Love Letter to My Journal

My journal. The one that I took with me everywhere. The one I wrote Just Down the Street, Across the Ocean in. The one that I took with me to Paris cafes, the beach in Miami, the pool in Ft. Lauderdale. What do I do with you now? Well, to start, I wrote you a love letter.

Transcript. I’m not sure what to do with you now that the book is published. When I open you and feel your pages, I can feel it all over again. The joy and, of course, the pain. Oh yes, the pain. I was only first beginning to learn what I know now. The answer to the broken sprinkler and the tears that stain these pages.

When I flip through you, you tell more than one story. There are loose pages, receipts, hotel memos, stuffed within you that threaten to fall out and get lost forever. Memories that threaten to get lost with the passage of time.

What shall I do with you now? Fill the rest of these empty pages? Leave you to get dusty and yellow? Forget you until I need you to help me heal again?

I don’t have the answers. But I will do what I always do, I will write until it all makes sense.

Let’s Talk About Last Week (1/22-1/27) aka The Best Week of My Life

Well, maybe not the best week, but certainly the best day of my life fell within this week. You might say what my boss said, “Rachel, that is a bold claim,” and I will tell you what I told her, “But you haven’t seen what I’m about to show you yet.”

Let’s start with Tuesday, January 22nd – the day I finally became a published author. Ok, first of all, I was a mess. I woke up around 5 AM, before my alarm clock went off, hopped out of bed, made a big pot of coffee, and turned my laptop on. Before my laptop was fully booted up, I had finished my first cup of coffee, quickly jumped up, got myself a refill, and plopped myself back down, thankful I didn’t have to impatiently stare at my computer as it warmed up (which takes, like, what, maybe one minute?). I IMMEDIATELY check my reports and find that five people (FIVE PEOPLE) have already downloaded my book. Furthermore, three of those five people bought it before the free promo kicked in and I was already almost on the floor crying because how cool is it that I made actual money off of something I created? After posting on social media, I texted all my friends. By this time, it was 6 AM. And it was not until I wrote this post that I wondered how I still have friends after texting them that early in the morning.

Between then and when I left for work at 9:30 AM, I was a ball of energy, floating between getting ready for work, texting those friends that were awake, keeping an eye on my stats, watching as my wonderful friends shared my book on social media. I found myself incredibly grateful for work, I needed that kind of distraction.

Very few people at work knew that I was self-publishing my book. I didn’t tell my coworkers on purpose, my thought process being, “if they don’t like it, I will have to see them every day and know that they have horrible taste in literature and I just don’t think I can live with that.” My boss was one of three people in the office who knew and, immediately upon seeing her for the first time Tuesday morning, she shouted, “Congratulations Author Rachel Potts!”

To which I replied without hesitation, “Thanks! The only problem is, now that I’ve achieved my only real goal in life, I guess I can just die now.”

After which, completely deadpan, she said, “You’re a psychopath.”

The rest of the day was a bit of a blur. In-between work, I probably checked my stats every hour (definitely way more than that), I made plans with friends for when I got off because I knew I shouldn’t be home alone. And then I canceled all those plans and picked up overtime hours at work because there’s nothing like working a twelve hour day to tire myself out of the frenzy I had gotten myself into.

And it worked. By the time I got off, all I wanted to do was go home, watch an episode of Supernatural, and go to bed. I was so tired that I didn’t even check my stats before I turned off the lights.

The next day, Wednesday, January 23rd I woke up less anxious than the day before. I felt calmer when I made my coffee, more patient while I waited for my computer to respond. But, like yesterday, the first thing I did was check my stats.

Unlike yesterday, however, I gasped when I saw that my book had moved up to the #9 spot in the Free Kindle: Literary Fiction category. I clicked on the listing because, naturally, I needed to see my book in a top list. I was already grinning ear-to-ear when I saw it, my book casually keeping This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald company in the #8 spot. I stopped breathing. F. Scott Fitzgerald. One of my literary heroes. My name is next to…. I took a picture, sent it to all my friends (again, at like, 6 in the morning), posted it on my social media, and then, finally taking another breath, I cried. Like, wept. All morning, all the way to work, at work when I told people about it (because I HAD to tell them now). When I showed the picture of my book next to F. Scott Fitzgerald, my boss understood why Wednesday, January 23rd and not Tuesday, January 22nd, actually was the best day of my life.

All day I received texts and messages of encouragement from family and friends and people I hadn’t spoken to in years. People sent pictures of themselves downloading/reading my book and I cried some more.

I worked another twelve hour day and, again, it kept me distracted and calm. It also exhausted me, which again was wonderful because I was easily able to fall asleep when I got home late at night.

When I woke up on Thursday, January 24th I was still exhausted. All I wanted to do was roll over and sleep for the whole day. It’s strange, I can’t imagine why I was so tired. . .

I volunteer every other Thursday morning and this was one of those Thursdays. So, I forced myself out of bed, got ready, checked my stats,  and was back at it by 10 AM.

When I checked my stats that morning, I had already surpassed my goal of 50 downloads for the entire free period. It was an amazing feeling and I was so excited. Unfortunately, I was so worn out that I couldn’t express my excitement at all. I didn’t realize until that morning that I had been running off of adrenaline the last two days.

After my volunteer hours, I went to work for my eight hour shift and felt like a zombie. I had been texting a friend about my state of being that day and about my stats and he told me that I should be careful not to obsess over the numbers. I wanted to argue, but quickly realized he was right. I had been too obsessed over the numbers the last two days. I resolved not to check my stats while I was at work that day. I checked them twice. At least that was an improvement, right?

I think it goes without saying that, as soon as I got home, I crashed into my bed. The last thought in my head was, thank goodness tomorrow’s Friday.

I’m going to combine both Friday, January 25th and Saturday, January 26th because they both went by quickly and, feeling much calmer, I was able to detach myself from my computer and phone and mostly act like it was just another normal day.

Friday night after work, I went home and indulged in cake and ice cream for dinner. It was the best way I knew how to celebrate by myself, eating my two favorite foods while watching Supernatural. Don’t hate.

Saturday, I went shopping with a friend and bought a new lipstick to celebrate (which I wore to celebrate my book release with some friends on Monday, January 28th) and then my friend took me out to get champagne so we could toast to my authorness (yes, I made that word up).  Later that same day, I had another friend come over and we ate pizza and drank rum and coke while we watched my favorite Hitchcock movie, Vertigo.

It was a weird way to celebrate, considering I’m usually always extra about these kinds of things. Honestly though, it was exactly what I needed and I don’t think I could have planned anything to beat it.

In total, I had 168 downloads during the free promo, well exceeding my goal. THANK YOU to everyone who downloaded, shared, texted, and told friends & family to get my book. I couldn’t have done it without you!

Just Down the Street, Across the Ocean is still available on Kindle and is listed at $2.99.

Acknowledgements for Just Down the Street, Across the Ocean

I am forever incredibly grateful for the army of friends and family who have stood behind me and supported me throughout this writing journey. I would never have finished it without your encouragement and help.

I also want to thank my sister, Shawna Resnick, and my friend, Lindsey Russell, who traveled to Paris & Brest with me as research for the book. It was really hard convincing them to come with me, but in the end, I don’t think they regretted it too much.

Thanks for putting up with my terribly embarrassing attempts at French (I tried once, failed miserably, and basically made them order for me the rest of the trip) and for figuring out the metro system for me. If it weren’t for you, I would probably still by standing, staring at a map of the Paris metro with a confused look on my face, unable to ask for assistance.  And in case you were wondering, the answer is yes, we ate so many Napoleons and drank so much wine.

I’d like to thank my sisters Bekah Potts and Julia Back for helping me make this book come to life. My website would probably be a weird static page with a picture of me looking horrified if it weren’t for Julia’s skills. Bekah painted the gorgeous cover page for my book. She took a very vague description that I gave her and turned it into nothing short of perfection. Seriously, you two are incredibly talented and I have never considered myself as lucky as I do in this moment that you both didn’t grow up to hate me after all the times I tortured you in our youth.

Last but not least, thank you to everyone who takes the time to read my book. You make the dream come alive.

Just Down the Street, Across the Ocean is now available on Kindle!

Just Down the Street, Across the Ocean

The cover, synopsis, and publication date have FINALLY been finalized. Guess what? You get to see it all first! Check it out!

The main character, Katherine, takes a break from her average, boring life; a life that has slowly drained her of the energy and happiness she once knew.  A neighbor’s broken sprinkler inspired community gossip and disapproval, making Katherine question what her life has really come down to and where it is going.  Out of nowhere, she quits her job and travels to Paris to pursue her dream of becoming a writer and to find a part of herself that is missing. Will Paris have the answers she’s looking for or will she further lose herself?

Just Down the Street, Across the Ocean is NOW AVAILABLE on Kindle!

Find it here: Just Down the Street, Across the Ocean

Some Things You Should Know About My Book

Making the decision to self-publish my novella, Just Down the Street, Across the Ocean,  has been one of the most freeing decisions of my life.

I finished the first draft of my novella exactly three years ago (January 2016) and it has been nothing but a long, tenuous journey since. I’ve edited and rewritten it so many times in the past three years that I’ve lost count. Back in January 2018 I told myself that enough was enough and I was going to finally self-publish; and here we are, a year later (and a couple more rewrites) and I’m finally doing it. (It doesn’t matter how long it takes do something, right? As long as it eventually gets done? Right? Right?!)

Rather than focus on my writing journey for this first post, I thought I’d share with you just a couple things that I want you to know about Just Down the Street, Across the Ocean.

Inspiration. I wrote this story to have an excuse to go to Paris. Ok, not really, but it sure gave me a great excuse to go back. This may be cliche (oh, it definitely is), but Paris is my favorite city and I knew I needed to write a story to pay homage to the birthplace to so many pieces of art and works of literature. I am well aware that this is not unique. It has been done hundreds of times and probably will continue to be done a hundred times more. But rather than get bogged down by all the different takes of Paris by all the different authors, I find them invigorating. It was a community and a collection I wanted to be a part of. Just Down the Street, Across the Ocean isn’t “just another” story that takes place in Paris, it is an addition to the ever -growing series of love letters that authors have dedicated to that beautiful city.

The prose. Look, I hate being told what to do. I especially hate being told how I’m supposed to imagine the appearance of a character five chapters after the character has been introduced. Too late, man, Becky is short with brown hair now and there’s nothing you can do about it (not even mentioning her golden locks every chapter until the end of the book). One of my biggest annoyances as a reader is when I would come across a book that contained too much description. Unless the exact number of freckles on Becky’s face is a metaphor for the number of months it will take to get her life together, why is it important to me? And I know a lot of people love prose that is full of detail and description, and that’s ok. I’m just not one of those people. So, I approached my story with the question – how can I be as ambiguous as possible and still get my point across? To no one’s surprise (just kidding, I was floored), the first draft was far too vague. After many rewrites, here is some of the ambiguity that remains and why:

  • Character description – there is none. It was important for me for readers to be able to imagine my characters to look however they wanted. No one in the story cares about whether the main character in the story is tall, short, fat, slim, muscular, brunette, or blonde, etc., why should you? In this story, the appearance or build of each character adds nothing. I imagine each character a certain way and you will imagine them your own.
  • Character names – there is one. The main character, Katherine, is the only character who gets a name. Every other character is referred to as the role that they play in her life.This was essential because it hones in the focus even more so on her character development. It was meant as a statement, “this story is about Katherine, what she is going through, and what she would always inevitably go through no matter who the other people in her life were.”    

Let me be clear, this is an experiment. I have no idea whether it will be successful or not. I’ve had many people tell me to add more, but, being my stubborn self, I have argued against it. Will I ever do it again? Probably not. Writing a whole story and only referring to characters by their roles was hard!

That’s it. I don’t want to give too much more away, but this story was a passion project for me. I’m incredibly excited and overly nervous to finally be releasing it out into the world. With the publication of this novella, I’m freeing up headspace for my next story and, I guess also kind of just as importantly, achieving a lifelong dream of becoming a published author.

You can find my book here.