Thursday, February 11, 2010

Guest Blogger - Tawny Weber

I honestly can't remember the first time I met Tawny. It was probably online somewhere as we live across the country from each other. But I'll be the first one to say that she's one of the most friendly and helpful people I've ever met! I have to admit that the Blaze Babes rock and Tawny is definitely one of the main reasons that statement is true. So please scoot on over and make some room on the swing set for her. Welcome to the Playground, Tawny!

The Face of Fear

I remember a few years back – I’d just sold my first book and was over the moon!! I’d done it, sold! OMGOMGOMG YAY! It was like finally getting to dig my spoon into a huge, calorie-free hot fudge sundae with tons of whipped cream, strawberries and extra pecans. In other words, deliciously awesome. To add a bright shiny cherry on top of that hot fudge, I sold just a couple months before the RWA National conference. Where (see, this just keeps getting better and better, right?) I was invited to lunch with my editor.

No, this isn’t where the fear comes in – although I will admit to a certain degree of nervousness in that first lunch. If only over what angle I might find to best fit my foot in my mouth (that it’d happen was a given, the degree of pain is always up for grabs). But no fear. Yet.
Fast forward to lunch. Now – let’s be perfectly clear, my editor is fab. She’s so fun and easy to talk to, tops in what she does and has a way of telling you to do something you find absolutely terrifying, and making you think it’ll be easy.

Yep, that’s where the fear comes in. She suggested I give a workshop the following year at the National conference. Me. Stand up in front of people and talk. Intelligently (okay, I’ll admit, she didn’t specify intelligently. But it was implied!) Ack!!!
If my terror of public speaking isn’t coming through loud and clear, how’s this? In high school one class required an oral book report. To make up my failed grade since I planned to cut class that day, I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy – writing a report on all three books instead of the 100 page book required. I almost passed out when I went to class and discovered I still had to give the report. Luckily, the misery didn’t dim my adoration of LOTR *g*

So... a workshop. At National. Despite my fear. What’s a girl to do when faced with that suggestion but nod and say ‘sure.’ Then prepare like crazy. And you know what, that first workshop went pretty well. It wasn’t easy, but I had some killer advice (the best – seed the audience with friendly faces). And my editor was right, once I’d done one, the rest did get easier. Facing the fear took the edge off. Just this week, I gave my first all-by-myself Valentines talk to a non-writing women’s group. How’d it go? It rocked. And it reminded me that just a few years ago, the idea of this would have sent me hiding under the table at worst, or at best, headed straight for the bar to tequila up beforehand.

How about you? There are so many fears we face in this business, aren’t there? The blank page. A new story. The end. That first submission? Our first (or tenth) pitch appointment? Book signings, presentations, revision letters. Rejection letters, resubmissions, oh man, the list could go on and on, couldn’t it? But... we become stronger writers because we face those fears, right?

How about you? What fears have you made yourself face lately? Do you feel great about it? And speaking of fears, want a copy of my latest Blaze story? In it, the hero has to face some serious fears to overcome one whammy of a curse. YOU HAVE TO KISS A LOT OF FROGS is a part of the Blazing Bedtime Stories III anthology with the amazing Tori Carrington!! I’ll give away a copy to one random commenter, just as a thanks for keeping me company today :-)
And don't forget to visit Tawny at her website


Playground Monitor said...

Welcome to the Playground! I hope it isn't too cold for you today (23 degrees as I write this). Just dont' lick the flagpole. ::grin::

My life is changing in huge ways now and it's affected my writing. I'm having a "creative silence" as one of my friends would say. And I'm having to face the fear that the silence will never end.

Smarty Pants said...

Welcome, Tawny.

I'm hoping the second workshop is easier as I think I'm on the hook this summer at Nationals. We did one two years ago and it was nervewracking.

Instigator said...

Glad to have you back, Tawny! I'm in the same boat with SP. Did a workshop a couple weeks ago with Brenda. It went really well but the stress about killed me. Sat out last year but just found out I had a workshop approved for this year. I'm really excited about it though!


Problem Child said...

Hi Tawny and welcome!

Public speaking doesn't bother me. I guess after years of teaching, I figure any audience is friendlier than college freshmen...

Lunch with my editor -- big fear. Still. Three down and I'm still a blabbering basket case.

Angel said...

Welcome, Tawny!!! Always enjoy having another Castle fan in the house!

I used to be deathly afraid of public speaking, until I joined RWA. Actually, I'm still afraid (especially of saying something really stupid that I can't take back), but I don't get as nervous and avoid it like the plague. I started out small by speaking in our chapter meetings, then workshops, and have even spoken briefly in front of our luncheon. I do best when I'm telling people what to do... I mean, giving out instructions. :)

I actually heard you speak at nationals one year with Brenda and a couple of other authors. I can't remember what the subject was, but it must have been good for it to stand out in my mind. :)


Caroline Storer said...

Hi Tawny. Your book sounds hot! And as it freezing here just what I need to keep me warm! Take care. Caroline x

Tawny said...

First off, a huge thank you to Kira for the invitation to play today, as well as such a sweet introduction.

Thank you :-)

Tawny said...

LOL - no licking flagpoles? Oh the images that come to mind *beg*

I promise, I'll behave, though.

Marilyn, I just want to give you hugs for that fear. And think a lot of really 'loud' thoughts for you, that when the time is right, and you're in the right place that the silence not only end, but end in a great way :-)

Tawny said...

Fingers crossed, Smarty Pants (I love that moniker *g*) I do think they get easier -really!!! The nerves never quite disappear, but the confidence that you can live through it helps a TON!

When's your second workshop? If it's at Nationals, I'll stop in and wave :-)

Tawny said...

Workshops with Brenda are their own kind of stress, aren't they, Kira. She's just SO good at them, and tend to draw a huge crowd LOL

Congratulations on getting a workshop in this year! I'll have to come by :-) I'm giving one as well, and actually looking forward to it. Its nice to not get that sick feeling of dread at the idea any longer *g*

Tawny said...

Ooooh, yeah!!! The first year I had lunch with my editor, I was a mess. Ironically, that lunch was when she suggested the workshop LOL. Talk about layering nerves on top of nerves.

I think it takes awhile to realize that the editors, agents, people in the audience, or whatever it is we're fearing, are human and for the most part not only interested in us and what we have to say, but rooting for our success.

For the most part *g*

Tawny said...

WOOT!!!! Castle ROCKS!!!!!

;-) Hi Danniele, just give me a second to stop breathing heavy at the thought of Nathan Fillion. Whew, dude is HOT!!!

Okay, on track again :-) I hear you on those fears, and on how fab RWA is for providing opportunities to overcome them. And luckily, great opportunities to tell people what to do *g*

And WOW that you remember that workshop *g* That was my first... my virgin voyage into public speaking :-) Well, sorta. I actually got tagged to speak at the PRO retreat that same year and did it about an hour before that workshop LOL - nothing like getting it all out of the way on one afternoon!

Tawny said...

Caroline :-) Thank you!! It is definitely a hot story, and I give huge amounts of credit for that to the fact that the anthology is kicked off by Tori Carrington!!! Wow, talk about a fab story :-) I'm proud of mine, too, of course *g*

I hope you warm up soon!!!

Carla Capshaw said...

I was at that first workshop and you were awesome. A total natural. No one could tell you were even the tiniest bit nervous.

Hmmm...what makes me nervous about this business? Not making my deadline. That's enough to make me crazy.

Tawny said...

Oh, Carla - you speak words of intense fear *g* Not making a deadline terrifies me. And somehow, each book, there I am up against the deadline with hours to spare as I finish the story LOL.

I think I thrive on pressure *g*

and thank you so much for not only saying such nice things about the workshop, but for being there. You're the bestest!!

Mistiny said...

I believe our fears catch up to us. I always avoided public speaking and when I was trying to pass my state license exam, it was an oral exam. Needless to say I didn't do well. How I overcame it was I took a drama class and it did wonders! I look back on it and can say I overcame that obstacle.

Beth said...

Hey, Tawny and Playfriends!

Tawny, you rocked your first workshop *g*

And isn't it funny that Brenda pitched in at the first workshop I gave at National? Thank God for she and Kathleen Long (who also presented) were there or I would've been a complete wreck. Looks like I get to sit out this year but that's okay since it'll give me more time to attend all the other fabulous workshops :-)

Right now I'm facing the fear of writing something new (a paranormal YA). It isn't easy but it'll be worth it once this book is done *g*

Anonymous said...

First, I really must say, Tawny - you rock. Really. I'm not a typical Blaze fan but I randomly picked up one of your books a year or so ago and absolutely loved it. I credit you with me giving category romance another go.

As for fears- well, the blank page is starting to freak me out. Then there's the "am I working on the right project right now" fear, and the "when will I hear back from that contest about the completed ms" fear, and the "will all the judges/critique partners hate what I'm working on" fear... It's all about perseverance, right? And, yes, I do think it makes us better artists. After all, more life experience equals more for our works!

Great post, Tawny!

Helen said...

Hi Tawny

I do love your books and good on you for over coming your fears I too really don't like getting up and talking in front of people but when you have to do it you have to dot it. I always find that if I get up first and get it over and done with all is good.

Have Fun

Tawny said...

BETH!!!! Everyone, Beth rocks :-) She's like the super CP of the universe and my total inspiration.

Fun story - Beth and I were scheduled to give a workshop at last year's RWA conference and I had to back out. I'd just bought a house and it was closing the week of National (pout). So we begged the help from two totally awesome gals, Brenda Chin, who offered the editors perspective, and Kath Long, who pretended to be me (complete with smart alek commentary and killer shoes). And don't let Beth fool you, she did GREAT!!!

Just like she's gonna do great in this YA proposal :-D

Tawny said...

Mistiny, I hear you on the fears catching up with us. I believe we have a tendency to draw opportunities into our lives that will let us face those fears, but the more we sidestep them, the bigger and more demanding the opportunities get LOL.

Go you on using drama classes to overcome the fear of public speaking! Thats a fabulous tool, and so good on so many levels. My youngest daughter does a lot of drama classes and loves them.

Tawny said...

Ah man, Kimberly, you just made my day :-) Thank you so much for that!!! I'm so glad you're reading our books, because category definitely rocks!!! *g*

And oh baby, I understand those fears. The blank page, feedback, direction. They are all intense and can really cripple our progress if we let them. But facing them? Yep, like you said, it makes us stronger people and stronger writers.

Fingers crossed for great feedback coming your way :-)

Tawny said...

Helen :-D Hi there!! And thank you so much ;-)

You know, you're totally right on the 'first up to talk' method of battling fear. I remember that first workshop, I was the second speaker and while I thought I'd got a handle on the pre-fear, while Joanne was up talking first, I started having serious thoughts about passing out in someone's lap LOL.

So getting it out of the way is a huge help!!

chey said...

Hi Tawny,
I like your books! This story sounds great.
One of my biggest fears is public speaking too. I find that the worst part is the time I spend worrying about il.

gigi said...

Hi Tawny,
What a great topic. Like you I feared those oral book reports and speeches in school. Like you said the more you do the easier they get. Plus, I found that a little xanax doesn't hurt.

I will be facing a big fear of mine in a few weeks, my first time on a plane. I probably will pop a xanax to get me on the plane.

I have to tell you that I do enjoy your Blazes, Just yummy.

Tawny said...

Hi Chey and thanks so much for reading my books :-) I appreciate that!!!

I actually think I recall reading somewhere (no clue where, though) that public speaking is the number one fear. Bigger than the fear of spiders, even *g*

Paula R said...

Hey Tawny, just wanted to drop in and say hello. I already have this book, so you don't have to enter me into the drawing. I love the blog topic. One of the fears I had to face is that blank page you referenced in your question. Sometimes opening up a new document in word just stifles my thoughts and immobilizes my limbs and then all the doubt flow in. But, I have been able to breathe a littler easier each time I open a new page now. Now, the next stage in my fear is worrying about being able to continue writing a story that is cogent and exciting enough to produce some sort of emotion in others.

Kudos to you for breaking that fear for yourself. I am very glad about it because you got some skills lady. I hope you have fun hanging out in the playground today.

Peace and love,
Paula R.

Tawny said...

Gigi, thank you :-) And hey, I hear you on the chemical help. I know a few people who swear by it for both public speaking and, like you're about to face, fear of flying.

For long flights, I rely on my iPod, relaxation programs and a big ole pile of books :-D

Good luck with that flight, sending you smooth air thoughts :-D

WriterGirl said...

Hey there Tawny!!! Great post!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Waving to you, Tawny. I will back up the statement that you are one of the nicest, friendliest persons on earth. We've been playing together for many years and I adore you!!!

I did do something scary this week - I submitted my story to an editor who is looking for westerns. The hardest part were the few sentences that would "tempt her to read my ms." Taking the 5000 words out to meet the word count didn't bother me a bit - see how wacky I am!! But, of course, you already know that. :)

As always I send best wishes to you for selling lots and lots of copies of your wonderful stories.

Tawny said...

Hey there, Paula :-) I'm so glad that fear of the blank page is receding! Its a major roadblock, so you must be thrilled to see such progress. As to the storytelling, I have faith that you'll nail that one, too!!

Tawny said...

Hey there, WriterGirl *g*

Tawny said...

Aww, Paisley - big squishy hugs!! You're such a sweetie and I'm so proud of you for taking that huge step and facing the fear!

I'm crossing everything crossable for you to hear awesome news!! You definitely deserve it :-)

Linda Henderson said...

I've never been fond of public speaking. I'm not as bad as I used to be, but I still don't really enjoy it.

mariska said...

Hi Tawny :)

did you say FROGS ? 'I'm out of here' :)

i just don't want to see them leap !

Tawny said...

HI Linda. I can't say that given a choice of fun things to do that I'd ever pick public speaking over, oh, say curling up with a good book ;-) But yeah, its always good to know that if we have to do it, we can do it without fear, right?

Tawny said...

LOLOL Mariska... No Frogs leaped in the writing of this book!!!

Nope, this was more along the lines of a Blazey twist on that fairy tale, The Frog Prince. The hero is cursed, but instead of him turning into a frog, his manhood takes on tadpole proportions until the curse is lifted *g* I had so much fun writing this baby!!!