About taramayoros

Author of Broken Smiles. Artist. Nature lover.

Wonder Woman beat sheet!

I loved the movie Wonder Woman. I’ve been waiting for it my entire life. See.

(Mash up of Wonder Woman and Spider Girl, with facial hair of course. 🙂 )

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With all of this hype about the release of the DVD, I’m reminded of when I dissected the storyline. The very first time I saw the movie on opening day, I noticed how it followed the Save the Cat story structure by Blake Snyder. It really clicked at the “High Tower Surprise” moment and then all of the other beats fell into place.

My family knows I’m a pretty tough movie critic and so they always ask me what I think afterwards. Wiping the remaining tears, I whispered, “it was perfect.” Then I proceeded with an avalanche of words at why the story, to me, was so perfectly told. The fourth time I saw Wonder Woman in the theaters, it was so apparent that it followed Save the Cat, I brought a timer and timed when all of the beats hit.

I’ve been using the Save the Cat method for several years now. Here is a detailed Blog Post I wrote about marrying Save the Cat and the Scrivener writing program. It’s the same structure that my critique group uses when we discuss our manuscripts. Pinpointing the obvious beats in Wonder Woman has helped me define more clearly my own stories.

Here are the beats along with the times that they hit. (Obviously there are massive spoilers below because I’m outlining the whole movie.) People who use Save the Cat, what do you think?

Opening Image: first 9 minutes. Shows her as a child and shows her determination.

Theme Stated: 9 minute mark of the movie. I think the goal is “You are stronger than you believe.” They say it right when when she is looking at the sword. But I think the theme of the movie is, “Love will save the world.” She says it several times toward the end.

Set – up: everything before 14 minutes. Time at Themyscira, training, her growing up. Also, the bad guys are introduced. Show how and why Diana needs to change to win. Show what she’s lacking. The calm before the storm.

Catalyst: This hits right at the 14 minute mark. The catalyst is the first moment when something BIG happens. And that moment is when Diana witnesses the plane crash into the ocean. Then the fight on the beach follows. Life changing events.

Debate: 30-36 minute marks. Should Diana go to the world of men? There is an actual debate in front of her mother. The Debate moment is the last chance for the hero to say “this is crazy.” Should I go? Do I dare? Moment of truth. Make a firm decision and off she goes.

Act 2 (break into two): 38 minute mark. Moment when she leaves the old world. Diana goes to London. There is a definite change of scenery and tone. She is now on her journey. She states how hideous London is. Yes, a definite change of scenery.

B Story: 40 minute mark. The love story portion. The story that carries the theme (Love will save the world) of the book. Diana holds hands with Steve Trevor, she sees a baby, walks through London taking it all in. B-story is a breather. Can introduce a brand new bunch of characters.

Fun & Games: 45 minute mark. This is such an obvious beat change. We take a break from the stakes and see what the idea is all about. The music even changes, the lighting is brighter, the tone is lighter. This is when she eats ice cream, tries on the different clothing, fight in the ally. Gathering the team in the bar. Asks about plan.

*We see the bad guys again. Also, the tone starts to change again after the fun and games leading up to the mid point. This changes because we see the affects of the war. And the bad guys kill the generals with poison.

Midpoint: This hits exactly at 1:08 (one hour eight minutes mark) It is almost exactly the time of the movie cut in half, which is 2 hours 21 minutes long. Stakes are raised at midpoint. This midpoint moment is when she is climbing up the stairs, in her armor, up into the war and no man’s land. Epic music blares. She pauses–just so we see how awesome she is! And she is. I swear, this is about when the tears started flowing for me. It was a rally cry. This is when I knew, just knew, that women in movies would never be the same. I would’ve followed her into the war, that’s how powerful this scene was to me!

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*Then coming off of the midpoint we see a false defeat. A & B story start to come together as they dance and kiss.

Bad guys close in: 1:22 (one hour twenty-two minute mark) This is the Gala. The Dance. Then the bad guys and bombs and gas hit at 1:25. Wonder Woman follows Ares.

All is lost: 1:33 She kills Ares, but why are people still fighting? Diana is distraught. All is lost moment is a false defeat. All aspects of the hero’s life are in shambles.

Dark night of the soul: 1:35 Men are weak, men aren’t to be trusted. People aren’t always good. She wants to give up. Dark night of the soul moment is when we admit our humility and humanity.

Break into Three: 1:41 – A and B story intertwine. An idea to solve the problem has emerged. This is when Diana is bound and watches as Steve stops the bomb with his plane.

Act Three, finale begins – 1:48 (gathering team, execute plan, high tower surprise, dig down deep, execute new plan) High tower surprise. The setting is set on a high tower–perfect! The surprise is that she killed the fake Ares. The true one rises up. Here is the “men are evil” debate. Flashback to the Gods. God killer. You are broken. Wonder Woman has to dig down deep. Then her full powers come. Theme is stated, again. “Love will save the world.” And ta-daa, it did! I also loved her badassery when she was fighting Ares! So so good.

Final Image: 1:58 -(one hour fifty-eight minutes) The final image is opposite of the opening image. It is your proof that change has occurred and that it’s real. So instead of her being surrounded by her family in Themiscyra, she is surrounded by humans in a crowd after the war. She smiles at people kissing on the streets and then she sees a photo of Steve–both images are another nod to the theme. Then there is a bonus final image of Wonder Woman looking at the black and white photo of her friends. She says the theme, “Only love can truly save the world. So I stay and I fight and I give.”

The End: 2:21

Well, what do you think? Do you agree with the beats? I would love to hear and discuss with you. Now excuse me while I go pop some pop corn. . . I’ve got a movie to watch.

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Tara 🙂

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My tumultuous relationship with a manuscript:

My tumultuous relationship with a manuscript:

Upon first meeting, nearly seven years ago, it was love at first sight. I was overcome. Passionate words were brought to life in the quiet hours of night. I pined over my new manuscript when we were not together during the days. The characters, the setting, the story, consumed my thoughts like the raging hormones of a teenager.

Oh we had some glorious times! I felt alive, free, and blissfully happy! But love is blindness and so I didn’t see the mistakes, the enormous plot holes, or the seeds of doubt over my entire outline. I was blinded by cutest couple awards and sweet caresses at night.

Over the years those relationship problems have grown more acute. I’ve sat down with my manuscript and have given it a stern talking to about its wayward looks and wild side. I’ve tried to wrap it up into a clean outline. But we end up laughing, then crying, because both of us know that isn’t us. But the thing that really kills us is the comparison . . . the looking at the success of other relationships, then looking at each other and saying, “why can’t we be like that?”

Over the years I have shown this manuscript to my friends and put it through relationship advice. We even went through intense therapy for a year. Some friends thought it was adorable and that we were perfect for each other. My therapist? Not so much. The advice was welcome, but hurt, and I wondered if I was in an unhealthy relationship with my manuscript. I’ve revised and reworked it nearly twenty times. How could something I love hurt me so?

There have been moments, sometimes years, when we have broken up. I needed space. I dated around in the form of publishing three other books. I flirted and finished a dozen other stories. This manuscript has killed me and I have killed it and either we cannot live together anymore with all these questions and wondering, or we have to date exclusively. It’s all or nothing.

I keep going back to the bones, to the root of our love, and looking at it without the advice or the critique of others. I’ve dissected it to the point that I might have killed the passion. When you fight so much, where is there room for fun and passion?

So, I’m asking for relationship advise. What do I do with this manuscript? To completely break up with it would shatter my heart. To stay in this relationship would take a great deal of work and most likely more future cutting heartache. Maybe I try one last time to resurrect what first brought us together. Maybe the years have matured both of us. Maybe we will survive this. Maybe we won’t. Maybe, Maybe. What May Be?

Maybe I just let it go…

But maybe I don’t…

** Update on our relationship status: **

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I took these questions and concerns to the mountains and contemplated our final break up. I stared at a jagged mountain without a trail. Upon the pine-scented breeze a gentle kiss caressed my cheek, followed by a whisper in my ear.

“I love you,” my manuscript said to me.

I thought about the weight of my response. Old lessons, and encouraging keynotes, and even my own thoughts, came to mind. My eyes drifted again to where the shrouded summit met the clouds. Another attempt at an ascent, with my manuscript in tow, might kill me. I’d been circling this relationship, this mountain, worrying about breaking up, but also worrying about staying together.

I waited a long time to respond. But this manuscript is patient, even though the feeling is unreciprocated. I took a deep breath in lungs that aren’t used to high elevation changes. I placed my ailing feet in a river that had given me lazy comfort.

A peaceful feeling swept over me and a tiny smile found a tiny trail up that enormous mountain.

“I love you, too,” I whispered, as I prepared myself for the climb.

*******

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SO:

Just like a mature relationship, there will be rules, and blisters, and cliffs and grand vistas. And I will look for joy in all of them.

Here is my plan.

HERE IS MY DAY ONE!   (head nod to Storymakers and Jennifer Nelson)

#1 – Mentally and spiritually prepare myself everyday to make this relationship work. Ask for inspiration. Pray. Meditate. Whatever it takes to calm my mind to look at this clearly so that I don’t lose my temper and storm off.

#2 – Look to the future. Reflect on the past in brief moments, but approach this as a new exciting adventure. Even though the packaging or substance is the same, it will have different wrapping. Accept that it might look different . . . again.

#3 – Follow your heart. You’ve listened to enough critique, and feedback, and praise, and especially rejection. Take everything you’ve learned from all those other relationships and put everything into this one. No matter what happens after you’ve given it your all–and you thought you already had–you will rest knowing that you did it with clarity.

#4 – Climb. Everyday climb. Some days the trail will be easy, other days you will have hardly moved. Just move or your body and mind will atrophy. It will come at you like a sudden mountain storm. Remember the elements are fighting against you and you will want to give up if you take the time to stop. It would have been easier to just start another completely different project. But there is history between the two of you and you have weathered many storms.

#5 – Don’t doubt. You were given an answer on what to do about this relationship. Don’t doubt it. Simple as that.

#6 – Surround yourself by inspiration. Make time for creative-minded friends who encourage and uplift. Go to the mountains at least once a week to write or to be surrounded by setting. Summer or winter, explore nature. This is an instant inspiration for me. Take long breaks from social media. Maybe this isn’t for everyone, but social media zaps the creative flow instantly for me. Before I check any social media sites, open up my manuscript first. Show my manuscript that it comes first. Show love and it will return the love.

#7 – Get on a schedule. Organize the household necessities first so that your mind is clear and open. It’s different for everyone, but for me it is a clean kitchen, exercise, work (whether it’s at my job, or doing housework, paying bills, etc.) Then make time for writing by turning all electronic devices and social media off.

#8 – Have fun! Writing is fun. Well, it is more torturous than fun, but if you approach writing with the above goals and don’t give up, then hopefully you will reach the summit with a gratifying smile. Learn to enjoy the journey, not the destination. And absolutely, do not compare. Comparison kills gratitude. Comparison is like a free fall off a cliff. And right now everything hinges on begin grateful for this journey.

More detailed goals just for me:

  • I know that my best writing moments are in the middle of the night. This one is hard for me to figure out. Just know that if I go to bed early I will notoriously wake up in the middle of the night to write. Or if I stay up late, learn how to deal with no sleep. It’s just a fact, no matter how hard I try to work on sleep. You’ve been nocturnal your entire life, just succumb to it. Apply more make-up to the bags under your eyes because we have committed to get off the caffeine, remember?
  • Social Media: For real, get off it. Even though you have deleted it from your phone, maybe have someone else reset a password and then tell you once a week what it is so that you can check it. It seems extreme, but it is a time suck, an energy suck, and a creativity suck. This includes Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram. Twitter doesn’t count, I’m never on there because I hate it. My blog: update my progress weekly on the comment section of this post regarding the progress of working on my manuscript.
  • Go back to not watching TV. Whaaa, Supernatural, I love you, but I’m kind of getting frustrated with season six anyway. Okay, I can watch the new season of Fixer-Upper on Tuesday nights. I really am happier when I am not watching TV and am instead reading or living inside my own stories.
  • Read more. Actually, I get obsessed while reading and have to finish the book in one sitting. Everything else falls away, so read with caution that it will take away from writing. Read excellent words when I do so.
  • Create my create space. Finish my art and writing room. But in the meantime, don’t slack on writing as I’m “waiting” for my space to be ideal. It’s in the mindset, not the daily setting.
  • Save home renovations for Saturdays. This has been the #1 culprit of why my writing has stopped. I’ve lived in chaos and now that the home is coming together, don’t spend time nit-picking all the little projects that still need to be done. You’ve made a to-do list, so get it out of your mental list and work on checking it off on Saturdays.
  • Good music, good attitude, good vibes. Just live in a good space. I have been filled with so much criticism and negative feelings about this manuscript that I need to look for positivity. Flirt together, introduce new things, and let go of the words that aren’t working.    *Fall in love with this manuscript again!*

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My goal is to reach this summit by the end of the year. My summit is to finish revising this manuscript because I love it and I believe that together we can climb hard things.

Thanks for stopping by,

Tara

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Author Life Month

I participated in the #authorlifemonth hashtag again over on Instagram. Here is my month in review. Here is a link to my last year’s author life month.

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I’ll be doing #authorlifemonth again. It’s so much fun to connect with other authors and see behind the scenes. Last year I kept apologizing and wondered if I was bugging people about my daily author life, but the response was nice and I met some really great people.
So anyway, you’ve been warned…

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Day 1 of #authorlifemonth – my books.
My first book, Broken Smiles, was published in 2014. Eight Birds for Christmas was published a few months later as a companion and ebook to my first.
The Christmas ebook bombed. Another publisher wanted to pick it up and rebrand it if I would change the season and some characters. So basically rewrite it.
But I was contractually obligated to the first publisher and besides, there were just so many other books to write and paintings to paint.

A few months ago my third book, The Christmas Bike, was released. It did better than expected.
So having book babies are like real babies. They each come with their own personalities, demands, and temper tantrums.

And I gain weight with every one!

#thechristmasbike #brokensmilesnovel #nohashtagforthebookthatbombed

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Day 2 #authorlifemonth – author photo.
Here ya go. One of the only times I’ve had my hair and makeup all done up.

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Day 3 #authorlifemonth – fan art.

I don’t have much fan art outside of what my husband and kids have done for me.

That would be a great honor–to have someone be inspired by your book, enough to make fan art.

But I do make paintings and sketches of my characters, settings, and details. And maybe I’ll post some tonight.

This tree is a large 3′ painting I did over pages from my pre-edited book. I soaked the pages in coffee grounds, then gessoed them to this canvas, and painted.

Trees are an enormous part of my life, books, and art. I named my daughter after a tree. My thoughts always wander to the forests.
I entered this painting into an art show a while back and had to come up with a description of this work. So here is my submission called “Full Circle.”

— – * Trees become pages. Pages become books. Books plant seeds of learning and escapism, which bloom for others to enjoy.

Yet in every stage of fruition comes a cultivation, a cutting away, a hope for something greater.

The pages beneath this white tree are from a book I wrote. Riddled with unedited, imperfect words, I covered up this growth spurt with angst and wood stain.

Years I poured into this novel which eventually saw the printing press. But what to do with proof of my fertilization of talent, the wayward branches, or the pruning sheers of critique? Were these unedited pages destined for the landfill?

“Turn your flaws into art,” my tree rings of doubt said to me. “Be proud of your mistakes.” And so my roots stretched, my branches reached to the sky, and the brave seed within me grew.

Gesso and paint blends with words and paper. Two artistic expressions that give me joy and fulfillment–all starting with a seed.

I ask you, what seeds are hidden deep within? Are you brave enough to plant them, to fertilize them, to share your blemished story with others?

Beneath every painting is a story. Beneath every story is a person. Beneath every person is a well of unrealized seeds, waiting to be planted.
#creativelifehappylife

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Day 4 #authorlifemonth – my work in progress…
Uh, there hasn’t been much writing going on because of our #taracottaharvesthouse remodel.
We were without a kitchen for many months as we made these floors, set new cabinets, hung shiplap, knocked down a wall, built another wall, moved every appliance, refurbished lights, and the list goes on and on.
You can look though my hashtag (taracottaharvesthouse) if #homerenovation interests you.
It’s not completely finished, but almost. Soon we will be installing floor to ceiling long subway tile around all those windows! I love all the natural light and that’s probably the main reason why I saw so much potential in this kitchen.
Soon I’ll have time to write more books!!

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Day 5 #authorlifemonth – Where I write.
My create room is under construction, but here is a view from my bed, where words often come.
I write everywhere and can slip away in my mind for many hours while the kids play at Boondocks, or swim at the pool, or while I wait at the car shop.
But my favorite place to write is in the mountains.

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#authorlifemonth – An Awesome Author Moment (aka the humble brag) But whatever, we’ve got to take our good times as they come 🙂

So look past this amazing wooden bowl (I collect wooden bowls–because I hoard awesome things) and look at some of the thank you cards.
I received so many texts, emails, messages, and cards for #thechristmasbike. I’m so glad people liked it!
So my awesome moment is when one lady ordered 20 autographed copies to give out as Christmas gifts and then she GAVE ME A TIP because she said she liked the book so much.
I’ve never heard of an author getting a tip before! It was really cool. I just want to thank all of you who take the time to tell people you enjoyed what they create. It really makes their day-week-month-year.
I’ll probably always remember that stranger who did that to me, as well as all the other nice notes. They keep me going when doubt creeps in.

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The tips of the mountains were glowing tonight. No filter and I think the coloring is beautiful.

It reminds me of a “killed darling” (cut scenes) for #authorlifemonth. It’s kinda embarrassing, but in one of my first books I named a band “Frosted Peaks”–in reference to when the mountains look like this. Anyway, I cut the entire band and all of the characters from the band out of the story. For good reason too, because that name is funny and horrible! #themountainsarecalling #utahisrad #beautahful

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Dedication page on #authorlifemonth – just in time for Valentines Day. ❤️
Of course my first book would be dedicated to my sweetheart. He’s always been such a support and strength to me. Love you Matt.

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My dream retreat for #authorlifemonth:

Give me a cabin cloaked beneath arched trees.
Where storms rumble the windows and shadows reach for me.
Blizzards and rainstorms don’t bother me at all.
I like settings that are broody and moody in the Winter and Fall.

The sunshine is fine for the happy and satisfied.
But I like the dark where imagination is mystified.

So give me the tempests to tame, inside this writer’s brain.
#taracottapoetry
#themountainsarecalling

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#authorlifemonth – critique partners. I’ve had some pretty amazeballs critique partners and friends to talk writing with over the years. This is only a few of my groups.
Currently I meet weekly (yes, weekly!) with the bottom right group, we are missing half of us in the photo. It’s like stepping into a boxing ring every week. It’s humbling, sometimes hurts, but so very helpful. I’ve laughed harder with them then just about anyone, because we like to twist our words.
Writing can be a lonely job. It’s important to find people to talk strictly writing with, because most people’s eyes glaze over when the actual craft of writing is involved.
#critiquegroup #authorlife

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Pilot & Index Peaks in Montana! Research day on #authorlifemonth – (Long post ahead, but I don’t know how else to do it justice)

Oh this wild place! I’ve been going up to Yellowstone since I was a baby, as my Dad was raised near there.
Destiny would bring me to my dear friend @tempesternst and her sister @juliacookecity in High School, whose family has property in #cookecity.
Together we moved horses through Yellowstone, camped alone in secluded places–where we thought we’d get eaten by bears, oil painted outside, and rock climbed. Emily truly is my adventure and artist sister.
Anyway, in college us wild women moved up to Montana and these stunning mountains were in our backyard. So naturally this would later become the backdrop for my work in progress. The love for this setting, and ones like it, has altered my blood and it is easy to escape to them in my mind. But I felt drawn to physically return while writing my fantasy book.
So Matt and I took the kids up there a couple years ago. It became even more alive as I believed my imagined creatures and story might possibly be true. 🙂 While doing research on these mountains, I found that the crumbled mountain-Index Peak (that looks like a witch’s profile) is believed to have been taller than Pilot Peak. These peaks used to be landmarks for miners and trappers. At first the collapsed mountain was named Dog Turd Peak, then Finger Peak, then Index Finger Peak, until finally Index Peak.

I’ve watched the first bone chilling rock climbing ascent up Pilot Peak (in 1932) without ropes! Still quite a feat today with ropes and gear.

Anyway, I LOVE research, especially about plants, mythology, and wild places. I truly think it’s my favorite part of writing.
#beartoothhighway #absarokamountains #themountainsarecalling

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Bucket list for #authorlifemonth.
I’ve never told anyone this book bucket list and don’t plan to until it happens. So I’m going to be very vague, but this place comes to mind every day. Like a mantra.

I used to stare at this swirl of rocks while my feet dangled 200 feet in the air over a cliff. (Sorry mom)
This is where I began writing, while the other high schoolers were in my math and science class. (I don’t approve of ditching school, daughter.) My writing career will have come full circle, like the circle in these rocks, when this bucket list happens.

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Non-author photo for #authorlifemonth–along with a favorite quote… “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” #johnmuir

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Maybe this could be a challenge overcome on #authorlifemonth because redoing this bathroom took forever! Why is it that the smallest spaces take the loooongest to #renovate? Almost there though. I cut and hung all of this shiplap, spaced them out with nickels, then painted it. You can check out other photos of the amazing #patternedtiles on the floor at #taracottaharvesthouse.

The last few projects in this bathroom are: do something about that brass light and then make a #driftwoodmirror with wood I’ve collected. Oh, then make hanging shelves, and hang artwork, and plants, and find cute towels, and make homemade bath soap, and maybe a corner shelf and… Well, it never ends…
And I hate bathroom selfies, so that’s why I’m trying to hide 🙂
#bathroomrenovation #subwaytile #shiplap

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Bookish gift for #authorlifemonth.
Look at the history of this book! It was handed down to me. I find it fascinating.
Tokology-A Book for Every Woman.
I’ve posted about the book before. Click on this hashtag #tarastokology to read the story of this amazing book.
I love #antiquebooks!

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Here’s my last entry for #authorlifemonth. It seems fitting that it should end with an acknowledgement exclamation point‼️
The truth is, I write my acknowledgement pages as I’m writing my book. They get put in my note sections and they evolve. I often refer back to them while writing because books really do take an army of support to get written. My latest book would have remained an unpublished short if not for the encouragement from the people on this page.

So my work in progress that I’ve been writing and revising for years and years already has an acknowledgement page. Even just a few weeks ago I’ve added a couple people to the growing list of supporters.
And I thank each and every one of you who has ever shown interest or support in my writing obsession. 😘

  • Thanks for stopping by!

-Tara

~*Christmas Countdown Blitz*~ The Christmas Bike ~~ Tara Mayoros

Here is a link to a 12 Days of Christmas blog tour for my latest book ‘The Christmas Bike”

Follow the link for behind the scenes, Q&A, and some give-a-ways!

Thanks to everyone who participated in this tour.

Tara Mayoros teaches guitar, paints, occasionally bakes, and loves working with plants. She’s an avid collector of globes and maps, as they help with her incurable case of wande…

Source: ~*Christmas Countdown Blitz*~ The Christmas Bike ~~ Tara Mayoros

The Christmas Bike Release!

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Today is release day for my book,

The Christmas Bike!!!

Here are all of the buy links:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

 

Here is a synopsis: Christmas is already going to be tough for Marie and her family. When a series of events is set in motion long before a Christmas Eve tragedy, she is too occupied to notice God’s grace. An emergency letter to Santa sets her on a quest for a Christmas miracle. With time running out, she prays for the first time in a long time. A miracle does happen, but it is not what she expected.

Concrete Pumpkins: How-to

Fall is my favorite time of year!

And Halloween is my favorite holiday!

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A while ago I made a couple dozen of these concrete pumpkins for a big Halloween party. I gave most of them away, but during our move this summer, I realized we had several left-over that I’d shoved in the basement. My husband complained and complained as to why, exactly, we were moving big clumps of concrete with us to our new house. I told him we weren’t and acted like I was getting rid of them. But I snuck them into the garden shed of the new house. It wasn’t until recently, because of the dang fall yard cleaning, that he realize I’d fibbed a bit.

“These things keep cropping up like they are from a nightmare or something!” he said.

But I couldn’t part with them because I love them. Anyway, I’m keeping two and getting rid of the rest.

Before I do, I wanted to post a how-to, because they were so easy, and cheap, and awesome!

Step One:

Go to the mountains and find some large branches.

Shove them in your car, then clean out the car before the husband gets home!

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Oh, and if you happen upon a rope swing, while looking for said branches, by all means… IMG_2190.JPG

Step Two:

Next, buy those dollar store or Walmart plastic pumpkins.

Fill them with a mix of concrete (quikrete), perlite, and sphagnum moss. If you want the concrete to be smooth, then add straight concrete. But I wanted a worn, rustic look, so I added the other mix-ins. I mixed it in a big wheel barrel because I did so many. For small amounts, you could just use a big bucket for mixing. About 2/3 concrete to 1/3 mix of moss and perlite together. Scoop the mixture into the plastic pumpkins.

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Step Three:

Tap the pumpkins to make sure the concrete settles and that there aren’t any air pockets. Then add in the branches. I added more sphagnum moss to the top of the concrete where the branches go into the concrete. Just cause I thought it would look cool.

Let the pumpkins cure and dry out for two or three days.

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Step Four:

I spray painted all the branches a flat black. I should’ve done this when they were still in the plastic because I kept trying not to overspray onto the concrete. Then you get a razor, scissors, pliers, and pry off the plastic. They are glorious!

(Be careful that the razor doesn’t score into the concrete.)

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Step Five:

Because this was for a big halloween party in a huge space, I wanted drama and height. So we wrapped webbing all around the branches and then hung Halloween decor from the branches. Like bugs and bones and ghosts, etc.

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Step Six:

Once Halloween was over I cut off the branches for storage. I just kept a foot or so and tied an orange burlap bow around the wood sticking out. I also painted the eyes and mouth with black acrylic paint to make them stand out more.

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I’ve loved having these on my front porch!

But my husband hasn’t loved tripping over them.

See, he doesn’t look too pleased, but he really is a happy guy.

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See them on the railing? Beneath the hanging skull? ^^

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Happy Halloween!!!

  • Tara

The Christmas Bike: pre-order!

I am excited to announce that my third novel,

The Christmas Bike,

is set for release on October 11, 2016 and available for pre-order! (click on link)

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Here is a brief synopsis:

Christmas is already going to be tough for Marie and her family. When a series of events is set in motion long before a Christmas Eve tragedy, she is too occupied to notice God’s grace. An emergency letter to Santa sets her on a quest for a Christmas miracle. With time running out, she prays for the first time in a long time. A miracle does happen, but it is not what she expected.

***

This story is true and it happened to me. I wrote this little novella beside the fireplace and twinkling lights of the Christmas tree, while the rest of the house slept. The inspiration to write this story was because of another author who had a similar situation happen to her during the holiday season. I will write about that experience in a later post.

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I also wrote The Christmas Bike as a Christmas gift to my mother and sisters.

I had no intention to seek publication because, to me, it wrote more like a journal entry and less like a structured book. My feelings were raw, my memories thick. It’s the kind of story that was written in a blur of magic.

I hope it feels like magic when you read it. I hope you in turn notice the little miracles in your life, connect the dots, and know that you are not alone.

My publisher and I have been collecting endorsements from people. But my favorite endorsements are personal ones that came from my sisters and mother who encouraged me/forced me to seek representation.

Here are a few professional endorsements:

The Christmas Bike is a tender and sometimes heartbreaking story, told with a rare authenticity; a real, behind the scenes view of motherhood, of struggle, and miracles. Sugar doesn’t fix everything.Angie Fenimore, NYT bestselling author of Beyond the Darkness.

The Christmas Bike broke my heart, then mended it. I love this book!
– Tonya Vistaunet. Owner of A Happy Vista and author of the Color Land series.

Charming narration and a heart-warming journey—I laughed, I cried, and then I went back and read it again.
Laura Rollins, author of Shadows of Angels

The Christmas Bike is more than just another Christmas story—it’s one of resilience, of hope, and of finding the grace we long for.
Emily Wing Smith, author of The Way He Lived and All Better Now.

You are welcome to follow more of my journey writing this novella by viewing my hashtag on Instagram #thechristmasbike.

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Thank you! I can’t wait to get this book into stores and into your hands! And with a price tag that costs less than a gourmet cup of hot cocoa, The Christmas Bike is a perfect read for a winter’s night. 🙂

  • Tara

To view my other books you can click here.