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I'm most recently a writer.  In the six plus decades of my life, I've been a wife, mother, grandmother, Jill of all trades though mistress of but a few, and most of the time pretty content with my lot.  As a much younger person, I believed I was called to write, but life and living distracted me for most of those decades.  An unwilling transplant from the South,  twenty years ago I unintentionally landed in the geographical center of the US.  Writing came about in part due to the unwillingness, I expect.  When caring for family, gardening, and renovating a century-old house failed to provide sufficient creative outlets, I turned to the one thing I always intended to do.  Eight titles later, I'm grateful I found myself while Lost in the Plains!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Happy Birthday, Valley Rise!

Roughly a year ago, in October 2012, I remember feeling as though I'd given birth after weeks of torturous labor.  My triplets, the first three volumes in the Miracle at Valley Rise series, were finally published and for sale on Amazon.  I was braced for the unknown.  I remember saying to my editor/love of my life, as those first sales appeared on the reports page, "Let's see where we are a year from now," in a tone of extremely cautious optimism.

I'd already spent nine months attempting to push my first false starts out to the world.  I was premature in publishing a 600 page novel with a less than appealing cover but it still found a few readers who were kind enough to tell me they liked it.  The follow-up of a second volume went virtually unnoticed.  Nothing encouraging there beyond a couple of nice reviews, but somehow I hadn't completely lost faith yet, at least on my good days.  On my bad days, I tried to convince myself that it was time to cross off that "writer" square and move on to the next adventure.

With so many months of work and so much love already invested, we decided to regroup, my editor/love and I.  After seemingly endless back and forth on the wisdom of self-publishing at all, after a query to a carefully chosen agent whose response was positive but still negative, we finally put our new act together.  The plan was to separate the first book into two, put up a slightly revised version of the second, now third, complete a fourth, and wrap them all in new covers.  Simple, right?

A crisis over the covers almost brought on a nervous breakdown.  There were actually several days when I was convinced it was time to give up.  I just didn't have what it took to be a self-published author.  But I've never been a quitter, and after I put myself prayerfully back in front of the computer and made another run at the cover issue, things moved forward again with the aid of my son and his talent with Photoshop.  

Somewhere in the midst of  this process, it occurred to me that given the obvious popularity of series, it might pay to highlight the theme of the stories.  Call it inspired or not, but when I did a search through the books, the word "miracle" jumped off the pages.  After more back and forth with my "team," the series title was born.  Hard to recall how hesitant I was to use a "label" now that I've seen how effective it would be. 
Ready at last to try, try again, the three books were released within hours of each other in late September.  After single-digit sales for the past few months, my report pages sprang to renewed life.  I still hadn't learned to promote with much effectiveness, but somehow, readers were finding my books anyway!

Fast forward twelve months, one holiday novella and a fourth book in the series completed, and I'm pretty certain we're on to something.  In the past three months my readership has grown by leaps and bounds.  My promoting skills are still hit and miss, but I'm learning to accept the results for better or worse. Every book in every Kindle stands a chance of being read and judging by the numbers, if Hearts Unfold is read, the others stand a very good chance, too.

I now have FB pages, a blog and a little more confidence.  I still hope for more--more readers, more response, more books.  My current work in progress, a title related to the series in that it features one of the characters in an earlier time, is slowly but surely approaching publication. In my mind, there are numerous threads of future works waiting for that ever-elusive time to put them on paper.  I've finally decided I just might be a writer after all.  And I'm convinced the little story conceived over forty years ago was one ready to be told. 

For now, I plan to celebrate the small successes and the lessons learned.  I also plan to look forward to where we may be a year from now.  As Emerson said, "Life is a journey, not a destination."  Something tells me this journey to Valley Rise has only just begun.

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