In this column I’m asking subscribers to share their knowledge about writing, publishing, and marketing their books. I’m calling it “Ten Questions.” Thank you, Haley Belinda, for allowing us to share in your excitement about your new book release, Amelia’s Autumn Trail.–Marylee MacDonald
Haley Belinda’s Author Tip: “The most important lesson I learned is to edit, rewrite, edit, and edit again. Be confident and let your words flow.”
Haley Belinda is the author of eight children’s books, two books of poetry, and a crime fiction novelette. Her poetry book Poetic Piece: A Compilation for All is also in hardback. Haley’s highly rated children’s books are beautifully illustrated and feature story lines that appeal to early or reluctant readers. Her poetic love story, “After The Absolute” is a unique blend of memoir and verse. Haley has always done some writing, but her main career was nursing until illness changed her direction in life. She calls this change toward becoming a writer “the best positive to pull out of a negative.”
Follow her on Goodreads. https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17013819/
MM A book begins as an idea in the writer’s imagination. Eventually, this grain of sand turns into a pearl. What was the grain of sand that fired your imagination?
HB I now have a good few pearls, ha-ha! So, which pearl shall I discuss? Originally, it was when I went through a tough divorce. I wrote down my feelings every day and realized I was writing poetry. I then started to write poems on many different subjects and enter competitions. I was awarded a “Poets Society” pin, but I had a long period of writer’s block as Fibromyalgia consumed all my time. I began to have a remission and thought about writing some of the children’s stories I had made up for my own kids when they were little, and that brought about a series of books with a protagonist named Amy. One book led to the next and so on. I have had an ambition to write a novel since my teen years, and I always thought my debut novel would be a romance. I have been nurturing a title that has been in my mind for a long time, and I have just finished it, so we’ll see how that goes.
MM How did you approach turning your initial idea into a manuscript and, eventually, a book? Did you take classes, read books, or just plunge in?
HB With my children’s books I plunged in, but I wanted to make sure I put out quality that I was confident in, so within the last few years I have attained several Level 3’s in writing. These include demonstrating proficiency in children’s writing, fiction, crime fiction and poetry.
I have increased my reading, too. I believe both go together. I have always read, but depending on where I have been in my life, the needle on the meter moved to whatever I was focused on at the time. For example, when I worked as a nurse, I read a lot on the subjects I needed for my profession. As a teen, I read romance, and later, I read children’s books for the kids and grandkids. I’m a very eclectic reader, and enjoy whatever takes my fancy.
MM Authors today have many options when it comes to publication. Did you work with an agent, find a publisher through other means, or self-publish your book?
HB I have not yet worked with an agent. I wouldn’t rule that out, but I have neither been introduced to a reputable agent or had one cross my path. Some publications have come about because I submitted directly to magazines. Others I have self-published. Most of what I’ve written is available through Amazon and Ingram. Going with Ingram made it possible for potential book-buyers to order the book through their local bookstore.
MM What is the biggest single lesson you learned during the writing process?
HB The most important lesson I learned is to edit, rewrite, edit, and edit again. Be confident and let your words flow.
Every author has a unique style. Some readers will like your books. Some will not. And try and be patient. When I finish a book, I often can’t wait to see it in print, and yet the refining stage at the end is paramount.
MM What would you advise others who are still at the idea stage?
HB Don’t rush, plan your work and write something everyday. There is more to writing than the pen to paper, but write, write, write and read, read, read.
MM Were there any writing tools you’d recommend? Did you use apps like Grammarly, Scrivener, or another outliner to help you structure your book?
HB I use Grammarly now, but with that program, you need to be mindful that the suggested change is correct for the context. Scrivener is an excellent tool for breaking things into sections or having a few projects going at one time. I also have Plottr, but am not using that as much at the moment. It’s a good tool for story structure.
MM Was it hard to decide on a cover, or did you or your publisher hire a professional designer?
HB I have used a professional illustrator mostly for the children’s books. I have done some myself. Usually the poetry books are designed by me. I will use a pro designer when I finish my crime novels and am ready to publish them.
MM Who is your ideal reader? Who would particularly enjoy your book/s?
HB I guess that would depend on which of my works we are speaking of. With the children’s books, the ideal reader would be 3-7-years. I like to think my poetry is simplistic, so will appeal to individuals who like rhyming meter. The crime stories are the detective type and usually deal with murder, but they do not have as much gore as some crime novels, so I wouldn’t term them horror.
MM How do you connect with readers? Do you like to do live events, such as book fairs or library talks, or have you found readers through social media and online groups, such as Goodreads?
HB I am not very well known, yet! I mainly use social media and wouldn’t dismiss libraries and book fairs as a way to meet readers; however, at the moment, my health doesn’t allow me to consider live events. I am on Goodreads and have done the odd giveaway.
MM What has been your greatest reward in undertaking this publishing journey? (This doesn’t have to be a financial reward.)
HB Accomplishment! I would say my biggest reward is completing my books and courses in spite of fibromyalgia. (The condition causes brain fog which makes concentration extra hard.) Jumping over the hurdle of the disease has empowered me to do more. I was proud when I received a Bronze Medal in last years Readers’ Favorites International Book Awards. I hope this year will be as productive. I hope my books help and entertain my readers as much as I have enjoyed writing them.
Check out Haley Belinda’s blog at https://authorhaleybelinda.net or her Amazon author page at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Haley-Belinda/e/B072TP62GN.
Marylee MacDonald is the author of MONTPELIER TOMORROW, a novel, BONDS OF LOVE & BLOOD, a short story collection, and THE RUG BAZAAR, a chapbook. Her books and stories have won the Barry Hannah Prize, the Jeanne M. Leiby Memorial Chapbook Award, a Readers’ Favorites Gold Medal for Drama, the American Literary Review Fiction Prize, and many others. She holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State, and when not reading or writing books, she loves to walk on the beach and explore National Parks.