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

You Are Here

Last weekend I attended a writers conference. My favorite class was not about the writing craft, or marketing, or platforms, or press releases, etc. It was called,

“I’ve achieved my dreams, so why am I so miserable?”

It was very opportune for me, and kind of changed my way of thinking. The reason is because I sat in this advanced class where so many people on many different levels in the writing and publishing journey, had many of the same feelings as I.

I’ve decided that the finish line of being an author or artist or musician is not actually a finish line, but a horizon that we chase.

The instructor gave each one of us a balloon and a marker. (By the way, my anticipation of balloons popping, made me sit on the edge of my seat. I used to work at a flower shop and would cringe whenever I had to blow up balloons. The inevitable popped balloon would scare the crap outta me!) Anyway, she made each one of us write expectations that were never met or failed perceptions.

Here were some of the shared answers from mostly published authors:

No awards, no recognition, hard to get reviews, bad reviews, no support from family, people telling them to stop and get a real job, marketing, dismal book sales, poor contracts, over-saturated market, not another book contract after their book sold with a big publisher, etc. Oh, the list went on and on and the balloons became graffitied with words and I sunk in my chair, not caring if all the balloons popped at once.

We spent half the class discussing each of these so called notions. The authors opened up and there was no pride, no competition — only people.

The instructor compared the creative journey to a roller coaster. But because I am a mountain climber, I want to compare it to peaks and valleys.

We don’t strap our butts into a cart with wheels and go for a loopty-loop ride — we work, we climb, we hike.

It’s always an uphill battle. Sometimes through mud, forging rivers, and bouldering on hands and knees. But we keep moving against the voice that says it’s too hard. When we finally fight through and reach the summit, the clouds part and the view opens before us.

Now, here… here you are faced with a decision. Before you stands endless more mountains. Some, from this vista, seem small. But some summits are taller than the one that just about did you in.

YOU ARE HERE

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(Photo found on theultralinx.com)

What do you do?

Do you sink to your knees in defeat? Or do you enjoy the view?

I can honestly say that while climbing actual physical mountains, rain or shine, I have smiled throughout the entire journey and when I reach the summit, I want to continue to the next.

Why is it that my metaphor is so hard when it comes to writing?

I feel like I have summited a mountain by getting my debut novel published and a novella coming out within the next couple weeks. Now, the view before me seems daunting and it changed. I didn’t want it to change. I seriously thought the years of revising, the editing, and the critique was the hard part. But for me and many other authors, it is all the issues that were written upon the balloons that I listed above.

The thing is, the journey of writing is worth it to me. I am learning to enjoy this next process and I had to let so many things go.

Here are a few things that I’ve realized and have helped me.

** Get rid of the illusion of perfection and failure. Listening to all of the other authors made me realize that we all have these same thoughts no matter what summit or valley you are standing on.

** Tell your muse to come at a better time. I used to write whenever the muse attacked me, even if it meant time away from family. Now, I am more strict when I will listen to it. I ask myself if I am doing something or with people that are more important than my itchy fingers. Because in reality, nothing is more important than relationships with those that I love.

** Get rid of crisis management and stick to a schedule. I have to relearn this over and over again. I promise, a schedule works for a writer, and depending on how much time you can and want to give it, it can morph with your responsibilities and demands of everyday life.

** Balance. This changes all of the time. For example, last month I was knee deep in soccer practices, football practices, book deadlines, jobs, music lessons, etc. It was almost hard to breath. This month sports are over, deadlines are past, and now I have more time to spend on writing. It is the give and take, the moving things around, while still maintaining control.

** Don’t compare. That was what I learned most from sitting in the room with the other authors. I think comparing makes us depressed and frustrated at our own horizons and views that we should be enjoying. The thing we need to realize is that everyone is standing someplace different than you on their climb to the summit or their descent to the valley.

At the end of the class the instructor had us all pop our balloons. Everything we wrote on those balloons are illusions. The reality is YOU ARE HERE, in this ever changing journey, so enjoy it.

Have a good day,

Tara