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.

FullSizeRender-60

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…

FullSizeRender-61.jpg

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

FullSizeRender-62

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

FullSizeRender-63

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

FullSizeRender-64

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!!

FullSizeRender-76

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.

FullSizeRender-65

#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.

FullSizeRender-66
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

FullSizeRender-67
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.

FullSizeRender-68

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

FullSizeRender-69

#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

FullSizeRender-70
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

FullSizeRender-71

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.

FullSizeRender-72

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

FullSizeRender-75

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

FullSizeRender-73
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!

FullSizeRender-74
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 Release!

christmas-bike-the_9781462119325_full-2

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.

A party that was out of this WORLD!

A few weeks ago I attended a writers retreat with dozens of fabulous, talented women. I asked the organizer what I could do to help. She twiddled her thumbs, trying to think of something, because she’s very organized and had everything under control.

“Decorate and come up with a theme,” she said.

Interesting, because the cabin is set in a stunning backdrop and needs no added decor.

But I knew the theme I wanted the moment she asked for one.

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you might know that I love to travel and collect globes.

One of my favorite quotes is from one of my favorite authors.

FullSizeRender-22

“Not all those who

Wander

are lost.” 

-Tolkien

So that was my theme.

Authors travel. We travel in time machines, through  worm holes, throughout history, even to unchartered fantastical worlds. Our writing takes us to places where no others venture to go. But are we wandering . . . lost? Are we a crazy lot of people with our heads in the clouds?

No!

In my humble opinion, we are the ones who keep the world sane. We restore balance to a world that sometimes seems hopeless. Man, I love to read. Books have changed my life many, many times. But I love to write more. I hope to write something someday that changes someone for the better. Authors write to educate, entertain, or uplift. I hope to do all three at some point in my life.

I write because so many times I don’t know what to say. I write to sort out political injustices or religious grievances. I write to explore relationships and to kill off the villains in my personal life.

I write so that I can travel to all the places I wish to go, both in reality and in imagination.

I came up with an activity idea for the writers retreat. I bought a world map and attached it to a large piece of cardboard, then hung it on the wall with a bunch of push pins. I made a sign that said,

“Where in the World does your writing take you?”

IMG_3131

IMG_3133-2

I loved to see where everyone traveled to when they write. If it was fantasy, I had them pin where they were basing the culture or landscape off of in our world.

It sparked many conversations between these authors that in many cases, didn’t know one another. “Oh! I wonder who else is writing a novel set in Hawaii.” “Look, someone is writing a novel set in Nepal. I’ve always wanted to go there!” “I wonder why that pin is in the middle of the ocean. Maybe it’s set on a boat or the city Atlantis. I’m going to go ask around and find out.” Conversations like those made me smile.

Here are a few other things I did for the writers retreat. These could also be altered for a birthday party or a farewell party for someone moving away.

I made about thirty of these wooden plaques. Yes, I love writers that much!

IMG_3130

It was a lot of work, but I wanted them to have something to take home. I collect maps and atlases, so I cut a bunch of maps down to size, sent them to the printer, and had them print the Tolkien quote on top. I shredded the paper edges, mod-podged them on pre-cut wood, then stained everything. If you want more information on how to make these, you can ask in the comment section. But it was very much like my process of my tree painting, shown here.

IMG_3217

I also love plants and brought a whole bunch of orchids and hydrangeas with me. These were for give-a-ways and drawings. I lined the pots with plastic to collect water, wrapped the pots and liners in map fabric, then tied with a piece of twine. My favorite part was that I printed a whole bunch of inspiring quotes on scraps of atlas, stuck them on skewers, and put them in the plants. All of them related to the theme and were easy to find because Pinterest is my favorite site ever! Here is my quote board on Pinterest.

IMG_3128

I also made atlas wreaths.

IMG_3134-2   photo-17   FullSizeRender-26

And atlas banners.

FullSizeRender-25   FullSizeRender-23

Here we are staying up past 2:00 am playing games. So much fun!

But the most important part was the treat table. I mean, writers need fuel. Right?

FullSizeRender-24

My treat contribution were those atlas pages, which I shaped into cones, and then filled with candy. So easy and transportable to all those nooks and crannies that we authors like to find and write in!

Well, there you have it. Now you know how writers party.

  • Tara 🙂

Featured Books Friday!

Image-7

Here we go again with Featured Books Friday! Click here, here, or here for other great book blurbs I’ve had in the past.

You are welcome to share—in the comment section of this blog—your name, book, purchase link, and a 500 word blurb or scene from your novel.

You are welcomed and encouraged to share on your social media sites. It’s exciting to see that readers are introduced to books they would have normally not found otherwise.

Thank you for contributing!

BrokenSmiles_1600x2400

Here’s my blurb and link for Broken Smiles (women’s romance)…

Laidan smiled over at Kort and took note how he dwarfed the Chinese. Despite his size, he looked graceful as he slowly circled his arms about his body.

With eyes closed, he stepped forward and turned with both hands pushing forward as if to ward off an attacker. Then slowly he, along with the group, brought their fingertips toward the earth and circled their head with one hand while they took yet another step forward and balanced on the other foot.

While Laidan watched Kort, she thought of his fighting skills and the success he’d had in Mixed Martial Arts. She wondered if it felt strange to him to be doing all of these moves in slow motion. From the look of peace she saw upon his brow, she decided that he was a natural, and that tai chi was an inner fight. The storm brewed inside as the external motions were peaceful and slow. As the fight for balance between body and mind came together, inner peace was found.

For Laidan, it was a moment to connect with herself. As her mind relaxed, she felt again the calm within the storm. She thought of the night before, standing in the raging river, holding fast to Rafe as the water swirled about them. He calmed her. She realized he still probably didn’t know much about her, at least her biggest secret of being a musical icon, and she wanted to keep it that way. When she was around him, music felt different. It was as if the notes were brighter and the words she sang had more meaning.

Now that Rafe had entered her mind, it proved hard to concentrate on the slow moves. She thought how when he’d kissed her forehead, it had been the most intimate kiss she had ever experienced. Her pulse began to race, and suddenly tai chi moved at a snail’s pace. She closed her eyes, hoping it would help calm her now-excited mind. She followed along with the instructor, but inside she was losing the battle for inner peace.

Rafe brought so many new emotions. He threw her off-tilt and yet at the same time gave her balance. After their talk beside the river, Laidan realized how much they were alike. Both of them had been slaves to separate industries that had made them lose the love and passion found in their natural talents.

Even though she tried to concentrate on inner peace and the simple slow moves, words to another new song sprang rapidly to the forefront of her thoughts:

War, you claim war within my mind

Raging water, blowing wind, no safe place I find

Pulses pounding, beating hearts

Running fast, worlds apart

Then you kiss me on my brow

And silence enters in

Inner peace deep inside,

And true life can begin

****

Thanks for stopping by!

Tara

Featured Books Friday!

Image-6

Here we are again for Featured Books Friday! I was at the fabulous Storymakers conference last weekend, so I will try to get some of the attendees to post here. 🙂 I love reading through the book blurbs in the comment section. I encourage you to do the same and support these talented authors. You can also scroll through old posts for even more amazing books and authors.

Below, in the comments, you are welcome to add your name, title, and genre – along with a 500 word scene or blurb. (Please no erotica or extreme violence) I will blast and share away.

Thanks for playing!!

Here’s mine from my novel “Broken Smiles” (Women’s contemporary romance.)

LINK:  BROKEN SMILES     image

****

She sang and strummed, and for a moment the smell of disinfectant and the stark walls faded away. When it was close to lunchtime, she stopped for the day, but Laidan promised she would sing again the next morning. When the room and hallway finally cleared, she stood and closed the door. With more reverence, she sang her mother’s favorite song that she had written a few years earlier.

Release these feet from concrete and heat

Run barefoot in fields of golden wheat

Feel the forest floor sink between toes

Discover caves where nobody knows

So kick off the shoes that weigh you down

Find a place where no one’s around

Eileen lay still in her deep sleep, unmoved, unchanged. Laidan set down her guitar and went to the attached bathroom. Her hands gripped the sides of the vanity as she braced herself. It had been so hard when she’d lost her father — she couldn’t go through it again.

Happy reading!

Tara