Okay, so obviously, I’ve been on hiatus from my blog for a while, and not just the blog – pretty much any social media where my author profile is concerned.
Many times, on this blog and elsewhere, I’ve mentioned my struggles with the balancing act: trying to keep the home happy and thriving as well as my own personal endeavors where writing is concerned. Well, without going into too much detail, I had some medical issues/scares from spring until mid-summer that yanked things sharply back into focus in my life. Thanks to God, those things have settled themselves for the most part, but I will say that for all of the angst and anxiety of this year, I feel like I’ve found my “happy place” again.
When you’re an indie author, it’s all about marketing and networking if you actually want to sale some books. Back when I first started publishing, my mindset was more of “I’ll just write what I write, when I write it, and put it out there.” Period. The work ends there.
But let me tell you – rising sales/royalties and good reviews are addicting.
Soon, I went from being part of one GR group to being very active in several. I opened a Twitter Account, a Facebook account and began regular postings. I solicited reviews from bloggers the world over as well as other romance-associated publications. I offered to do reviews in return. I wrote guest blogs for other romance authors and asked for “featured author” spotlights. I ran sales and promotions on my books and advertised the crap out of them. I became a judge in several writing contests. I became a reviewer for The Romance Reviews. I dove fiercely into the third book in my western series – determined to meet readers’ cries of “Hurry! I can’t wait for the next book!”
Did I sell more books? Did I make a bunch of money? Did I see more great reviews of my books? Absolutely.
But I also gained fifteen pounds since March, lost copious amounts of sleep, gained a wealth of stress to meet my own demands, and ended up having to drink a glass or two of wine each night just to relax enough to enjoy my kids. That’s why I feel my medical issues were a Godsend – a forced timeout.
When I thought I was dying (yes, a bit dramatic, I know, but when you’re a mother of young children, any time something goes wrong with your body you automatically torture yourself into saying goodbye to your kids…), I examined my regrets. I regretted not finishing Ruby’s Song. I regretted not being fitter and healthier, but most of all I regretted the idea of leaving my kids without the best memories they could have of me. Would they remember that I was always too tired to play with them? Would their lasting images of their mother be me at the computer, fingers whizzing over the keys with a glass of wine at my elbow? The thought tore at my heart.
So, I made a decision. I took a GIANT step back from promoting myself as an author and decided to work on the three biggest regrets I had. First, I made a summer bucket list of sixty activities for me and the kids to do together before the end of summer, and we’ve been busy doing just that: ticking things off the list and making wonderful memories in the process.
I’ve promised myself that I’d do my writing on Ruby’s Song only at night after both kids are in bed. I wish I could say I’ve cut out alcohol altogether, but I haven’t. But I have seriously cut back. I got a gym membership and work out after work. The kids can go play in the playroom with other children (a great thing for homeschooled kids).
Just these small changes in lifestyle have produced wondrous results. I feel closer to my kids than ever, and see much more consistent good behavior from them. I feel like my writing has improved and I am excited when I start working on it again instead of feeling like I am forcing it because it HAS to get done before summer’s end. I have much more energy, feel more alert and get better sleep (notice I said “better” sleep, not “more” sleep. Can’t change everything all at once).
As far as my fitness goes, I’m doing things now that I haven’t been able to do in four years – since I had my daughter. I used to be a runner, and I’ve tried to get back into it since Abby was born, but it hasn’t worked out – either because lack of motivation and persistence, back pain from trying to run with an extra 20-25 pounds on my body, etc. But I told myself – no excuses. I am doing this!! Three weeks ago, I pushed myself to complete a twenty-minute run, even if I passed out trying! I completed the run with sweat pouring off of me everywhere, even dripping from my elbows, and then I did it two more times that week. Last week, I pushed my running time to 25 minutes on Monday. Did it again Tuesday and Thursday. Then ran 30 minutes on Friday. Last night, I ran 3.2 miles in 35 minutes.
Such progress in three main areas of my life has filled me with optimism (rare for me) and motivation. I feel hopeful. I feel happy. I feel blessed. My sales have dropped dramatically, but my life stock has skyrocketed.