Featured Books Friday!

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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!

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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!

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The kick off to Featured Books Friday was awesome last time! Thank you to all who participated and purchased books. Please check it out if you want by clicking HERE.

I will be doing the same thing this week.

In the comments put the title, your name, genre, and purchase link along with a blurb or scene from your book under 500 words. (please no erotica or over the top violence)

Here’s mine:

Broken Smiles by Tara Mayoros. Women’s contemporary romance.  http://www.amazon.com/Broken-Smiles-Tara-Mayoros-ebook/dp/B00NU69UMU/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1429659605&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=broken+smils

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Taking her first look at the doctor, Laidan shrank in her seat.

Quickly assessing her appearance, she groaned, thinking about her reflection in the mirror earlier that morning.

Standing at the front of the room, he held the audience captive. He stood tall and fit like an unyielding tree. It grounded Laidan, and for some reason she thought of roots climbing up her legs, holding her captive. An air of confidence swam about him. His brown hair fell long enough to reveal a small wave. Her heart that had skipped a beat moments earlier, was all but pounding now.

The doctor’s voice rang confidant and clear as he spoke. “And that is why I have visited a few hospitals here in the States. The fact of the matter is — I need funding. These kids need your support.” His hand came to his face and rubbed his cheek as if he wasn’t used to its smoothness. Looking up to the slideshow, Laidan noticed how his eyes softened at the sight of the children standing in front of the humble building made of concrete and rocks. The dense backdrop of banana trees and hanging vines seemed to warm the hospital chill around her. The children made funny faces at the camera, and she smiled, imagining the relationship the doctor had with his patients.

He turned to the audience, eyes scanning the room, as if he dared anyone to not help out. His brown eyes passed over her dismissively. Her heart dropped.

Then, very pointedly, his eyes shot back to hers. They held her gaze in a comfortable moment. A shot of butterflies injected straight to her stomach. Her eyes perused his face. His brow showed poise, his easy presence filled the entire room, and his returning smile disclosed a small tease. She didn’t think about how she looked or that she had bloodshot eyes — she knew in that moment he saw beyond her appearance. A blush rose to her face and tickled at her ears.

She felt her friend shaking her rather aggressively.

Andi whispered impatiently in her ear. “I said, are you cold? Do you want my jacket?”

“No, why?”

“Well, your arms are completely covered in goose bumps.”

****

Thanks for stopping by –

Tara

Branding… are we cattle or something???

“Step right up and let me assess your brand,” said the man in front of the velvet frosted counter. He tipped his top hat at me and then the magician at the eclectic carnival waved his magic wand.

I responded, “okay.” Because, well, who doesn’t want to know what in the world our brand is.

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(image found on entertainment.inquirer.net)

His cape and bow tie, tinged with green silk and pressed to perfection, moved with grace as he bowed down in front of me. His gaze lingered at my shoes because, well, look how awesome they are.

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Our eyes met again and when they did so, I noticed them glint behind his round spectacles.

“You obviously use your pen to wield great and terrible poetry,” he said. “You are a poet. Come hither, oh great one, and let me sell you a tale or two.”

****

None of this exchange actually happened, but my over active imagination saw this in full detail. I think the only real comparison was the perfectly coiffed mustache that splayed out from the corners of his smiling mouth. I do remember that fabulous mustache and maybe that is what sparked my imagination.

How this really played out was that I was at a fun fantasy and sci-fi writers conference for a bit this weekend. The guy behind the velvet covered table recruited people as they passed to enter into his competition for short stories and poetry anthologies that he published.

“You write poetry, don’t you?” he said as I walked by. I thought of the boxes and boxes in the basement full of discarded rhymes and riddles that I had marked as steaming piles of garbage that should never see the light of day.

I nodded my head. “Why yes, yes I do.” Okay, so maybe there were a few of them that deemed worthy of sunlight.

“Great, I knew it. I could just tell.”

I raised my eyebrows. A bit suspicious and a bit flattered.

“Well,” he said, handing me a flyer. “Let me tell you about this really cool opportunity…”

****

Earlier, like cattle, the crowd mooooved between classrooms where we could feed ourselves and munch on what other authors had to say. I sat through horror classes because I love to read and write horror. I sat through the genesis of mythology and folklore class because I use an over abundant display of that in my work in progress. Then there was the picture book class, the paranormal romance what-nots, and the marketing do-nots.

That conference experience didn’t really fill my brain with new, mind blowing insight, but I did learn some fun things and I went because, as an author, I believe we should remain teachable as I have shown in this post. But my experience with that conference did leave me wondering… what is my brand?

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When I show up, do people envision me wearing armor because of my rally cry like in this post? If they do, I sure hope I have a sharp sword and majestic shield.

Or am I seen as a skier or a rock climber or a gardener?

But what about when it comes to writing? I know I am still a novice author. I probably should have thought about branding as a child and decided that I only wanted to write in one genre of fantasy, or horror, picture books, or romance. I should have, but didn’t. Now I am stuck here with a polyglot jar of genres.

I believe my brand will evolve as I evolve in my writing. As I publish more books, I will find my niche. Or maybe it will find me as I just continue to write for myself and not for others.

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I suggest you just write. Don’t follow the crowd that often leaves you confused. I don’t think any of us know where we are going anyway. Maybe we are even following each other to the slaughter houses. So just write what is in you.

Often times the world doesn’t need your story at this point. You need your story.

I have a vision what I would like my brand to be. But then again, who didn’t dream of being the homecoming queen, or the captain of some sports team, or even the school newspaper photographer. Yes, I am referring to the cliques we find in high school. The more I go to these conferences, the more I see the similarities.

But people do classify, and readers often find an author they like because of the writing style. They become loyal because they know what to expect from you. In the meantime just write, write, write and your brand will show up… just like magic.

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I love to hear from you. What is your brand? Do you have one? If so, how have you created your brand?

Happy writing –

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

Social Media is a Waste of Time for Writers—Hmmm, Think Again

I have posted about my path to becoming publicized here and how I have battled over the years between plugging in and unplugging. I didn’t have an e-mail until maybe five years ago, and I had my first flip phone only months before that. Strange, I know, especially for someone my age. Most all of my friends started blogs over a decade ago and have a huge following, while I avoided it all, thinking it strange that you’d want complete strangers to see into your life.

That all changed when I began to write seriously. Actually it changed when I went to my first critique and read my query in front of a bunch of strangers. I had completed a novel, written a screenplay, and had boxes full of poetry. Did I want to share it, or keep it to myself? This was a very tough question for me, as I wondered if people even cared what I had to say.

It still surprises me when writers now-a-days don’t embrace social media. I am going to be brutally honest and say that I don’t like it, but I have embraced it. This blog post has really helped me and my approach to social media.
If you have any tricks you use when it comes to social media, I’d love to hear about it.
Thanks,
Tara

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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We’ve been talking a lot about social media lately and I am always grateful for your comments and thoughts. This kind of feedback not only helps me improve my blog, but my also books, because I get a glimpse of your worries, weaknesses, fears, loves, and strengths.

As a teacher/mentor/expert, it’s my job to address those fears and put you at ease or reinforce when you’re headed the right direction and give you tools and tips to take what you’re doing to another level.

There’ve been some comments that have piqued my attention lately. Namely this notion to give up on social media completely to write more books (out of vexation for the medium and the task).

Oh-kay….

Social Media is a TOTAL Waste of Time

Write more books instead of tweeting or blogging. Social media is a giant time-suck better spent writing great books.

I don’t know how to…

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My interview with “The Newest Novelist”

It was fun to be highlighted on this blog. She asked some unique questions. I love to do interviews and if you would like to have me on your blog, go to my contact page and send me an email. Thanks!

The Newest Novelist

I’ve just been in touch with the lovely Tara Mayoros, author of the newly-released novel, Broken Smiles. It’s always exciting to me when an author publishes her first book, but when it’s an author I know personally, I want to jump up and down for joy! I met Tara last year at a book launch, and ran into her again at a recent writer’s conference. Tara was gracious enough to grant an interview with The Newest Novelist.

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THE NEWEST NOVELIST:  When did you know you wanted to be an author?

TARA:  That moment happened when I had finished a couple novels, and had some interest with publishers. Up until then, I was doing it for fun, and meeting so many wonderful people along the way.

TNN:  When did you actually start writing?

TARA:  I have…

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