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.

 

 

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

Award time!

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My unpublished Young Adult fantasy novel, Vagabond, won an award!

Click here to read a short synopsis.

The thing that I anticipated most was the feedback from the judges. First, I want to start by offering encouragement to those of you who fear to submit your work. (Or fear critique and criticism in general.) Sometimes I have won, but more often than not, I have lost. It has been worth every emotion because of the feedback I have received from professionals in this crazy business of writing.

Here are a few judges comments that I received.

*I believe this is a page turner that young adults will very likely read in one sitting.

*This story appeals to me tremendously, and not just as a YA book. I think it is a very marketable concept. I would absolutely buy this book and then buy one for my niece.

The comment that left me grinning from ear to ear was

*Your love interest is captivating and oozes with sexuality. 

That one made me giggle! Because, for an author who writes clean romance, that is exactly what I love to hear. I do not write erotica, nor will I. I believe characters can have the same attraction, if not more so, by focusing on the dynamics of the relationship, not the dynamics in the bedroom. I have met a kaleidoscope of women and men in all their varying degrees and comfort levels of romance. Because of this, I have only respect for anyone who conveys their truth.

Speaking of clean romance authors, the lovely Sarah M. Eden (pictured above with me) was in attendance at the awards banquet. As she spoke to the gathered crowd, she reminded me about the “why’s” of writing, not the “what if’s.” If you have not read her books, you need to. Like, right now.

Authors are dreamers, inquisitive wielders of words and thoughts. It is easy for us to get lost in the “what if’s”, daydreaming about book sales and five star ratings, but that is not why we write. It isn’t for me anyway. I write because I must. I write because it is an outlet for my heart to bleed or vent or dream. I write for myself.

I want to thank you judges (whoever you are) and all of my fabulous critique partners. You guys make it fun!

Tara