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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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

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.

 

 

Fairy Gardens & Writing: how they relate

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Planting fairy gardens is one of my favorite things to do every spring. I do this for one of my jobs and on occasion, I teach how-to’s.

I’ve planted countless container pots over the seventeen years I’ve been doing this, but planting fairy gardens feels completely different and is always exciting to me.

Here’s why:

I escape into the mini world I am planting. Just like I escape into the worlds I create while writing.

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The writing and planting connection didn’t come to me until recently, while teaching a customer how to plant a desert landscape fairy garden.

“That’s the fairies’ winter home,” I said to her. “They go there when the frost covers their forests.”

The woman looked up at me with big eyes. “Ohmygosh. Yes! I didn’t think of that, but yes!”

I twirled over to another customer. “Oooo,” I said. “I like how those stepping stones trail off beneath that maiden hair fern. Where is it leading to?”

The girl looked up at me and showed her toothy grin. “A waterfall.”

And that’s when years and years of why I love planting mini landscapes, clicked.

It all stems from creating a believable SETTING!

Now, there are rules to planting fairy gardens, just like there are rules to writing.

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1- Scale: Nothing bugs me more than having a huge fairy, or dog, or bird bath right beside an iddy-biddy fairy house the same size. You need to have stepping stones in relation to the fairy house or have people bigger than animals. So, look for trinkets and decor that are to scale.

Scale in writing: This is called world-building. What are the rules, the magic system, the laws? Keep it consistent, and tight, and to scale. Don’t make the reader confused with things that don’t make sense.

 

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2- Plants: To set your fairy garden up for success, the plants all need to be able to survive in one pot together. Don’t plant outdoor with indoor. Or succulents and cacti with ferns. Or sun plants with shade plants. I know this seems like common knowledge, but this is the #1 issue I’ve seen. People buy plants just because they are pretty and then wonder why the beautiful flowers aren’t blooming inside in a dark room.

Plants with writing: I could go on, and on, and on about setting. In fact I have, many times on this blog. Here’s an award winning article I wrote about setting, if interested. I am extremely picky of the plants I see in novels. If the author names a real plant, in my mind, it better be able to grow in that realistic setting. If it’s fantasy, well, go crazy.

 

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3- Layers and texture: A woman I helped the other day was creating an herb fairy garden. She had rosemary, lavender, and curry all grouped together. She asked why it wasn’t working. I moved a few things around and added parsley, basil, and thyme between them. “It’s because all those plants have the same, slender leaves. See how they stand out now that they are next to other, cohesive plants with different texture?” I said. Think how a real forest grows with tall trees, shrubs, then ground cover. Add layers.

Layers and texture in writing: Resonance. Hints. Metaphor. What are you trying to say to the reader? What is the underlying theme? That’s the layers. – Voice. Substance. Emotion. How do you want it to make the reader feel? That’s your texture.

 

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Now, the fun part about fairy gardens is the play time. It’s the escapism. I made this one of The Shire. The whole time I was planting it, I thought about how much I love Tolkien and the vibrant way he creates setting. A customer came in and bought it right as I put it on the table to sell. She was a huge Tolkien fan like me. We were kindred spirits right away and it was because of the playful, whimsical thing that I’d created. It was cool.

As authors, writing should be fun. Creating things are fun. You have the power to create a world that others can escape into. I watch kids, and adults, play with the gardens I create, just like people can read the books I create.

And giving people that escapism to another world, is pretty cool.

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Here are some of my Instagram photos. You’re welcome to follow me for other planting, art, or writing tips.

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Thanks for stopping by!

  • Tara

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Award time!

Last week I won a writing award at UVU for my unpublished YA fantasy novel, Vagabond!!!
When I sat down after my speech and chapter reading, I realized I didn’t thank my mom, or my husband, or anyone, really. 😬
My Mom came to the banquet with me because my husband was out of town. Her and I share the same mind and the same interests. She’s written 5 books, yet has no desire to publish them. (But she should!) She’s painted her entire life, yet has no desire to sell them. (But she should!) My mom’s my hero.
Also, I’ve been blessed with an incredibly supportive husband. He puts up with these two crazy ladies in this photo, that alone makes him a saint. 😀

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Ironically, last nights writing award banquet was also the night of the art show opening at the ‪Springville Museum of Art‬. You know, the show where I was rejected.
Lean in and I’ll whisper something to you… “I’d rather win a writing award than be in an art show.”
😀 🎉
You win some and lose some. Next year, how ’bout I try harder to do both.

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Thanks for stopping by.

-Tara

Job Shadow

One of my favorite recent experiences of being an author was when I had a few teenagers as job shadows. I spent an afternoon in my home with a few budding authors from Junior High.

They came prepared with samples of their work for feedback. I lugged out the huge white board and we discussed plot and character arcs. We even packed a lunch and half way through the job shadow, we went on a “writer’s-block-plot-walk” around a lake in my neighborhood. As I pointed out details and incorporating the senses, I told them how important it is to transport the reader.

I couldn’t believe their level of talent! Kids can be so determined when they’ve found their passion. Their excitement for writing rekindled mine.

It made me think how writing is cross generational. Some of my favorite authors are twice my age. Age is just a number and it’s weird to be that to someone else. I found myself really enjoying their company, their own stories, and their recommendations for books.

Words unite people. Stories and books unite people. I have no doubt that I will see these kids at some of the writing conferences I attend in years to come. They were excited to learn of the many wonderful youth opportunities within the local writing community.

Recently I opened thank you notes from them. I blushed and looked around thinking, “me? You think that about . . . me?” Among other things, they expressed how great the life of an author must be. I laughed and thought that maybe I’d done them a disservice by not informing them of the intense peaks and valleys authors traverse. (see my earlier post)

Still, their enthusiasm made me think that I should enjoy every stage of my writing career more fully. If you doubt your value, or talent as a writer, (or any profession, really) then share your experiences and knowledge with people who are just starting out and look at you with stars in their eyes. It’s kinda cool, kinda funny, and . . . kinda intimidating.

Now, here are a few of my favorite writing quotes.

Happy writing. Thanks for stopping by!

Tara

 

Author Life Month

February was Author Life Month over on Instagram and Twitter. I decided to post the photos—and captions about the photos—from my feed onto my blog. I didn’t post every day,  but I tried. My favorite day was “Challenge Overcome.” It made me realize that every person struggles to be creative. Everyone has the same doubts and the same insecurities, no matter where you are in your career.

Day one. Here was a breakdown of Author Life Month.

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Day Two. Author photo.

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Day Four. Work in Progress.

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Day 5, 8, 9. Book cover comps, awesome moment, challenge overcome.

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Day 10. Non-author photo.

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Day 16. Where you write.

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Day 17. Where I relax.

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Day 22. Dedication Page.

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Day 23. Bucket List item done.

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Day 26. Favorite book outside of genre.

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Day 27. Your signature.

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Day 28. Favorite event accessory.

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Another non-author photo of when I was in Hawaii a couple weeks ago. 

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So there you have it. Find your tribe, it makes the highs and lows bearable. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by!

  • Tara