I keep trying to tell myself that I’ve only been a published author for three years and like any infant I must learn to crawl before I can run. It is difficult not to compare myself to other writers. Like the baby demanding it’s bottle, I want it now. I want to make the sales, to get my name out there, to get a movie deal and retire, but the fruit is sweeter after the climb.
Remembering things my grandmother told me has always given me strength and courage to persevere. She didn’t have an easy life. As a farmer’s wife, a share-cropper’s wife, she knew the hard scrabble of getting by, doing without and learning to make things herself. From her blackberry jam that was both tart and sweet with the taste of summer to selling ladies’ products out of her car down backroads all over eastern North Carolina, my grandmother knew if she wanted a better life, she had to do it herself. My grandfather worked hard. He paid the bills, but anything extra came from what my grandmother could do.
My grandmother led the way for my mother and me. She taught us that we could dream our dreams and make them come true, but no one was going to hand them to us. We had to work for them. I’m proud to come from a long line of hardworking women.
It is sometimes difficult for me to toot my own horn. I grew up believing a true southern lady (which I’ve never been able to be) was humble and quiet. Most people who know me as an adult know I’m a loudmouth with a wicked laugh and sense of humor equal to that of a teenaged boy. But I wasn’t always so vocal. It has taken me years to find my voice. It is often difficult to promote my own books and believe in myself.
Raising six boys taught me to be a little stronger, a little braver, a bit bolder but it has only been in the past few years that I’ve come to believe I might have something worth saying.
When you are promoting your books, you have to first promote yourself. It’s been scary but in the past few months I’ve started a newsletter increasing my readership from the seven original subscribers to 97 in the past four months. I’ve joined a few groups: AllAuthor and Bookfunnel and using their platforms began doing promos for my books. I’ve also bought a couple of ads from Bargain Booksy and joined a couple of free online groups on social media to help promote myself and my books. It’s a lot of work and sometimes a lot of money but I’m hoping that it’ll pay off. I can see steady traffic and that’s a good sign. As my dad would say “scared money don’t make money.” I’m trying to be brave and I’m thankful to all of you who have supported my efforts.
I now have six books out and I’m working on number seven. I’m hoping to finish a novella for an upcoming anthology.
The pandemic has made public appearances difficult. I’d just taken books around to the Brown Library, Riverwalk Art Gallery and The Next Chapter Books and Art Store when the pandemic first hit. I had a book signing at The Next Chapter but there was little traffic in the store that morning. I’m hoping to go back once Janie’s Secrets finally arrives. Covid-19 has messed up a lot of people’s plans but we’re still making progress slowly but surely.
As July ends and August begins, I can’t help but think about grandma’s blackberry jam. It was a lot of hot work to make a few jars but that first taste of sweet, tart jam reminded you that it was worth the effort. Looking at the past 30 days sales and subscribers it may not seem like a lot to someone with thousands of followers but I’m celebrating. Each sale, each new reader, each new subscriber is a blessing and a positive step forward.
Thank you to all of you who repost my promos and try to help me sell my books. Thank you to all of you who leave reviews. Your efforts make a huge difference and I cannot thank you enough. Wishing you all a happy August.
Grandma’s Blackberry Jam with my own twist
4 cups blackberries raw
1 cup sugar, white granulated
2 tablespoons Cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Mash blackberries in saucepan with potato masher. Stir in sugar until becomes juicy. Take out a little juice and mix with cornstarch in a small bowl, return to blackberries and sugar. Bring to a boil. Stir often until thickened. Approximately 15 minutes. Stir in spices and lemon juice. Remove from heat and let cool. Put into a glass bowl, cover and refrigerate until cold. Fill jars to save.