What Are The Most Popular Sub Genres in Romance & How Do They Compare?


The Most Popular Sub Genres in Romance and How They Compare

Most people who have not been lucky enough to read a romance book think that all romance books are the same.

Of course, those of us who actually read and enjoy romance know that this genre is vast and varied.

Romance is a literary genre that has many sub genres. Even some of the sub genres have sub genres or themes.

But no matter how many different types of Romance sub genres we have they all have one thing in common:

An emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending

I’ve been a reader of romance for more then a decade and I just started realizing about two years ago that there was a whole world of romance I didn’t know existed.

Why are there so many seb genres in Romance?

I think it all has to do with supply and demand. The writers and publisher hear what we want and write it and then it gets classified so that we can easily find it. Sometimes that’s a great thing and sometimes that’s a horrible thing.

How can this classifying system be horrible?

Let’s say you like romantic suspense and therefore you only look in the romantic suspense category when you are checking out books. Because of that you will only see books and authors that fall under Romantic Suspense. Big deal you say? It is a big deal. Just think about all the great stories and authors you are missing because your reading focus is too narrow.

I realized a few months ago that I was guilty of this. That’s why I decided to create the Ultimate Romance Reader Challange 2015. I decided the best way to widen my romance reading horizon was to read two books out of every sub genre of romance Amazon listed.

I hope by the end of this year I will find an appreciation for all the genres and even stumble across a new favorite author or two.

So, just how many sub genres are there?

Let’s break it down. (All definitions are from RomanceWiki.com and all links are to Amazon and GoodReads)

Literary Genre:

 Romance

Formats:

Category Romance: Also known as Series Titles. Category Romances are short books with no more then 200 pages or 55,000 words. The books are published in clearly delineated categories, with a certain number of books being published in each category every month. Each book in a line will usually share a theme but be different from each other.

Single-Title Romance: This label is given to any romance book not published as part of a category. They are longer books with 350-400 pages or 100,000-110,000 words. Each book is different and will stay on bookshelves until the bookseller decides to take it down.

Sub genres:

African – American Romance

Contemporary Romance

The following are common themes of Contemporary Romance:

Erotica

 The following are common themes found in Erotica:

Fantasy Romance  

Gay Romance

Gothic Romance

Historical Romance

The following are common themes in Historical Romance:

Holidays

Inspirational Romance

The following are common themes in Inspirational Romance:

Lesbian

Military Romance

Multi-Cultural Romance

New Adult Romance

Paranormal Romance

The following are common themes in Paranormal Romance:

Regency Romance

Romantic Comedy

Romantic Suspense

Science Fiction Romance

Sports

Time-Travel Romance

Vampires

Western Romance

Young Adult Romance

According to RWA the following sub genres and tropes are the most popular in the Romance genre:

Top romance subgenres by format read primarily:

Print: #1) Romantic Suspense (53%) #2)Contemporary Romance (41%) #3) Historical Romance (34%) #4) Erotic Romance (33%) #5)New Adult (26%) #6) Paranormal Romance (19%) #7) Young Adult Romance (18%) and #8) Christian Romance (17%).

E-book: #1) Romantic Suspense (48%) #2) Contemporary Romance (44%) #3) Erotic Romance (42%) #4) Historical Romance (33%) #5) Paranormal Romance (30%) #6) New Adult (26%) #7) Young Adult Romance (18%) and #8) Christian Romance (14%).

Top 10 popular romance tropes: (#1) Friends to Lovers (#2) Soul Mate/Fate (#3) Second Chance at Love (#4) Secret Romance (#5) First Love (#6) Strong Hero/Heroine (#7) Reunited Lovers (#8) Love Triangle (#9) Sexy Billionaire/Millionaire (#10) Sassy Heroine

 

According to Amazon: the following Romance Genre sub genres are listed from the most amount of books to the least:

Amazon Romance Genre Print Books (559,350)

  1. Erotic (220,651)
  2. Contemporary (142,522)
  3. Historical (60,672)
  4. Paranormal Romance (41,098)
  5. Romantic Suspense (32,071)
  6. Fantasy (17,724)
  7. Romantic Comedy (17,058)
  8. Inspirational Romance (16,764)
  9. Gay Romance (15,664)
  10. Regency Romance (12,944)
  11. Young Adult Romance (12,507)
  12. Western Romance (11,277)
  13. New Adult (10,412)
  14. Vampire Romance (7,408)
  15. Multi-Cultural Romance (7,213)
  16. Holiday Romance (6,935)
  17. African American Romance (6,891)
  18. Gothic Romance (6,320)
  19. Military Romance (5,954)
  20. Science Fiction Romance (4,612)
  21. Time Travel Romance (4,364)
  22. Lesbian Romance (4,208)
  23. Sports Romance (3,337)

Amazon Romance Genre EBooks (251,571)

  1. Contemporary Romance (92,026)
  2. Paranormal Romance (31,021)
  3. Historical Romance (29,536)
  4. Romantic Suspense (26,276)
  5. LGBT Romance (18,655)
  6. Fantasy Romance (17,850)
  7. Romantic Comedy (14,710)
  8. Inspirational Romance (14,601)
  9. New Adult Romance (9,108)
  10. Western Romance (7,917)
  11. Multi-Cultural Romance (6,471)
  12. African American Romance (6,359)
  13. Holiday Romance (5,970)
  14. Science Fiction Romance (5,742)
  15. Military Romance (5,202)
  16. Sports Romance (2,977)
  17. Time Travel Romance (2,772)
  18. Gothic Romance (895)

No matter what sub genre you like to read or what format you like to read it on,

there is plenty of reading material to last you a lifetime!

So no more excuses. Go out there and explore the world of Romance!

Stay Tuned

Friday @ 9 amDoes Showing Pride in Your Appearance Really Make a Difference?

Monday @ 9 amHow to Craft The Perfect Plus Size HeroineLet's Chat Graphic

  • What is your favorite sub genre of romance? Why?
  • What is your least favorite sub genre of romance? Why?
  • Do you feel a sub genre and/or theme was left out?
  • What do you think of the popularity numbers and amount of books published per sub genre?

Your Formatting, Word Counts and Page Length Questions Answered


Formatting Guidelines Word Counts and Page Lengths for Fiction

If you’re new to the submitting process you might be racking your brain right about now on how to properly format your fiction manuscript.

No doubt you’ve done a quick Google search and found a few examples or read a few books that talked about it and found that they all have slightly different things to say.

That’s because the proper way to format your fiction manuscript is really up to who you are submitting it to.

However, there is a basic guideline to follow so that in case you’re favorite publisher doesn’t post specific guidelines your MS won’t look like a big pile of ….

Overall Manuscript Basics

Font: 12 point Times New Roman

Font Color: Black

Margins: 1 in – 1.5in on all sides

Title Page

Contact Information: Top left corner, single spaced and left justified. Include the following information:

  • Your full name (not your pen name)
  • Your Address
  • Your Phone Number
  • Your Email address

Title: Centered 1/3 – ½ the way down the page in all CAPS.

Example: DESTINY BE DAMNED

Author: Centered 1 double-spaced line below the title (If you use a pen name, use it here)

Example: by Darla G. Denton

Word Count: Centered 1 double-spaced line below your name or top right hand corner of the page.

Example: 70,000 words

Body

Header: Located at either the top left or right of every page except the title page. Include the following:

  • Your Last Name
  • The Book Title
  • Page Number

Example: Denton /Destiny Be Damned / 200

Tip: Pages are numbered continuously with page 1 being the first page AFTER the title page. 

Chapter Titles: Each chapter is started on a new page and put in the center about 1/3 – ½ of the way down from the top and written in all CAPS

Example: CHAPTER 1

Line Spacing: Double-spaced throughout the whole document

Paragraphs: Indent the 1st word of every paragraph 1/2 in. (0.5″).

⇒ Tip: Use the format paragraph feature on your word processor and don’t insert extra lines between paragraphs. 

1st Paragraph: Begin 4-6 lines below the chapter title

Space After Punctuation: 1 space.

Dialogue: Start a new paragraph every time you change speakers

⇒ Tip: Check out Novel-Writing-Help.com for 8 Rules For Writing Dialogue

The End: Double-space and center the word “End” after the the last sentence of your story.

 

Click on the following to see picture examples of a proper cover page and MS format.

First Manuscript’s – Proper Manuscript Format For a Novel

Marlys Pearson’sHow To Format Your Novel For Submission

Submitting

MS Word is the most common way to submit a document to a publisher; .doc or .rtf files will work. However, you need to clarify with the submission guidelines on what type of file they can read.

 

Now that we’ve tackled the basic guidelines for formatting your MS let’s dive into word counts and page lengths.

For the purpose of this article I will be referring to guidelines for Romance and it’s sub genres.

Before we get into the numbers lets talk about why page lengths and word counts matter.

It’s all about the money.

It costs money to print a book. Therefore publishing houses have a guideline of how many words or page lengths they will accept from an unpublished writer vs seasoned author.

The amount of books you’ve had published + the amount of readers you have to buy your books =

the amount of page  and shelf space publishers are willing to risk. 

Books with a higher page  and word count cost more to produce meaning more copies will need to be sold to see a decent profit.

When you are starting out it is very wise to stick to the word and page count guidelines set by the publisher you are looking to pursue.

Word Counts

Below is a list of genres and sub genres with estimated word counts :

  • Short Contemporary Romance: 40,000 – 70,000 words
  • Long Contemporary Series Romance: 70,000 + words
  • Contemporary Single Title Romance: 70,000 + words
  • Short Historical Romance: 40,000 – 95,000 words
  • Long Historical Romance: 95,000 + words
  • Regency Romance: 40,000 – 85,000 words
  • Inspirational Romance: 40,000 + words
  • Paranormal Romance: 40,000 + words
  • Romantic Suspense / Gothic Romance: 40,000 + words
  • Young Adult Romance: 25,000 + words
  • New Adult Romance – 60,000 – 85,000 words

For more information and specific details regarding each genre check out the following:

RWAThe Romance Genre

Literary RejectionsWord Count

Witchita Area Romance Authors (WARA) WritersRomance Genres and Sub-genres

Page Counts

The industry standard is 250 words per page.

Below is a list of general page lengths for romance:

  • Short Contemporary Romance: 160 – 280 pages
  • Long Contemporary Romance: 280 + pages
  • Contemporary Single Title Romance: 280 + Pages
  • Short Historical Romance: 160 – 380 pages
  • Long Historical Romance: 380 + pages
  • Regency Romance: 160 – 340 pages
  • Inspirational Romance: 160 + pages
  • Paranormal Romance: 160 + pages
  • Romantic Suspense / Gothic Romance: 160 + pages
  • Young Adult Romance: 100 + pages
  • New Adult Romance: 240 – 340 pages

Surprise! We aren’t done. I decided to add a bonus part to this article that I’m sure you will appreciate.

Below are links with extensive lists of publishers that handle romance. Listed along side the publishers names are links to their submission guidelines. Enjoy!

Karen FoxList of Publishers

Killer Book MarketingThe Passionate PenRomance Publishers List

A List of 28 Publishers for Erotica and Romance

Stay Tuned

Wednesday @ 9 amWhat Are The Most Popular Genres in Romance and How Do They Compare?

Friday @ 9 amDoes Your Outward Appearance Really Make A Difference?Let's Chat Graphic

  • Do you format your first draft or wait till you’re ready to submit it?
  • Have you had a publishing house or agent ask for something different?
  • Do you have a formatting tip to share? 

 

What is Body Confidence?


What Is Body Confidence

I’m going to bet that you’ve probably heard about body confidence by now.

Maybe you’ve already read a few blog posts about it, read a news piece or two, or heard one of your favorite celebs talking about it.

But what is it really?

To understand what Body Confidence is we must first understand what Body Image is.

Body Image is the way we SEE our bodies through our eyes and the eyes of society.

Body Confidence is the way we FEEL  about our bodies that is brought on by how we see ourselves and the way others treat us.

What is the big deal about body confidence?

Have you ever had a day where you just FELT like crap? Like you were worthless? Like nothing good has ever or will ever happen to you?

Now, think back on that day. Did you also FEEL like you looked like crap? Did you see yourself in the mirror and THINK, “I’m worthless. No one is going to want anything to do with me because I look like this.”

We’ve all been there. Where a bad hair day or an uncomfortable outfit will ruin your whole day.

Maybe you even heard someone make a negative comment about your appearance and it ended up turning a great day into a horrible one.

Body confidence is important because so much stems off of how we feel about ourselves whether we want to admit or not.

When we feel good about our bodies we:

  • Look happier and healthier
  • Feel happier and healthier
  • Our actual physical health improves
  • We are more willing to be social
  • We are more willing to take chances with our career and education
  • We get along better with our friends and loved ones.

Really, the list could go on forever.

When you lack body confidence you are in a daily battle of self worth. You feel:

  • You look unhappy and outwardly portray negativity
  • You feel unhappy and your body just aches all day long
  • Your actual health is being harmed by the negative thoughts that drown your brain on a constant basis
  • You will do anything to avoid being social
  • You never take an opportunity to advance in your career and education because you feel like it would be pointless
  • You are in constant arguments with your friends and loved ones because they want to help but they cant. Why? Because body confidence is something YOU need to obtain for yourself.

How do you achieve body confidence?

We are born with body confidence.

I know it might not seem like it but we are not born thinking we need to look a certain way to be relevant or to be worthy.

That way of thinking happens over time as societies standards are slowly shoved into our face.

Think about this.

You did not always hate your body.

Something at some point made you think, “My body is not pretty. or My body doesn’t look the way it should or I will never get what I want until my body is perfect.”

On a daily basis we are bombarded with pictures, commercials, newspaper articles, books, songs, and even the comments of strangers or loved ones that we just aren’t good enough. That our bodies aren’t good enough. That unless we change the way we look we will never achieve our dreams.

Industries make billions of dollars every year on our feelings of inadequacy.

So how do you break out of this prison of negativity and find a way to love and appreciate yourself?

Step 1: Realize that everything you see on TV, in newspapers, written in books, in videos and in songs Body Love Mantrahas no control over you.

You have control over your own thoughts. 

Step 2: Sit down and understand WHY you FEEL so negative about yourself and about your body?

Once you understand the WHY you’ll be able to understand the HOW.

Step 3: Realize HOW those negative thoughts and feelings impact your day, your life and your health.

You will be shocked once you see just how much power negative thoughts have over you. 

Step 4: List all the positive things about yourself and your body.

Negative thoughts can’t harm you unlessyou let them. 

Step 5: Surround yourself with positivity. Listen to body positive music, watch videos that talk about body confidence, read books that will help you learn how to appreciate yourself and surround yourself with people who encourage body positivity and body confidence both online and in the real world.

Once you surround yourself with Body Positive People you will begin to understand that you are enough! 

♦ You don’t need to loose weight to love your body

♦ You don’t need to get plastic surgery to love your body

♦ You don’t need to wear the perfect clothes and you don’t need to have the perfect hair

 All you need is the confidence to know that what you have right now is perfect.

 

Be Obsessed with Body Acceptance

Watch this video about a documentary in the making Embrace: Learning to Love Our Bodies by Taryn Brumfitt at BodyImageMovement.com #ihaveembraced.

 

Stay Tuned

 

Monday 9 am How to Format Your MS and What Page Lengths and Words Lengths to Expect in Your Genre”

Wednesday @ 9 am “What Are The Most Popular Genres in Romance and How Do They Compare?”

  • How do you feel about your body image? Do you lack body confidence or do you have abundance of it?Let's Chat Graphic
  • Can you remember what made you first see your body in a negative way?
  • What do you think should be done to help future generations overcome this?

What Do Romance Readers Really Want?


What Do Romance Readers Really Want

What do romance readers really want?

That is the million dollar question and as a writer it’s the one thing I’m always dying to know.

What do my readers really want to see in the romance books they pick up?

Of course there has been thousands of articles and books that have covered this topic from one end of the spectrum to the other. Not to mention the countless surveys that have been given to hundreds of thousands of readers throughout the years.

So, you would think that there would be no question as to what a romance reader wants to read.

Think again….

No one reader likes the same things. What might excite and enthrall one could repulse another, etc…

That’s why there are so many sub genres in the romance world.

Each sub genre has it’s own “guideline” of what to expect in their books making it easier for a reader to find the type of book they like to read.

However, even in each sub genre there is still a wide range of likes and dislikes to be found.

Therefore, I believe this question will never have a simple answer.

You might think, “Well, of course one common answer for all romance readers is that they want a Happily Ever After ending.”

Not true.

There are quite a few romance readers who would prefer an ending that makes sense and is more “realistic” to the current relationship between the hero and heroine.

So what do we do as writers to ensure we write a book that a romance reader wants to read?

Well, that’s actually pretty easy.

⇒ Tip 1: Write the story that is in your head.

As long as you write it clearly with interest and your characters shine and are relatable there will be a reader out there waiting to read your book.

If you write it they will come!

Tip 2: Get in touch with your readers and ask them what they want to see more and less of. 

It really is that easy!

Calling All Romance Readers

Last week I did an impromptu survey where I asked a few romance reading Facebook groups some questions in regards to what they liked and disliked and what they want to see more and less of in their books.

Below is a run down of some of the answers.

Questions #1: What do you want to see more of in your romance books?

  •  Emotion
  • Depth of feeling
  • Great girl friendships
  • Crazy twists pulled off right
  • I want something out of the ordinary
  • Great supporting characters get me
  • I like when there is a strong underlying plot in addition to the romance. It keeps it from getting too one-dimensional.
  • More average people in terms of career
  • More heroines with different heights, race and weight
  • More men of color (African American, Indian, Middle Eastern…) being the hero.
  • More heroines who are African American with kinky hair, brown eyes and dark skin.
  • Older characters. The genre is inundated with college students and 20-somethings. Makes you think love doesn’t happen over 35!
  • More everyday couples please
  • More build up
  • More stories about characters who are already strong and whole to begin with.
  • More authentic diversity and less reliance on stereotypes of ethnic groups to illustrate character
  • Positive Black men and women
  • Characters that have common sense.
  • More interracial between American Indian and Black women.
  • Longer stories
  • Stronger plots with interesting characters
  • Villains that actually follow up with their evil plans

Questions #2: What do you want to see less of in your romance books? 

  • Less graphic sex.
  • Sex scenes that are always the same. I end up skimming over them.
  • No more billionaires!
  • No more heroines that are portrayed as “incubators” popping out kids for the man.
  • Heroines that are broken because of her past relationships or because of her weight.
  • No more talk about huge dicks
  • No more emotional abuse or emotional issues
  • No more gross words like “moist” in sex scenes
  • No more interracial titles with the phrases Billionaire Black Baby or His Black Mistress or Rich Man Black Wife
  • No more short books that cost $2.99 or more
  • Less “purple prose”
  • No more unrealistic expectations
  • No more overly exaggerated descriptive writing
  • No more poorly written sex scenes
  • No more “throbbing member”
  • Less F word please! When used sparingly the word can express emotions and have an impact but when used every other sentence it becomes meaningless.
  • Less sex manual
  • Less heroines who turn slutty when the hero walks in
  • No more dominant ass holes
  • I don’t care for romances written in the first person
  • I don’t like new adult romances
  • No more werewolves
  • No more humiliation scenarios played off as romantic
  • I want to see less far fetched story lines

Question #3: Do you want the love and action to happen right away or have a build up? 

  • I like to get to know the character but I don’t want to wait any longer than 5 chapters for the relationship to start.
  • I prefer for characters to NOT fall into bed in chapter one
  • I love a slow burn full of lots of sexual tension.
  • Put the romance back in the romance books. I’m king of over books that have couples having sex when they first meet. Give me a great build up with the couple getting to know each other.
  • Give us a chance to get to know the main characters.
  • I want to see the characters getting to know each other rather than jumping in bed.
  • Most stories are rushed now…I hate that.
  • I like characters to have a good back story and to develop throughout the book.
  • I like to see an evolution of the relationship

Question #4: How do you feel about plus size heroines? 

  • Heck yes, I really like reading about plus size heroines!
  • Let the realistic women have a romance
  • I’m fine with plus size women as heroines but why do they always have to be pared with men who are ripped?
  • Love BBW romance!!
  • I love it when my heroine is plus size

Questions #5: How do you feel about Plus size heroes?

  • Yes to the plus size heroes as long as they are bad ass alphas
  • I’ve never dated a guy who was ripped so I’m fine with chunky guys.
  • A non ripped hero is fine with me.
  • Honestly, I’d rather read about a sexy built guy.
  • I have a major weakness for alpha males.
  • I like my heroes to be cuddly, nice guys but I also like alpha males
  • I’ve never actually read a book with a plus size hero but a guy doesn’t have to have visible muscles to convey strength and power.
  • I love it when my heroes are plus size because it makes him feel more real.

Questions #6: Do you want your romances to be realistic or with real like situations and outcomes or do you want a fantasy scenario that helps your escape?

  • I like things that are realistic or fantasy based in reality
  • I like it when a romance is reality based, it makes it easier to relate to the story and sort of get lost in it.
  • I want realism in contemporary and pure fantasy in paranormal and fantasy.
  • I love HEA’s and that’s what I want from my romance book.
  • Real life or fantasy, I don’t care aslong as it ends in an HEA!
  • I like a little of both. However, if a character is going through real…ish problems they should act real and those things/events shouldn’t be trivialized.
  • I don’t need an HEA. I like HFN as long as it’s an ending that I can sink my teeth into
  • More realism
  • Real Life…mostly
  • I really prefer real life. Perfect fantasies drive me crazy.
  • Happy Ending no matter what.
  • I like both.
  • I want fantasy, an escape. I do reality all day long

Question #7: How do you feel about multiple point of views?

  • I love it when the story is told from both sides. Switching POV one chapter at a time if my favorite.
  • I love it when the story is told from both sides. No stories within a story.
  • Switching POVs from chapter to chapter is my preference but I can follow either way.
  • It ‘s nice to see the true feelings of the male side. It makes them seem more believable.
  • All point of view styles work for me.

Question #8: What scenarios or themes do you want to see more of? 

  • Firemen that don’t have to have 6 or 8 packs!
  • Desert Sheik
  • Detectives
  • Nerds
  • Quirky Guy
  • Disabled/scarred (physically or emotionally) Hero and/or Heroine.
  • Marriage of convenience
  • Single parents
  • More family series
  • Fem Dom Romances
  • Ménage

Question #9: Do you prefer more dialogue or more descriptions? 

  • Funny dialogue gets me.
  • I would love to see more of their conversations
  • I want more real life dialogue between the characters
  • I want more conversations that are meaningful and builds up to a relationship.
  • More dialogue with involvement of friends and family
  • I want more description of dates and events and less description of how people look.

I would like to thank the wonderful members of:

For their time and their wonderful and insightful answers.

Thank You

What do we as readers need to do to ensure that the stories we want to read get written?

We need to let writers, authors, agents and publishing houses know what we are looking for.

How?

  • By following our favorite writers and authors, talking to them and letting them know what we like and dont like.
  • By leaving reviews for books that you’ve read explaining what you liked and diddn’t like
  • By emailing publishing houses and letting them know what kind of books you are looking for (believe me, they will be interested in hearing what you’ve got to say)
  • By participating in surveys like the one found below. 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/JLLN7HX (This is a link to a Romance Reader Survey that asks 1 Question. It does not ask for any of your information.)

Stay Tuned

Friday @ 9 amWhat is Body Acceptance?

Monday @ 9 amHow to Format Your MS and What Page Lengths and Words Lengths to Expect in Your Genre

  • What do you wan to see more of in your romance books?Let's Chat Graphic
  • What do you want to see less of?
  • Do you agree or disagree with some of the answers from above?
  • Where you surprised by any of them?

You’ve Finished Your First Draft! Now What?…


10 Steps To Get You Published

So, you’ve finished your first draft?

Congratulations!

Go out and celebrate because not many people get to this point.

However, don’t think for a minute that you are done. Oh no. You are far from done.

Writing the 1st draft is actually the easiest part of the whole process.

But it’s OK. We’ll walk through the next steps together.  ;-)

Before we begin, if you haven’t read “How To Treat Your Writing Like a Business” yet, take a few minutes and check it out.

Now, let’s get down to it.

10 Steps To Get You Published

Step 1: Walk Away From Your Manuscript

Don’t go back through and read it just yet. You brain needs a break. Take a few days and do anything but work on your manuscript (MS). If the idea of doing nothing at all in regards to your book makes you cringe then start rounding up agents and publishing houses you think will want your manuscript or look for blogs and groups to advertise it to.

Step 2: Read it through in one sitting. 

Schedule some time and space to just sit and read through the entire MS. Why? Because this is truly the only way to know if each chapter flows and if the whole story makes sense. While reading the MS all the way through do not stop to make corrections of any kind. If you absolutely need to you can make notes on a separate document or paper but don’t touch the MS just yet.

Step 3: Walk Away From Your Manuscript…Again.

OK, now you’ve read through the entire thing and you’re either thinking you should give up this crazy idea of becoming an author OR you’re thinking your stuff is the bomb and you’re going to shoot to the best sellers list on your first book. Either way, you need to walk away from your manuscript for at least a week. Why? Because the next step is revision and you can not accurately revise something that your eyes and brain are numb to. You wont be able to spot the errors because your brain knows what’s suppose to be there so it fills it in or corrects it in our head while looking over it.

Step 4: Start Revision Process #1

First things first, do you know the difference between Revisions and Edits? If not check out the graphic on the right.

Go back over your outline (or start one if you didn’t already) and see how close your story stayed with the plot plan. If you stayed on track then you need to make sure it all flows correctly and makes sense. If you veered widely off in another direction figure out if that new direction is better. If it isn’t fix it.

Tackle the manuscript chapter by chapter. Read through it and:

  • Add sentences and words where needed.
  • Remove unneeded words and sentences .
  • Move a sentence or word placement for better sense and flow.
  • Substitute filler & cliche words and sentences for strong ones that get to the point and have a better impact on the scene/story.

Make sure the chapter begins on an interesting point and ends leaving the reader wanting to turn to the next page.

Step 5: Start Edit Process #1

Go back to the beginning and take it chapter by chapter.

  • Make sure everything that needs to be capitalized is. 
  • Make sure all nouns and verbs are used correctly.
  • Check for correct punctuation and sentence structure.
  • Check for any spelling errors and incorrect word usage.
  • Make sure your POV (Point of View) is consistent.

Step 4 and 5 are one of the hardest times during the writing process. Many people give up on their manuscripts at this point. Even if you aren’t sure what you wrote will worth reading, don’t stop. The editing and revision process is what turns writers into authors. Anyone can sit down and bust out a first draft but it takes a true writer (someone who is willing to work hard to gain that author title) to push through and make a lump of coal shine bright like a diamond.

Step 6: Send It Out For a Critique

Hopefully, you have already been busy making connections in the writing world and have a critique group or critique partner lined up. If not, don’t freak out. It’s OK. Better late then never!

Why do I need a critique partner or group?

Critique partners are people who are writers like yourself in varying levels of experience and writing style. They will not only read your piece with the eyes of a reader but with the eyes of a writer. They will be able to spot if you’ve got an error in style, an error in POV and whether or not what you have written will irritate a literary agent or publisher.

How do I find one? 

There are many different ways to find a critique partner or group.

What should I expect from a critique?

There are many different ways someone can critique your piece. They can be very casual about it or very detailed. They can just give their opinions or point out specific problem areas and offer suggestions on how to fix it. It will all depend on who you find and what you both agree to.

Step 7: Start Revision and Editing Process #2 

Take all your critique suggestions into consideration.

Try not to look at your manuscript as your baby but as a product.

You are writing this book in hopes that someone will want to buy it and read it.

If your critique partners are giving you negative feedback there is a reason. Find out what is wrong with your story and fix it.

Make sure your story follows the guidelines of it’s genre, hits the key points that every reader will expect and has some surprising factors as well.

Fix any grammatical errors that your critique partners found and format your manuscript according to your genre’s specifications. For a general guideline on how to format your novel check out “Format Your Novel for Submission” on The Editors Blog.

Step 8: Send It Out to a Professional Proofreader and Editor

What’s the difference between proofreading and editing?

I know some of you are thinking, “Isn’t this handled by the publishing house?” Yes it is.

However, if you are serious about getting this manuscript published (whether its through traditional routes or self-published) you need to invest some money into it and get it professionally proofread and edited.

Why?

  • If you looking to be represented by a literary agent and having a publishing house buy your manuscript then having it read the best that it could possibly read will only increase your chance of an offer.
  • If you are looking to self-publish having your manuscript proofread and edited will make it look professional and worth the money your readers pay for it.

Step 9: Send It Out To a Beta Reader

A beta reader is someone who will read over your finished manuscript to basically see if its any good.

There are some beta readers who are writers but the majority of beta readers are avid readers.

Why do I need a beta reader?

You need a beta reader because:

  • They will read your entire finished manuscript and tell you if it’s any good.
  • They will point out parts that don’t make sense to them. 
  • They will tell you if your main characters are any good or not. 
  • They will tell you what they liked and didn’t like in the story.

How do I find a beta reader?

What questions should I ask?

  1. Did you like the book title?
  2. Did you like the book cover?
  3. Did you like the beginning of the story?
  4. Did you feel confused or lost at any point in the first chapter? If so where and why?
  5. Did the first chapter capture your interest?
  6. What was your first impression of the main characters?
  7. Did you like the main characters? If not, why?
  8. Are there any characters in the story that you wished you could learn more about?
  9. What did you think of the heroine?
  10. What did you think of the hero?
  11. What did you think of the “villain”?
  12. Did you ever get confused on who was talking at any point in the story?
  13. Where you able to connect with the characters?
  14. Did their interactions seem realistic?
  15. Was there enough romance?
  16. Was there enough suspense or conflict to keep it interesting?
  17. Was there enough heart warming or funny moments?
  18. Did the dialogue sound natural to you? If not, could you list specific examples?
  19. Could you get a good feel for where and when the story took place?
  20. Was there too much description? If so could you list specific examples?
  21. Did the story get boring or drag at all? If so, where?
  22. Was there any part of the story (other then the first chapter) that confused or frustrated you?
  23. Did you notice any dialogue, description, or actions that seemed out of character for the main characters?
  24. Did you like the ending? If not, why?
  25. In the end did you feel the book delivered on it’s promise (meaning did it fit it’s genre expectations, did it match it’s title, did it follow along with the book blurb)?
  26. Would you be happy if you payed money for this book?
  27. Would you recommend this book to someone else?
  28. Would you want to read a continuation of this story?

⇒Tip: When looking for a beta reader, don’t settle for just one. Get at least 3.

  • One beta reader who is an avid reader of the sub-genre (example: Romantic Suspense) you wrote your manuscript in (Why? Because they will be able to point out anything that doesn’t go with the sub genre),
  • One beta reader who is an avid reader in the basic genre (example: Romance) of your MS (Why? Because they will be able to tell you if what you wrote fits within the genre)
  • One beta reader who is an avid reader, just not particularly a fan of your genre or sub-genre (example: Fiction) (Why? Because if they end up liking your book, even though they don’t particularly care for your genre, you just might have a winning story on your hands).

Step 10: Take The Leap of Faith

After you get your comments back from your beta readers look them over.

If there is anything negative, take some time to seriously consider their complaints.

If you feel like you can fix it and deliver what they wanted without compromising the story then do it.

In the end your goal is to please your reader but keep in mind that every reader is different and will like and hate different things.

You can not please every single reader. 

Once you have decided you’re happy with the manuscript then you need to make the most important decision in this process:

  • Will you look for a literary agent to represent you and help your find a publisher?
  • Will you try to represent yourself and find a publisher on your own?
  • Will you forgo the literary agent and publishing house to self-publish your work?

So many writers never became authors because they were afraid of rejection. They were afraid of putting themselves out there and finding a “home” for their books.

Don’t let all your hard work go to waste.

Take that leap of faith and get it out there for the public to see and read. 

Stay Tuned

Wednesday @ 9 am “What Do Romance Readers Want More Of?Let's Chat Graphic

Friday @ 9 am “What IS Body Acceptance?

  • Have you finished your first draft yet? If so, what process are you dreading next?
  • Do you experience with critique partners?
  • Have you ever used a professional Proofreader or Editor?

On Being Plus Size in The Workplace


On Being Plus Size in the workplace

It’s hard surviving the modern day workplace. It’s even harder when your fat.

If you’re a plus size professional you face the following each day:

♦ From the moment you get up your day starts off on the wrong foot. Why? Because it’s incredibly hard to find well made plus size clothing. It’s either cheaply made or too expensive. It either fits like a tent making you give off the impression that you are sloppy and lazy or its too tight giving off the impression that you don’t understand whats appropriate or not in the workplace. Either way you screwed from the get go. 

This is where all those lovely plus size fashion websites save the day. Not only do they highlight brands and designers that cater to plus size women but they also show you what the pieces look like on an actual plus size body.

Check out the Curvy Ceo – The Life and Style Guide for the Plus-Sized Professional Woman’s #ShopYourSalary series.

And also:

♦ Even if you find clothes of a good quality in a price range you can afford rarely is it able to fit your body the way it needs to right off the rack. 

The best thing to do is buy a size or two bigger then you would normally and get it tailored to fit your body. I know, the thought of finding a tailor, standing there while they measure your body and paying extra money to have it done sounds inconceivable but it really does make a difference. Also, depending on where you live tailors can be pretty affordable.

Here are some examples of prices:

  • Hemming pants, a skirt, or a dress $10 – $15
  • Fitting a dress shirt $20
  • Taking in a jacket seam $45 – $50
  • Shortening jacket sleeves $25 – $28
  • Taking in a dress $45

Just remember: Buy clothes that fit your widest part comfortably. It’s cheaper to take in then it is to let out.

♦ After dealing with the dressing issues you’re left feeling defeated, uncomfortable and self-conscience. This, in the end, is portrayed through your body language making it appear as though you are unfriendly or that you lack confidence. We see ourselves in the worst light and those thoughts flood our brain making us think that we are ugly, isolated and alone. 

So how do we improve this aspect of our lives?

By learning to accept our bodies, love our bodies and build up our body confidence. The more confident we are the more it shows through our body language. You don’t need to be happy all the time, or perfect. You just need to know that even though your body type isn’t approved by society you are still beautiful and worthy of respect and kindness.

♦ As if all that wasn’t bad enough if your fat and a women then you are most likely in a physically taxing job, kept where you are the least visible, receive hidden and open ridicule from your coworkers and are paid less because you do not fit what society has deemed acceptable in size and weight. However, this is only true if you were actually lucky enough to be hired in the first place. Most plus size women find that they are being turned down for a position they are more then qualified for.

Don’t think Fat discrimination exist in the workplace?

Check out the following articles:

New Study Finds That Weight Discrimination in the Workplace is Just as Horrible and Depressing as Ever by Lesley Kinzel on XOJane.com

Is the CDC Fueling Anti-Fat Bias in Workplaces?  by Bill Briggs on NBCNews.com

Want to do something to improve your career opportunities?

Check out Michelle Merritt on Merrfeld Resume and Coaching. She specializes in Big Girl Big Careers – Turning Your Plus Size Life into a Plus Size Career.

You Become what you believe

Stay Tuned

Monday @ 9 amYou’ve Finished Your First Draft! Now What?…

Wednesday @ 9 amWhat Do Romance Readers Want More Of?Let's Chat Graphic

  • What has your experience been like in the workplace?
  • Do you feel there is weight discrimination in the workplace along with gender discrimination?
  • Where do you like to buy your work clothes at?

How To Treat Your Writing Like A Business


How To Treat Your Writing Like a Business

Writing is a magical journey that can lead us down paths of frustration, enlightenment and financial success…. Among other things.

If you’re like me then you love to write but you’re ready to take your writing from “Hobby” to “Career”.

Here is how to do it.

Step 1: Think about what you want to write.

It all starts with an idea.

  • What do you want to write about?
  • Do you want to do fiction or non-fiction?
  • What genre do you enjoy writing the most?

If your goal is writing romance you need to settle into a genre to have the best chance of understanding what guidelines need to be met while writing your story. Also, if you continually produce work within the same genre you will gain a fan reader base faster.

Once you figure out what you want to write, think about who you want to be as a writer/author.

  • Do you want to write in your own name or a pen name?
  • Do you want to be visible as the person behind the name and writing or do you prefer to hide behind pictures of objects or animals and be as vague as possible about your personal life?
  • Which methods are you comfortable using when it comes to branding yourself?

Step 2: Create a business plan and Set goals

A dream will stay a dream until you take the time to make a plan, set goals, and stick to them.

Once you’ve decided what you want to write and what kind of author you want to be you need to take the time to write up a business plan. You can be as casual or formal about it as you like, Just write it out. Why?

Because when you write out what you want to accomplish it becomes clearer in your mind. Less of an idea and more of a reality.

After you’ve made a career plan sit down set realistic goals for yourself so that you can make your plans a reality.

Step 3: Create a website/blog/social media accounts

Your next step is to create a website and social media accounts that you will use to reach your  writing connections, fans and followers.

I can hear some of you say, “Um, but Darla, shouldn’t I actually write the book first?

Absolutely not.

I’m not kidding.

Don’t you dare toil away at a book for a year and never make any connections with readers and other writers.

During the time you are writing your MS is the best time to start reaching out to the writing world.

Make that website (even though you don’t have books out yet), create those social media accounts and start engaging.

Here are some Youtube Tutorial Videos I used to help me through the process: New Author Publishing: Publishing 101

If you are still hesitant to do this, thinking that no one is going to listen to what you have to say, think again. Just keep in mind,

If you build it…they will come!

Juggling writing and your author platform can be very difficult to get the hang of. Try

  • Making daily or weekly check lists so you can keep track of the things you need to accomplish.
  • If you’re writing a blog create a blogging schedule so you’re never lost on what to write next. (Also if you consistently produce blog posts on a schedule readers can follow you will increase your followers/subscribers)
  • Create a list or at least a general idea of what you want to produce on your social media accounts. Have a plan will help your followers know what to expect from you which in turn will make the connection deeper.
  • Break up huge projects into manageable pieces so that you stay motivated and not get overwhelmed.
  • Create a timeline of the important things you need to get done. That way you don’t miss important events and you can better plan your marketing out.

Here is an article I wrote A Weekly Writer’s Schedule that gives an example of a full time stay-at-home writer’s schedule.

Step 4: Write that book!

Ok, so now you’ve got your idea, you’ve decided what kind of genre you fit in and what kind of author you want to be and you’ve created your author website/ blog and social media accounts. What’s next?

You need to finally start writing that book. But wait…not so fast. There is another question to ask yourself.

Are you a “punster” or a “plotter”? If you are a panster best of luck to you and skip to # . If you are a plotter then you need to do the following:

  • Do some research to figure out what your genre expects in the form of word count, plots, romance, etc…
  • Create an outline (as detailed or brief as you like) to guide you through your brainstorming process.
  • Create character profile sheets to help flesh out the characters in your story. It’s easier to come up with strong well written scenes when you know who your characters are.
  • Make sure your plot points connect before you spend hours, days, months or god forbid, years on writing something that doesn’t even make sense.

Here are some articles I wrote on this subject:

8 Steps To Writing a Novel

How To Outline Your Novel with a Bulletin Board

How To Outline Your Novel with a Bulletin Board Part 2

Now is the time to write. Write to your heart’s content. Carve out specific time to write every day. Either set a word count goal, a chapter goal or just a time goal. But set it and do it.

Nothing is going to get done if you don’t sit down and actually write the darn thing.

While writing your first draft do not correct any spelling or grammar mistakes, don’t go back and proofread or critique what’s already been written. Just write and get it all out. It will be crap but that’s OK.

Don’t forget to make connections in the writing world.

  • Research the important people and organizations in the genre you are writing in.
  • Connect with them on the internet and through social media.
  • Take time each day to post good content on your social media accounts and on your website.

Check out 5 Easy Steps to Creating a Social Media Posting Schedule For Writers.

People will not know you exist unless you shout it out.

I’m here, I’m here look what I have to offer.”

Try joining organizations and find writing groups with people who are similar to your writing and/or experience.

When thinking about how to market your story ask yourself the following:

  • What are the exciting elements of my story?
  • What makes my story stand out?
  • Does my story fall into any popular niches? And if so, how do I use that gain more attention?
  • What would make people want to recommend my book?

After your first draft is done, read it. It’s going to suck and you’re going to think you wasted all this time just to find out you can’t write.

Don’t give up.

It’s going to get better. Read the manuscript all the way through. Don’t make any notations or corrections. Just read it. Then walk away from it. Ignore it for a week. Let it stew in your brain. If during that week you come up with ideas to make it better, write those ideas down but don’t touch the MS.

Step 5: Revisions, Connections and Classes

After you’ve been away from the MS for a week go back and either print it out or mark corrections inside the document. Be critical. Don’t focus so much on grammatical errors but on errors in story structure. If something sucks “X” it out.

Tip: Don’t make these corrections in the original document. You should save every version of your MS so that in case you decide something was better you can go back and retrieve that easily.

Make sure your plot points make sense and your story moves along without sagging in the middle or going completely off course.

This is revision process #1.

During revision process #1 you should have a strong idea of what your story is about, who your characters are and the look and feel of the story.

Now is the time to start talking about it in a more concrete way to your writing friends, contacts and followers. Don’t just say Hey, I’m writing this story…

  • Give the story a name. Make sure your working title reflects the genre you are writing in and what the story is all about.
  • Write out a catchy “book blurb”
  • Create promotional material (like graphics about your characters, graphics about your story, etc…)
  • Create a book cover to give your readers an idea of what the story will “look” like.
  • Share information about your story consistently on your website and through your social media accounts.

After you are done with Revision #1 Go back and look for grammatical errors.

This is also a good time to slip in some writing classes whether online or in person.

After you have completed this last look through find a critique partner, group or website and send it out. Don’t rely on friends and family. You need someone who can tell you honestly what they thought overall and what areas they think you need to work on. Don’t forget to return the favor.

When you get the critique comments back, take them into consideration and look for ways to improve on the weak areas of your story.

If you are happy with your story and feel you have corrected all that needs to be corrected invest the money into having a professional editor and proofreader look at it. Believe me, you will miss something.

A well written MS has a much better chance than one a writer tried to scrimp on.

Step 6: Submit Submit Submit

Once your MS is as perfect as it can be you have a few options. You can say, ok I’m done and send it off to a literary agent or publisher or you can test it first in a competition.

  • If you’re testing it out in a competition do your homework and find which contests would best suite your work. Some contests will be free and some will cost money. Just ask around and see which contests your writing friends recommend and which ones have the more rewarding prizes.
  • If you are skipping the testing and going right to agents and publishers then the next thing you need to do is research which literary agents and publishers are looking for your kind of work, what their submission guidelines are and then submit it.

⇒Tip: To have the best chance of finding the right literary agent, agency  and/or publisher pick up some of the best books in the genre you are writing for (books that read like your story reads) and find out who the publishers and agents where. Then submit to them.

While you are in the process of submitting and waiting to hear back don’t take a break. You need to keep promoting yourself and your writing.

  • Keep creating great content on your website, blog and social media accounts
  • Keep making new connections and growing the connections you’ve already made.
  • Find opportunities to guest blog on websites or participate in group chats
  • Do your research on what to look for in writing contracts so that when you receive one you aren’t intimidated by it.

If you hear back and the answer is a yes then you need to thoroughly go over any contracts that come your way.

Don’t rush into anything.

You need to get a clear understanding of what the literary agent and or publisher wants from you now.

You will also need to start thinking about how you want to promote your book. Unless you are a well known writer your book promotion will rest mostly on your shoulders. Don’t be afraid of it. Ask around and pay attention to what the other writers in your genre have done and mimic what you think worked best.

Check out 40 Successful Ideas To Market Your Book Online.

Step 7: Repeat Steps 1-5

Once you’ve sent your MS away you need to start thinking about the next story. Whether it’s a continuation of the first story or a new story entirely. You need to start outlining and plotting.

Brainstorm.

It’s best to create a file folder in your computer or designate a notebook to have all your ideas in one place.

Once you’ve got a solid idea you are happy with start writing your first draft. Don’t forget to promote, market and make connections the whole way through.

Stay Tuned

Friday @ 9 amBeing Plus Sized in the Workplace

Monday @ 9 am You’ve Finished Your First Draft! Now What?...”Let's Chat Graphic

  • Did you make a career plan or goal timeline when you decided to write a book?
  • What tips do you find useful in helping you treat your writing career as something more than a hobby?
  • Do you have any youtube videos or books to recommend that help guide your through this process?

Do You Leave a Book Review?


Do you leave a book review

Book Reviews.

Are they even worth the effort?

I think they are.

As a reader I turn to book reviews only after I’ve found a book I might be interested in. 

I look for:

  • How many stars someone gave it
  • If it’s a low star (3 or lower) then I read the body of the review to see why they scored it so low.
  • I also compare how many people have reviewed it to the average score. If only a few people have read it and it scored highly then I know there’s still a chance it will suck. If a lot of people have reviewed it and the score is high then I know there’s a good chance I’ll at least like it.

However, I do not pay attention to reviews if it’s a series I’m already reading. Because:

  1. I don’t want to risk reading a spoiler
  2. I don’t care what other people think of it. I’m already invested in finishing it, no matter how repetitive, boring, or crazy it gets.

That being said, before I started writing my own book and immersing myself in the writing world I barely ever left a review unless it was an expensive book that completely sucked.  I felt like it was my responsibility to warn other people before they wasted their money.

It’s actually been documented that people who hated the book are more likely to leave a review then the people who liked it.

As a writer I realize now how important book reviews are. 

  • A book review is basically an authors bread and butter.
  • On amazon a book must reach a certain number of book reviews (both good and bad) in order to show up in their “also bought” and “you might like this” lists.
  • In order to be included in the “Recommended For You” email Amazon sends out you have to reach a certain number of positive feedback.
  • In order to promote your book on some websites as adds or on book review sites you need to have a certain average positive score before you are even considered.
  • Even bad reviews are helpful to writers because it adds to the over review score and gets your book seen.

Now that I know how important getting a review is to an author I’ve tried to leave one for each book I’ve read (whether I liked it or not).

I score it and write a brief review on Amazon and GoodReads.

My scoring system goes like this:

  • 1 star   = It was so bad I couldn’t even finish it. (This is rare for me because I feel a compulsion to finish every story)
  • 2 stars = I finished it but I wish I hadn’t.
  • 3 stars = I finished it and it was OK but I wouldn’t recommend it.
  • 4 stars = I finished it and it was good and I could see myself recommending it.
  • 5 stars = I finished it. I loved it. I will absolutely be recommending it and I will also buy the hard copy of it. (5 star books are the ones I see myself re-reading.)

The body of my review is usually short without spoilers where I just state the reason why I scored it the way I did.

I don’t see myself as the end all, be all of book reviewers.

 

It’s just me letting the reading world know that I took time out of my life to read and write a review of this book.

It’s me giving exposure to an author so that his or her hard work get noticed a little more.

I score the review as honestly as I can, not because I want to affect the authors ratings in any way, but because I’m an honest person and I can’t stomach the idea of giving 4 stars or more to a book that I didn’t enjoy.

Do bad reviews and poor scores affect an author’s sales? 

I do believe they affect the sales but not in a negative way.

Because:

  • We look to see how many people read a certain book and if the number is low (whether they have a high score or not) could mean that it’s not worth our time or money. Or worse yet we’d never even see the book because it doesn’t have enough recognition to be picked up on any algorithms.
  • If you want to leave a review but not score it because you can’t honestly give it 4 or more stars then that’s ok. It will help with their overall review total but you aren’t really doing them any favors because you are not helping out in amassing a star rating total.
  • As a reader, seeing a good mix of low and high scores tells us that this has been honestly reviewed and not just reviewed by friends and family or by “bought” reviews. (Bought reviews are when an author or publishing company pays people to leave positive reviews)
  • “Any news is good news.” This is true unless you have all negative reviews. However, even if that was the case your amount of bad reviews could lead people to talk about you and ultimately to people wanting to buy your book and read it for themselves to see if they agree or not.

Read this short article called “When Do Negative Opinions Boost Sales?” on The University of Chicago Press 

Now the question is, “Do you really want to risk upsetting an author or fan by leaving something negative?”

As a reader:

  • If I see a negative review of a book i liked or loved or even about an author I like or love I get mad, of course I do. I think, “Is this person crazy? Did they even read the book??” Then I stop and realize, a book is never experienced the same way. Each person that reads the same book will walk away with a different feeling, a different opinion.
  • Everyone is entitled to their opinion but it’s ultimately up to me to decide for myself.
  • However, like I mentioned before, If i don’t hear or see any negative reviews at all I don’t trust it.

As a writer:

  • I feel like all talk about a book is relevant, important and needed.
  • However, when I receive negative comments I hope the reviewers will still be kind about it.

Stay Tuned

Thursday @ 9 amHow To Treat Your Writing as a Business

Friday @ 9 amBeing Plus Size in The Workplace

 

  • Let's Chat GraphicHow do you feel about book reviews?
  • Do you pay attention to them when you are go to purchase a book?
  • Have you ever left a negative review or score? If so why?
  • Have you ever received a negative review or score? If so, how did you take it?

 

 

 

Being A Plus Sized Valentine!


Being A Plus Sized Valentine

Valentines Day 

It represents so much to so many.

It’s a time of:

  • loathing and dread
  • anxiety
  • stress
  • anticipation
  • the perfect moment to profess your undying love
  • a time to let your erotic side loose
  • a time to decorate in hearts and flowers and wear your favorite colors
  • a reason to dress up sexy (like we need a reason!)
  • a time to show your loved one just how much they are loved
  • or just a time to ignore

Before we get into what it’s like to be plus sized on Valentines Day let’s look at what Valentines Day is all about.

I’ve been plus sized all my life. A total of 32 years of anxiety, sadness, anticipation, stress and joy in regards to Valentines Day.

Childhood. As a child I hated it. My family didn’t have a lot of extra cash lying around so I sometimes didn’t have the money to participate in passing out Valentines Day cards. When I did get to bring them they were usually just the cheap ones without any cool things attached to it.

In the school that I went to every student was required to give a Valentine to each kid in the class. Since I was always the fattest girl in my class my Valentines Day cards were usually nameless (so the boys couldn’t be made fun of for giving a Valentines Day card to the fat girl) or I didn’t get one at all.

I had friends who would give them to me so I wasn’t completely left out.

If I was able to hand out Valentines Day cards, at the end of the day I would usually find a few of them in the trash. So I would always walk away from the experience feeling like I was less than, that I was something to be made fun of and ignored, that what I had to offer wasn’t good enough.

High school. By this point I had had a few “boyfriends” and I had a group of close girlfriends who always had my back. My confidence was better.

I didn’t listen to the haters as much or the family members who kept saying “You’d be so pretty if you just lost the weight.”

Valentines Day became a time to anticipate. At this point I knew I was not less than the others, I knew I was a great person, not someone to be ignored or made fun of. Yet, I still felt anxiety, like I had to prove I was worth loving by making sure I had a boyfriend or a “love interest” lined up each Valentines Day.

Why?

Because my self worth was wrapped up in whether or not someone loved me, how much they loved me and how openly they showed it.

Most of my family and other people outside of my group of friends still saw me as fat, as something negative, as someone who should not be loved.

Matter of fact most of my family thought my first boyfriend was the man I married. In their mind I had never dated or had a boyfriend before. I just let them assume that because it was pointless trying to make them understand that there were people who found my body type and personality desirable.

At this point in my life, I knew better but it was a constant struggle to remember that.

Valentines Day was filled with anxiety on what to wear (because I felt like since I was fat I could only respectably wear a few things, all of them being baggy), on where to go (because whenever I was out on a date or dressed up people always stared at me like I was pathetic or like they couldn’t believe I thought it was ok to be there) and on what to do (because whenever I was out in public with my current boyfriend I always felt like other people would stare at us and pity him for being seen out in public with a fatty).

Adulthood. Adulthood started a bit early for me. I met my husband my  senior year of high school and as soon as I graduated we moved in together. The next year came our daughter followed by our wedding and boom, wild 20’s was just something I heard about from friends.

That’s ok though. I honestly loved it. My high school years had been wild enough to last me my whole life.

So, you’d think, “Ok, she’s married now so her Valentines Day must be better.” Think again.

Even though I knew my husband loved me, I was still extremely self conscience about my body. Not to mention the fact that I was the fattest I’d ever been after having my daughter and my body had changed so much.

I felt like one big pile of blubber that he had to love because he vowed to in front of our friends and family.

So, when Valentines Day would roll around I would struggle to find the extra cash (being young and being parents made spending cash a rare commodity) and then stress out over how to impress him.

It was always about impressing him. Not about enjoying each other.

I was plagued by questions like:

  • How can I make my body look like the women on TV or the magazine?
  • What sexy lingerie should I buy to make him desire me more?
  • What elaborate plan should I come up with to blow his mind and not regret marrying me?

It was so stressful and by the end of the night I was usually frustrated and tired, feeling like I had failed in some way.

Why?

Because I was still wrapping my self worth up with how much my husband desired and lusted for me.

It took me a long long time to realize that

My self worth, my confidence could not and should not be bunched in with whether or not someone loved or lusted after me.

I had to figure out what I liked about myself and what I thought I contributed to society.

Then, I had to come to terms with what I hated about myself. I had to relearn why those negative thoughts were hindering me and not helping me.

I had to learn that though being loved by someone was amazing it was not the only thing in this world.

I am me.

I am great.

I have a lot to offer to myself, to someone I love and to society.

It doesn’t depend on whether or not I am skinny, sexy, or beautiful. 

When I finally really understood this something unexpected happened.

I no longer cared what everyone else thought of my body.

I still had negative thoughts about parts of my body when I got dressed, tried on clothes or looked in a mirror but I didn’t let those thoughts weigh me down.

I no longer worried about if people felt I deserved to be happy or loved because I wasn’t the size society approved of. 

As you can imagine I was much happier about myself and about my life.

Because of this my marriage soared to cloud 9.

My husband could not only see the change in me but he could feel it as well.

He had always loved me for me. My body, my mind, my personality. Everything.

But because I let my negative thoughts get between us he always felt like I didn’t believe him (which I didn’t), that I was always angry (and that made him angry because he couldn’t fix it) and that those things combined made him depressed right along with me.

When I finally broke through those barriers I had surrounded myself with he couldn’t stop starring at me. I kept catching him watching me out of the corner of his eyes, smiling at me, hovering around me, lusting after me.

I mean, the man worships me now!

He kisses every inch of me whenever he can including my fat stomach.

 

So what am I trying to get at?

Valentines Day can suck if you are fat or skinny, tall or short, beautiful or plain because if you have negative self esteem your only focus on Valentines Day is going to be “How can I impress such and such? How can I change they way I look to feel more beautiful and desirable?”

If you go into Valentines Day thinking and feeling this way you are setting yourself up for failure and regret.

Learn to love yourself, your body and your worth. 

I promise you, you will radiate self confidence and it will excite and entice all those around you. 

So how do you celebrate Valentines Day without all the drama and crazy expectations?

You focus on what is important to you and the one you love.

Think about the things you both enjoy. Think of something that is unique to your relationship.

Focus on being happy and spending time together instead of impressing and being someone you aren’t.

Here are some fun, loving ideas to try whether its for Valentines Day or any other day of the year. This has been one of my favorite go to Pinterest posts for years. There is something here for everyone!

30 Non-Cheesy Date Ideas by Wife.Mom.Superwoman

Stay Tuned

Monday @ 9 amHow To  Treat Your Writing as a Business

Friday @ 9 amThe Pro’s and Con’s of Leaving Book Reviews

  • Let's Chat GraphicHow do you feel about Valentines Day?
  • Do you have any negative or positive memories?
  • What is your ideal Valentines Day?

Romance Books Sent From Cupid!


Valentines Day Themed Stories

 

 

Valentines Day isn’t just about flowers and candy or sexy lingerie.

Oh no, Valentines Day is also about LOVE.

So what better way to celebrate love then to read a Valentines Day themed romance?

Don’t know where to find one?

Check these out:

  1. An Unexpected Valentine by RJ Steele (Short Story)
  2. Be My Valentine by Stacey Coverstone (Short Story)
  3. Cupid on The Loose! by Lisa Bambrick, Kathryn R. Biel, Geralyn Corcillo, Julie Farrell, Amy Gettinger, Celia Kennedy, Karen E. Martin, Jean Oram, CeCe Osgood, Jennifer Gilby Roberts (Anthology)
  4. Good Luck, Bad Timing & When Harry Met Sally by Christy Hayes (Short Story)
  5. My Billionaire Valentine by Sadie Grey (Short Story)
  6. My Curvy Valentine by Sugar Jamison (Novella)
  7. Operation: Valentine by Loretta Hill (Novella)
  8. Rescue Me by Serena Bell (Short Story)
  9. Special Delivery by Ginny Baird (Short Story)
  10. The Army Doctor’s Valentine’s Baby by Helen Scott Taylor (Short Story)
  11. The Morning After by Jae (Short Story)
  12. Valentine & Juliet by Martha Rowe Sconnely (Short Story)
  13. Valentine’s Day Sucks by Juli Alexander (Short Story)
  14. Valentine from a Soldier by Makenna Jameison (Short Story)

 

Check out R.L. Merrill’s blog on Friday 2/13/15 for a fresh off the presses Valentines Day short story!

Also Check out A Snapshot in Time… by C. Douglas Sterner. It’s not technically a Valentines Day themed story but I hear something significant happens the day before Valentine’s Day ;-)

For more book suggestions of any kind join the following Facebook groups (You wont regret it!)

Stay Tuned

Friday @ 9 amBeing a Plus Sized Valentine

Monday @ 9 amHow To Treat Your Writing as a Business

  • What is your favorite Valentine Story?Let's Chat Graphic
  • Have you read any of the stories listed above?
  • Do you have any story suggestion to add?