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

 

 

Longsheng, China

b0df697654e0a48eb4e0b234f9415431 SONY DSC I am feeling a sense of nostalgia and wanderlust. My thoughts often drift to this magnificent place and so I wanted to share with you photos of the setting for my novel Broken Smiles. This is how I picture my village. I’ve backpacked all through China when I lived there. Longsheng was by far my favorite place. That is why I chose to make it the main setting for my book. The terraced rice are called the Dragon’s Backbone. I have awoken to the sides of the mountains flaming in early dawn. The mist is the breath of sleeping giants. It inhales and exhales, rich with life. Content. Peaceful. B16 cb6ebe430718e285b6d47983ed6c8880 46fb950779725299fe4f5b905fd4bea9 FullSizeRender-14

The people are unlike any I have ever met. The women never cut their hair. For a small fee, they insist to carry your bags and help you across the river.

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I “helped” to plant some stacks of rice and discovered I was doing it all wrong. There is an age old system to everything in China. Including their maze-like plumbing system made from bamboo. I was a grateful traveler.

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Whenever I opened my laptop and cracked my fingers to dig in to writing my book, it was like opening a book of spells. I would escape back in time to my favorite place. The many smells of rich earth and water buffalo, of sharp spices and tricking water, of steamed rice and bamboo soup, would rush into my mind. It was easy, and yet difficult, to try to capture the setting. I wanted to do it justice. So, when I received reviews like the ones below, it made me happy.

“The beautiful descriptive settings in places like China and Morocco, sweep you away as if you were there. Not only do you “see” what it would looks like there, but you also learn many things about the culture.”

“I loved how the book was set in China. I have never been there but it made me want to go.”

“The author has an incredible way of describing the scenes (especially in China) that even though I’ve never been there – I can picture it so well.”

“**Warning, this book will give you the travel bug after you read it, you may feel like spontaneously buying a ticket to China!”

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Happy travels! Thanks for stopping by. I love to hear from you. What are some of the settings in your novels or some of your favorite spots to travel? – Tara

Photos are found on China-travel, SkylanD, and my own photo albums 🙂

Featured Book Friday!

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Today is my first installment of Featured Book Friday!

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

Tara

My Best Guitar Lesson Ever!

 UPDATE: This post won an award for “creative non-fiction” at the 2015 LUW writers conference.

*****

I can be cynical.

Cynicalbelieving that people are motivated by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity. A general distrust of others’ motives, believing that humans are selfish by nature, ruled by emotion, and heavily influenced by the same primitive instincts that helped humans survive in the wild.

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I wasn’t always this way. It is a trait that has evolved over the past five years or so. Yes, I fight it. I take my thoughts to battle. But still, with all of the heartbreaking news and depressing social media feeds, it compounds the issue.

So, yesterday when I went to a local guitar shop, my mind was churning over a cynical situation that had been really bothering me. I grabbed my old guitar out of the trunk, walked into the store, and placed it down on the counter. I breathed deep, because this was hallowed ground. The smell of wood and lacquer and musicians reliving the good ‘ol days, rested my mind. I smiled as the shop owner stopped jamming with the only other customer in the store and then walked behind the register.

“What’s this?” he asked, eyeballing my ratty old guitar. His gaze skimmed over the not-so-sexy lines of my unusual guitar.

I pressed my lips, feeling a wave of protection flood over me. No one makes fun of my blue guitar. This instrument was bought in China for $5 US dollars. It had been my companion on the dirty, rancid forty hour train rides through rice fields and bread loaf mountains. I was stopped and searched at customs in Malaysia, Thailand, and Macau because I as too stubborn to leave this guitar.

I told him these things. He played it and confirmed what I already knew… My guitar had died, but I still clung to our memories in hopes that the shop owner could resurrect life into it again.

No, he couldn’t.

I stared down at it a long time, looking over the doodles and the collected stickers and stamps, which mirrored my old passport. What would I do with it now? I couldn’t just throw it away, or donate, or keep it as a decoration. Maybe I could just hang it on the wall for display, but I knew the o.c.d. decorator inside me would never let me do that. I had even written this guitar into one of my books and considered it a character. My heart clenched and I strolled over to the wall of guitars to hide the emotion on my face. Who cries over a buried guitar, one that would most likely end up collecting dust in the back of my closet?

The new guitars with their shiny wood and shimmering metal strings, sang to me, beckoning. Their voices rich and full. So much different than my humid warped, aged guitar. I caressed the lines of the beautiful instruments with jealousy and longing.

I stopped. There it hung. An acoustic electric that I had always wanted. Not so extravagant, and yet it would take me a while to save for. The shop owner pulled it down, selling me all the bells and whistles. Yet, I had already been sold. I just couldn’t get it yet… not for a while yet.

“Sit down and play. See how it sounds, how it feels,” he urged.

I pulled up a cushioned stool and sat down. It was like meeting a new friend. I’d like to imagine that my fingers flew up and down the frets with fluidity and grace, but I’m sure they weren’t, as I was still a bit frazzled. Picking and strumming, getting a feel for its song.

I began to tell the shop owner and other customer about an amp I had in the basement that wasn’t working anymore. We chatted. Small talk about how I was sad about my guitar and maybe someday I’ll buy this one. They were nice people. I’d hung around enough music shops to know that they are all generally nice people.

I continued to play. Time stalled as it usually does when I create music, or art, or novels. The walls faded away. I was falling in love.

A tap on my shoulder and a show of a receipt. “It’s yours.” He pointed. “The guitar.”

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I stood, almost dropping the instrument. “What? No. I’ll have to come get it another time.”

“No really. He wanted you to have it.” He pointed to the only other customer who was getting ready to leave. The man was unassuming in his faded jeans and t-shirt.

I wondered why…

Right here… Here is where my cynicism makes an appearance. What did he want in return? What were his motivations? I looked down to see what I was wearing. Turtle-neck sweater, no make-up, and hair in a bun. I had my wedding ring on and I had talked briefly about my kids playing guitar earlier.

“Why?” I asked.

The customer paused, then said, “because I have money and it has caused me nothing but heartache. I want to do something nice with it.”

I refused — even went to hang the guitar back on the hook.

The kind man just shook his head. “It’s already been paid for. It’s done. Just be happy.”

I was happy. I was ecstatic!

Tears welled in my eyes. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before. “I don’t know how to thank you.” I struggled for words.

“You just did.”

I stopped him from leaving. “Well let me get a picture with you.”

He refused this time. He didn’t want any fan fare.

“Let me at least give you a hug.” So I did. It wasn’t strange or awkward. It was a meeting of similar hearts, bound by the innocent love of music.

Driving home, I felt both joyous and inadequate. What to do with such an unrequited show of generosity? People are good. He restored my faith in humanity. I thought of the many ways I could pay it forward because I knew I’d never see him again. And I also knew that’s the way he would want things to end.

I learned a lesson yesterday. Yes, there are tough things that we go through that can turn us cynical, doubtful, and hopeless. But little miracles happen everyday. It doesn’t have to be something as big as this to make you see the good in people. Look around. It seems everyone is in a funk. What can you do to brighten their day? I promise it will make your day better in return. It will make you feel rich with happiness. I think back to that man and how he said, “money gave him nothing but heartache.”

When I was leaving the guitar shop, with my old lifeless guitar in one hand and my new hope-filled guitar in the other, I looked back. The kind man had a huge smile on his face and I knew that the act of giving… is where the treasure truly lies.

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Thanks for stopping by. I love your comments. Has there ever been a time when you were the recipient of unrequited generosity?

Tara

What if we couldn’t see the stars…

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HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!

2015 – Year of the Goat

Over the past few weeks I have opened up my home to a couple fifteen year old Chinese exchange students. My dream is to travel endlessly… until then, I will bring culture to us.

I love to witness culture shock.

Late one night, my family and the Chinese girls had come home from Mexican food (which they had never tried) and a movie. My kids piled out of our car and walked inside. When I turned around to press the button to close the garage door, I paused. There, the two girls stood in the driveway, gazing at the night sky. Their mouths hung open and their eyes were glassy with awe. I stood watching and then walked toward them. I felt a tug in my heart when I saw their full expressions. In that moment of stillness, I followed suit and looked up. A brilliant display of stars winked down at us, flirting. The girls began to smile more bright than I had seen them yet – more then when I had taken them to the mall, or to the American candy isle, or to the high school to see how other kids their age acted.

“Ten years.” One said to me in a trance. “Haven’t seen stars in ten years. No moon in over five. Pollution very bad in Beijing.”

My heart ached.

Oh to never see the stars or moon. Can you imagine?

I would feel lost.

It got me thinking…

I have hosted students from China a few times now. Each time, the girls marvel about our freedom of choice in our schooling and futures. Each girl had their futures picked for them by their parents. From the time they were young, they followed a strict school schedule to prepare them for their given professions.

I’ve asked each one of them, upon first meeting, what they plan to do in schooling, because it consumes their life. Banker, engineer, accountant.

By the end of their stay, each one of them has opened up and told me the desires of their hearts. Author, fashion designer, architect. But to them, the dreams of those futures were veiled. Just like the stars.

I love Chinese history and culture and am even collaborating on a non-fiction book about their vast history. (Here is another post I wrote about my time in Beijing, China.) I mean no disrespect, but a part of me aches for them and their wishful dreams. Just like they ached to see the stars.

I am grateful to have the freedom to reach for the stars and to have them in my sights.

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Here is when I do a bit of self-promotion… I have written a clean women’s romance called Broken Smiles. Most of the setting is in China. Below are a few 5 star Amazon reviews, along with the purchase link:

– “Broken Smiles has many wonderful things going on in this novel. The beautiful descriptive settings in places like China and Morocco, sweep you away as if you were there. Not only do you “see” what it would look like there, but you also learn many things about the culture. You can clearly see the large amount of research that Author Tara Mayoros has done in the writing of this book.”

– “I loved how the book was set in China. I have never been there but it made me want to go. This book inspires you to be a better person and to always go after what you love and for the right reasons.”

– “*** Warning, this book will give you the travel bug after you read it, and you may feel like spontaneously buying a ticket to China!”

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http://www.amazon.com/Broken-Smiles-Tara-Mayoros-ebook/dp/B00NU69UMU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424321526&sr=8-1&keywords=broken+smiles

Happy Chinese New Year! I hope you reach for the stars.

Tara

Heat Ratings in Romance… should it be like the ratings in Rock Climbing??

I have been thinking about the different levels of heat in Romance novels lately.

There have been times that people told me I needed to add more heat into my novel Broken Smiles. There have also been times that critique partners told me I need to tone down the steam. Where is the balance? I decided to delve in and discover all of the levels of romance and what certain target audiences expect. This is mainly for my reference, and I am glad to share and hope that it will help some of you.

As I was thinking about what rating system I wanted to compare this to, I thought about rock climbing. I love rock climbing and had many friends growing up who were hard core climbers.

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(photos of me, Tara, in Rock Canyon and Mystery Canyon)                                       

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As romance novels become more and more mainstream, there needs to be a definite rating system. I don’t mean to throw the climbing community under the bus by referring to them, but the rating system they use is genius.

By going into detail and explaining each romance category in terms of 1-15a,b,c,d, the guessing game of heat level would be out in the open. There wouldn’t need to be a board of directors or big debates on what should go where when it comes to levels of sizzling heat in romance. We could simply look at it through the eyes of a child. And so that is what I have done…

*No Romance at all would be comparable to the rock climbing ratings of Class 1 to Class 4. These rock climbing ratings begins with:

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Class 1 – Walking on an established trail

Children’s books, picture books

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Class 2 – Hiking up a steep incline

Early Reader, Middle grade reader

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Class 3 – Climbing up a steep hillside

Upper middle grade or Young Adult. Platonic interest between boy and girl.

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Class 4 – bouldering or following a ledge. Sometimes a rope will be used for help.

Young Adult mild swearing or love interest. Internal emotions, but no follow through.

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***The tricky bit is when we get to Class 5 in climbing. This is when ropes are used and technical rock climbing begins. Past Class 5, the climbs begin to become subdivided into categories.***

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Class 5.0-5.4- climbing up a ramp or steep incline with good holds.

Super Sweet Romance – An innocent look, an internal feeling by one or more of the characters. No swearing.

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Class 5.5-5.7 – steeper, more vertical. Still good holds and easily protected.

Sweet Romance – Maybe a brief touch or a steamy look. A walk around a garden alone (in historical fiction) Realistic sexual tension.

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Class 5.8 – Vertical climbing on small holds

Mild Romance – Hand holding, a quick hug. Internal thoughts and feelings of love or lust.

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Class 5.9 – Rocks might be slightly overhung, or smaller hand holds. With practice, beginner climbers can climb with confidence

Clean Romance – A brief kiss. A warm hug. More internal thoughts and feelings described in detail.

***Get clipped in, because it starts to get more intense!***

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(My good friend Emily Ernst “rockin'” American Fork Canyon.

She told me this was about a 5.11a – I don’t believe her 🙂 )

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Class 5.10 – This is where it becomes more intense. A beginner rock climber does not feel comfortable in this range unless they go often or have natural talent. The classifications break down even more into a,b,c,d.

Spicy Romance – a) A more intense kiss, closed bedroom scenes, b) maybe some swearing. c) If lovers do make love, it is implied and not graphically depicted. Much is left to the readers imagination. d) The focus is still on the emotions rather than the body parts.

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Class 5.11 a,b,c,d – Steep and difficult routes with powerful and technical moves. Above average skill.

Steamy Romance –  a) Open door bedroom scenes, some nudity. b) We get heated feelings from the characters, but not in graphic detail. c) Maybe one or two mild love scenes in the novel and they tend to be longer scenes. d) Infidelity.

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Class 5.12 a,b,c,d – Overhanging climbs. Requires delicate footwork on thin holds or long climbs requiring a great deal of balance. Expert level.

Hot Romance – a) Nudity and intimacy in detail. Authors start to use funny words to describe the intimate parts. b) Internal thought and dialogue are meant to make you feel that you are the one experiencing the sensations. c) The focus throughout the book are sexual feelings and desires. d) More description, but nothing wild or kinky.

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Class 5.13 a,b,c,d – Very difficult climbs. Elite athletes.

Erotica – a) Hard core. b) Explicit language and bedroom scenes. There probably isn’t much of a story line at this point. c) The focus is mainly on sex. It probably takes a very gifted author to have a storyline beyond sex. But this is a Billion dollar industry, so there is a demand. I don’t think people read this genre for literary purposes!

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Class 5.14 a,b,c,d – These climbs are among the hardest in the world and very few can even attempt them.

Graphic Erotica, a) Extremely explicit scenes and language. b) BDSM, c) rape, all explained in full detail with all of the feelings described. May include what others consider kinky. This is unlike rock climbing in that this genre is becoming mainstream. It is front and center in grocery stores and gas stations. Movies are being made.

***Often I have seen personally where girls have gone from reading Class 5.0-5.4 to Class 5.14 with no preparation or maturity in between. Imagine the years, the hours, and the training a climber dedicates to this level of skill. You can’t stick a beginner on an over hanging ledge and say “climb.” Nor should you. They would fall, they could die. Why then, is there no rating system to prepare or caution early readers?***

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Class 5.15 – Very few people can climb on this level. I think Spiderman skills are needed.

Beyond Romance and Erotica- Think of the worst or most graphic thing you can think of, combine them all, and this would be there.

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(My awesome sister Traci Stewart rock climbing on Moon Hill in China.

Climbs range from a 5.10b-5.14a)

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—-

In Rock Climbing, when new harder climbs are found, a new number is made. It is impossible to imagine someone being able to find and climb a 5.16. Just as it is impossible to imagine what will be acceptable and written in the literary world. This rating system leaves it open to both. Incomprehensible, but possible.

The thing I have found is that romance in novels can be very subjective. Everyone has different lines they will or will not cross. I have found this as I have been exposed to the romance writing community. There is a definite line that I will not cross in my writing and what I feel comfortable reading. The frustrating part comes when you don’t know what to expect when you pick up a book and then you invest in a story line and it takes you to a place you are frustrated or become uncomfortable with. Much in the same way that a cliff face might look climbable from below, but once you get half way up, you realize you are stuck.

Rock Climbers, I love you! You are genius (and hot!) May us romance writers use or borrow or steal your rating system??

Thanks for “hanging” with me and happy writing –

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Tara

The Importance of Setting in a Novel

UPDATE: This blog post won an award for “media post” at the 2015 LUW writers conference.

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Write what you know. How many times have I heard that? Oh man, probably at every conference I have ever gone to, multiple times.

I know setting.

Long before I was ever an author, I would surround myself in settings which filled my soul with wonder. I would cover my limbs and face with autumn leaves to feel the smell. I would spend many nights under the stars, listening to the scurrying of little animals and the sounds of wind applauding my appreciation through the trees. The stillness would settle in my heart and when I began to bring pen and paper with me to different settings, my world became magical.

To me, setting should breathe like a character. It isn’t just streets, buildings, and names of towns — it is the lifeblood which weaves your characters and plot together. It shouldn’t be tacked in, but rather an integral part of the story. It grounds the reader.

It should also ground the author. The author carries the responsibility to bring details that are often overlooked. Especially, in my opinion, when it comes to nature.

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Pilot and Index Peak – Cooke City, Montana

Recently, I returned from a long trip through Montana and Yellowstone. I have visited many times and even lived there at one point. Those wild, rustic places are some of my favorite spots in the world and I felt the heavy burden to show my love for it in one of my novels. I hadn’t been up there for over a dozen years and I started creating the setting for my novel through memory. When I had finished my book, I was satisfied. But something tugged at me to visit those places again. Either my wild heart, or the pull to immerse myself in those mountains.

Arming myself with laptop, pens and journals, I was ready to take my story to battle and add details that were missing and change a few things. I was surprised when I came home and realized that I had never even written one word when I had surrounded myself in the nature I so dearly love. Why? It wasn’t a conscious decision by any means, but looking back, my body and soul yearned to feel the lifeblood of the setting. I didn’t need to muddle it with words, I needed to experience it and let the setting wash through me.

In this world where setting and placement are so often overlooked or replaced with handheld devices that capture our attention, authors need to work harder to ground the reader. We need to scream at our readers to notice detail. It breaks my heart every time I see someone surrounded by stunning scenery and their faces are aglow with the pale light of a handheld device.

Here are a few ways you can bring your setting to life in your novel, followed by some examples I have written.

*Be specific – it isn’t only a flower, describe the details. example: The vibrant purple petals stretched beneath an indigo hat which drooped over a white lip and a yellow bearded pouch. (Calypso Orchid)

*Sprinkle in similes and metaphors to connect – example: His temper was like a loose cannon. It could explode at any given time and I would be the set target.

*Use the senses; sight, sound, smell, taste, feel – This one is huge! I love to incorporate the senses. – example: My stomach was empty, which was good, because the smell hit me, and I heaved once more against the vacant remains of my belly. The putrid, decaying stench of rotten flesh made my eyes water.

*Show, don’t tell – instead of stating that its raining, describe the dripping trees, the puddles gathering in the crevices of rock, and the pattering on tin resembling tinkling bells.

Here is an excerpt from my novel Broken Smiles. The setting is in China, another one of my favorite places. I hope you can feel my love for it as you read my words.

Here and there rocks were covered with ancient moss. Orchids blossomed spontaneously upon the trees. Vines hung like ropes and twine, twisting upon the rubber and the banyan trees. Bamboo stood proudly against the moonlight, casting shadows that had been the same for thousands of years. Away from big city lights and pollution, it was easy to be transported back in time to ancient China. This land had managed to remain untouched throughout the different emperors and dynasties. As they walked, they passed a small ancient graveyard built against the hillside. The limestone shrines glowed mysteriously in the moonlight. Chinese characters and mini-sculptures were carved in the pale rock. Incense smoldered on the top of an old gravestone…

Thanks for stopping by –

Tara