As a child, Sarah Watson Holley had no aspirations of being a published author, yet she has since written multiple books and is working on another. While her first book was written in three months, it wasn’t until 18 years later that it was published.
That published book is titled “Sarah’s Haven” and thanks to Holley’s recent donation, it is now a part of the Franklin County Public Library’s collection. In accepting Sarah’s Haven from Holley, Alison Barry, director of the Franklin County Public Library, said, “We’re always so incredibly grateful to have local authors donate a copy of their work and share their talents with our community.”
Holley said she became interested in writing out of boredom. “My second child was six months old when I wrote “Sarah’s Haven.” At that time, I was working one job part-time and needed something to do. I love to read and simply sat down with my laptop and started typing.”
“Sarah’s Haven” is a romance novel with a Christian basis. Holley said the ending was purposely left open so that she could write a sequel. “I’ve been tossing ideas around and just haven’t come up with one that I’m satisfied with as of yet.”
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Holley said that while her romance novels have happy endings, she tries to insert some reality into her books. “Life is not a fairytale, life is hard, marriage is work and raising kids is tough. Life in general can be tough, it’s how you choose to handle that toughness that is the key. Do you roll over and give up or do you pull yourself up by the bootstraps and move forward?”
Because books can be very impressionable to young readers, Holley wanted to write a clean romance novel that could have a positive impact on their impressions of what relationships should and shouldn’t be.
Romance novels have always been Holley’s go-to reads. She added, “I also like to read mystery books with twists and turns that keep you intrigued.”
While Holley doesn’t have an educational background in writing, she has always loved to read, a love which has been encouraged by a family of teachers. Her father, along with both of his parents and two of his sisters were teachers.
As a child, Holley’s top two aspirations were to be a teacher and a mom. As she got older, she quickly changed her mind about teaching. She said, “Being a mom was completely inspired by my own mom. I couldn’t ask for a better role model or stronger supporter!” Holley has three boys ages 21, 18 and 15.
With working at Parks and Recreation and at a grocery store, as well as being a mom, finding time to write can be a challenge. Holley said she writes mostly at night and on her days off. She does all of her writing on a laptop and makes notes in a journal about character background and relations to other characters.
Holley said being a published author definitely takes her out of her comfort zone. “I am more of a behind the scenes type of person. Being in the spotlight can be a little unnerving at times. I am glad that I finally published “Sarah’s Haven” and hope to be able to publish more in the future.”
To keep the books she has written and those in the works straight, Holley said, “I am constantly going back and re-reading what I have written. If I get stuck on something, I tend to set it aside to give my mind a break. Once I’ve set it aside for a few days, I’ll re-read what I’ve written and go from there. Sometimes I will work on a different storyline or write ideas out for another storyline.”
Over the years, Holley has spoken to various publishing companies and looked into various forms of publishing. She discovered that there are varying levels of self-publishing, which she has chosen, and that she never realized there were so many options.
Holley said, “Through many hours of research, I was able to discover some pitfalls to watch out for. I chose Outskirts Press because they have by far been the easiest to work with, worked with my budget and have been a great support throughout the entire process.”
“Sarah’s Haven” was released last summer and on Oct. 9 Holley hosted a book launch party at the Recreation Park’s small shelter. While she wasn’t sure what to expect at the party, she was pleased with the outcome and very grateful for the help from her parents Nancy and John Watson.
Holley said responses to her book have been positive and that she’s had numerous people tell her that they loved the book. One of those people was Jan Mohler, a fellow baseball-watching mom. Mohler said, “I loved it [book]! It grabbed me right from the beginning. Many nights I’d just be reading and get to the end of the chapter and say, ‘Oh, just one more chapter!’”
Mohler went on to describe Holley as a woman of many talents, a hard worker and a beautiful person. Besides reading and watching her boys play baseball, Holley says she also enjoys crocheting.
Writing a sequel to her fourth manuscript is Holley’s latest writing project. “I try to keep things as realistic as I can and put as many real life adversities and triumphs in my books in hopes to inspire young readers in a positive manner. My next goal is to raise the funds to publish the next book as soon as I can. The next book is titled Unexpected Family.”
Holley currently has her book available at Blooming Deals in downtown Rocky Mount. As soon as she can find a day off from both jobs, she hopes to approach some other local businesses that would be willing to carry the book in their establishments.
“Sarah’s Haven” is also available on Amazon, Kindle and at Barnes and Noble. Holley said, “If you would like to have a signed copy or prefer not to purchase online, you can purchase them directly from me. I will be set up at Come Home to a Franklin County Christmas event [Dec. 3] or folks can email me at email@example.com.”