Tag Archive | Book

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. 

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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.

Who I am…

I’ve been struggling to find time to write, lately.

The holidays are upon us and everyone is so busy. The end of the year brings other challenges with work and life, and everything in between. I’ve decked the halls, trimmed the tree, and started my Christmas shopping. And this year, I’m even managing to make peace with some of my demons which has been a feat of Herculean proportions.

It hardly seems as though there is time for much else.

I’ve got two books sitting, waiting, and wondering if I’m ever going to back to them. I’ve got characters with unfinished business, lovers who are wondering if they will ever kiss again, and a little girl trapped in a well with a talking serpent-like creature. All of these plots and ideas for character development are swimming around in my head, and there is no time to attend to any of it.

The frustrating part, is that as I go about my daily life, the writing calls to me. I’ve learned to ignore it, but only temporarily. Part of me fears that it will stop calling me, one day. I fear that I will lose the pull as I once did when I became “too consumed by life” to simply just write.

I know that if I would have continued writing throughout the years, and not stopped, that I would have maintained a better sense of myself. I would have remembered what was important in my life because writing balances me out. It reflects the words into my heart like a mirror, reminding me of who I am, and what I want to be. Perhaps if I had continued to write, the lessons that I had to learn, wouldn’t have been so hard because I wouldn’t have forgotten how to prioritize or who I was to begin with. Instead, I abandoned what I loved and lost a piece of myself in the process…

Part of me is afraid that I will get too caught up in life and I will stop writing again. It’s easy to forgo your passion when there is laundry to do, dinner to cook, homework to oversee, and a full time career. I have a family to love, a house to run, and a wonderfully challenging career. Yet, I still have numerous characters calling out to me, plots to both create and finish, and fictional lovers to reunite.

So who says that I can’t do all of it?

After all, I’m a Wife and Mother, and a vicious multi-tasker. I brush my teeth and read a book at the same time. I kiss my children while I pack their lunches. I Facebook while I stand in the deli line. Most importantly, I know when to STOP multi-tasking and just “Be” in the moment. I’m creative, fearless, tireless, and loving.

The beauty of writing, as an Indie Author, is that I can do it on my own schedule. I don’t have to give up telling a story because life is too busy. I love that I can still be passionate about my family, my career, and writing. I love that I can stay in touch with who I am and also, what I love to do.

Even though I’m having a hard time finding the time to to write, the characters and stories are swimming around in my head. They are growing and evolving, and thankfully my children aren’t starving because I did manage to feed them tonight! I know that there will continue to be days when I feel that I didn’t do enough, or that I’m not enough. I don’t expect that will ever change because there just aren’t enough hours to do it ALL, every day.

I know that being a Wife and Mother means that I can’t always be a writer, and that having a career means that I can’t always do everything. But I think that I am better at recognizing what matters, because I don’t let the moments pass me by. I see them and I recognize them in a way that I never did before. And when I’m lucky, the Wife and Mother in me gets to write the love for her family into her book, and the creativeness within, give me success in my career.

For the first time in my life, I realize that I don’t have to sacrifice being one thing to be another. If I am thankful for the gift of getting to do all of these things, I can do them.

Then I can truly embrace who I am.

Blog Tour

It’s been quite a week. I released my second book and had my first Blog Tour! Whew! I’m tired and my brain is a little tweaked from reading all of the reviews. I’ve been feeling quite overwhelmed that people even read my book, let a lone appreciate it and understand it. It’s amazing that people love Eva as much as I do! I’m truly in awe and overwhelmed that they love her and her story so much. Here are some of my favorite lines from the reviews:

“This whole book is about choices, forgiveness, acceptance, loss, grief, circumstances, judgments, death, life. I don’t think there was a single emotion or topic that this author didn’t cover in this book. I was mentally exhausted, yet demanding more by the time I finished it. I woke up this morning and it was the first thing on my mind. I sobbed in the last chapter and then became angry and then I was so happy for Brynn, it was time her dream came true. But then back to sobbing because once again life and others choices took her dreams away. Finally I went to being scared out of my mind and hopeful at the last sentence. THAT WAS MY EMOTIONS FROM JUST ONE CHAPTER.”
T-bird~Life Becomes me http://lifebecomesme.wordpress.com/tbirds-reviews/3426-2/

“This book had a lot more surprises then I was expecting there would be. After all the heartache from book one I thought that this story would be more on the full romance side but man was I sadly mistaken. Drama, heartache, feelings that this book will give you is overwhelming…I give this book 4 1/5 stars. Thank you Jennifer Sivec for writing such an awesome book and looking forward to see what else comes out of that head of yours. ”
Rick~One Guy and His Book Review http://www.oneguyandhisbook.blogspot.com/?zx=64d3da302026605b

“I don’t want to go to all of the details, because it is a story that you need to read the plot line as it develops. I think that right now I should have stock in Kleenex. My tears flowed and flowed and my heart wrenched from the emotions that I experienced. The story was so well constructed that at many times it played in my mind as a movie.
And OMG are there twists and turns. At times, I was left with my jaw dropping open.
I want to thank Jennifer Sivec for giving us readers a chance to see her difficult but beautiful stories. I look forward to reading more by Jennifer. I do suggest these books for reader’s TBR list. Reading Jennifer Sivec’s stories are permanently stamped in my memory”
Susan-Cruising Susan’s Book Reviews http://cruisingsusanreviews.com/2013/10/31/losing-eva-tour/

“Hope. And Unconditional Love. That’s what Losing Eva is all about. When you love someone more than life itself, you NEVER give up. You NEVER let them go. You NEVER abandon them. And that’s what gave me the strength and the sanity I needed to write this review, despite the fact that I am in tears right now. This incredibly pure message.”
Mia-Mia’s Point of View https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/749520922

It was hard to pick only a few lines to highlight, because they all touched me so much. These wonderful Bloggers also gave invaluable constructive criticism which I deeply appreciate!!

Debra, from Book Enthusiast Promotions was completely wonderful. Her follow up and communication was impeccable. I also loved how flexible she was with the Blogger and the Author, and coordinated everything to come together so well. She was great to work with, and I would definitely love to work with her again. For my very first tour, her support and help made everything flow smoothly, because I really had nooooo idea what to do. http://bookenthusiastpromotions.com/

I want to say Thank You to all of the Bloggers listed below for their amazing support! Your kind words, promotion, honesty, sharing, and passion for what you do is what makes being an Indie Author a worthwhile experience. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! If you are looking for some great reviews, great reads, and wonderful people… check them out. You won’t be sorry!!!!

http://bookscoffeeandwine.blogspot.com/
http://booklunaticramblings.blogspot.com/
http://hookedonbooksuk.blogspot.co.uk/p/home.html
http://roomwithbooks.wordpress.com/
http://babusbookshelf.blogspot.com/
http://tiffanytalksbook
http://www.bookladysreviews.blogspot.com/s.com/
http://www.oneguyandhisbook.blogspot.com/
http://miasworldview.blogspot.gr/
http://jenisbookshelf.blogspot.com/
http://cruisingsusanreviews.com/
http://fictional-m-r-f-b-h.blogspot.co.uk/
http://storiesandswag.blogspot.com/
http://www.crystalsmanyreviews.blogspot.com/
http://www.maryelizabethscrazybookobsession.com/
http://bookaholics2.blogspot.com/
http://www.bookladysreviews.blogspot.com/
http://rumpledsheetsblog.wordpress.com/
http://journeyintopureimagination.blogspot.com/
http://lifebecomesme.wordpress.com/

You can still get in on the giveaway for a free copy of Losing Eva. Check it out!!
http://bookenthusiastpromotions.com/losing-eva-by-jennifer-sivec-blog-tour/