WHH: Mary Weber | YA Author

Hello Everyone!

We’ve all had those days. The days when we are feeling like we need a shift, a change, something new. What if you were brave enough to explore that shift? What if you actually made a change and did what you wanted to?  I would like to introduce you to Mary Weber: YA Author, mother, wife and resident of a sleepy little town on California’s Central Coast. Guess what she did? She shifted. Let’s read on:

"I’m Mary. I write books and work with teens. I have tattoos. I love old souls and belly laughter. " (Image and text courtesy of Mary Weber)

"I’m Mary. I write books and work with teens. I have tattoos. I love old souls and belly laughter. " (Image and text courtesy of Mary Weber)

 Poppyseed: Welcome, Mary! So tell us, how you got into writing as a profession?

Mary Weber: "Hi there - thanks for having me! And let's see...About nine years ago I went through a season of pausing on life. Like, I sort of just internally sat down and stared out the window for a few months - at the autumn leaves, the sky, the roads leading home. I remember telling my husband, “I know who I am as a mom, wife, youth pastor, friend, but I can’t seem to find the rest of me.” During that time I began to write as a way to discover more of the woman in me and to explore her view of life and enjoy the beauty she sees in the souls of others. And then . . . I just never stopped. Four years later I was picked up by a publisher at HarperCollins after 36 months of writing and one year of agent rejections (87 to be exact) for a book I've never shown anyone since. I've now written five novels for Harper (the Storm Siren Trilogy - which is out, and The Evaporation of Sofi Snow series - the first of which just came out!), and I have a sixth I haven't decided the concept on yet, that I'll begin writing in August.

PS: Congrats on the new book! So exciting to be talking to you right after its release. Can you tell us what a day in the life of Mary Weber is like?

MW: *laughs* Like most moms, it's pretty wrapped around kid schedules. I have an 11-year-old, 15-year-old, and a 17-year-old who's just finished her first year of college, and I also work with teens in my side job. So my day looks a lot like getting the younger two out the door to school, orthodontist appointments, practices, and their friends – or having a houseful of teens sprawled out across my kitchen and couches. In the between hours, I try to switch between whichever book is in the works, editing, phone calls with the publisher and publicists, and traveling to book events, school visits, and conferences.

"In her spare time, Mary feeds unicorns, sings 80s hairband songs to her three muggle children, and ogles her husband who looks strikingly like Wolverine." (Image courtesy of Mary Weber via Instagram text courtesy of Mary Weber)

"In her spare time, Mary feeds unicorns, sings 80s hairband songs to her three muggle children, and ogles her husband who looks strikingly like Wolverine." (Image courtesy of Mary Weber via Instagram text courtesy of Mary Weber)

PS: What about any advice would you give aspiring writers? Top three pieces of advice?

MW: (1) Read and write – even when you’re not in the mood, because it’s the only way we grow at it. (2) Join a critique group because they will help shape your stories. (3) Dig into your soul until you find your own story and voice—the one that’s scared of what people will think or tries to put on the grown-up shoes so no one will know you’re secretly insecure. Because we’re all insecure. But when you tap into the dreams and fears, and give that hidden self a voice? It’ll begin to sing. And that is where I believe our stories take on heart.

PS: While all of your books are in the Young Adult genre, they are very different. Where do you find inspiration for each book?

MW: People. Life. It’s heartbursts and heartbreaks. Beautiful prose. Being home in the country quiet or sharing an evening of wine and bonfires with friends. My children’s belly laughter. My husband’s goodness. The teens I work with. Injustice. And so much music.

PS: Why YA novels?

MW: The authenticity. There’s such a non-judgmental, raw honesty to the voice and characters that say, “I see your soul, and here’s mine, in the midst of life’s messy story. Let’s be friends.”

PS: You’re newest book hit shelves just a few weeks ago! Tell us a bit about “The Evaporation of Sofi Snow.”

The Evaporation of Sofi Snow now available via Harper Collins available at your local bookstores, and major bookstores like: Barnes and Noble and Amazon to name a few. (Image courtesy of Mary Weber via Instagram)

The Evaporation of Sofi Snow now available via Harper Collins available at your local bookstores, and major bookstores like: Barnes and Noble and Amazon to name a few. (Image courtesy of Mary Weber via Instagram)

MW: The Evaporation of Sofi Snow is about a gamer girl, the brother she loves, and a playboy ambassador who may or may not know more than he’s saying about that beloved brother’s disappearance. Basically, it’s a fun, fast-paced geekfest for lovers of Ender’s Game, Taken, and The Hunger Games. I like stories that remind us of who we are as beautiful human beings while exploring rich topics. In Sofi, we examine today’s hot mess of a political climate, human trafficking, diversity, family relationships, and what would happen if an alien ice-planet suddenly appeared behind our moon.

PS: Watch Her Hustle is all about empowering women entrepreneurs such as yourself. Who would you say has empowered you?

MW: My mother. She is a powerhouse of wisdom, love, and so much creativity (she does everything from counseling and writing books, to designing websites and webinars, to keeping up on whatever the latest marketing trends are).

 PS: Annnd just for the heck of it, what show do you love to binge watch on Netflix?

MW: Psych! Especially when I’m on deadline. It makes me laugh, love, and not think too hard after a long writing day. <3

PS: You heard it friends! Check out Psych on Netflix, read more, write even if you don’t feel like it and check out Mary Weber’s newest book “The Evaporation of Sofi Snow” available now. Oh! And be sure to follow Mary on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for more glimpses of her hustling. Until next time!

WHH: Annie + Jen | Tribe of Dreamers

Hello Everyone!

We’re on our third installment of Watch Her Hustle today and so excited to introduce you to our entrepreneurs for the month. Annie and Jen, both based in L.A. decided to start  Tribe of Dreamers after knowing each other for only a few days. A few days?! Can we all be honest and confess that we’ve taken longer to decide on what kind of filter to use on our IG posts? Yeah, I thought so. In any case, these ladies have an incredible story, so let’s get to it.

Poppyseed: Ok, so what is Tribe of Dreamers? And how did you guys meet again? Something about a bar?

Annie: Tribe of Dreamers is a jewelry brand.  We partner with nonprofits to create a piece of jewelry that helps tell their story, and helps them raise funds for the mission that they want to accomplish. Jen & I had a little ‘happenstance meeting’ - I was brand new to L.A., and I was meeting a friend at the same bar that Jen was meeting a blind date. The two of us sat down at the same little bar table. My friend got up to grab a drink, her date got up to go to the bathroom and we both started chatting, and realized we both did jewelry, and knew we needed to hang out and chat more. So, we had a coffee date a couple days later, and we both just had the same heart for what we wanted to do. For me, it was the first time that someone that put words to what I’ve been feeling. That moment of, “Oh my gosh, you want to do this too?! This is your dream and you’re passion and mission in life?”  And we decided right then and there to start Tribe of Dreamers. We had only known each other a couple of days - which is crazy. So the base of what we wanted to do is “do what you love, to end what you hate.” We want to do what we love to make a difference in the world and impact people globally, and encourage other people to do that, as well.

Head Honchos Annie and Jen of Tribe of Dreamers. (image courtesy of Tribe of Dreamers) 

Head Honchos Annie and Jen of Tribe of Dreamers. (image courtesy of Tribe of Dreamers

PS: That slogan! Love the idea of taking your passion to end the injustices in the world. So, how did you guys end up at that bar? Give us some background info.

Annie: Well, I used to be a pastry chef. I had my own wedding cake business back in Atlanta, Georgia. I got to a point where I was doing everything by myself, I was super burned out, and I just wasn’t loving what I was doing. I believe in having a love and a passion for what you do and I just lost that, and kind of plateaued out a bit. I decided to give up my business, and move to L.A., and get into jewelry. I took a little jewelry making class for a couple months in Italy to see if I would like it. When I moved to L.A. I trying to figure out what it was going to look like; I wanted a deeper meaning to it, and I didn’t want to do it alone, and I’m in a city where I only know a handful of people. I didn’t want to move forward with it, unless I had somebody to do it with me. Then I met Jen. Enter Jen…

Jen: TA-DA! (laughs) I actually had a very winding path. I worked in politics for a bit, I was a teacher, I was doing acting, and I was kind of all over the board, but the one thing that was the running thread between everything, was that I wanted to make a difference in the world and I didn’t really know how to do that. And just by chance, I had this feeling that I really wanted to take a jewelry class - just for fun! I was feeling burnt out in acting and wanted an art form that I could control a little bit more. So, I took a class and I ended up loving it! I ended up being the first one in and taking it so seriously, not talking to anyone - totally dominating (laughing), I just wanted to learn everything I could. So then I started doing jewelry instead of acting and i got to the point, like Annie, where I got tired of doing it by myself, and burned out. I was thinking about quitting doing jewelry, and then I met Annie right at that time.

wearetribeofdreamers: "Shine a light on slavery today. These X bracelets help @enditmovement fight human trafficking all over the world." (Image courtesy of Tribe of Dreamers via Instagram)

wearetribeofdreamers: "Shine a light on slavery today. These X bracelets help @enditmovement fight human trafficking all over the world." (Image courtesy of Tribe of Dreamers via Instagram)

PS: So moral of the story: you never know who you are going to meet on a blind date? Ha! Ok, so now that you guys found each other, what advice would you give to others wanting to get into this career?

Annie: I think whether it’s this career, or any other creative thing, being creative is a little bit of a hard place to be. There are so many unknowns, and so much that is uncomfortable about the process of starting it. Honestly, the biggest piece of advice I can give - is just keep going. Keep putting one little step in front of the other. Especially in the beginning. If you try too much to focus on the huge picture, you're missing all of these little steps along the way, and that makes the big picture seem so much more scary and unattainable. If you just concentrate on all the little steps leading up to it - it’s amazing how attainable it is, and how much easier it is to grasp all of it. Also, I would say - get a partner, if you can. Or someone who can speak into your life, or what you're doing, a sounding board… Both of us know - doing it by yourself, is the worst! (laughs) Okay, it’s not the worst, but it’s a lot harder. To have someone you can do it with… On days when I’m down, Jen’s up, and she’s encouraging, and vice-versa. It’s so great to have someone you can fall on and lean on.

Jen: I would say, especially in the beginning stages, get a small group together of two or three people that you really trust, that you feel really understand your vision of what you are trying to achieve. When you want to share things - share it with them, don’t share it with everyone. Sometimes when you are first starting out - so many friends, and loved ones have good intentions, but all the opposing inputs and advice can be really confusing - especially when you are first starting out. Bounce the ideas off of a couple people that you feel really get you, and stay true to the small voice that’s inside of your heart, of what you feel is right, and what you feel you want to do.

PS: That’s great advice. What is Tribe of Dreamers’ biggest dream for the future?

@wearetribeofdreamers: "Teaching our very first workshop to our very first employees to receive their very first jobs. Words cannot describe." (image courtesy of Tribe of Dreamers via Instagram) 

@wearetribeofdreamers: "Teaching our very first workshop to our very first employees to receive their very first jobs. Words cannot describe." (image courtesy of Tribe of Dreamers via Instagram) 

Jen: One of the things that most excites me for Tribe of Dreamers is that we are part of projectRAIZ, which is a group of artists and artisans that went to Swaziland and Mozambique this summer to help create jobs. One of my biggest dreams is to have Tribe be a part of building a really beautiful artisan center in Mozambique and for that to be the flagship. I would love to have a bunch of artisan centers around the world that are helping to create jobs for rural artists, that wouldn’t otherwise be able to be connected to a global marketplace, but to also have this space be really beautiful and inspiring. To create a place where these artists feel inspired, loved, and taken care of, at the same time that they are making pieces that bring inspiration to other people. It’s kind of a full circle thing.

Annie: I think I would like Tribe to have a lot of branches that spread out. The more you create, the more impact you can have - the more people you can reach. I would love for us to keep branching out, and keep expanding ourselves, and challenging ourselves creatively, as well - and making a bigger impact on the people around us.

PS: Totally. It’s amazing to see both of your hearts shine through. Ok, off the wall questions:

Jen, what is your favorite band these days?

Jen: Lumineers. I listened to them nonstop for two months while I was making 400 necklaces! Now, it’s changing to Jack Johnson, beachy vibes because... I live on a sailboat.

PS: Wow! That feels like another story altogether! Annie, What is your go to ice cream?

Annie: Pistachio. The non-artificial, like the real kind, with chunks of pistachio in it.

PS: YUM.

wearetribeofdreamers: "Never underestimate a woman and her tools." (Image courtesy of Tribe of Dreamers via Instagram)  

wearetribeofdreamers: "Never underestimate a woman and her tools." (Image courtesy of Tribe of Dreamers via Instagram)  

Ok, one last one: What’s the ultimate experience you’ve had so far while collaborating with nonprofits, charities, organizations, etc.?

Annie: Mine would be a new project that we started, that Jen mentioned, projectRAIZ.  We get to help teach people there, that don’t really have a shot — just teaching them skills, helping them learn something, giving them tools to help them build a business, and to create. We, in Swaziland, have employed six women to help start making some of our pieces. That has been really incredible for us. It’s something that is so simple and easy for us, but it is literally so life-changing for these women. Little things, like now they have money to go buy seeds to plant for food, so they can eat. And also, in the midst of that, trying to raise money for a well for them, too.

Jen: I ditto what Annie says. And then, anything I would add, would be anytime we get a little note from clients who wear our jewelry and they share that it has encouraged them on their journey, or inspired them, or helps remind them to not give up on their own dreams. That really is why we started. That always is one of my favorite things.

PS: So epic. Thank you both so much for taking the time to talk with us! You are both such amazing humans and we are grateful to have gotten to know you. (fist bump)

Inspired by these two? Join the Tribe on Instagram and be apart of something greater.

WHH: Kristina Libby | SoCu

Hello Everyone!

Today we’re talking with Kristina Libby, a resident of Dallas and a hustler to the Nth degree. Kristina is the CEO of the solutions agency the Social Works Co and founder of the forthcoming app SoCu; oh, and she is also a Professor at the University of Florida. Like we said, a hustler after our own hearts.

Poppyseed: Welcome Kristina! Tell us a little bit about what you do? You know, a day in the life of Kristina Libby.

(Image courtesy of Kristina Libby via Twitter)

(Image courtesy of Kristina Libby via Twitter)

Kristina Libby: I run a company called SoCu - it stands for social curation and sometimes social currency. We are a technology company that helps brands connect with people of all levels of influence. My days are anything but typical - whether I'm driving to Austin to meet customers, or flying to NYC to meet potential investors - the only consistency I have is the unexpected.  Something always goes right. Something else goes wrong and nothing remains the same. It's what I love and it's also what makes being an entrepreneur really really hard.

Most days I wake up by 6am and I'm still working at 8:30pm but I believe in what I'm doing and I believe in the change we are creating in the world. You have to hustle to get where you want to go and you have to build a network of people around you to help you make it happen.

PS: We love the hustle, but it’s a huge step into the world of entrepreneurship. How did you know you wanted to work for yourself?

KS: I'm a constant learner - I'm always reading a new book, taking a new class, trying something new, tinkering. It's the way my mind works and how I operate. So, working for myself gives me that. I love corporate America too but at times it's been too slow for me.

Right now, working for myself seems the obvious results of my childhood. I'm from Maine - land of the solo business owner - some people might say it's the result of curmudgeons and cold weather but I think it's because we are a work hard, work harder culture. People don't give up. People there work through the snowstorm and the heat wave and the Northeaster, because that's what you have to do to survive.   

PS: Gotta say, it's super inspiring to hear the history behind your stellar work ethic. If you could give three key pieces of advice to other women pursuing a path in entrepreneurship, what would it be?  

KS:     1. Read more books 2. Listen to more podcasts 3. Grow your network

PS: Have there been people in your life that has empowered and inspired you? If so, who?

@kristinamlibby: It's a new era of #influence and #influencermarketing and especially #socialmedia - loved speaking today at #digimarketing in #NYC. (Image courtesy of Kristina Libby via Instagram) 

@kristinamlibby: It's a new era of #influence and #influencermarketing and especially #socialmedia - loved speaking today at #digimarketing in #NYC. (Image courtesy of Kristina Libby via Instagram) 

KS: Yes, Samantha Power and Madeleine Albright are my heroes. Those are women who are smart, talented, put together and successful - they broke down all kinds of barriers by just being great hard workers.

PS: Now, because we can’t work all the time, what's currently your favorite: Band?

KS: The Chainsmokers

PS: Book?

KS: A Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin

PS: Country to visit?

KS: Kenya

PS: Rapid fire responses for the win. Wouldn’t expect anything else from such a hustler. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today! We’re so excited to see SoCu come to life and wish you the best of luck out there. (fist bump)

Be sure to keep up with Kristina on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, cause this woman is going places and you’re not going to want to miss it.

WHH: Sara Johnson-Steffey | Do Justice

Hello Everyone! We are proud to bring you our very first installment of “Watch Her Hustle,” a series of interviews with women entrepreneurs shaking things up. Our first guest is Sara Johnson-Steffey, founder of the advocacy organization Do Justice, and fun fact: sister of our founder Rebekah Adams! Do Justice is a start-up advocacy program that focuses on training those on both a local and global level through programs and policy to produce legislative change. They also work through workshops, schools and mentorships to help empower world changers. When she’s not heading up Do Justice, Sara writes about island life on Kona, where she lives with her husband and their four children. She enjoys writing, reading, gardening, adventuring with her kids, and drinking strong coffee. 

Poppyseed: Thanks for talking with us Sara! First off, can you give our readers a little bit of history? Tell us a  bit about your background and how you got into this area of justice and advocacy? 

Image courtesy of Sara Johnson-Steffey.

Image courtesy of Sara Johnson-Steffey.

Sara Johnson-Steffey: Well, I started traveling at a really young age. I was 13 when I first went outside the U.S.A on a teen volunteer missions trip to Hungary and the Soviet Union, and it WAS the Soviet Union then. And I think seeing things like bread lines out your hotel window at that age really impacts a person. It did me. I did trips like this all through my high school years and then traveled with Youth With A Mission to South East Asia and then Brazil after high school. It was really my time in Brazil that got me asking these big "WHY" questions. I was at a missions base in the Amazon and spent time in the tribal group villages. I watched as they went hungry at night because of poachers and were treated terribly by government officials and it just didn't seem fair. And rather than glossing over it, shrugging and saying "that's just how it is" I couldn't look away from that question of why. So, I decided to study it. College and then grad school pointed me towards advocating for change in law and public policy by helping people at the grassroots to engage in lawmaking. It's about empowerment really. 

PS: What is Do Justice? How long has this been in the works?  

SJS: So, Do Justice is really the culmination of 20 years of different experiences for me: Traveling and enjoying other cultures; working with United Nations and State Department types and giant international NGOs and small grassroots organizations; working as a nonprofit consultant, learning the ins and outs of that world. I wanted to do the work of supporting advocates and justice projects but stay out of the bureaucracy of large DC beltway aid organizations. Our vision is that we "recognize the call toward justice, the heart for the poor, the cry of the oppressed and then to equip anyone with this call - from grassroots advocates to lawmakers - through consultations, mentorships, trainings, and bringing together change makers to confront injustice with love and action."

"It was really my time in Brazil that got me asking these big "WHY" questions. " Image courtesy of Sara Johnson-Steffey.

"It was really my time in Brazil that got me asking these big "WHY" questions.Image courtesy of Sara Johnson-Steffey.

The other two individuals involved so far - our other offices in Mexico and in Spain - have years of work as well. We realized coming together to do our work and advise others really was more empowering for all of us. The camaraderie and support is SO important in justice work, when you are tackling huge issues like trafficking of children or child labor or the sex industry or refugees. It's overwhelming. Coming together, we are stronger, and we want to offer that kind of support and encouragement and advice to others as well through our projects, trainings, workshops, consultations, and internships. We also have plans for more direct work with government and those running for office, but we are building up to that. 

PS: What has been your biggest motivator in helping people both locally and globally? 

SJS: I think just this strong sense of justice. But also, knowing, remembering, believing that one person can make a difference. I don't think I am the ONE PERSON, mind you, for all these issues. Do Justice is about helping out that one person, starting in on an advocacy campaign, working at a project to make change, to get at the roots of the issue. I know the struggle that one person feels. On the ground. Seeing all the injustice, right in the thick of things. That is what we are about, wanting to be there for them, support them, help them to achieve justice for the people and communities they love.

PS: So, what would you say to women looking to enter this field? Advice to help them prepare?

SJS: I think it's important to have a sense of who you are, you know? Take some time to figure yourself out. Even if it takes ten years. Don't rush into a field because the work seems so pressing. But yes, stay passionate about the cause you are called to, the cause God has chosen for your life. Look around and see the injustices on your doorstep. A lot of time we become blind to it. You don't have to travel to a dozen countries. You have to walk down the block. Get comfortable with planning things and walking out that plan. Advocacy can be long and tedious. Two steps forward, one step back. It's not all "rah rah" waving signs at rallies. It's buckling down, building a movement, finding allies, one small victory at a time. Be brave. It is so important to remember that justice work isn't your own story. It's not about you. Rely on other people's strength, other organizations. Learn to work together, with anyone you can. Learn to talk to people impacted by the issue, but also to listen. And try to listen more. What else? Definitely, to learn to keep your head down and do the work. Don't drown in the work though. Hang out with friends and family. Drink good coffee. Enjoy life. Be content to do your part. You might not see change for ten years. Be okay with that. That is what it takes sometimes.  Most importantly, learn to see the light. There is a whole lot of bad in the world. But there is a whole lot of good too. Look for it. Treasure it. Bring more to others.

PS: Switching subjects a little bit, what’s your favorite book these days? 

SJS: Ummmm... I love reading. I'm not good at this question. It depends on my mood. Am I supposed to say the Bible? I've been into Swedish mystery novels lately. But I also love a good YA book. Probably the book that I have savored the most might be "Midnight's Children" by Salman Rushdie and "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez or "The Signature of All Things" by Elizabeth Gilbert or "The Red Tent" or a couple books by Barbara Kingsolver. I love beautiful language when I read. But also a good story. I loved "The DaVinci Code" and the early Tom Clancy and Michael Crichton books. Lee Child books. Um, but I am also a huge Jane Austen fan. She's got story and beautiful language! A book I could pick up any day and read would be "Little Women." I seriously love that book. It just makes me happy.”

PS: One more, here at Poppyseed we’re pretty obsessed with empowering women. Hence the “Watch Her Hustle” series. Who would you say is your role model? Who has empowered you?

Sara teaching a seminar in Iraq circa 2005. Image courtesy of Sara Johnson-Steffey.

Sara teaching a seminar in Iraq circa 2005. Image courtesy of Sara Johnson-Steffey.

SJS: Oh man. Another tough one. My mom? She's amazing. I truly admire people who stand up for what they believe and live the life God has called them to live. I have a friend from childhood who is living this kind of life in the backwoods of Maine. And she's a Cali girl. But she's creating this amazing community around food and farming and raising cool kids. I love that. Or another Cali friend who writes books and works as a mentor to teens.  I admire ordinary people who do their ordinary lives with integrity and love and joy. You know? And then when they step out to do the extraordinary, well, that's amazing too. My siblings are pretty kick ass. Every one of them. I've got a few former co-workers who have been working international conflict zones, supporting good governance programs, for so many years, and gosh, such an amazing testament to the belief in people's rights to have a say in their government! I am also in awe of some women I have come to know recently working the front lines with refugees coming out of Syria and Mosul. I wish I could be there with them! I've got a dear friend from my days in Brazil who has led an amazing life advocating for the marginalized of Brazil and now she getting her PhD at Yale. Another friend here teaches midwifery skills to women who are going to work in places like Uganda and Nepal. And then a couple I knew from Brazil who I had the honor of working with on a piece of legislation to protect the right to life of indigenous children. They have given their lives to the voices of the unheard, adopting a daughter from the tribal groups who had been left to die in the jungle. Amazing people.

Women are amazing aren't they?? 

PS: We couldn't agree more!! Thanks for kicking off this series Sara! Keep it up. (fist bump)

You can learn more about Do Justice here, and be sure to follow this budding organization on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.