Tag Archives: Tabitha Blake

Things I Have Learned In My Journey to Becoming a Writer


Believe in Yourself and Your Dreams

You are the only one that can achieve your goals and you have to push yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself who will? Nothing worth achieving is going to be easy. Everyone goes through the stage were they feel they want to give up but remember the feeling you had when you first wanted to start writing. The rush and joy of the dream in the beginning.

Find a Good Support System

Sometimes the dream starts to fall apart and doubt creeps in. I think if you could see doubt he would look like the Noid from dominos pizza. Bouncing around all evil and refusing to give up. However, if you have good friends that support you then you can push doubt aside. I am blessed with a family that believes in my dream to be a writer.

Writing Buddies

Not everyone has the support of their family and friends. People seem to think writing is a pipe dream. So, what do you do now? You find other writer to be your support group. No one knows the joys and sorrows of the writing journey like another writer. I have some of the most amazing fellow authors that lift me up when I am in a rut and push me a little further when they think I can do better.

Grow a Tough Skin

This was one of the hardest things for me to learn. Not everyone is going to love your writing. This does not mean you are a bad writer but you aren’t going to please everyone. I write paranormals and some people laugh and refuse to read about vampires and other para creatures. Does that make me a bad writer no, my writing is just no their cup of tea and that’s fine. So, don’t let one bad apple make you feel like your writing is a joke. You need the skin of a rhino to make it in the writing world.

Join a Critique Group

Not all crit groups are the same, it took me a while to find the right one, but when you do its great. I have learned so much from other critters. When I started I thought you just sat down, wrote and ta-da you have a finished manuscript. Reality check it’s not that easy and crit groups are a great place to learn the ropes.

Receiving Critiques

This was a really had one for me in the beginning but I have gotten better at knowing how to take advice. This all stems back to growing that tough skin. You also have to realize not everything a critter says will work for your story. Learning what works of you story and what doesn’t is your final decision not theirs. I always tell my crit partners to take what works and trash the rest. You are the only one that knows how the story should be written.

Giving Critiques

Be kind but be honest. If you tell your crit partner everything they write is great, you aren’t helping them. None of us are perfect and we all make mistakes. So, give them your thoughts and ideas on their work. There is a difference between honesty and being harsh and nasty. Tell them what you liked about the story too. A good crit partner will tell you the bad with the good.

Take a Writing Class

I learned a lot from criting but there were still thing I wasn’t getting. Therefore, I decided to take a writing class and it all became clear. The things critters were telling me I was doing wrong, I just wasn’t getting them all. Things like show don’t tell went right over my head. However, when I took the class and saw examples of the wrong way and the right way everything fell into place. I encourage everyone just starting out to take a writing class. You can even take them online.

These are just my experiences on my ongoing journey to becoming a published writer. I hope it helps to know we all go through these things and you aren’t alone. As writers, we have to come together and support each other. Most writers are willing to help a new writer and mentor them. They are out there you just have to find them. I would love to hear your thoughts on starting a writing career and what you are going through or have gone through.

I also wanted to let you all know I have a new website. Hope you get a chance to pop by and check it out. Leave me a message and let me know what you think. I will also have a blog on my site starting this Monday. Hope to see you there. Here is the link.

tabbysnocturnalnights.weebly.com

Happy Reading and Writing,

Tabitha Blake

MIA


I have to give you all a rain check on my blog this week. My husband has been in the hospital. He is stable, doing fine and hopefully will be home by the end of the week. There has been no time to write on my current novel or figure out a blog. I have spent most of the week at the hospital. I plan to be back into the swing of things by next Thursday. Hope to see you all here next week.

Happy Reading and Writing,

Tabitha Blake

To Outline or Not To Outline


That is the big question…do you or don’t you outline. I started my first novel without an outline. Flying by the seat of my pants, was my idea of being creative. I thought an outline would box my creativity in, I refused to stifle myself with guidelines. That was a big mistake. Constantly wondering in the dark and lost, no idea where the story was going or how it was going to get there. I became frustrated and started to think it was my writing that was lacking but it was not the writing it was my method. I wanted to sit at my computer and hope for the best with no planning. I was writing blindly. This caused me to want to quit many times. Talking to a friend about my frustrations, she asked me where my book was going and maybe she could help me. My answer was I have no clue. In a years time I had about thirteen chapters and my story had changed a millions times. Every time it changed, I went back to the beginning and rewrote the previous chapters. It was an endless cycle; I became frustrated with the story. It wasn’t really the story but the fact that I had no bones to my story and you need the bones of the story to move it forward. You can’t just fly along on a wish and a pray.

Currently I have put that story on the back burner and started a new one. I outlined the whole thing and amazingly have written seven chapters on two weeks. The outline keeps me grounded. Knowing what should be in each chapter and where the story is going has taken all the stress out of writing. I know what needs to be in each chapter and when those key points are there, the chapter is done. There is no guessing anymore and my confidence is back. I will eventually go back to my pervious story and finish it but I will most definitely outline it and think it though before I start on it again. The outline actually gave me more freedom in my writing and didn’t box me in as I had thought it would. I still veer from the out line at times but I also know what ever I add will progress the story. I think of it like a map, if you don’t have a map how do you get from point A to point B? Never again will I try to write a story without one. The outline is an amazing tool that a writer should never take for granted.

Do you use an outline or are you a panster? If your a panster do you find yourself frustrated a lot? I would love to hear about your methods and ideas on making the writing process easier.

Happy Reading and Writing,

Tabitha Blake

Just for Fun


I had a really busy weekend but a great Mother’s Day. I hope all you moms out there did too. Therefore, this week I thought we would just have some fun. I found some fun little quizzes and trivia for you. The first few are for the paranormal lovers out there and the second half for the historical fans. I hope you enjoy them. Next week I will tackle something a little more serious. What that is hasn’t come to me but it will.

Paranormal Quizzes:

Lords of the Underworld Quiz (Which Lord is Perfect for You)

http://genashowalter.com/quiz-into-the-dark/index.php

Which Immortal Is Your Soul Mate?

http://www.dorchesterpub.com/Dorch/SpecialFeatures.cfm?ID=2480

Black Dagger Brothers Quiz

http://www.ripmybodice.com/2007/09/27/the-brother-of-your-dreams-quiz/

Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark Trivia

http://www.goodreads.com/trivia/show/102–ai-Kresley-Cole-4428-Kresley-Cole-http-

Vampire History Quiz

http://www.limelife.com/game/Vampire-History-/18157.html

Shifter Trivia

http://paranormalromanceblog.com/2010/03/04/take-rachel-vincents-shifters-trivia-quiz-you-could-win-a-book/

Historical Quizzes:

What Regency Heroine Are You?

http://quizilla.teennick.com/quizzes/724203/the-regency-romance-quiz-what-kind-of-romance-heroine-are-you

Which Austen Heroine Are You?

http://www.strangegirl.com/emma/quiz.php

Which Literary Heroine Are You?

http://www.quiztron.com/tests/literary_heroine_quiz_136125.htm

Georgian Costumes: Regency to Romantic Quiz

http://www.fashion-era.com/Fashion_history_quizzes/fashion_quiz_2_regency_questions.htm

Historical Romance  Writing Formula Quiz

http://www.funtrivia.com/playquiz/quiz291881216a840.html

Happy Reading and Writing,

Tabitha Blake

Does This Sound Familiar?


What do women want in a man? Well there are a few things we expect. The thing is men say they can’t understand us, but it’s really not that hard. The things we want aren’t that difficult to achieve. As women we thrive on these thing and it keeps the relationship strong. You don’t have to necessarily have every single one of these traits but remember these are the things that really rev our engines, so to speak.  Oh and at the bottom I will tell you the whole point of this blog.

Women want confidence.

Stand tall and believe in yourself. We don’t want some wimpy crybaby. I’m not saying don’t be sensitive but there is a time and place for being sensitive to our needs. Sensitive every waking moment is a definite turn off.

Women want a man that makes her feel like she is the only one.

We go nuts over a man that focuses on only us when we are out and about. We don’t want a man who checks out every woman we pass. Yes I know it is in your nature men to do this but at least do it with some taste and not blatantly right in front of us. We want to be the center of your universe or at least feel like we are.

Women want a man with a sense of humor.

We love a man that can make us laugh. Take a chance and be silly. Laughing brings joy and if just made her laugh, you just brought joy into her life. Bingo now she wants to spend more time with you.

Women want a man that will listen to us and not give advice.

One of the biggest problems with men is they always want to solve the big dilemma. Well reality check. Sometimes we don’t want you to fix it, we just want you to listen. Yeah we may be whinny at time but let us have our moment and we will get over it. When you try to fix it we get angry and it drags on longer.

Women want men to treat them like the sexiest woman on the planet.

We want men to make us fell like there is no one that compares to us. Men that border on out of control in the bedroom because we drive them over the edge. We want to feel sexy and sometimes we need a little reassurance from our men.

Women want loyal men, we need to know you will be faithful.

We don’t want to have to worry or wonder what you are doing every time you walk out the door. A loyal man is very sexy. It all goes back to not wanting anyone else but one woman.

Women love a man with a plan. We love ambition.

We like men who know who they are, what we’re doing tonight and what we’re doing with our lives. We don’t want indecisive men, don’t shrug your shoulders and say whatever you want to do. That drives most women crazy. Sweep us off our feet and surprise us.

Women want generous men.

This doesn’t mean gifts necessarily, though gifts are nice. We want a man that is willing to give to others. It could be your time to a good cause or helping someone in need. But again I will say gifts are nice every once in awhile, it says you were thinking about us.

Be a true friend.

We need friendship, in fact we crave it. If we don’t feel the closeness of being friends we feel the relationship is fractured. Be there rather than just promise to be there. Constant committed positive action is the definition of love. We need to be able to depend on you.

Women want to be loved, despite their flaws, and need to be satisfied mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as much as physically.

Women need to feel connected to the love of their life. If we don’t feel that connection the whole relationship is off. Sexually speaking women define sex differently than men, using words like soft candlelight, light touch, then becoming more aggressive as their mood arises to the occasion.

Women appreciate a man that is creative.

It’s easy to buy flowers but it is the little things you do for us that are so important. The little notes you leave us, or the sweet little text we get in the middle of the day letting us know you are thinking about us. We thrive on the little things you do especially for us. Put it this way if you think it is corny and stupid we will probably love it.

Women want a sense of security.

We want to know you will always be there in our time of need. We want to know you will still be there if we get sick or when we get old or flabby. We feel secure when your there to support us emotionally and physically.

To sum it up.

Ok now to give you the true reason for this blog. Does any of this sound familiar to any of you romance writers? These are the qualities we write into our hero’s. (Confidence, only wants one woman, sense of humor, listens well, makes heroine feel like the sexiest woman alive, loyal, has a plan, generous, friendship, creative, gives sense of security.) We write what we want in a man. Creating a hero that is every woman’s dream. We supply the fantasy, the gorgeous hunk with all the right moves. It’s funny how we do this without even thinking about it. I don’t sit around and say I want my hero to be all these things. It just happens. It is in our nature as a woman to want these things. These things are the basis for a great hero. Women have to be drawn into the story to keep reading. As writers we have to supply them with this perfect man. They expect to be swept off their feet and indulge in the fantasy.

Happy Reading and Writing,

Tabitha Blake

Things I Wished I Knew Before I Started My First Novel


When I started writing I had no clue what I was doing. Writing by the seat of my pants was my method. If you can write this way and don’t write yourself into a hole, that’s great, but for me it just turned into a ton of rewrites. I was constantly going back and fixing things. The reality and stress of being a panster was overwhelming. So I learned the hard way, writing takes planning and you have to learn the rules that go along with it. So here are some of the things I learned, the hard way.

Plan Your Book Out

Some writer’s think an outline boxes them in and I thought the same thing. I was just going to write it as it came to me. After awhile I would hit a brick wall and think why did my character do this? What was going to happen next and so on? It became exhausting. I have realized an outline is very important. It gives you guidance and yes sometimes things will not always follow the outline. But you know where you want the story to go. I am currently planning my next book; it will be planned out completely before I start to write. I also find a character chart helps tremendously.

Plan your book- http://www.ehow.com/how_2308086_plan-novel.html

Character chart- http://www.epiguide.com/ep101/writing/charchart.html

Know The Rules

The first draft of my book was a mess. I had no clue what POV was or shows don’t tell. There are many rules in writing but these are the most important. Head hopping ran amuck in the first few chapters of my novel. I wanted everyone’s POV in the story, when I was told I couldn’t do this, I was lost. How do I get the other characters thoughts and feelings across to the reader? That’s when I realized dialogue and actions are a big part of relaying their thoughts and feelings to the reader. Now I am able to express my characters feelings without head hopping. I still make mistakes but I am more aware now than before.

POV- http://www.absolutewrite.com/novels/what_pov.htm

Show vs. tell, was a hard one too. I wanted to tell the reader what everyone in my book was feeling and seeing. This rule went right over my head. If I don’t tell the reader, how will they know? But it makes sense. Do you want me to tell you how beautiful something is or describe it? When you paint a picture for the reader they are drawn into your story. They want to see it in their minds vividly. It brings the story to life. We have to convey to the reader what we want them to see.

Show vs. Tell- http://www.bookhooks.com/showdonttell.pdf

Know What You Write

Research is key in writing a book. Some novels need more than others. Remember there is always someone that will notice if you don’t have your facts straight. I write paranormal so in this case you have more freedom but if you are writing a historical for example research it and know what your talking about.

Know what you write- http://ezinearticles.com/?Writing-101:-Research-that-Novel&id=174634

These are just some of the major things I have learned. There are many rules to learn and live by. I decided to take a writing class that has help tremendously; I do recommend this to new writers. I wish I had taken the class before I started writing. But we all live and learn, unfortunately I do everything the hard way. Hope this helps and if nothing else you realize all writers go through this and we all started somewhere.  I’ll leave you with, common mistakes new writers make. Hang in there and keep writing.

Common mistakes of a new writer-http://foremostpress.com/authors/articles/mistakes_beginners.html

Happy Reading and Writing,

Tabitha Blake

To Read For Better Or Worse


Well this week I broadened my horizons and did my first beta-read. I had never done one before so I had to take a crash course in beta reading. I have done my fair share of crits but needed to know exactly what is expected from a beta-reader. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process. I do have to give credit where credit is due and say it was an easy read. Afterwards I spoke with the author about the questions and concerns I had. She was very responsive and I was able to point out things she hadn’t noticed. We discussed what actions would help get rid of some of the wholes and things left unresolved. All and all this was a great experience I would definitely do again. So I thought I would give a little crash course on beta reading. Lets start with what a beta reader is and go from there.

Beta Reader:

Is a person who reads a written work, generally fiction, with what has been described as “a critical eye, with the aim of improving grammar, spelling, characterization, and general story prior to it’s release to the general public.”

Why Do Authors Need A Beta-Reader:

A beta-reader is your editor, proofreader and sounding board for ideas. Yeah you have spell check and grammar checkers but a beta-reader goes beyond that. A good beta-reader can point out if your plot has more holes than Swiss cheese. They can tell you if you are using a fanfic cliché, look at technical details like over use of certain words. They can also be your cheerleading section and provide encouragement when you have writers block. Writers with beta-readers will almost always turn out better stories.

What Should A Beta-Reader Expect From The Author:

1: The author to incorporate some changes. Notice I said some.

2: You should expect a thank you note or a thank you in the intro of the book. But this all depends on how much work you put into the project.

3: You should expect to talk to the author. They may have questions about your comments.

4: You should expect the author to tell you their expectations on what you are about to do. If they don’t tell you, ask. You want to be on the same page.

What Should An Author Expect From A Beta-Reader:

1: Communication is key. If you don’t tell your beta-reader what you want, you may not get it. Communicate; it will save you a lot of exasperation and time in the end.

2: You should expect your beta-reader to take your story seriously.

3: You should expect them to be thorough. They shouldn’t just give it a pass and only make one or two comments. They should try and catch as many errors as possible.

4: You shouldn’t expect your beta-reader to find every single mistake. They may miss something. After all we are only human.

5: You shouldn’t expect your beta-reader to comment on things outside of their expertise. If they don’t have the best grammar skills, don’t expect them to catch these errors. Instead, they could look for plot holes, characterization issues and loose ends.

6: Expect your beta-reader to complete the read in a timely manner. Discuss this and come to terms about what time frame you expect.

7: Do expect your beta-reader to be honest. The honesty will help strengthen your work.

8: Do expect some opinions to creep in. Remember opinions are just that opinions. This is where the author makes a judgment call.

9: Expect things to be said about what your beta-reader liked. They should let you know what they think works in the story. That way you don’t loose the good stuff in the editing process.

So now that you know what a beta reader is, here are some tips for being a good beta reader.

Tips For The Beta-Reader:

1: Be specific. Point out the exact spot where things don’t work, not just vague generalities.

2: Make suggestions (Which are free to be ignored) as to how the problem can be solved.

3: Point out the good bits too. You need to point out you favorite part not just for encouragement but so the author doesn’t end up losing the really great parts in the editing process.

Tips For The Author:

1: Thank your beta reader even if what they said wasn’t helpful. They took time out to read your story and for that they should be thanked.

2: Remember what your beta reader said is only an opinion and isn’t gospel. This is your story and you have the final say. On the other hand listen to your beta reader, because what was the point if you won’t take the time to listen.

3: If a suggestion is made you don’t agree with then explain why. It may be that when you explain your reasoning, or the intent, you may be able to figure out between you something that works for you both.

Never take on the role of beta-reader lightly, it is a big project and requires a lot of time. This isn’t nightly reading. It’s very important to the author, you are the first person to look at their story and give them feed back on their work. You are the person that will help them fix all the holes in the story and show them things the may not have noticed.

Authors remember to listen to your beta-reader; they have put a lot of time and effort into reading and trying to help you. Remember to be open to their thoughts, should you change everything they bring to your attention? No, but a good beta-reader can make a great story even better. Talk to them and bounce ideas off them. After all two minds are always better than one.

I recently had a criter advise me to change the POV of one of my chapters and at first I was skeptical. But it took my chapter to new levels, it reads better and is so much more interesting now.

I hope this helped to explain the process of beta reading and the roles the beta-reader and author play in the process.

Happy Reading And Writing.

Tabitha Blake

A Little Positive Push For The Rough Times


Follow Your Dreams

“Love never fails; character never quits; and with patience and persistence; dreams do come true.”

Pete Maravich

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genus will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of unrewarded derelicts. Persistence and determination are omnipotent.”

Calvin Coolidge

“Always chase your dreams instead of running from your fears.”

Author Unknown

“Dreams are extremely important. You can’t do it unless you imagine it.”

George Lucas

“Some people dream of success…while others wake up and work hard at it.”

Author Unknown

“Success starts with a dream, a thought; but that’s only the first step. Writing it down is the second step. Doing specific things to bring it about is the third step.”

Author Unknown

“Keep away from people who belittle your dreams. Small people always do that. But the really great ones make you feel that you too, can become great.”

Mark Twain

“Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm.”

Winston Churchill

“Believe in love. Believe in magic. Hell, believe in Santa Claus. Believe in others. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. If you don’t, who will?”

Jon Bon Jovi

How To Overcome Your Short Comings

“Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.”

Og Mandino

“The person interested in success has to learn to view failure as a healthy, inevitable part of the process of getting to the top.”

Dr. Joyce Brothers

“So long as there is a breath in me, that long I will persist. For now I know one of the greatest principles of success. If I persist long enough I will win.”

Og Mandino

“Yes you can be a dreamer and a doer too, if you remove one word from your vocabulary: impossible.”

Robert Schuller

“People can succeed at almost anything for which they have unlimited enthusiasm.”

Samuel Goldwyn

“Some men succeed because they are destined to, but most men succeed because they are determined to.”

Greame Clegg

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no help at all.”

Dale Carnegie

The Courage To Push On

“Anything I’ve ever done that ultimately was worthwhile…initially scared me to death.”

Betty Bender

“Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.”

Edward Vernon Rickenbacker

“Courage is being scared to death…and saddling up anyway.”

John Wayne

Philosophies

“Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing. They are the ones who discover what is most important and strangest and most pleasurable in themselves, and keep believing in the value of their work, despite the difficulties.”

Bonnie Friedman

“If you’re going to be a writer, the first essential is to write. Do not wait for an idea. Start writing something and the ideas will come to you. You have to turn the faucet on before the water starts to flow.”

Louis L’Amour

“Put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth. Without pity, and destroy most of it.”

Collette

“Books aren’t written, they’re rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it…”

Michael Crichton

“To write something, you have to risk making a fool of yourself.”

Anne Rice

“Hard writing makes easy reading. Easy writing makes hard reading.”

William Zinsser

“The faster I write the better my output. If I’m going slow I’m in trouble. It means I’m pushing the words instead of being pulled by them.”

Raymond Chandler

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”

Ray Bradbury

“My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.”

Ernest Hemingway

“What I like in a good writer isn’t what they say, but what they whisper.”

Logan Pearsall Smith

“But for any writer worthy of the name there are moments during the writing process, when the rest of the world goes to Venus. And those moments aren’t for sale.”

Author Unknown

“I discovered that rejections are not altogether a bad thing. They teach a writer to rely on his own judgment and to say in his heart of hearts, To hell with you.”

Saul Bellows

“An original writer is not one who imitates nobody, but one whom nobody can imitate.”

Francois Rene De Chateaubriand

Just For Laughs

“People think that I must be a very strange person. This is not correct. I have the heart of a small boy. It is in a glass jar on my desk.”

Stephen King

“Writers aren’t exactly people, they’re a whole lot of people trying to be one person.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald

“The most essential gift for a writer is a built-in, shockproof shit detector. This is the writers radar and all great writers have had it.”

Ernest Hemingway

“My own experience is once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying…one must ruthlessly suppress everything that is not concerned with the subject. If, in the first chapter, you say there is a gun hanging on the wall, you should make quite sure that it is going to be used further on in the story.”

Anton Checkhov

“It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give up because by that time I was too famous.”

Robert Benchley

“Asking a writer what he thinks about criticism is like asking a lamppost what it feels about dogs.”

John Osborne

“Writers are a little below the clowns and a little above the trained seals.”

John Steinbeck

“Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning; I wanted to know what I was going to say.”

Sharon O’Brian

“Many people hear voices when no-one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and the so pretty much the same thing.”

Alfred Krazin

“Nature, when she invented, manufactured, and patented her authors, contrived to make critics of the chips that were left.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes

I hope you enjoyed these inspirational quotes as much as I did. It’s nice to get a little boost in trying times. All writers go through tough times, as you could see from some of the very big author’s quotes. Keep your heads up and believe in yourself. If you don’t, who will?

Happy reading and writing.

Tabitha Blake

The Dreaded Wait


     I finally took the plunge and put myself out there in the publishing world. I few months ago I wrote a short story for the writing class I am currently taking. My instructor loved it and praised me on how heart felt the story was. So I figured I would see what my crit partners thought. They all encouraged me to try and get it published. I worked with my crit partners to get it as polished a possible. Excitement over the reaction to my story gave me the strength to try my hand in the publishing world.

     I was overjoyed and my confidence was huge. I knew I could do this and my worry of the dreaded no was nowhere to be found. I had to wait two weeks before I could submit. I counted down the days. Everyday that passed was one more day closer to my dream of being able to say I’d had one of my stories published. It was all I could think about.

     Then the day came to submit my story and doubt crept in. It was a foreboding feeling I wasn’t expecting. I found myself procrastinating. I was doing everything I could to find a reason to do it later. All that excitement was no where to be found. Only the evil little voice, “What are you going to do if they say no? You will have to tell everyone and feel the shame of failing.”

     Finally I went to my computer and opened the Glimmer Train website and stared at the screen. This was it. This was my big moment. I reached deep down for the strength I needed to open myself to the dreaded no. I downloaded my story and paused as I reached for the mouse to hit the submit button. I looked over, my hand was shaking and my heart was racing. With a deep breath I hit the little red button that would leave me open to defeat.

     I have encouraged many a crit partner not to worry. They would be fine. I’ve told them I believe in you and your writing. But here I sat with no faith in myself. Now I realize, telling another writers not to worry is easier said than done. It’s a really weird feeling to be able to believe in others but not in yourself.

     Now the really hard part is set in motion. The waiting and wondering. I asked some of my published writing friends how they deal with the waiting. I was hoping for a miracle cure. Take two aspirin and call me when you’ve made a decision. Yeah right. But there isn’t one, you just have to keep busy and carry on. Here are some quotes from published authors I crit with.

    

“Write another story. And for God’s sake don’t sit on your e-mail like a lost puppy. *easier said than done”

Catherine Bybee

 “There is a terrible, hollow dread after submitting, an uneasy anticipatory void. The trick is to fill it as quickly and completely as you can. Count on rejections. Scout the terrain. Find your next victim, er, potential publisher. And for the gods’ sakes, work on your next project while you wait.”

Angel Martinez

“I write. Nothing gets your mind off the numbing fear of submissions better than engrossing yourself in the next story. (Or the editing of another completed story.)”

April Dawn
Crushing Desire and Bound by Love

“Keep writing.”

Annie Nicholas

 Happy Reading and Writing.

 

Tabitha Blake

 

What Women Really Mean


     Last week I did, What Men Really Mean. This week it’s our turn ladies. Turn about is fair play. If we can dish it we have to be able to take it too. I hate to admit it but a lot of it rings true. We wonder why men don’t understand us. We can be hard to read. Hope you roll on the floor laughing.

FINE

This is the word women use to end an argument when they feel they are right and you need to shut up……………. Never use “fine” to describe how a woman looks – this will cause you to have one of those arguments.

FIVE MINUTES

This is half an hour. It is equivalent to the five minutes that your football game is going to last before you take out the trash, so it’s an even trade.

NOTHING

This means “something,” and you should be on your toes. “Nothing” is usually used to describe the feeling a woman has of wanting to turn you inside out, upside down, and backwards. “Nothing” usually signifies an argument that will last “Five Minutes” and end with “Fine”

GO AHEAD (With Raised Eyebrows)

This is a dare. One that will result in a woman getting upset over “Nothing” and will end with the word “Fine”

GO AHEAD (Normal Eyebrows)

This means “I give up” or “do what you want because I don’t care” You will get a “Raised Eyebrow Go Ahead” in just a few minutes, followed by “Nothing” and “Fine” and she will talk to you in about “Five Minutes” when she cools off.

LOUD SIGH

This is not actually a word, but is a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A “Loud Sigh” means she thinks you are an idiot at that moment, and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you over “Nothing”

SOFT SIGH

Again, not a word, but a non-verbal statement. “Soft Sighs” mean that she is content. Your best bet is to not move or breathe, and she will stay content.

THAT’S OKAY

This is one of the most dangerous statements that a woman can make to a man. “That’s Okay” means that she wants to think long and hard before paying you back for whatever it is that you have done. “That’s Okay” is often used with the word “Fine” and in conjunction with a “Raised Eyebrow.”

GO AHEAD!

At some point in the near future, you are going to be in some mighty big trouble.

PLEASE DO

This is not a statement, it is an offer. A woman is giving you the chance to come up with whatever excuse or reason you have for doing whatever it is that you have done. You have a fair chance with the truth, so be careful and you shouldn’t get a “That’s Okay”

THANKS

A woman is thanking you. Do not faint. Just say you’re welcome.

THANKS A LOT

This is much different from “Thanks.” A woman will say, “Thanks A Lot” when she is really ticked off at you. It signifies that you have offended her in some callous way, and will be followed by the “Loud Sigh.” Be careful not to ask what is wrong after the “Loud Sigh,” as she will only tell you “Nothing”.

     I hope you enjoyed it. I wanted to do something a little light hearted. Sometimes it’s good to laugh and just have some fun.

Happy Reading and Writing

Tabitha Blake

What Men Really Mean


     This week I thought it would be fun to talk about what men really mean when they tell us things. I found some really funny thoughts on this subject online and thought I would share them. They aren’t intended to be derogatory. They are just funny. But I have to say some of them are so true. Hope you enjoy them and laugh.

1.“I’m going fishing.”

Really means…

“I’m going to drink myself dangerously stupid and stand by a stream with a stick in my hand, while the fish swim by in complete safety.”

2.”It’s a guy thing.”

Really means….

“There is no rational thought pattern connected with it, and you have no chance at all of making it logical.”

3.”Can I help with dinner?”

Really means….

“Why isn’t it already on the table?”

4.”Uh huh,” “Sure, honey,” or “Yes, dear.”

Really means….

Absolutely nothing. It’s a conditioned response.

5.”It would take too long to explain.”

Really means…

“I have no idea how it works.”

6.”I’m getting more exercise lately.”

Really means….

“The batteries in the remote are dead.”

7.”We’re going to be late.”

Really means….

“Now I have a legitimate excuse to drive like a maniac.”

8.”I was listening to you. It’s just that I have things on my mind.”

Really means….

“I was wondering if that red-head over there is wearing a bra.”

9.”Take a break, honey, you’re working too hard.”

Really means….

“I can’t hear the game over the vacuum cleaner.”

10.”That’s interesting, dear.”

Really means….

“Are you still talking?”

11.”Honey, we don’t need material things to prove our love.”

Really means….

“I forgot our anniversary again.”

12.”You expect too much of me.”

Really means….

“You want me to stay awake.”

13.”It’s a really good movie.”

Really means….

“It’s got guns, knives, fast cars, and Heather Locklear.”

14.”That’s women’s work.”

Really means….

“It’s difficult, dirty, and thankless.”

15.”Will you marry me?”

Really means….

“Both my roommates have moved out, I can’t find the washer, and there is no more peanut butter.”

16.”You know how bad my memory is.”

Really means….

“I remember the theme song to ‘F Troop’, the address of the first girl I ever kissed and the Vehicle Identification Numbers of every car I’ve ever owned, but I forgot your birthday.”

17.”I was just thinking about you, and got you these roses.”

Really means….

“The girl selling them on the corner was a real babe.”

18.”Oh, don’t fuss. I just cut myself, it’s no big deal.”

Really means….

“I have severed a limb, but will bleed to death before I admit I’m hurt.”

19.”I do help around the house.”

Really means….

“I once put a dirty towel in the laundry basket.”

20.”Hey, I’ve got my reasons for what I’m doing.”

Really means….

“I sure hope I think of some reasons pretty soon.”

21.”I can’t find it.”

Really means….

“It didn’t fall into my outstretched hands, so I’m completely clueless.”

22.”What did I do this time?”

Really means….

“What did you catch me doing?”

23.”She’s one of those rabid feminists.”

Really means….

“She refused to make my coffee.”

24.”I heard you.”

Really means….

“I haven’t the foggiest clue what you just said, and am hoping desperately that I can fake it well enough so that you don’t spend the next 3 days yelling at me.”

25.”You know I could never love anyone else.”

Really means….

“I am used to the way you yell at me, and realize it could be worse.”

26.”You look terrific.”

Really means….

“Oh, God, please don’t try on one more outfit. I’m starving.”

27.”I brought you a present.”

Really means….

“It was free ice scraper night at the ball game.”

28.”I missed you.”

Really means….

“I can’t find my sock drawer, the kids are hungry and we are out of toilet paper.”

29.”I’m not lost. I know exactly where we are.”

Really means….

“I’m lost. I have no idea where we are, and no one will ever see us alive again.”

30.”We share the housework.”

Really means….

“I make the messes, you clean them up.”

31.”This relationship is getting too serious.”

Really means….

“You’re cutting into the time I spend with my truck.”

32.”I don’t need to read the instructions.”

Really means….

“I am perfectly capable of screwing it up without printed help.”

33.”I’ll fix the garbage disposal later.”

Really means….

“If I wait long enough you’ll get frustrated and buy a new one.”

34.”I broke up with her.”

Really means….

“She dumped me.”

     I think communication is key in a relationship. Do I think any of these will help you? No not really but sometimes it’s just fun to laugh.  Laughter is the best medicine. Ok next week it is our turn ladies. What we really mean when we talk to our men. Hope to see you next week for another big laugh.

Happy Reading and Writing

Tabitha Blake

Overwhelmed


     Ever feel like you just don’t have enough hours in the day to accomplish the never ending list of things you need to do. I know this feeling well. I use to get up and become so over whelmed with all the things I needed to do that I got nothing done. It lead to a lot of wasted days.

     I would get up with good intensions to get things done. But when I would sit at my computer it all seemed to scream at me. I needed to do crits, write, blog, get school work done and apply crits to my work. Not to mention the everyday thing that needed to get done. So I would sit and try to pick one thing to do but the other things kept getting in the way. If I was writing I kept thinking I need to do crits. If I was doing crits I kept thinking I need to write a story for school. I would get so frustrated I would quit and leave it all for the next day.

     The problem with putting it off was I would get so behind I’d become stressed and not sure where to start. This seemed like a never ending and gut wrenching cycle for me. As a writer you really have to be able to use your time wisely. So I sat and thought how can I fix this? I knew it had to come to an end.

     The thing I came up with was putting myself on a schedule. It was amazing.  All of a sudden I was getting things done and even had spare time. Wow! I couldn’t believe something so simple could make such a difference. I get up knowing what my day consists of. I can push aside other tasks because I know they have a day all to themselves to be done.

     My schedule is very simple but has lifted a great weight off my shoulders. This is my weekly schedule.

     Mon.: Blog

     Tues.: Crits

     Wed.: Chapters for my WIP

     Thur.: School

      Fri.: Apply crits to my work

     It’s really worked for me. I find, I can get things done and sometimes even start on what I need to do the next day. Or just take the rest of the day off without feeling guilty about it. It has really eased my mind. I know this may not work for everyone, but I think we all have a certain way we do things. I would love to hear what works for you. Do you do better on a schedule or flying by the seat of your pants? It doesn’t really matter what works for you. The important thing is it works.

Happy Reading and Writing,

Tabitha Blake

Writing In The Shadows


     Ok, bear with me here. I’m going to rant a little about something that’s been on my mind a lot lately. Why as romance writers are we looked down upon? You know you tell a friend you are writing a book and they ask what it’s about. All of a sudden you want to run for the hills. The looks and the comments. “Oh you write those kinds of books.” Most people see romance novels as trash and not worth the paper they are written on. I think it is a very sad point of view on the genre. We get a bad rap.

     The funny thing is romance novels are selling even when sales of other genres are down. This is what Harlequin had to say.

     Harlequin Enterprises, the queen of the romance world, reported that fourth-quarter earnings were up 32 percent over the same period a year earlier, and Donna Hayes, Harlequin’s chief executive, said that sales in the first quarter of this year remained very strong. While sales of adult fiction overall were basically flat last year, according to Nielsen Bookscan, which tracks about 70 percent of retail sales, the romance category was up 7 percent after holding fairly steady for the previous four years.

     At Barnes & Noble, the country’s largest book chain, where its chief financial officer, Joe Lombardi, recently warned that overall 2009 sales were likely to fall between 4 percent and 6 percent, sales of romance novels are up. And in the first three months of this year Nielsen Bookscan tracked a 2.4 percent rise in romance sales compared with a slight decline in sales of general adult fiction for the same period.

    While people may be hiding their choice of books in shame, their still buying them. I really don’t understand the taboo that is following romance readers and writers. Romance writers are just as talented as their fellow writers in other genres. But because our books are centered around romance we don’t measure up to the writers of other fiction genres, even though we are in the top sales and stay on a steady incline.

     Who are the readers of our romantic fiction? Well Romance Writers of America said this.

     Average reader being forty years of age. Sixty three percent are married. Fifty two percent work outside the home. Twenty two percent work in the home and eighteen percent are retired. Also the average reader is very well educated. Fifty six percent of current readers attended or graduated college. Forty three percent for the average U.S. woman. You won’t be surprised to learn that reading is their primary leasure activity.

     To me this says the women that read our books are hard working, educated and need an escape from the stress of their everyday lives. As romance writers we supply them with that fantasy. With so many genres in romance, we can pretty much appeal to anyone’s taste. Whether it’s suspence, paranormal, historical, contemporary and many more in just about any flavor you can think of. Romance novels range from sweet to hot and steamy. The thing about todays romance is women can relate to the characters. The heroins in modern romances are strong and know what they want. Their not the inocent please don’t hurt me types they use to be. I think this has made a big difference because the modern woman has changed so much, we work, raise our kids on our own and are much stronger than we used to be.

     Personally I am very proud of my hard work and accomplishments. I’m lucky enough to have friends and family that support me in all my efforts and love my writing. It’s a true blessing for people to believe in your dream. I refuse to hold my head down in shame. I work just as hard as any other author and write stories about love and triumph. How can you go wrong with love. If we had more love in this world it might be a better place. I encourage all romance writers and readers to hold your heads up and be proud. There shouldn’t be any shame in the fact that you enjoy reading or writing about two people who love each other dearly and would go to the end of the world for each other.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Happy reading and writing.

Tabitha Blake

Character Inspiration


     Writing ideas come from the strangest places. I have heard writers tell me they had a dream or even a person just popped into their head out of nowhere, and they were inspired to write their story. One thing I know for certain, writers are a strange bunch. We can weave the most extravagant tales from nothing. And yes we hear voices. LOL Ok most would say that’s a mental disorder but it’s not for a writer. That’s how we get in touch with our characters and take them from an idea to the characters you know and love dearly. So let’s take a ride through the mind of a writer, Watch out this might be a little scary. HeeHee.

     Let’s start with character. The characters in a book are the backbone, they are what holds the story together. Finding your characters is the first thing you must do before you start writing. Where do you find them? Characters can come from anywhere. Mine usually start in my head. I think about what I plan to write, not the whole story just a general idea. That helps me to think about my characters, what they will face and what kind of characters I need. Do they need to be strong, helpless, sweet, evil? Ok now you know the type of personality you need. Once I do this it helps me picture them in my mind. If you are writing about the girl next door, I can almost bet she won’t be a tall red head with a voluptuous figure. She will look like the average person. So for me personality plays a big part in who my characters are and what they look like.

     My alpha male in A Vamp To Remember is tall, dark and handsome. Sounds typical right? Well this is where you make them just a little different. Zan is over six feet tall, has long black hair with metallic silver streaks and his eyes are dark almost black with silver encircling them. This is what I mean when I say make them just a little different. You don’t have to take drastic measures just give them something that makes them stand out in a crowd. His eyes alone would do that for me as a reader. I write paranormal and the characters in this genre can get pretty bizarre at times, so remember to give them something that connects them to the reader. They have to be believable. It can be as simple as the big bad monster that falls in love and shows a tender side to the woman who has tamed the savage beast.

     Now you have a general idea. Let’s take it a little further. I like to look for pictures of my characters and hang them in front of me while I write. It really makes my characters come to life. It’s amazing you look at pictures and think nope not him. Then suddenly you find the one you have been looking for. That’s when you realize you knew what he looked like all along. This really helps me connect with my characters on a deeper level. I know you are thinking a picture come on, but you would be shocked how inspiring a picture can be.  I find myself staring at them and wonder what next? Sometimes they answer and sometimes they just stare back. LOL

     We talked a little about their personality. Let’s talk about really getting to know your characters. How do you do that? The best place to start is a character chart. It will ask your characters questions you never thought to ask. What are their likes and dislikes? Goals and hopes? Fears? Motivation?  These are just a few, there are too many to list. I will give you a link to a good character chart at the end of the blog. You won’t need to use all the questions asked on a character chart but they are handy to have around. They are helpful when you need a personality trait or description. It’s also helpful if you are in the middle of a chapter and you forget his eye color. LOL Yes it happens to the best of us.

     Most writers form a bond with their characters. I know it sounds weird but this is the case with me. I grow very close to my characters. I have had writers even tell me they felt a loss when a story came to an end. They become real in a writer’s mind. But I think you have to form this bond in order for the characters to come across as real to the reader. If you force characters you don’t believe in they will come across as forced. Then the story just falls flat. You need to feel the characters are close friends in order for them to intrigue the reader and tug at their emotions. If the reader loves your characters the odds are they will love the story as well.

     Characters can be found everywhere. All you have to do is open your eyes and look around. They are the people you see in the grocery store, the mall, at work or passing you on the street. Inspiration comes when we open our eyes to the real world and watch others at a distance. Watch the way people act, move and talk. It really is amazing what we miss as we go about our daily lives. Open your eyes to inspiration it’s all around you.

     I would love to hear where you find inspiration for your characters.

Character Chart:

http://www.charlottedillon.com/CharacterChart.html

In my head I hear voices screaming to be heard. So I write their stories. My characters speak to me and lead me through their joys and sorrows.
Tabitha Blake

Sensual Romance Verses Erotic Romance (This blog is intended for readers 18 and older. Strong language.)


     What is the difference you ask? Well, there is a fine line that can be drawn between the two. It’s not just about the sex and the way it is presented because both types of romances write it and write it well. The biggest difference I see is what drives the story line. Romance thrives on love and erotica thrives on sex. You take a romance minus love it’s no longer a romance. You take an erotic romance minus the sex it’s no longer an erotic romance. Let’s talk about what makes these two writing styles so different and the things that can cross over to make them similar.

     The dictation between sensual romance and erotic romance are two very different types of words. Sensual romance in many cases uses the tame terminology romance has used since the beginning. Tame meaning euphemisms. Euphemisms-The act or an example of substituting a mild, indirect, or vague term for one considered harsh, blunt, or offensive.  Here are a few examples of words used in romance to describe a sex scene. (cock, center, sheath, thrusting, pumping, bundle of nerves)

     Now let’s talk about the erotic romance. Erotic romance takes the words people use today and waves them proudly for all to see. Modern/urban colloquial terms are the cornerstone of erotic romance. Colloquial- characteristic of or appropriate to ordinary or familiar conversation rather than formal speech or writing; informal. Here are a few examples of words used in erotic romance to describe a sex scene. (Cock, dick, cunt, pussy, twat, fucking)

     There is a wide range between the two. Sensual romance tries to stay on the subtle side while erotic romance tends to go full force, no holds barred. Sensual romance is the equivalent of an R rating, while erotic romance is the equivalent of an X rating.

     Let’s talk about what makes a good sensual romance novel. The pieces that must be there in order for a reader to walk away saddened that they reached the end. Plot and characterization are key, in a great sensual romance. You want the reader to believe in your characters and their situations. If they don’t the whole novel is a lost cause. The reader needs to believe these people could actually fall in love. You can’t have a romance without LOVE. Love is the backbone of every good romance. Without love it’s no longer a romance. You can have a romance novel with no sex but you can’t have one with no love. In romance the relationship drives the story. It’s all about the happily ever after when writing or reading romance.

    Now let’s talk about what makes a good erotic romance. Even though sex is a key factor in erotic romance and you can’t have erotica without it. The sex isn’t just about adding as many hot, juicy, steamy scenes as you can. You have to think about the big picture. What about the characters? Is the sex true to the characters you created? Does it make sense for them to be having sex? You can’t take the sex lightly. In an erotic novel, you have to be serious about the sex. A good erotic novel should highlight the characters sexual journey. The idea of journey assumes character growth, movement, and the progress the characters make in the story. Ideally the sex will take the reader somewhere and move things along in the story. “Why the heck are they having sex again?” That isn’t good in an erotic novel.

     Here are some publishers of romance and erotic romance:

     Publishers of Sensual Romance

       Harlequin Presents

     Silhouette Desire

     Pocket Books

     Leisure Lovespell

     Publishers of Erotic Romance

     Wild Rose-Scarlet Rose

     Siren Publishing

     Amber Quill-Amber Heat

     Red Sage Publishing

     I think both take a lot of effort to write. They should both be treated with respect because these stories come to life in an authors mind. Writing in any form is an art. I think it all come down to your comfort level and what you are willing to accept. I love reading a wide range of genres whether they are sweet or hot and steamy . They all have a place in the publishing industry. I hope you all enjoyed my take on sensual romance versus erotic romance. You never know, if you’ve never read one, try it you might like it. I will close with what some fellow authors had to say bout this topic.

    I think the difference between erotic romance and traditional romance (aside from the obvious erotic like GBLT/BDSM) is that in an erotic romance the sex cannot be omitted. It is a major driving force between the main characters.
April Dawn

    The purpose of romance is to touch the reader’s heart and stir emotions. The purpose of erotica is to create sexual feelings in the reader; to turn them on.

Connie Chastain

Tabitha Blake