! There are a ton of new faces around here, so I wanted to take an opportunity to reintroduce myself, answer a few questions I got via social media, and give a general life update since I haven’t done one of those on here in awhile. 🙂
First and foremost, I’m Savanna Roberts, head of S.R. Press that has just now been made official (*cue squealing*)! I’m a nineteen year old YA author that started writing stories for my siblings and parents when I was little, got a middle-grade Greek mythology based fantasy trilogy published between the ages of 11-13, and then began my official career with my debut novel Smoke and Mirrors in November of 2018. Since then, I’ve published three other books and look forward to putting more out this year.
I’m married to (who I think is *winks*) the greatest man in the world, affectionately known on all of my social media sites as “The Hubby,” and we have one heaven-side baby and two kitty babies.
Hubby and I moved to Park City, Utah shortly after getting married for the mountain book-writing inspiration and the skiing, and since then we’ve moved to the greater Salt Lake City area where Hubby can be closer to his job and where I can finally begin writing full-time after a year and a half of working two other part-time jobs. We still have the mountains, and Hubby still loves to ski, so I think we’re doing pretty alright. 😉
Some interesting facts about me, so you guys know I’m not usually as poised as I come across…
- I love personality psychology. It’s a bit of an obsession, really. I just found out about the enneagram in late 2019 and now I just want to dive into an enneagram hole and never come out. I warned all of you. *shrugs*
- Hubby and I named our two cats Chip and Queso. And if we had a dog, he would probably be named Poncho. It just fits. Hubby is still on the fence about this, but someday when we get a dog, I will convince him. *nods*
- I really like ice cream and chocolate chip cookies. Both are my weakness and make it hard when I’m supposed to be on a gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free diet. Ugh. So basically I have to get creative or just limit the nom-noms.
- I’m better at writing than talking. Way too often I stumble over what I’m meaning to say or phrase things weird or forget what word I’m trying to convey. There was one day I finished an intense writing session and I was feeling super proud of myself until I had to ask Hubby for scissors. I forgot what they were called. So I followed him around our apartment, muttering, “Babe, I need the thingy-things” while making snipping motions with my hands. Words are hard, okay?
Despite all of my quirks that would probably lead you to think otherwise, I like my writing to be serious, and my books always handle dark or deep themes and topics. A very brand of Savanna Roberts’ books is that while the story will be hard, you will always be able to find a light at the end of the tunnel. If you’re interested in what I have out right now, check out my Shop, and I also have a few free short stories here on my blog if you do a little scrolling. 🙂
Besides writing, now that I’ve quit my old babysitting job, I do marketing for my family’s ninja warrior gym in NC (I’m an NC girl at heart, y’all), and I’m now offering freelance editing services! So if you or anyone you know is looking for quality, affordable editing, check out my list of services HERE!
Now for the really fun part. I announced via social media that I’d be doing this introduction post and asked if anyone had any questions they’d like to see me answer. I got some really good, and surprisingly really deep, ones. I’m going to go ahead and dive right in…
Joyce (on Instagram as @libri_joyceae) asked, “I want to know more about the road you took to publish independently?”
Such a great question, and I’ll try to do a quick summary here, but for a longer and more in-depth answer, I also have this blog post that I did not too long ago… My Indie Publishing Journey.
Originally I started indie with the goal to go traditional. One of the marketing books I read prior to starting my career said that if you self-published and gained reviews and a following, more agents and publishing houses would be willing to take a look at you and pick you up. Since starting my career, I’ve since learned that that is a myth and it doesn’t really matter all that much, but more importantly I just fell in love with indie publishing.
I have a hand in everything from edits to covers, which is very important to me since traditional publishers can change what you’re wanting to say in your book to fit their agenda (not always of course! But it’s more common than you think) and you have next to no say in the cover process. I also love learning and growing, so marketing and running a business, while a learning curve, has become something I’ve really enjoyed. But most importantly of all is that indie publishing gives me a freedom that I would not have if I went traditional. I set my own deadlines and stick to them as much as I’m able, but if sickness or a family emergency or a family trip comes up, I’m allowed to change my deadline and work around said thing without feeling pressured or having to answer to anyone else. I find it all just freeing.
That being said, I’m not saying I’ll never go traditional. I am considering it for down the road in my career if I ever decide to try different genres that will have more reach being traditionally published. But for now, I’m very content with the path I’ve chosen, and I love to teach others about it. 🙂
My friend Rachel, ever the lover of characters, asked me, “Who was the hardest character you’ve ever written and why?”
Every character is hard in their own way. Each have an aspect about them that I normally have to sit down and hone through rewrites and character exercises before they feel like they “work” for me. That being said, there are two characters that come to find when I think of the challenges I faced writing them: Calvin and Christina, my sibling duo from Smoke and Mirrors.
Calvin was hard to write because he was so broken and reserved, and he doesn’t really open up to his friends and the readers until halfway through the novel. As far as writing him went, it took me well over three drafts before I finally felt like I’d glimpsed who he was supposed to be despite all of the walls he kept up. His struggle with depression, and ultimately self-harm, was a struggle to write as well. Mental health is never taken lightly in my books, so I wanted to be sure that what I portrayed was authentic and excruciating, but also not so dark enough that it seemed as though he’d never see the light of day.
Christina was hard for a completely different reason. She’s my eternal optimist. She’s the rays of sun poking through the clouds, a gentle breeze on a hot day, one of the most loving characters I’ve ever written. She’s loosely based off a friend I had through middle school and early high school. Said friend got sick, but no matter what, she always had a hug, a loving smile, and a kind word for everyone. But “loving” wasn’t enough for Christina to resonate with readers; she felt too one-dimensional. So I had to really work on creating chinks in her personality as well. Perhaps she was loving most of the time, but what would she do if she felt jealousy? Hurt? Betrayal? I explore all of these in Smoke and Mirrors with her character, and she reads a lot better because of it.
Fellow indie author L. Steinworth (found on Instagram as @theartofliz) asked, “What inspires you most?”
And that’s such a beautiful question, because I have so many inspirations. As a Christian, I feel like God gave me my writing talents for a reason and lead me to this career path for a reason. I have a sense of purpose because of that, and it means the world to me. I may never get “big” or do traditional publishing or become a best seller, but I have a purpose that I’m always striving after, no matter what I do. And that’s to write and use my stories as a light for those that are struggling; who need to be reminded that they’re not alone.
Another great source of my inspiration comes from family and friends that have continued to push me and encourage me throughout this entire process. There have been a lot of ups and downs, but they’re still here, cheering me on. Most notably is my husband, who’s been my rock, my alpha reader, my editor early on, my photographer for self portraits, the bringer of coffee, and the one who’s stayed up late listening to my rambles about my books. My dear friends Krissa and Cherise have also pushed me to make my stories the best they can possibly be, and they’re constantly there to listen when I need help or if I just need a moment to complain about how hard writing is, ha! I also have my three younger sisters to think about. Two of them aren’t old enough to read my stories yet, but I write with the hope that they’ll be able to take the messages I convey to heart.
Finally, there’s my Street Squad and all of my readers. No less important by any means! I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for all of you. I’m always inspired to write the stories that will help you grow, help you challenge yourself, and help you heal. I want to help you smile again. I want to help you find joy in life again. And I hope I accomplish that with each and every story I put out.
Here’s a picture of the bulletin board above my desk, by the way… Whenever I need a reminder of my inspirations, I just have to look up. 🙂
Finally, Cherise (found on Instagram as @thefoldedworld) asks, “How did your favorite books change over the years? What do you think that says about you and the development of your writing? How did books teach you about the author you wanted to be?”
Such deep, amazing questions that I could probably write a whole blog post about, but I’ll do my best to keep it short.
Fun Story — the majority of what I read as a child were mysteries. The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Co-Mysteries, The Boxcar Children, The A to Z Mysteries, Trixie Belden. I was CERTAIN I was going to write mysteries when I grew up because I found the most joy in reading them. It turns out, I have not even one lick of talent for writing mysteries whatsoever. One of the reasons I loved reading mystery stories was because I was always surprised at the end; I could never fit the clues together to figure out “whodunit?” so I was always surprised. Definitely made for a great mystery reader, but not for a great mystery writer. 😉
But now that you’ve gotten me thinking about it, there are tropes included in those books that I’ve clung to over the years to carry over into my writing — romantic subplots and family/found family. Both of those are also very much part of my brand as a writer, and it’s amazing to see how the early books I read might have shaped that.
Since then, I’ve discovered more of a love for hard stories. Stories that challenge yourself and make you think. Stories where the characters aren’t always the best people, but they’re doing their best. Stories where mental health rep is respected and used properly. Stories where the world is unexpected and sucks you in and demands your attention. Stories that stomp on your heart and then piece it back together in the swoop of a few hundred pages. Stories like The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon, and Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton.
Those books/book series really taught me about how I wanted to write and who I wanted to be as a writer. There are plenty of times where the story is dark and the characters are struggling inside and out and don’t know if they can make it. But they have each other. And through each other, they find the strength to go on — to grow, to heal, to thrive, to love. And I feel like those lessons are so important, especially since failure is one of my biggest fears. I want to remember that I can grow, heal, thrive, and love despite past mistakes. And I want others to know that too.
So I hope that’s what those particular books say about me as a writer. I also hope that my growing list of titles shows that I’m willing to grow as a writer while also staying true to the core beliefs and tropes that shape my brand and who I am as a person. 🙂
So that’s me, everyone! Let me know if you liked the q&a bit at the end? If you do, I’ll look into doing another post solely focused on q&a, or we can see about doing a live video on Facebook or Instagram. For now, introduce yourselves in the comments! Tell me an interesting fact about yourself, or what you’re writing, or what you’re currently reading. Let’s get to know one another!