The Wild Mustang

This weekend I spent an enlightening day at a wild mustang sanctuary called Wild Heart Sanctuary in Park City, Utah. Anyone who knows me, knows I adore horses.

They are my spirit animal. Image

Although my constant wish upon a star as a child to own a horse never came true, the cosmos smiled down upon me and bestowed blessings. Horse neighbors, riding lessons, and many opportunities throughout my life, filled the void. As a child, I was given packs of gum for payment to feed the horses everyday. Often times I found myself sitting in the middle of the pasture with velvet muzzles kissing my face. I am convinced that the most exhilarating feeling in the world is to run with a horse. Forget the roller coasters, the downhill skiing, the cliff jumping; I have done all of those. It is riding on the wind with a horse, that gives you the greatest rush. It is something that we, as a people, have lost. No longer the vehicle on which we depend upon for transportation, the horse is now a luxury.

And often times a burden…

This wild horse sanctuary opened my eyes to the cruelty of the atrocious holding pens and slaughter houses for the burden of the wild mustang. Oh, what have we done! We have erased the hoof print. There are currently over 50,000 wild mustangs in government holding pens. I urge you to go onto this website: Wild-Heart-Sanctuary and click on the documentary that my new friend and fellow wild heart Sonya Richins produced called MESTENGO. You can sign up and she will send it to you via e-mail for free.

Because of my love for horses, one of the main characters in my YA fantasy novel VAGABOND is a horse called Polaris. (hence wishing on a star when I was a child) Here is an excerpt from my novel.

He was a strange, powerful beast. I thought for the briefest of moments that he was born in this small space of time for me alone.

I peered deep into his horse eyes. The swirling fractals drew me in as if I was staring into the dark cosmos of space. Little bubbles of order formed around the pupil and I knew, just knew, that we had met before. In some other dimension or magnificent realm. The depth of his eye was not that of a young horse, but of a stalwart animal with old memories.

I knelt down before his face and buried my head into his muscular shoulder. His neck molded atop the crown of my head. Our hearts beat as one.

There was no ‘breaking in’ of this animal. How do you break in a wild creature? I drew my head back again and gazed into his infinite eyes, and I swear . . . I saw him smile.

– Tara

Don’t be set in Stone.

Over the course of the past couple years, I have received feedback from critique partners and betas that have asked me if certain parts of my stories are true. This happened again last night when I had taken a part of a biblical story and expanded on a small detail.

“Did that really happen?” I was asked.

“No, that is not a real character from the Bible, and no it’s not a real story.” My mind debated my claim, because to me, all of my stories are real. They don’t just seem real, they are real! Ha!

I love it when these conversations take place because I want my fantasy novel to feel real. One of my favorite parts about writing is the interlacing web of research. I start out with one idea and it spirals out of control into a completely different direction.

This happened with a certain stone I placed in my YA fantasy novel, Vagabond. Because I love minerals and geology, I was dead set on Rutilated Quartz (Venus hair stone). The mystical crystal is an energizing stone to help with mental focus, diminishing fears, and obtaining higher spiritual experiences. Absolutely perfect for my seer stone bracelet… or so I thought.

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My wandering research took me to find… Ringwoodite! This unique mineral is found in a vast reservoir of water, enough to fill the Earth’s oceans three times over, which scientist have found may be trapped hundreds of miles beneath the surface. The water is locked up in a mineral called Ringwoodite about 400 miles beneath the crust of the Earth, researchers say. Click here for a pretty cool article.

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Once I had switched the seer stones, from there, my story evolved, changed, became better. All because I was inquisitive enough to not settle with the first thought I had. In my writing I have tried not to write cliches. At times I have fallen victim, just like the rest of us, but I try to take my first thought and think of the opposite reaction.

Here is a chant from my novel Vagabond when my main character is gifted her seer stone bracelet.

“Ringwoodite be the name of the stone.

It is yours, it has found its home.

Formed in the earth’s ocean beneath.

Born from fire, pressure and heat.”

 

– Tara

 

Award time!

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My unpublished Young Adult fantasy novel, Vagabond, won an award!

Click here to read a short synopsis.

The thing that I anticipated most was the feedback from the judges. First, I want to start by offering encouragement to those of you who fear to submit your work. (Or fear critique and criticism in general.) Sometimes I have won, but more often than not, I have lost. It has been worth every emotion because of the feedback I have received from professionals in this crazy business of writing.

Here are a few judges comments that I received.

*I believe this is a page turner that young adults will very likely read in one sitting.

*This story appeals to me tremendously, and not just as a YA book. I think it is a very marketable concept. I would absolutely buy this book and then buy one for my niece.

The comment that left me grinning from ear to ear was

*Your love interest is captivating and oozes with sexuality. 

That one made me giggle! Because, for an author who writes clean romance, that is exactly what I love to hear. I do not write erotica, nor will I. I believe characters can have the same attraction, if not more so, by focusing on the dynamics of the relationship, not the dynamics in the bedroom. I have met a kaleidoscope of women and men in all their varying degrees and comfort levels of romance. Because of this, I have only respect for anyone who conveys their truth.

Speaking of clean romance authors, the lovely Sarah M. Eden (pictured above with me) was in attendance at the awards banquet. As she spoke to the gathered crowd, she reminded me about the “why’s” of writing, not the “what if’s.” If you have not read her books, you need to. Like, right now.

Authors are dreamers, inquisitive wielders of words and thoughts. It is easy for us to get lost in the “what if’s”, daydreaming about book sales and five star ratings, but that is not why we write. It isn’t for me anyway. I write because I must. I write because it is an outlet for my heart to bleed or vent or dream. I write for myself.

I want to thank you judges (whoever you are) and all of my fabulous critique partners. You guys make it fun!

Tara

 

 

 

 

Broken Smiles coming September 23rd!

I feel like I did when I was six months pregnant and people would ask “when are you due, you look huge, when’s the baby coming?”

Well, I finally have a “due date” for my novel Broken Smiles – September 23rd 2014!

Six months pregnant, that’s where I’m at in my book publishing… only three months left! I need to have this fetus of a book gestate a bit more. I need to feed it, nourish it, care for it, and yes, keep it all to myself for just a little longer. This book has grown inside of me. It has made me nauseous, sick, and yet elated.

This novel used to be only a concept. It has grown, matured and I’ve even taken it to be put under a microscope or ultrasound for inspection. I have been pregnant with it for years. So it’s about time it breaks free!

Am I ready? No… yes… I don’t know. Are we ever truly ready for parenthood? Gah! The responsibilities. The doubt. The fear. The unknown.

This is a novel of my heart. I have written many other novels and short stories since Broken Smiles. But this was my first. I love all of my “babies” but there is something about the first of anything.

I hope you celebrate with me on it’s birthday, come mid-September!

Tara

 

Remembering the Tiananmen Massacre…

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I remember the day… cloudless. Always cloudless, for there is no sky in Beijing. Grey haze of toxic pollution, equivalent of smoking seventy cigarettes, blanketed Tiananmen Square. We awoke early to watch the daily flag ceremony. The droves of people who gathered on the paved plain, was staggering, even at that early hour. Soldiers marched in syncopating rhythm. Silent and eerie. Like marching robots to a dawn of war. Every morning they do this.

I had traveled on a suffocating forty hour train ride, during the Chinese New Year, from my home near Guangzhou to visit Beijing. That is a whole other story for another post. Let’s just say I came home with a parasite and I’m pretty sure it was because of those trains!

I was twenty, and the whole world was at my fingertips. Excitement and curiosity bubbled inside my stomach as I observed the gathered crowd. The older generation wore muted hues, which mirrored the dismal sky, but the younger generation donned vibrant colors, resemblance of their newfound courage. We had spent the entire day flying kites on the square, ecstatic as can be. We also meandered within the walls of the Forbidden City. Oh if walls could talk! We could only wander through the 600 year old structures left behind. Imagining stories of 24 different emperors, 9,000 concubines, and thousands of eunuchs; with their 100 course daily meals and the wealth of the world at their disposal. Again, another post for another time.

It was here, standing at the “gates of heavenly peace”, (Tiananmen translated)  and the Mausoleum of Mao (Where Mao Zedong has been embalmed for viewing) where I learned about the massacre which had occurred June 4, 1989. I had never heard about, read about, or even knew that event had happened. I followed the huge human river to the different sights, learning about this event from a skewed point of view.

Standing before the Socialist Statue, my friend mumbled beneath his breath. “That is jacked up.”

“What do you mean?” I replied.

“Hundreds, if not thousands of students demanding freedom, lost their lives — right here.”

I gazed around the massive Tiananmen square, imagining it lined with tanks and soldiers who had opened fire into the protestors only eight years earlier. People, mostly my age at the time, had fought for freedom… and died for the concept of freedom. A statue, the Goddess of Democracy, in resemblance of the Statue of Liberty, had been erected. Only to be crumbled beneath the teeth of a tank.

The smog seemed to darken around me, as if the spirits of those protestors swooped down to beg for remembrance. And yet, those voices had been silenced, shoved under a rug — not allowed to be remembered. A stone sat in my gut the remainder of the day. As time went on, that stone simmered to an angered flame. Living in the communist country, I was unable to research that terrible tragedy, as it has been erased from their national history and called a “political incident.” It wasn’t until I moved back to the U.S.A that I was able to resurrect the memories which haunted me that day. I wrote papers in college and read what I could.

Now, on the 25th year anniversary, those feelings surface. I close my eyes and think of the brave men and women who fought for democracy, for equality, for freedom. The photo below, is courage at its core. Image

 

I am blessed to have freedom.

Tara