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The Good One-New Release

So … I did a thing.

I released my seventh book and my first one of 2018! Shortly after The Missing Piece Anthology was released, I published The Good One.

There wasn’t a lot of fanfare or even a great big plan, because that’s just how I roll sometimes. I was on a mission to get this book published by April 10th and I made it by the skin of my teeth.

I have a confession to make… This was a tough one to write for a number of reasons.

As a working mother who is also an author, it can be difficult to juggle the writing life with my everyday life. Writing is something I do because I need to, for my soul. I do it for me alone and I’ve been fortunate to find a few beautiful people who love to read the words I put on the page.

Like many Mom-needs, the need to write often gets put on the back burner because homework, packing lunches, doctor appointments, and that other thing I love called my full-time gig, takes precedent. Believe me, I’m not complaining. All of those things mean that I have people who love me and a place that I get to go to that pays me for a job that I love to do. (I’m a pretty lucky girl

Still, finding time to write can be a struggle. With this book came a deadline because it was part of a series that joins me with other writers, and other books, in a place called the Happy Endings Resort. Being included in this has been such a privilege and a challenge because I don’t often write to a deadline. The challenge was awesome and stressful, but I loved it and would do it again in a second.

In an effort to streamline my productivity, I wrote much of the first draft using dictation. Ugh! While I was able to get more words on the page, the page was probably wondering what in the hell I was doing most of the time. Words were garbled, sentences were butchered, and my main character’s name was wrong (Livvie) about seventy-five percent of the time. In addition, the story went in about fifteen different directions because I was speaking it instead of seeing it. I can barely remember what I had for breakfast, let alone what color my main character’s eyes (brown) were half the time because I can’t remember anything.

Often I felt as though dictation was an experiment gone wrong so I was waiting for my laptop to explode because of how horrible the story was. Thank goodness, after moving chapters around, deleting so many words (soooo many words), and then reworking the story multiple times, it finally came together.

Finally.

Or at least hopefully. The only person who’s read it so far has been my editor and she said not to worry because it was good. I didn’t even have time to give it to my trusted beta readers. So, I worry because all writers worry when others are reading our stories. We are crippled with self-doubt every time a new book come out, a new story is created, and new characters are borne. It’s in our nature and whether I have seven books or fifty, I’ll always worry.

This is me, writing the synopsis. Omg!

Here’s the synopsis and if you’d like to join my review team, I’d love to have you! Just sign up here!

The Good One

Olivia and her sister Molly grew up in a trailer park in a small resort town called Happy Endings, but their life together was far from happy.

When the unthinkable happens, Olivia must learn how to live without the person she loves the most and she is forced to keep secrets that she buries deep within.

Thirteen years later, an accidental collision gives Olivia the chance to finally experience love with Danny, who promises to always protect her. As Olivia and Danny build a life together she is suddenly forced to face a past she has struggled to forget.

Can Olivia find the strength within to save herself or will she lose everything, in Part One of The Good One?

Goodreads link-Check out The Good One: Part One by Jennifer Sivec

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39794604

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Perfectly Unique; An Autism Anthology

Imagine that your child never speaks or can’t communicate through regular conversation. Consider that she can’t understand your perspective or sense of humor or that she doesn’t like to be held or can’t make friends easily.

These are some of the experiences that parents of children with Autism experience daily. Autism Speaks is an organization that supports families touched by Autism.

One of the most amazing things about this author journey has been the wonderful people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

They’re empathetic, funny, creative, generous, compassionate, and incredibly gifted. Getting to know these Creatives was a benefit I didn’t expect but one that has far surpassed every expectation.

When I began writing books, I never imagined that it would open so many doors. Recently I was asked to join a group of eighteen extremely talented authors in a collaborative project to write uplifting stories, with all profits going to Autism Speaks. Everyone involved donated their gifts, their time, and their energy to creating this fantastic project.

While the stories aren’t all Autism-related, the collection’s purpose is to bring focus to Autism, and will be released on April 1st, which is the beginning of Autism Awareness Month. The health and well-being of our children is the most important thing to all of us, with Autism touching so many of our lives. I feel privileged to have been a part of this anthology and hope that it will contribute to and benefit families who are affected by Autism’s effects.

The Perfectly Unique Anthology is available on Amazon on April 1st as an ebook and paperback.

Please grab your copy today and support this is wonderful organization! You’ll get to read eighteen amazing stories and do some good in this crazy world, at the same time. It doesn’t get any better than that. ❤️

Everything I Write Sucks

This is where I am.

Everything I write sucks and I’m struggling to find a rhythm but this is different. This isn’t simply trying to find time; it’s struggling with the story I’m writing. There’s a crucial piece missing and I need to find it … soon.

I’m beginning to believe that Ms. Plath was right. Perhaps the answer is simply to just keep writing.

So I’m going to stop freaking out and just … 

First Draft Blues

As a writer, I’m just not in a great place.

I’m working on completing the first draft of a story that has turned into something completely different than what I originally intended

As I’m writing this book, I’m reminded of my younger years when I began a story and became so discouraged that I could never see it through to completion. I’d write a few chapters and then give up because I knew it sucked. At that time in my life, I didn’t realize that first drafts are supposed to, so I just surrendered to the suck and gave up. I know better now, but the feelings remain.

I’ve often struggled with the story for months at a time. Leaving Eva took about a year to complete. When I became frustrated with the story I simply walked away from it for weeks at a time. As I try to hone my writing skills, I find now that walking away simply makes me rusty. When I pick it up again, I have to sharpen those skills all over again and I just feel as though I’m trudging in knee-deep mud, unable to move forward. I’ve been more committed to writing regularly, so walking away from the story this time, isn’t an option.

Writing this story is so difficult that I want to pull my hair out. I know… I believe… that somewhere in there is the beautiful story of a young woman whose past is dark, but her love for her husband and children changes her. These are the stories that I love.
I’ve also been experimenting with my medium. This is also the first book that I’ve written mostly by dictation, so instead of the words flowing out from my fingers they have to come out down from my brain and out  of my mouth. The connection has often been fuzzy and the process, difficult. Although my brain is often racing as the words hit my mouth I often want to take them back, the moment I hear them come out. The biggest difference is that with dictation there is no backspace. I often find that what I’ve written is unintelligible and as I go back to reread, I struggle to try and figure out what the hell I was thinking.

Still, I am tenacious.  Although it’s been a struggle and I’m convinced that this is the worst story I’ve ever written, I’ll press on because I need to see how it ends. While, dictating has given me the ability to write thousands more words faster than I might normally have time for, I know I’ll send up cutting many of them. The heart of the story is somewhere in the mess of  extra words and tangled chapters; I can feel it. I just have to find it.

I know that in the characters of Liv and Danny, there is great love and passion. However as with many couples, there is also deep conflict which is all I can share right now. Will they end up together? Will they be happy? Even I don’t know the answers yet. I do know that the characters love one other deeply but as with most of my stories, and much of life, it’s not always about love. It’s about so much more.

This books is about love, betrayal, and deception. It’s about lives ruined by selfishness and indulgence, neglect and  regret. The dynamic between the characters is heartbreaking and strong, and I can’t wait to flesh it all out. In many ways, I know this will be the most challenging first draft I’ve ever had to pick apart. I would love say writing gets easier; instead it seems to get harder. I’ve expected that the story will fall into place faster but it has eluded me.  There’s something magical about the moment when a story clicks in place, and with this one it hasn’t had that moment yet.

I am happy that I’ve dictated this book despite the challenges and frustration. The importance of learning a new process and sticking to it has taught me that there are other ways to be productive. With limited time as a wife, mother, and a full-time career, it is often impossible to put pen to paper. Dictating has become my saving grace and I am committed to becoming more skilled in this process

As I struggle with this first draft, I am in a place where I am also wrestling with self-doubt. It’s the moment when I question my ability to write well at all, which is a common fear for many writers. I imagine that if the process was easier I would have already written a thousand books already, so I am trying to remind myself that I can do this. I am going to pull myself up by the collar, kick myself in the butt, and tell myself to stop whining. 

I know that I’ll make it through this somehow. I can feel it in my heart and deep down in my bones. I’m searching for the story and reminding myself why I love to write so much. Through this journey, I’m sure I’ll find what I’m looking for … those two beautiful words …

The End. 

First Reviews 

The first five star review I received made me felt validated. As a writer, I hadn’t shown my writing to many, and those I did show it to said positive things. They were almost required to as it was only a few close friends and a family member of two.

To get a review from a complete stranger, felt magical. It still does even when it’s not a five star, even when it’s much lower.

Every time I release a book into the world, I hold my breath, and then I wait. The reviews tell me that people are reading. They tell me that my stories mean something and that they matter. They tell me that my words have touched someone, and if I’ve done it well, that I’ve possibly even changed someone for the better. Reviews are more than just stars, they are actual love from a reader. When you get one, it’s like someone hugged you and told you that all of those long hours of writing and editing were worthwhile. Even when they aren’t favorable or are critical, they still tell you that someone read your words. As a writer, that’s what you hope for. You hope that people read your words.

I’ve gleaned much from critical reviews, and I appreciate them as much as I do the positive ones. The critical ones tell me what I can do better. They tell me how I can grow, and when they’re written to be helpful, they do help and I love them just as much.

Every time I release a book into the world, I can wait. Will someone like it? Will anyone read it? Will it matter? 

When it does, the sheer joy is undeniable, and for one split second I realize that I might just be okay at this writing thing after all.

Lessons Learned

I released my first book into the world in 2013. It was like releasing my heart, raw and vulnerable, into a tank full of sharks and doing it terrified me. I nearly hyperventilated  the moment I hit publish, as I paced my bedroom and wished for the floor to swallow me whole.

I was terrified and had so many doubts running through my mind.

Maybe nobody will read it.

Maybe EVERYONE will read it.

Maybe nobody will even notice. 

 Worse yet, what if someone reads it and hates it?

What if I can’t write and this story is crap?

What if people love it?

Oh God, what if they think it sucks?

What if they think that I suck?

What if I really do suck and I’m a bit fat phony?

The fear was palpable and paralyzingly. Then I posted that I published my book on Facebook, and I had no choice but to look ahead. I had done something that I’d always dreamed of doing from the age of fifteen. Even though it scared the living hell out of me, after the fear fell away, it felt right and I was finally a complete person.

The process  wasn’t perfect.  I’ve hit a lot of bumps along the way but have learned much since releasing that first unedited, Createspace-generated cover for Leaving Eva. I haven’t just learned technical skills, but also marketing and writing skills. Most importantly I’ve discovered who I want to be (and don’t want to be) as an artist, and what is important to me in this journey.

I’ve learned from doing, watching, and listening to others who know more than I do. I’m a religious podcast listener and Joanna Penn and Tim Grahl are two of my favorites. I consume their experiences and learn from them regularly. It just makes sense to learn as much as possible from successful and experienced people in all of life. Joanna covers countless helpful topics with an endless backlist, which has helped shape my mindset as a Creative.

I’ve learned much, which applies to life, not just to publishing :

  • Use your resources. If you don’t know the answer, just ask. There are many others who have the answer if you don’t. I’ve spent the past few years getting to know so many wonderful people in the publishing world and they are always so generous with their knowledge and time.
  • Don’t be afraid to learn something new. Once you’ve mastered one thing, learn something new. It can be extremely daunting to begin but like Plato said, “The beginning is the most important part of any work.”
  • Read! Read anything and everything. Read fiction, non-fiction, and blogs and books that you might not normally read. The War of Art, Your First 1000 Copies, and The Successful Author Mindset  have been inspiring and interesting non-fiction reads. I also love reading classics, YA, Women’s Contemporary Fiction, and books/blogs that are outside of my normal wheelhouse because they are interesting and inspiring.
  • Stay away from the drama.As with anything, in the book world, there is drama; lots and lots of drama. I make it a point to stay far away and while its important to be informed, it’s also vital to stay out of it. It can be ugly, divisive, and distracting from your work.
  •  Don’t compare your journey to others. It can be hard not to get discouraged by watching the successes of others if you feel that your own is struggling. You have to remember that everyone is on their own journey and that it’s important to be happy for others! Everyone’s story is different and every road has its own twists and turns. Focus on yours and don’t get off track. When success does find you, share it by paying it forward to others. Call it karma or just being a good person, but your path is your own, so work hard and you’ll get there.
  • Know thyself. Do you write for money, for recognition, for the love of the craft? Knowing why you write is crucial in order to recognize your own success when it comes. 
  • When you get discouraged, don’t quit. Pick yourself back up.When I get discouraged, I go back through old messages, or read positive reviews to remind myself that what I’m doing is worthwhile. There have been plenty of times that I’ve wanted to quit but then I remind myself why I’m writing. I’m doing it for myself, for the love of the story, and for those I meet a long the way who want to share it with me. If I ever stop loving or needed it, then I’ll quit. 
  • Don’t put all of your eggs in the same basket!  Keeping your options open in this precarious business can be important. Publishing Houses open and close and your rights are crucial to your lifelong success. Be careful with your eggs and keep them close to your own basket! 
  • Not everyone is going to like you and that’s totally okay! You’ll get reviews from people who didn’t like your book or don’t like your style and they might not be that nice about it. People can be mean and there are a lot of trolls out there with big internet balls. Ignore them. When the feedback is negative but constructive, pay attention to it and grow from it. When the feedback is mean, ignore it. Find your tribe and embrace the ones who care about you. If you’re kind, there will be plenty who do. The ones who don’t… well, they’ll just be missing out on the wonder that is you!
  • Put yourself out there and share your journey. Being a more private person, I’ve always struggled with this. How much do I share? How much do I keep?  My writing doesn’t always reflect the entirety of who I am, and I’m learning to be more open. I’m learning to share more of myself, even the stuff that scares the hell out of me. I’m tired of being afraid that people will know who I am deep inside and I’m learning that transparency and openess are important (though there are still limitations). The parameters vary per person, so you have to learn what you’re comfortable with and what works for you. Your comfort level may be drastically different than someone else’s, but I would be remiss not to stress that internet safety is crucial. There are a lot of people out there you’ll want/need to stay away from and you’ll recognize them pretty quickly. (Don’t be afraid to defriend and block anyone who freaks you out.)
  • Have fun. Writing books is fun! Authors, bloggers, and readers are fun! Book signings and events are fun. Takeovers, reader groups, and meeting new people is fun. Enjoy it. All of it. Because it’s pretty amazing. 

I’ve learned much, but there is yet so much left to learn. Every day I discover something I didn’t know and it’s exhilarating and exciting to be able to gain so much in life. Each day brings a new person into my life, a new perspective and experience and I love it. I hope that as this journey continues that I’ll be able to share more of what I’ve learned with you. In turn, please feel free to comment below with what you’ve learned a long the way too.