Featured Books Friday!

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The kick off to Featured Books Friday was awesome last time! Thank you to all who participated and purchased books. Please check it out if you want by clicking HERE.

I will be doing the same thing this week.

In the comments put the title, your name, genre, and purchase link along with a blurb or scene from your book under 500 words. (please no erotica or over the top violence)

Here’s mine:

Broken Smiles by Tara Mayoros. Women’s contemporary romance.  http://www.amazon.com/Broken-Smiles-Tara-Mayoros-ebook/dp/B00NU69UMU/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1429659605&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=broken+smils

****

Taking her first look at the doctor, Laidan shrank in her seat.

Quickly assessing her appearance, she groaned, thinking about her reflection in the mirror earlier that morning.

Standing at the front of the room, he held the audience captive. He stood tall and fit like an unyielding tree. It grounded Laidan, and for some reason she thought of roots climbing up her legs, holding her captive. An air of confidence swam about him. His brown hair fell long enough to reveal a small wave. Her heart that had skipped a beat moments earlier, was all but pounding now.

The doctor’s voice rang confidant and clear as he spoke. “And that is why I have visited a few hospitals here in the States. The fact of the matter is — I need funding. These kids need your support.” His hand came to his face and rubbed his cheek as if he wasn’t used to its smoothness. Looking up to the slideshow, Laidan noticed how his eyes softened at the sight of the children standing in front of the humble building made of concrete and rocks. The dense backdrop of banana trees and hanging vines seemed to warm the hospital chill around her. The children made funny faces at the camera, and she smiled, imagining the relationship the doctor had with his patients.

He turned to the audience, eyes scanning the room, as if he dared anyone to not help out. His brown eyes passed over her dismissively. Her heart dropped.

Then, very pointedly, his eyes shot back to hers. They held her gaze in a comfortable moment. A shot of butterflies injected straight to her stomach. Her eyes perused his face. His brow showed poise, his easy presence filled the entire room, and his returning smile disclosed a small tease. She didn’t think about how she looked or that she had bloodshot eyes — she knew in that moment he saw beyond her appearance. A blush rose to her face and tickled at her ears.

She felt her friend shaking her rather aggressively.

Andi whispered impatiently in her ear. “I said, are you cold? Do you want my jacket?”

“No, why?”

“Well, your arms are completely covered in goose bumps.”

****

Thanks for stopping by –

Tara

Hidden Gems

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This is a photo of me driving up to the mountains looking for hidden gems. It was by sheer accident, as my son snapped a photo of the waterfall, that the reflection on the car glass made my face appear to be part of the cliff. My hair weaves with the crags and crevices. My shoulders and body are clothed with trees and dirt.

There have been no alterations to this photo. I like to think that this reflects how much the mountains, and their plentiful hidden gems, are a part of me. 🙂

* A couple weeks ago I went to a low key concert in a neighbor’s home. The hosts had graciously brought in the talented singer/songwriter, J. Wagner. As usual, I sat, enamored to the songwriting.

Before one of the final songs, the musician talked about the dry spells that writers go through. He talked about a particularly long personal drought and how he wandered and wondered along the streets aimlessly, frustrated about his lost muse. People scuffed past, birds sang above, but still… nothing.

Out of the crowd, a gaggle of women past him. An elderly woman’s voice rang out and found his uninspired ears.

“Honey, I left my laughter buried beneath the river years ago.”

Golden, brilliant gem of words!

He said, that like a flash of lightening, a song came to him and he wrote it down in a notebook that he always kept in his pocket. It soon became this song…

Writers need to open our eyes and ears. And for heaven’s sake, don’t leave the house without a notebook.

So, I just finished up my taxes for the first year as a published author. As I was flipping through my receipts, I thought about all the things I should or could write off. Lunches with friends. Dinners with husband. Mileage up to the canyon. The sack lunch that I took hiking up to hidden hot pots. Writing is woven into every part of my life. Nuggets of inspiration fly through the night sky, or appear in a movie, or are in the way my kids react to one another.

A few years ago I heard a keynote from the amazing author Anne Perry. She spoke about the details in our lives that prick our hearts and make us stand in awe. Her hidden gem is “light dancing on water.” My mother’s is “clouds.” A friend of mine is “owls.” I thought to myself, “mine are the mountains.” If I am ever stuck in my writing, I take to the mountains. I always have, and I always will.

When I was in junior high I had a friend who said he wanted to marry me because he didn’t know any girl who loved nature and the mountains more than I. My husband said the same words. I said yes to him because I knew he was sincere and I loved the way he loved me… and the way he loved the mountains. 

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But what if our dry spell happens for no reason? What if we move to the desert, far away from mountains? Or we live in a city where there is pollution and not clouds? Or what if we are surrounded by all the things that should give us moments of brilliancy and reflection, but our minds are too polluted within the daily dredges that inspiration never gets filtered through?

Look smaller. Sometimes pearls of wisdom and diamonds of dialogue hit us on a crowded street when we are walking around aimlessly.

I find Hidden Gems everywhere. 

Because I look for them.

What is your hidden gem? Do you have a detail in life that inspires you?

Happy writing-

Tara

Featured Book Friday!

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Today is my first installment of Featured Book Friday!

Every Friday, authors can post in the comments below with a blurb or a scene of less than 500 words, along with one purchase link. I love all genres: Fantasy, Horror, Romance, Mystery, Memoir… you name it. I only ask that your book doesn’t contain extreme violence, erotica, and massive swearing. I would say family friendly, but I don’t always read family friendly, but I would like the audience to know what they are getting into.

Oh yes, and I will be purchasing all the books in my comments during the launch of this new program. I love the writing community and want to share your book with others!

Here is my example: (Book Name, Genre, Author, Link, 500 word or less blurb)

Broken Smiles (Women’s contemporary romance) by Tara Mayoros

http://www.amazon.com/Broken-Smiles-Tara-Mayoros-ebook/dp/B00NU69UMU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1429284791&sr=8-1&keywords=Broken+Smiles

“Could you point us in the direction of the doctor?” Kort asked the group. “No one else seems to speak English around here.”
Pointing to himself, he said, “Well, I guess that would be me.” The doctor extended his hand and then retrieved it, as it was covered in grease. “My name is Rafe Watkins.”
“My name is Kort. This is Andi, and this,” nudging her forward but still in a protective stance, “is Laidan.”
While Kort proceeded to make arrangements with the doctor, Andi and Laidan exchanged glances. Andi nodded toward the doctor and wagged her eyebrows up and down. Laidan let out a small giggle.
With the smile still frozen on her face, she looked up at the doctor. His returning smile teased at his lips and stopped her heart for a moment. Her cheeks blushed fiery hot. Instantly, she thought back to the hospital in Denver and realized his effect on her had not changed one bit.
I wonder if he remembers me at all.
Panic turned her internal butterflies into a swarm of bees stinging as she realized he might recognize her, only this time, as Lady Laidan. Her eyes darted to the ground, and she lowered her sunglasses to conceal her eyes — and her identity. She ached to be in a place where people didn’t harass her and where she could be completely free.
Not that he could have noticed who Laidan was after she had cut her long, gorgeous hair and refused to wear the colored glasses. Even Andi had said she a hard time matching Laidan’s new image to her music. Now her hair fell to her chin with choppy layers that framed her face.
She heard Rafe clear his throat.
“I’ll show you guys where you’ll be staying.” He reached down and helped Laidan with her bags. Their hands touched on the handle of her suitcase, which sent an electrifying jolt up her arm. Quickly she looked up at him and was met with warm brown eyes that melted her worry. She hoped the sunglasses hid the softness mirrored beneath her eyes.
Andi broke their gaze as she said, while pinching her nose, “I hope you have better bathrooms than some of the places I’ve seen around here.”
Rafe laughed as he stood holding Laidan’s suitcase and backpack. “Sorry, Andi, was it? There’s one bathroom for everyone in the dorms to share.” He paused at the look of horror on Andi’s features and then pulled a sarcastic face toward Laidan. “I guess I shouldn’t say that the toilets are actually just holes in the ground.” He chuckled.
Andi threw her hands in the air. “For real! Laidan… seriously? This is where you wanted to go?”
Kort grabbed Andi’s bag and said as he nudged her, “Oh come on, Andi, it’s not so bad.”
“Yeah for you, cause you’re a dude!” Andi snorted.
“Just look at it as an adventure,” Laidan said, raising her eyebrows at Rafe. “She’s dramatic. You’ll get used to it.”
Andi huffed toward the dorms, and Laidan thought she heard, “All that money and this is…” She was too far away to hear any more, nor did she want to be reminded of all that.
Rafe strolled beside her. “If you ever need to use a real bathroom, I built one in my home over there.” He nodded toward the tree line.
Laidan gasped at the sight of his quaint little bungalow safely tucked in the trees. The wooden architecture looked simple, while the grass thatch roof flared at the ends with an Asian design. Beside the open shutters, the windows were breezy and welcoming. Laidan relaxed while looking at it. The bamboo porch wrapped around the front, and an ancient-looking swing anchored the space. It reminded her of the lake house.
“It’s wonderful,” she said, impressed.
He leaned down and whispered in her ear. “It’s not much to look at, but I call it home.” He stood tall, walked ahead, and then said, as if thinking out loud. “It could probably use a woman’s touch.”
His words sank deep, and Laidan stopped. While staring at the bungalow, the aching of belonging somewhere pounded with her beating heart. At that same moment, a bird sang out amidst the trees as if it had called her home.

***

A huge thank you to all who stop by and for those of you who share your book in the comments!

Tara

A Year of Paying It Forward

Below is a fantastic blog post and I vow to follow suit. I have bought many books from indie and small press authors as well as traditionally published. Years ago, I made a comparable connection within the music industry. My tastes have never been the top 100 Billboard list or what you hear over and over on the radio. I’ve always enjoyed new music and singer/songwriters.
The same goes for books. The writing community is like a large family. I love supporting others like me who work hard and don’t necessarily do this for fame and fortune, but because an unquenchable fire burns inside us and the only way to release the flame… is by words.
Glad to see others doing the same thing. Now I will go and check out some of the recommendations.

Suffolk Scribblings

Pay it forward

A year ago almost to the day I had an epiphany. At the time I was spending an awful lot of effort encouraging people to buy my recently published book, Second Chance, but realised every book I’d bought myself up until that point was published by one of the major publishers. I’d not bought, or read, an indie book, yet here I was trying to persuade others to buy mine.

The reason for not buying indie wasn’t snobbery but laziness. I bought books from authors I knew. I rarely tried anything new, and it was even rarer for me to read outside of my favourite genre comfort zone. Yet I’d received lots of support from the indie writing community, both how to write and publish a book, as well as lifting me up when my spirits were down. I knew I wanted to do something to pay the community back and support my…

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To Prologue or not to Prologue

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Whether or not you should write a prologue into your novel, has been a debate that I have seen over the years. The topic has come up many times in writing conferences and during writing competitions.

I have written prologues for every one of my stories… and then omitted them.

Here’s why…

* Most of the time I realized that prologues are big info dumps for either world-building or history. (click here for my post on info dumping) Sure, it is very important information, but can it be integrated or even changed to chapter one with a few tweaks? If you are using the prologue to set the mood or create the setting, uh, why wouldn’t you just do that in chapter one?

* I realized most of the time my prologue didn’t hook my reader. (click here for my post on how to hook your reader.) No one wants to read a boring prologue, no matter how vital the background information. When you pick up a book from the library or bookstore, do you find yourself skimming past the prologue? Studies show that most people do.

* Prologues are sometimes snatched from a scene in the novel and placed in the beginning. Personally, I don’t like this kind of introduction to a story. I think of movies that do this and one of the only ones that worked for me was in Breaking Bad. The opening scene was Walt in his underwear in the middle of the desert.

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Every scene thereafter leaves the viewer guessing… how did Walter White get there? When we finally find out, it clicks, but then the story continues past that scene. I think it is easier to do this kind of a prologue in movies, not books. It’s usually a sign of sloppy writing where the writer wants to tell the reader – wait, here’s a glimpse into the good stuff – but you won’t find it until half way through the book.

Personal experiences about Prologues.

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* I have entered my works in progress into many first chapter and beginning of book contests. Most every competition has stated that they do not want the prologue included. They want it starting at Chapter One. Why? Because the judges want to get to the meat of the story. When I started to see this over and over again, I realized that I think the judges probably have the same attention span as future readers.

* The best advice I received was for my work in progress, Vagabond. It is a young adult low fantasy novel. Many fantasy and sci-fi novels have prologues. I thought I could bend the rules and keep it in the story because of the genre:

I was told a few years ago, and I wholeheartedly agree, that my prologue had a different voice than my first chapter. My prologue sounded somewhat biblical, which made me happy because that is what I was going for. But, and this is a Big But… the young adult reader would most likely think that my entire story was written that way. People, especially teenagers, have the same attention span as a goldfish. What teenager wants to read something that sounds biblical? Yea, the light dawned for me, too.

* I am in five writing groups. I have read a lot of prologues-in-progress. Last week I went to Dave Farland’s professional writing workshop. Most of us were fantasy writers. Therefore, most of us had written prologues. We contributed and critiqued each others work and I could see how many of the prologues were unnecessary. A few things the instructor Dave said were: don’t use, don’t use, don’t use.

* Personally, I love them in books. I always read them. I write them, too. That is why I write them for myself and then keep them for myself. They are helpful to the author because it fleshes out important information. But it’s best to keep it to yourself or use as deleted scenes for when your novel becomes a blockbuster movie! Prologues generally can be sprinkled into the novel — preferably in the first few chapters. I have used dialogue and short glimpses of backstory from my main character to incorporate the prologue.

* It felt like cutting off a leg when I cut my prologue from Vagabond. Was my story enough to stand on its own? Yes, I think it is stronger now. But I still love my prologue. Most of it was in my villains point of view, so I have sprinkled it elsewhere. I’ll keep it for when my books become movies. 🙂

I would love to hear your comments. Do you like to read or write prologues? If so, why? I would love conclusive evidence.

Happy writing –

Tara

Here are a few other blog posts on writing prologues that you might find helpful.

David Farland – My Story Doctor – follow his writing tips! He’s fantastic. I scanned for one on prologues and became impatient because he has maybe a couple hundred excellent tips on writing. So just read through all of them 🙂

Kristen Lamb – 7 Deadly Sins of Prologues – follow her fabulous blog!

K.M. Weiland – skip the prologue – good read!

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