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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.

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White Flag

Question…

When do you give up?

What is your breaking point in life? How do you know when enough is enough and that its time to say that you’ve  done all you can do but you can’t do it any longer?

Does anyone ever know? Is it when you’ve almost lost everything? Is it when someone else tells you that it’s enough?

Life is funny this way because there is never a clear answer and isn’t it different for all of us?  This journey that we’re on doesn’t come with a guidebook or a set of rules. We make them up as we go and often we’re just flying by the seat of our pants. As much as we might want to believe that we are governed and guided by the same principles in life, aren’t they different for everyone? Who gets to decide when we’ve reached our potential? Who gets to say that we will never go any further than where we are, right now? When do we face reality? When do we face our mortality? When do we raise the white flag and say that this isn’t working any longer, and that its time to give up on our dreams?

Who gets to say when we’re too old to try and that we’ve reached our full potential in life?

Are the people who tell us that we’ve done enough and that we should give up our friends or our foes? Or  are the people who are feeding our empty dreams and the belief that we can reach deeper and go farther, the real enemy? Are we sabotaging ourselves by continuing to believe in our purpose?

How do you ever know? Are we foolish and stubborn not to listen, or do we follow our hearts, and pray that we aren’t wrong?

When do we give up on it all and face reality? When do we stop believing?

Does anyone know?

 

 

We Are America 

I rarely wax politics for many reasons and I won’t in this post either, but this election has been painstakingly brutal.

Isn’t a large part of what makes America great the ability to have and speak your own opinions … Freedom? Isn’t that what this great country was built upon?

But this election and the world we have come to live in, disturbs me greatly. It has become a country where nobody can voice an opinion, and viciously attacking individuals or entire groups for having a differing one, has become accepted and even expected.

I wasn’t born in America and was naturalized when I was as three. I was born in South Korea, an unpopular girl-child left to survive on her own. Though the specific circumstances that brought me here will remain unknown, I am grateful and always have been for the journey that gave me what I have today. I have always been deeply appreciative that I was allowed to become an American. 

I became the daughter of a blue-collar union worker and a stay-at-home mother, and began working when I was fifteen years-old. I was an Asian-American who didn’t look like anyone else and was a minority in every setting, my entire life. I was ridiculed, made fun of, and called names by school-mates. I even had a great aunt who wondered if “they could fix my eyes.” 

I accepted that I was different at a very young age because I had no choice, but instead of allowing it to weaken me, it galvanized me. I didn’t allow it to define me, or destroy my potential for a wonderful life.  Instead, I embraced it and appreciated that I lived in a country that gave me the opportunity to thrive and work for a successful life. As much as it hurt, it didn’t matter. I was an American and that’s all that mattered.

Having children in 2016 America is a huge challenge because everyone walks around on eggshells and is afraid of the PC police. I want my children to be compassionate, kind, and strong young men, but I also want them to have a sense of humor and levity. While one of them is going to be handsome, dark, mysterious, and classically good-looking, the other will be impish, unavoidably irresistible, and adorable. But one of them looks more Asian than the other, and has already had to deal with racism and the ugliness of the human spirit. While my heart aches for him, I truly understand what he has experienced. Yet, while he has been hurt, he has also been helped by his friends who have defended and protected him, which is by far an even greater lesson and he has learned that he is beautiful.

The magic of America is that we all get to be different, have differing opinions, beliefs, religion and customs. But there are also processes, rules, laws, and accountability that come with living in our great country, and this sense of entitlement and expectation is frustrating and degrading. This lack of respect for process & procedure and for each other, is disheartening on many levels.

What truly breaks my heart is the nastiness, the name-calling, and the venomous vitriol that is spewed when there are disagreements. The violence and anger are dangerous and frightening, and encouraged by a society that doesn’t respect or appreciate that two sides can find value and common ground. There’s nothing wrong with having a different opinion, there’s nothing wrong with agreeing to disagree. Isn’t that what makes this such a wonderful country?

Let’s face it, there was no perfect candidate in this election! This election lacked a true leader with undeniable integrity or even a smidgen of likeabilty, which was incredibly disappointing.


But the democratic system operated regardless, and now we need to come together to figure things out to make the world better for our children and our future. Attacking friends, family, coworkers, and strangers because we aren’t happy with their opinions and views just makes us a bunch of dicks. 

We’ve become a country of A-holes who’ve been hating, unfollowing, defriending, and ridiculing the people we are supposed to love the most because they think differently than we do. We’ve become social communists. 

In truth, name-calling, bullying, and nastiness are playground tactics that will never get us anywhere. Never.
Aren’t we the ones who make America great? Aren’t we the ones who make up the fabric of this country? When we’re brutally attacking others, we are the ones muddying up and destroying our country. Now we need to stop, breathe, and realize that we have a lot of work to do. Not one side is completely right or wrong. If we can figure out how to work together, we can do this. But it has to start with us and how we treat one another daily. 

Watching the fallout of the election has been truly heartbreaking and disgusting. I hope we can look within and realize that the only people we are hurting with our vicious attacks, on both sides, is ourselves. I hope we can come together and listen to one another, appreciate and show compassion for each other like we did on 9/11.m

 We are a country that is capable and strong, but we’ve forgotten who we are, and what we can do when we stand together. I truly hope that we find ourselves again before it’s too late, before we’ve become so divided that we implode from within.

We are better than this. 

We are Americans.

30 Day Writing Challenge-First Kiss and First Love

Even though it’s only day three of the challenge, this day had me a little miffed on how I would write about it.

Writing about my  first kiss, is easy. I was thirteen, he had blonde hair and blue eyes, and it was unremarkable, unemotional, and nothing special. I only remembered it because it was the first one of my young life.

Writing about my first love is more complicated, but nobody said this writing challenge would be easy. I mentioned in my post yesterday about my first memory and how my journey began alone and unknown. In hindsight, it seems that those early beginnings galvanized me and while I fell into infatuation in my younger years, romantic love didn’t come easily or openly to me.

But this is about first loves and I’ve had many.

I can remember falling in love with books at a young age. I remember reading the simple ones, then moving on to comic books and then the more difficult reads as I grew older. I read every Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, Nancy Drew, and VC Andrews book that I could get my hands on. I read anything and everything that captured my young heart and mind. Reading was bliss and nothing in the world made me happier than a good book. My mom used to say that the house could fall down around me while I was reading, and that I would never know. She wasn’t wrong. I read in the car, on vacation, on the bus, and in bed when I was supposed to be asleep. I had a book in my hand everywhere I went and the library was my refuge. 

God was also one of my first loves, teaching me selflessness and dedication. For many years in my early life, I clung to my spirituality, committed to it like one is to committed to their first romantic relationship. I was so in love that I even went to a Christian College, and contemplated a life of service, but certain events in my life steered  me in a completely different direction. 

Only as an adult did I discover my first opportunity for romantic love. But as it happens in life,  I didn’t realize it until it was too late.  By the time I did, too much had shifted and settled, and I realized that  it came down to most things in life; timing. Our timing was always off so we were left with only memories.

Years later, I met my husband, my first great love. Through hell and back, ups and downs, I’ve learned what it means to love, honor, and cherish, until death do us part. The vows weren’t “only when it’s perfect,” and while there have been plenty of opportunities for both of us to give it all up, in spite of it all we love each other. We love and fiercely protect the family we’ve made and the bonds we’ve created, for ourselves and our children. We’ve laughed and cried, walked away from and ran toward one another. But so far, we haven’t given up, on ourselves or on each other, which is what we promised in the beginning.

Lastly, my boys have been the first people I’ve loved in this life, without condition. They’ve taught me what it’s like to love from a perfect heart and I’ve become a better, stronger, and kinder person because of their love. I see myself through their eyes, even when it’s not good, and I know now what true love is. It’s accepting every apology, righting every wrong, and loving someone until you feel that your heart will explode out of your chest. It’s doing what you don’t want to because you know it’s the right thing to do, for them. It’s doing everything in your power to protect their hearts and preserve their minds from anger, hatred, and imperfection so that they can stay little boys for just a little while longer.

Loving my children had been a willing exercise in humility and sacrifice, that makes me want to do my best every day.

As I thought about this post, I knew that I would need to be thoughtful about it because love of any kind is personal and emotional. I’m fortunate that I’ve loved a great deal and had so much love in my life. I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. 

Is Love Gay? 

Today, a historic event happened in our country. In case you somehow missed it, Gay Marriage was made legal throughout all fifty states in the U.S by the Supreme Court. There have been numerous Facebook and Twitter posts both supporting and opposing the decision, mostly supporting from what I’ve seen. But I’ve been silent on both my personal and my author page. 

I’ll start this off by saying that I went to a Christian College. I believe in Jesus and God and have some very traditional beliefs about family. I have my own personal, albeit rocky at times, relationship with the Big Guy. My husband and I have  taught our children about being thankful for our blessings and that prayer is important, and truly believe it.

I was raised going to church every Sunday and that abstinence was better than protection. I was taught that God was wrathful and vengeful and that there was no compromise, and I believed that. All of it. As a youth I was a judgey little thing, and as I look back at her now I just want to slap her. 

Flash forward many years and I haven’t stepped foot into a church for many years other than for weddings or funerals, and don’t know when I  will again.  This is for reasons that are very personal that I may expound on at a different time because this just isn’t the post to explain it. But I mention this because I saw a post about a pastor who threatened to set himself on fire if Gay Marriage was passed, and to say that I was disgusted was an understatement.

  
I haven’t posted about the decision because my gay friends know that I’m happy for them and that is all that matters. Posting a rainbow on my profile pic won’t change anyone’s opinion, though I wish it would. And since everyone is entitled to have their opinion, they will and do, but setting yourself on fire is ridiculous and doesn’t praise God in any way. I’ve had arguments with people I love,  who are close to me, who don’t have the same views as I do and we’ve never walked away from those conversations changed or different. Nobody cares what I think and since I’m straight and already married, it doesn’t improve my quality of life in any way. 

But it does give me happiness because it affects  many people I know and have loved throughout the years and I am incredibly happy for them. I’m over-the-moon happy that they can legally spend their life with someone they love. I’m glad they will finally have the rights that we, straight people, have assumed and taken for granted all of our lives.

  
While there are many who won’t agree with me, I’m perfectly okay with that. I’ve come to this conclusion by my own journey in this life. As an abandoned child, and there are many, I can’t help but believe that the love of a same-sex couple is better than being parked in an orphanage. Having two moms or two dads has to provide more stability than being  shuffled between foster homes. And with a divorce rate of fifty percent in this country, I can’t help but believe that gay marriages won’t  be any less stable or  consistent than any other marriage. 

When I had children of my own, loving them was not an option. I fell deeply and irrevocably in love with their beautiful faces and tender spirits. Gay, straight, whatever… there was no way that I wouldn’t ever want the best for them or their absolute and complete happiness. Many of my gay friends were afraid to tell their parents, and some of them I knew were gay, before they ever came out. As a mother, I can’t help but think that I would never want my children to live in the shadows, hiding from me, hiding from themselves, like that. I don’t want to know what they’ll do in the bedroom with anyone… ever. Because they’ll always be my babies and the thought of them having sex with anyone makes me want to cry. I decided a long time ago that if they ever have a day when they have to come out to me, that it’ll never change my love for them. I want them to know that I’ll always love them no matter what. 

I don’t think the world should be surprised or even care who people love. After all, wouldn’t Jesus love them too? Doesn’t He love everyone? Why do we get to judge who people love? I think there is enough ugliness and loneliness in the world to keep adding to it. I feel as though the only love I should be concerned with is the love I carry in my own heart for the people I love. Life and marriage are hard enough as it is.  Don’t we have enough to worry about than to obsess about who is loving up on who? If a gay couple wants to embark on that crazy journey with the one they love… then who am I, or anyone else, to stop them from doing so?

 
It’s a basic physiological fact that creatures like us need  love to thrive. There are enough lonely people in the world who have yet to find “their person.” Being gay or straight shouldn’t be the deciding factor for that basic human right. So is love gay? Absolutely! It’s puppies, rainbows,  unicorns, and all the rest of that fluffy stuff! Not because I say it is or it isn’t. 

But now, because the Supreme Court says it is.

  

Birthdays, McDreamy, a Book Signing, a Book Release, and an Excerpt

Last week was a HUGE week! HUGE, GINORMOUS… EPIC.

Not necessarily in this order, this is what happened

  • My youngest son turned eight
  • Derek Shepard died on Grey’s Anatomy
  • We had our first sleepover with the birthday boy’s friends
  • I worked a full work week in a new position that I love, with a company I love
  • I hosted a Book Release Party for Leaving Eva
  • Leaving Eva was republished through Booktrope Publishing
  • I attended the Cleveland Author Event for the second year in a row as a signing author

It would’ve been enough for one week if only Derek Shepard would have died, but then you throw in the rest of it, and it was indeed an insane week with A LOT of things happening. I’m not surprised that I’m still exhausted from all of it, which believe me, I’m not complaining at all! I’m lucky, happy, blessed, and excited that my life gets to be this full on a daily basis.

The funny thing is, baseball season for the boys hasn’t even really gotten into full swing yet, which I’m thankful for. I don’t know that I could’ve possibly fit anything else into this past week. I barely had time to shower and wash my hair!

I never understood this before, but as a writer, my brain is constantly going, and I do mean constantly. It drives my husband nuts because I can’t ever just sit.  I’m always looking at something, reading something, or doing something. On the rare occasion that I can just sit and relax, we simply spend time as a family enjoying one another’s company, watching B-movies, or hanging out. It’s the only down time I have, but the only down-time that will sustain me and not make me crazy.

Republishing my first book with Booktrope has been a wonderful experience. My team has been great, the process has gone well, and I couldn’t be more proud of the book. I loved the story to begin with, all of the characters a part of me, the good ones and the bad ones. And while I’m not yet as prolific an author as I would like to be, I’m happy with my work and excited to get to share, hopefully with a broader audience. I’ve finally defined myself as an author, writing women’s fiction (and fantasy, but that’s for later), with a beautiful brand that I love, and a story that I’m excited and happy to tell. And I feel as though I am finally settling into a life that seems to make sense for me, yet not too anxious to get comfortable yet. There is still so much to learn and experience, and I’m only now touching the top of what is to come.

I blame it on the writer brain, always in motion, never resting. 🙂

In celebration of the Leaving Eva book release, I’m going to leave you with the first chapter of the book. I’m hoping you’ll find it interesting and intriguing. Hopefully so much that you might want to share it or read more of it. The response and the feedback from readers who have read it has been unbelievable and my hope is that I’ll get the opportunity to continue sharing it with as many people as I can. I’m still such a minnow in a huge pond with millions of authors and books out there, which is daunting, but a wonderful challenge at the same time. Life isn’t easy for anyone, but if I can survive this past week, I think I can make it through many things! After all, surviving a bunch of boys ages 8-10 for a birthday party/sleepover can be a monumental feat to say the least! But I get to be a mom, an adventurer, and an author and all of this is exciting and fun so I consider myself very lucky to get to do all of this.

I’ll post on my adventures at the Cleveland Author Event in a later post. It was an incredibly fun time and I got to meet so many wonderful readers and authors. It honestly couldn’t have been any better. Even the death of Dr. McDreamy didn’t cast a shadow on the week which may be because I stopped watching when Dr. McSteamy was killed off a few seasons ago, which was devastating and I swore I couldn’t go through it again. So if I want to see Patrick Dempsey, who ironically reminds me of the MC in Leaving Eva (Dark thick hair, handsome, beautiful eyes), I’ll just google him or think of him as Adam in Leaving Eva.

Leaving Eva-Leaving Eva is the heartrending story of one woman’s battle to overcome her tragic childhood and the abandonment and abuse that haunt her. Caution: Eva’s story is contains graphic violence, strong language, drug abuse, domestic abuse, and child abuse.

In this dramatically dark novel, Jennifer Sivec, author of women’s fiction, delves into the selfishness and depravity of human nature, and begs you to question whether happiness can ever truly be attained once you have been deeply scarred.

http://amzn.com/B00VUA2GQK

Stupid Girl

Daddy. No!

 

Daddy, please stop!

 

Daddy, you’re hurting me!

 

She never saw it coming. She didn’t even know he had hit her until her right cheek and eye were exploding. With so much rage on his face, his anger emanated toward her, dangerous and hot.

She’d never seen Daddy so angry before, not even with Mommy.

She was stunned, her feet frozen in one spot. She wanted desperately to run but was unable to move. It was almost as though she was trapped in a bad dream and couldn’t wake up. Her heart was pounding hard in her chest, and her mind was racing. Daddy’s massive body was blocking the way, and she thought wildly that maybe if she didn’t move, he wouldn’t hit her again.

She was wrong.

He smacked her again, hard across the mouth, and she could feel blood pouring from her bottom lip. The saltiness of it made her want to gag. He reached out, grabbing her small thin arms, squeezing them so hard they felt as though they may break in two. He picked her up until her feet were dangling off the ground and threw her down, hard. Her head snapped back and hit the wood cabinets. The cracking sound resounded in her ears, and there was an instant blinding pain.

She knew she was crying, but couldn’t feel any tears. She was afraid, and it was a strange familiar, haunting feeling that she knew she had felt sometime before in her seven and a half years. Daddy was never overly affectionate or kind, but he had never hurt her. She had been with them for three years, and during that time, he had barely ever touched her, good or bad. But now, he was intent on hurting her for reasons that didn’t make sense.

She begged him to stop, trying to come up with the right words as they tumbled out in between the sobs. “Daddy, please! I–I–I–I’m sorry. I’ll be careful. I’m s–s–s–sorry.”

“You should be sorry! You need to be more careful, damn you. You ruin everything you touch with your filthy little hands!” He growled, grabbing hard at her long dark hair, pulling some of it out sharply at the roots. He yanked on the ponytail as she reached out blindly trying to get him to ease his grip.

Daddy’s blue eyes were dark and full of something that she didn’t recognize at all. His face was distorted, almost trance-like, looking through her as if he weren’t seeing her at all. She struggled away, but his grasp on her hair wouldn’t let her escape. She felt trapped and helpless, like a mouse in a cage. Without any effort, he grabbed her again and threw her back down to the ground.

The girl was crying so hard, her small body trembling in fear of what would happen to her next. “No, no, no, no,” she cried over and over. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean it.”

She crouched down tight against the cabinets, and she pulled her body in, hoping to shrink. Maybe if I’m small, I’ll be hard to get, and he will stop. Maybe Daddy will stop!

He kicked clumsily at her sides with hard steel-toed work boots. “Damn stupid kid! Why do you have to be so clumsy? Jesus Christ, you’re ALWAYS spilling and dropping things.” His voice was so loud, and he was spitting as he hovered over her.

The girl was trying to remember why he was so mad and then she remembered the spilled iced tea all over the floor, soaking into the beige carpet like a sponge.

“I’ll be more careful. I’ll be more careful! PLEASE DADDY, you’re hurting me!” She was screaming, but he didn’t hear.

“I work my ass off to provide for you and your mother, and this is how you repay me! I should never have let your mother convince me to buy you, you stupid Bitch!” Daddy’s voice was ugly and full of hatred. The girl didn’t know if the pain from the blows or the mean words he spoke hurt the most.

She raised her hands over her head futilely as a shield. I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I’m so clumsy and bad! Please, Daddy, please. Her head was pounding, and there was pain everywhere.

 

One, two, and then three more times Daddy hit her. There had been so many that she had actually lost count. His hands were open one second and closed the next. There were blows coming from every direction, first hitting on the head, then the arms, both sides, and occasionally the face.

The smell of whiskey was hanging above the tiny girl in a large cloud, curling her nose with its sweet insipid smell. She was gagging and crying at the same time, and it was hard to breathe. She was choking on her own stupidity and carelessness. Mommy keeps telling me to be more careful. I’m a bad girl. I’m too loud and stupid, and I always spill things. Mommy will hate me now, too. I’m a bad girl!

She dared a glance upward and could see that Daddy was starting to pant, his face red while sweat poured down his forehead. Please God, make him stop. Please help me be more careful! Why can’t I just be a better girl?

“Please stop, please,” she cried desperately, in a small, frightened voice that she hadn’t heard before. Daddy doesn’t love me because I’m stupid. Daddy hates me. I hate me, too. I’m so stupid.

He looked at her, his gaze slicing through her. “You’re the reason your mother hates me! It’s all your fault, you stupid useless brat!”

It was true. Mommy has me so she can’t love Daddy. She told me. It is my fault!

 

It felt as if he had been hitting her for so long, but after only a few minutes, he was spent.

He finally staggered backwards clumsily, not looking her way at all. Daddy didn’t look well, his skin pale and wet with sweat, the rage replaced with confusion and shame.

“Go to your room, right now, Brynn!” His voice was barely audible as he looked away.

Brynn stood feeling unsteady for a moment, her body shaking uncontrollably as she willed her legs to move. I’m going, Daddy. I’m going.

 

Daddy turned and staggered out to the porch and lit up a cigarette. The cool night air came in with a welcome gust soothing her burning face, and she forgot about the pain momentarily. The danger was still palpable in the air, and Brynn realized that she needed to get to her room.

The journey up the stairs was difficult, but she finally made it, falling onto the bed with relief. Brynn buried her face into the pillow smearing bright red blood and tears on the crisp white pillowcase.

 

He hates me! He hates me, and I’m so stupid. It’s my fault. I’m so clumsy and stupid. If I run away, maybe Mommy will love him and then he will love me. I ruined everything! I wish I had never ever been born!

 

After what felt like hours, she stood up, carefully walked into the bathroom, and locked the door. Brynn looked in the mirror and searched all over for bruises. The right cheek and eye were swelling and turning purple. The split in her lip was also swelling at an alarming rate as the blood was starting to crust and dry up. Her eyelids were swollen from crying so hard, and there was nothing but pain in her ribs, back, arms, and legs from all of the kicking they endured.

 

Brynn wished Mommy would hurry home. Mommy, where are you? Mommy, I need you!

Daddy had never been this mean before. He was to Mommy, but not to Brynn. He yelled occasionally, but had never kicked, hit, or swore at her. Daddy never kissed or hugged her, but Brynn always thought he loved her. After all, he bought her things from time to time, like big lollipops and candy from the store. He gave her presents for birthdays and on Christmases. My Daddy hates me! He wishes I were never adopted. He hates me more than anything in the world.

What if Daddy hits me all the time? The thought struck suddenly. I should run away.

Brynn knew Mommy couldn’t protect her. Mommy couldn’t even protect herself. While Daddy had never hit Brynn before, he hit Mommy. He even shook Mommy hard making her flop all over the place like Brynn’s favorite doll, Betsy. Mommy said it wasn’t Daddy’s fault. She said it was only because of the alcohol. Today, Daddy was drinking a lot of alcohol, and Brynn noticed that it was a lot more than usual.

The “special” glass was filled up five times, full to the top. Usually, Daddy only had Brynn fill it two or three times, and then Mommy did the rest after bedtime. Daddy never filled his own glass because he said it was their responsibility. “I put a roof over your heads, and give you food to eat, and clothes to wear. I buy everything!” He reminded them of this often.

Even though Daddy was mean to Mommy, Brynn still loved him. You’re supposed to love your Daddy. That’s what happy families do. They love each other. She wanted to have a happy family more than anything. Even though her only friend, Stacy, had a sad family, families were supposed to be happy. Mommy didn’t like Brynn to have a lot of friends because she didn’t want her away from the house much. Mommy always made her come home so she could spend time with her. Mommy said that she missed Brynn too much when she was gone.

Brynn was sad because Mommy didn’t love Daddy. Mommy told her repeatedly, even if Daddy was in the room, that she didn’t love him. She always whispered it loudly, pretending that it was their little secret. Brynn knew that Daddy could still hear. But Daddy was quiet like he didn’t care, even though he had a funny look on his face. Mommy and Brynn were best friends, and Mommy told her everything.

“We only stay with him because he takes care of us, Brynn. I only love you,” Mommy always told her. Brynn thought that maybe Daddy loved Mommy. Why else would he take care of them? Maybe Daddy will stop taking care of us now that he is hitting me, too. Brynn was afraid of what would happen to them.

There must have been something wrong with her or Brynn’s real Mommy would have wanted her. Brynn picked up the picture of her and Mommy Rose that sat next to her bed. It was a picture of them right after her “Gotcha Day.” Brynn looked very different then, so skinny and scraggly with a permanently sad expression on her face. She thought about her real Mommy, and again wondered where she was and why she left her. Brynn wondered if her real Mommy ever thought of her and what she looked like. Would my real Mommy care that Daddy was hitting me? Would she save me?

Brynn reached up carefully touching her cheek. It felt big and was throbbing and stinging. She felt hot. She lifted up her shirt and saw the skin on her sides turning red and purple. Her arms were tender and painful to the touch and there were handprints bruising her skin.

She moved slowly to her bed and waited for Mommy Rose to come home. Every part of her face was burning, and her lip kept bleeding. As hard as she tried, she couldn’t stop crying, salty tears burning the open wound on her lip. How could Daddy be so mean?

 

Mommy! When she finally heard the car in the driveway, her heart leapt for joy. Brynn dared not leave the bedroom for fear Daddy would see her.

Mommy will come kiss me good night. Brynn waited for Mommy to come up. When Mommy saw her face, she would know what Daddy had done. Brynn was ashamed that Daddy had to punish her.

Maybe Mommy won’t love me anymore either, she thought suddenly. She’ll think I’m too clumsy, too. She hates when I spill things because he always yells at me. Maybe she will hit me, too. Brynn was suddenly afraid. She hadn’t thought of that before.

She waited anxiously. When Mommy’s light footsteps echoed in the hall, Brynn held her breath, waiting for the door to open. Did Daddy tell her what I did? What if she hates me, too?

The door opened slowly and Mommy walked in looking like an angel. Mommy’s brown eyes were very serious as she looked at Brynn. She didn’t say anything but instead, walked over to the bed slowly, and hugged Brynn. Brynn held her tight and sobbed into her chest.

“Oh, Brynn,” Mommy said in a soothing voice. “What did you do? Why were you so clumsy? Why can’t you just be more careful? It will be okay.”

Brynn couldn’t speak. She couldn’t say anything between the sobs.

Mommy gently touched Brynn’s swollen cheek, tears forming in her own eyes. She started to reach toward Brynn’s cracked lip and stopped before touching it.

“Brynn, you have to be more careful. Daddy doesn’t like messes. You can’t spill because he gets really mad.” Mommy scolded gently. Mommy didn’t look angry like he had. Instead, she had a different look on her face. It was a look that Brynn didn’t understand. Brynn breathed a sigh of relief. Mommy didn’t hate her like Daddy did.

She held Brynn close. Mommy smells like flowers. Sweet.

For the first time that night, Brynn felt safe. Mommy went to the bathroom, got a washcloth, ran cool water over it, and washed Brynn’s tearstained face. She wiped Brynn’s swollen cheek and gently swabbed her bloody lip. She was careful as she tried to clean up the crusted blood. Mommy spoke gently, soothing, as she did when Brynn was much smaller. Then she tucked Brynn into bed and kissed her first on the forehead and then on the cheek. Brynn winced in pain and then smiled weakly, relieved that Mommy was home.

“There will be no school until your lip and face looks better, sweet girl,” Mommy said attempting a smile. “We’ll stay home and do puzzles together all day and drink hot cocoa. We’ll have a ‘girl’s day’.” Mommy stroked Brynn’s hair lightly, “But you can’t tell anyone about Daddy hitting you. If you do, they will take you away from me.”

Brynn didn’t want to be away from Mommy. She loved Mommy.

“I promise, Mommy, I won’t tell,” Brynn said, her voice small and serious.

“You’re a good girl, darling,” Mommy said looking at Brynn with adoring eyes.

“No, I’m not, Mommy, I’m a bad girl. I took your love away from Daddy. It’s my fault you don’t love him,” Brynn cried. She wanted to confess because she didn’t want to keep a secret from Mommy.

Mommy’s face got angry and then she suddenly smiled, showing her pretty white teeth. “Oh, Brynn. It’s not your fault I don’t love Daddy. I never loved Daddy. I only married Daddy so that I could find you one day. Even if you weren’t here, I still wouldn’t love Daddy.”

Brynn was relieved. It wasn’t her fault after all, but then she was sad. Poor Daddy. Not to be loved was so sad.

“Is Daddy going to hurt me again? It really hurt, Mommy,” she said sadly, trying not to whimper.

“No, Brynn! Mommy won’t let Daddy hurt you like that again!” Mommy said. But Brynn was still afraid because Daddy hit Mommy, and nothing could stop him.

Mommy answered without Brynn asking, “I know Daddy hits me, but we can’t leave because he takes care of us. We need him. I’ll talk to Daddy and I won’t leave you alone with him again.”

Brynn was relieved. She wasn’t alone with him much, but if it were never, then he couldn’t hurt her again.

“Thank you, Mommy!” She loved Mommy so much. Mommy was pretty and nice, and Brynn loved her with all of her heart—to the moon and back, “I love you so much, Mommy!”

Mommy gave her baby girl a sad smile. She bent over and tucked Brynn in, leaving the night light on.

“Go to sleep, sweet girl. I love you, too,” she whispered softly.

Brynn closed her eyes and got as comfortable as she could. She moved around trying to get more comfortable despite the pain. All of her muscles hurt and her lip were stinging. She didn’t realize how tired she was, and she quickly started to drift off.

Mommy went downstairs, and just as Brynn fell asleep, she was jolted awake by the sound of Daddy yelling. Daddy was yelling at Mommy!

She covered her ears tight trying in vain to block out the voices. Mommy was screaming, and then there was a slapping sound. Something made a loud cracking sound, like the sound of wood splintering and breaking, which made her jump. Mommy cried out loudly.

Brynn huddled up tight in her bed and squeezed her eyes closed as she felt tears running down her face. Daddy, please don’t hurt Mommy. She wanted to run downstairs, but she was afraid. What if he hits me again? Mommy, Mommy! Brynn grabbed her dolly, Betsy, and hugged her until the screaming stopped. Then there was an eerie silence in the house. She tried to stay awake, because she was terrified that her door would open, and then he would come in and try to hurt her again. She strained to hear Mommy’s voice, but there was nothing but quiet. She listened hard for Mommy to make a sound, but she didn’t hear anything in the house. Her eyelids started to get heavy and she finally fell into a restless, painful sleep.

I’m a Troper!!!

I began this writing journey many years ago beginning with a story that I penned with a girl in my fourth grade class. The story was short, simple, and contained the “f” word.

And it was terrible!

My oldest son is the same age I was when I wrote it and I’m still perplexed with my younger self. Yet, it was my first foray into a lifetime of writing and honing this beautiful craft. My stories and style have improved tremendously over the years (thank goodness), but that cringe-worthy story remains folded up in the corner of a drawer reminding me that while I wasn’t always prolific, I have always loved to write.

My writing journey has been a long one. I didn’t release my first book until nearly two years ago, and when I did I was filled with such fear and trepidation. It was like standing naked in front of a sold-out stadium, baring everything as I held my breath and waited for the laughter. I have always been a fairly private person, sharing only with people when I completely trust them. I’ve been this way all of my life, with only a few people who I allow into the realm of my secret craziness, completely.

In fact, I am just now becoming comfortable talking about my writing with others because it’s so personal. Writing about my writing always seems so much easier. Writing about everything has always been easier.

But I have loved everyday and every moment of this journey. Now, I get to take another step.
I’ve been accepted by the hybrid press, Booktrope. To say that I am ecstatic about having a publisher is an understatement. I LOVE self-publishing and the Indie community is absolutely amazing, but the Team concept of Booktrope has an allure that I can’t ignore. To engage with others and work toward a common goal, everyone sharing in the success, is a theme that I am all-to-familiar with in my grown-up job so this is a natural fit. Sharing my writing has helped me to become a creature who is more comfortable sharing out in the open, unlike the closed-off, impersonal person I once was.

I feel privileged to have been recognized and accepted by such a great group of people, and I am so ecstatic about having the opportunity to have help building an audience for my books.  This is where you can help.

I’ll be looking for a launch team who will help me when the time comes, to share, tweet, Facebook, blog, and inundate their news feed and everyone they know with news about my books or about new releases. If you are interested in being on that Team, you’ll receive certain perks which may involve getting advanced copies of my books before anyone else, being a part of a private Facebook group, having direct access to me AND the opportunity to receive some fun stuff in the mail, as well as have input on projects I’ll be working on (such as… what will we name this group?). In return, I’ll ask you to read my books, write HONEST reviews (even if you don’t like the book), and share, share, share!!

I hope you’ll consider joining me and being more involved in this amazing journey!! When the Team has been assembled, you’ll receive an email to let you know you are in. We may add Team-members later if the need arises, but only the first select will receive all of the perks! Join early because the early bird will get cooler stuff.

Sign up here… http://eepurl.com/bf9ugH