Sara Ackerman is a bestselling author of Hawaiian historical novels, published by HarperCollins Publishers. Her books include The Lieutenant’s Nurse, Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers, Red Sky Over Hawaii, and forthcoming Radar Girls.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

I was born and raised in Hawaii, on the island of Oahu. My parents were very outdoorsy types and I spent much of my childhood in the ocean and traipsing around rainforests and volcanoes with them–my father in particular. On numerous occasions, we were lost high on a mountain, stuck in a flooded valley, or walking over active lava flows, evading the park rangers. I think this created a deep love of nature in me, and the desire to help preserve our wild spaces. Now, as an author, I write my love of nature into the books and people always comment on how much they love the settings. When you infuse what you love into your work, you can’t go wrong!

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

Life is short, so don’t waste one second of your precious time!

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

Maybe, ‘write what you know. In some ways, I think it helps (as in setting, like I just mentioned), but I was no WWII expert and now I have 4 WWII novels under my belt. I knew some stories from my grandparents and parents, who lived through the war here, but most of my information came from research. I say, write what you are passionate about. And do your research.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

I have had a handful of very dark times, but the most recent came soon after my father passed away, and not only was I grieving terribly, but I was beset by a host of severe physical ailments––a bulging disc in my back, crippling vertigo, and an infection that would not go away, among other things. I remember thinking that I was experiencing a dark night of the soul and that I would have to dig very deep to pull myself out of it. I hate suffering, so I always throw everything into getting better. 

In this case, I went to counseling, saw an energy healer, listened to healing meditations (I love the Honest Guys on YouTube), prayed, read books (Becoming Supernatural by Joe Dispenza, Tools of Titan by Tim Ferriss, and The Universe Has Your Back by Gabby Bernstein), wrote in my thankful journal daily, spent time in nature, drank celery juice, got regular acupuncture (I have an acupuncture license, too, so sometimes treat myself), started doing the Wim Hof breathing (I use the app), and more. 

We are so fortunate to have so much wisdom out there in the world to draw from, and so many healers to seek out. I am a firm believer that our health and happiness are in our own hands. And also that asking for help is a good thing. To me, it shows strength rather than weakness.

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

I believe it is important to get clear on what you want and go for it. I knew that I wanted to write novels and have a traditional publishing deal (with one of the Big 5 publishers). I also set a timeline for that goal (5 years until I was published and 10 years to become a New York Times bestselling author), and told all my friends and family about it. I regularly imagined it as though it had already happened. I did get published in just over five years, and I’m a year out from 10 years, looking forward to hitting that NYT list!

“Patience & Perseverance” is my motto.

What is your morning routine?

I usually wake up and start writing, often in bed, and then have lemon or lime water, go for a walk or swim, do a little yoga and breathing, eat breakfast, and then more writing, publicity/promo, and social media on my author site. 

I was never an early riser until I started writing. Now, I wake up between 5 and 6 and am excited to start writing. I often can’t wait to see what is going to happen next in my WIP (work in progress), so it makes it fun.

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

Writing in my thankful journal regularly. On the front of the page, I write about what am thankful for in my life and in the world (anything from health and love, to the new ohia blossoms that are blooming on my tree), and then on the back, I write about what I want to happen as though it has already happened, and give thanks. I find it to be a very effective way of manifesting!

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

I like to work mostly during the first half of the day and get the important stuff done, so I can relax during the second half of the day. I don’t believe in procrastination. 

I also write down my goals and tasks for the day and like to check them off as I go. As an author, my mind is often lost in stories and daydreaming plot points, so I really need to work to stay grounded. When I’m deep in a book, I’ll do things like put the shampoo in the fridge and I’m constantly losing things. So, lists help. 

The other thing I would say is to get outside at some point in the morning and some point in the late afternoon. Fresh air does wonders for your state of mind. Walks in nature are one of life’s greatest gifts.

What book(s) has influenced your life the most? Why?

Tough question, as there have been so many! One of my favorites is The Book of Secrets by Deepak Chopra . This book is one of the best frameworks for living that I have encountered. And there have been many. It’s a compilation of wisdom and spirituality and consciousness told in a very compelling way. I love Deepak Chopra’s writing, and how accessible it is. And who doesn’t want to know the secrets to life?

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

One of my favorite quotes is by Albert Einstein, “Imagination is everything. It’s the preview of life’s coming attractions.” Everything the man says is brilliant, and this is no exception. I’m a huge fan of visualizing and manifesting in my life, and this speaks to that so perfectly.