Things I Have Learned In My On Going Journey to Becoming a Published Author

Things I Have Learned In My On Going Journey to Becoming a Published Author

Hi I’m Tabitha Blake. The author of Soul Extraction (Paranormal Romantic Suspense due out in Feb.) Here is a little about my journey thus far.

Believe in Yourself and Your Dreams

You are the only one that can visualize and achieve your goals. If you don’t believe in yourself… who will? Nothing worth achieving is going to be easy. Everyone goes through that stage were they feel they want to throw their hands up and quit. But remember the feeling you had when you first started writing? The rush… the joy…  of the dream you held so close to your heart? Yeah that’s the one.

Keep that moment tucked away for the days when you feel doubt creeping in. Writing is a journey and everyone’s journey will be different. There truly is no wrong or right way to maneuver through the pitfalls every author has to endure.

You must stiffen your back, stand tall and push straight ahead. This is the one thing I find to be alike in all authors. We all have very tenacious personalities. Which can be a very good attribute. So hold strong and never lose sight of your passions in life. You may not get a second chance. It’s not about the right or wrong way. It is about doing it your way and conquering the beast.

Find a Good Support System

Sometimes the dream starts to crumble before your very eyes and doubt creeps into all the little cracks and crevices. But you have to pick up every brick and slowly piece the fragments of your vision into a beautiful masterpiece. Writing is a gift I believe we are born with. Surround yourself with others that are willing to be around to pick you up and dust you off if you fall. Hold onto these friends because they are worth their weight in gold.

I think if you could see doubt he would look like the Noid from dominos pizza. Bouncing around evil and googlie eyed refusing to give up. I’m showing my age. Some of you are scratching your head and wondering who the heck the Noid is… LOL!  Research…look it up. You will get a laugh out of it. He was one heck of a funny nuisance.

However, if you have good friends that support you then you can push doubt aside. He holds no place in my life or not intentionally anyway. I am blessed with a family that believes in my dream to be a published author as much as I do. They have been my rock. You may not have this type of support but don’t fret. The writing community is a very close-knit group.

Writing Buddies

Not everyone has the support of their family and friends. People seem to think writing is a pipe dream. Yeah I have heard all the whispers and sympathetic glares. I want to be an author it’s not like someone died. LOL!

So, what do you do now? You find other writers to be your support group. No one knows the joys and sorrows of the writing journey more than 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. This is the real support.

Family can’t touch the support of an author that has been in your shoes. I apologize to my wonderful family but take the last sentence with a grain of salt. My best friend Brenda is consoling my frantic alter ego Tabitha through my first deadline. Hang in there it gets easier she says. LOL! Not sure if that is true but it is something to hang on to for the time being.

Sometimes all it takes is a few kind words or a few cruel words to make or break an aspiring author. So next time just keep that in mind. How sad would it be to take the next Nora Roberts and crush her career before it even starts. It happens more than we know. Just remember we all started somewhere.

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 paranormal 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 not 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. So for go the lotion and toughen buttercup.

Join a Critique Group

Not all crit groups are created equal. But that all depends on what you are looking for as well. Some groups are more social and educate new authors on what is going on in the writing world and some are more technical and strictly do crits.

It took me a while to find the right one, but when you do it’s wonderful. I like a mixture of  social, learning and keeping up with the writing industry. 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. Oh those were the days. Reality check, it’s not that easy. But crit groups are a great place to learn the ropes. Take advantage of all the free advice you can get but remember to use good judgment as well. Not everyone knows what they are talking about. Step back and take notice of who the opinions are coming from. Just my two cents.

Receiving Critiques

This one was crushing 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. Rhino hide is  the new craze for authors now. You haven’t heard? Just ask any author and they will tell you and it will never go out of style. A tough skin is mandatory for all writers.

You also have to realize not everything a critter says will work for your story. Learning what works of your story and what doesn’t is your final decision. Not theirs.

Look the changes over then step back and decide how it affects your story. Will it drastically change your story? If so will it be for the better or does it twist it to the point you don’t recognize it? Both direction will probably work but what does your gut say? Always go with the little voice in your head. You’d be surprised how many times he is right and we just pretend we didn’t hear anything.

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. A good crit partner won’t get their feathers ruffled if you disagree with them. In fact I have had some of the best conversations over crits my crit partners have given me. You should be able to trust and respect your crit partners.

If a critter gets upset because you didn’t take all their advice and voices it then you need to find a new crit partner. They should respect you, your story and the decisions you make in the process. This is a big no…no… It’s time to get a new crit partner that is looking to grow with you and not lord over you. This is a sure way to break a new author. Authors are just very fragile in the beginning.

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. I tell my crit partners to send my ms back hemorrhaging.

One of my biggest pet peeves it when a critter rewrites my story. This is a huge red flag that it is time to move on. You are the only one that has the power to rewrite and change your book. No one writes like you and no one else ever will. Even if someone gives you an example be sure and change it to your voice. Example: You know when you see a line and think it would sound better reworded? Bingo!! That’s your voice. Yes we truly have different voices. I can’t stress this enough. I only push this so hard because I wished someone told me this when I first started out. It would have made my life so much easier.

There is a difference between honesty and being harsh and nasty. No need to crush someones dreams. Tell them what you liked about the story as well. A good crit partner will tell you the bad with the good. The whole story can’t be a disaster or lets hope not! Something has to be salvageable. Save the Cat, Dog and fish!! Authors will get that little inside joke. LOL!

Once you have critted with each other for a while this nice-nice stuff will pass. Then you and your partner will be able to just shoot each other advice. It takes time to truly trust a crit partner but when you find the right one its magic. And you don’t necessarily need a huge group of critters. Just a few great authors on the same writing level as you will do wonders. I would have given up long ago if it wasn’t for my amazing writer friends. You know who you are and I love you all!

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 that didn’t registering in my addled brain. Things like show don’t tell went right over my head. Show what? Don’t I need to tell the story? How do I show a story with word. Mind blown!!

However, when I took the class and saw examples of the wrong way and the right way everything fell into place. It was like a light went off and I could grasp all the rules that were just dangling in front of me all along. I encourage everyone just starting out to take a writing class. You can even take them online.

For a newbie it is just easier to take a class and save yourself the stress and discouragement of flying blind. Not to say my class was easy but I came away with a self-confidence I never thought I would have. The knowledge to know what the rules were… to respect them, but also the courage to know when to snap them right in half.  I took the TCU creative Writing Course. It is an amazing class. I would recommend it to any new writer. Take your dream one  step further. Throw caution to the wind and take bold steps to accomplish your dreams.

These are just my experiences on my ongoing journey to becoming a published author. 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 of us are willing to help a new writer and mentor them. They’re 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. Remember to never give up on your dream. If you don’t believe you can do it who will? Being an author isn’t a pipe dream. There is one thing all authors have in common and that is the will to preserver.

I would love to hear about your journey.

We all have something we can learn from each other. No matter where we are on this writing journey. So don’t think because you are new you don’t have any good advice to give even the most seasoned author. We all learn something new everyday.

Sometimes we are the student and sometimes we are the teacher but even a teacher can be pleasantly surprised when they learn something from their student. You are never to old to learn. Reach for your goals you don’t want to look back on your life with regret. Life is too short to settle for just a piece of the pie.

Happy Reading and Writing,

Tabitha Blake

Soul Extraction (Paranormal Romantic Suspense)

FBI Agent Lyric Van Buren is on the trail of a serial killer with a bizarre, ritualistic MO. Every body she sees haunts her nightmares and taunts her waking hours. Lyric is determined to bring the murderer to justice, but mortal justice alone will not do.

Craigen was cast down from Heaven for failing in his duty. Now he has been given a chance to make amends by serving as the hand of Judgment for the demon Nyx, whose excesses have aroused the attention and wrath of the mortal and heavenly realms alike. Lyric tests his resolve and his rekindled angelic capabilities to their breaking point, but he is determined he will not fail this time. Unfortunately for Craigen, even an angel’s heart is not immune to the allure of desire…but the price he and Lyric may pay for indulging could be no more or less than another human life.

Coming February 2016 from Semper Press.

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