Mid-June: I am Blessed

When I decided to finally pull my 2 three-ring binders from storage and work until I published, I had no idea the work or the reward in doing so.

I began the current series of stories in about 2000.  I made notes as I drove monthly over 5.5 hours to visit family with my young sons.  I wrote until the wee hours of the morning, the only truly quiet time in a house with a husband, a two and a five-year-old boy. I had many handwritten pages and lists of words or segments of sentences to decipher.  But, I was up to the challenge.

This series will end with a total of three or four books.  I published a brief introduction on 5/21/17 named The Proposal.  This short story introduces my three main characters.  It is a comical yet touching story of three friends reunited after two years apart.  The Proposal sets up the series.  Without sharing any spoilers it ends with the event that ties the series together.

One book on Amazon in Kindle and paperback editions, I felt a huge sense of fear.  Don't get me wrong I am excited to have one book out there for the masses to read. I've heard many times from seasoned authors, the first work will not be perfect, you learn from it, it is the band-aid you must rip off to heal and become better. However, now readers can like or dislike it.  They can rip my heart to shreds with their reviews.  If my friends learn of my pen name, then they might judge me based on this work.

I expected to sell maybe five books. Imagine my surprise that in less than thirty days I have sold over forty books.  I have even been caught cheering as it isn't just friends and family purchasing them. Strangers have bought my book!  My husband and I now look at sales two or three times a week and celebrate.  I didn't expect this.  I imagined I would remain a two-books-sold author on Amazon, never clicked on or reviewed.

I have four reviews between Amazon and Goodreads.  Two are strangers.  Yes, two people, I do not know, purchased my book, read it, then gave top reviews.  This blows my mind.  So now we also look for reviews once a week and celebrate the fact readers care.  I am sure eventually a negative review will occur.  It's inevitable.  I feel I am stronger now with my tiny bit of sales and review success, that I might be able to deal with such a review.  Don't get me wrong it will sting.  I will probably cry.  I am a momma bear with my book, just as I am with my two grown sons.

I have learned more than I every thought possible about social media in the last month.  Authors have to self-promote when they self-publish.  I thought I would publish book one then spend every waking hour working on book two.  Wrong.  To keep a following, I must be active on social media.  My platform must be one that draws interest, keeps followers active, and hopefully, encourages the purchase of my book(s).  I didn't think this sounded too difficult.  My personal accounts are active.  I was wrong again.  Two posts to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram every day requires research, planning, and creativity.  Add in Pinterest posts a couple of times a week, plus keeping my personal accounts up with family and friends...it seemed like a full-time job.  Within the past two weeks, I feel I have set a rhythm that allows me to control my posts and still find time to write.  However, my blog and website have not been given attention.  So now I am adding updates to these platforms, tweaking my time to allow for it, and hope I can still manage to write, write, write. (Not to mention spend time with my dog and family.)

How are things now?
First, through my spouse following and posting on Facebook, my pen name is no longer a secret. Many family members and friends now know I am an author named Haley Rhoades.  This is the scariest thing ever. My book is not everyone's cup of tea.  Romance is a tricky genre.  Readers know what they like, and within sub-genres, some do not stray.  So to say it is a romance book, allows many to think they will enjoy it.  It is scary because family and friends opinions have the ability to cut deeper than a stranger.  My anonymity is lost, and now some will think I am weird because of certain scenes in my book.  Others will try to find a true-life person to fit each character.  They might think the plot is real.  Although some characters resemble persons I know, they are not real people. This is not based on a true story.  It is fiction all they way through.

A typical day involves a walk with Nala around the neighborhood, then breakfast.  I venture to my office, which Nala doesn't enjoy even though she has a special blanket and treats in.  I post or schedule posts to social media on my PC.  I do some research.  Then when Nala whines too much, I move upstairs.  We usually walk the neighborhood again, then eat lunch.  I work as I eat.  I read my story outline, I mark up previously written pages, I jot a few notes, or continue with social media on my iPad.  Afternoons are spent writing.  I free write, I elaborate on my previously written pages, I jump all over the story to keep myself interested and writing.  About 5 pm, I wrap up my writing by organizing it in my filing system.  As I often write different sections in the same sitting, I place each within their appropriate part in the storyline.  I jot a few notes on tough parts I need to brainstorm, and I move into the family mode at least on the outside.  I freshen up the house, prepare dinner, and prepare for my husband to arrive home.  All the while I am daydreaming parts of my story.  These parts are my writing for tomorrow.  After dinner, we take a mammoth walk.  I have to reach my 10,000 steps daily. Yay me!  Although I am carrying on a conversation with my husband, I am still working on the story in my mind.  Occasionally while walking or watching TV, I make notes on my iPhone of ideas for tomorrow's writing. My story is never far from my mind.  As we watch TV, my very supportive spouse allows me to look at social media of authors and fans I follow.  I get ideas on technique, technologies, promotions, etc. during this time.  And when I fall asleep at night, I pick up my story where I left off letting it play in my dreams as I doze off.

It seems the life of a writer is 24/7.  I never knew, but I am enjoying every minute of it.  I have been truly humbled by the experience of my first published book and I hope I never lose that feeling.  I am blessed to have a supportive family and friends.  I am blessed to be able to write full-time.  I am blessed that readers have chosen my book.  I am blessed by my followers on social media.  I am truly blessed and very thankful.
-Haley Rhoades

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