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

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, tinged with green silk, and bow tie, pressed with 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 sale 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 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 class rooms 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 were 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 do they see me as a prude?

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, 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 other than the two that I have out, 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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Beginners, 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.

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 a cheerleader, 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 writing style and genre. 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

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…

View original post 2,020 more words

Into the Mystic

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This has been my very favorite song for about two decades.

I remember as a teenager playing this song on repeat over and over again while thinking deep thoughts. Ha! Well, as deep as a teenager can anyway. This song inspired a lot of terrible poetry on my part back then. Probably still does 🙂 but for some reason, it just speaks to me.

Enjoy the song as you thumb through my shiny new web-site that was brought to you by none other then my amazing artist brother Todd Powelson. He is the graphic designer for Adobe (yes, he’s that amazing!) Seriously, check out his website at toddpowelson.com. I love his artwork and have many of his ‘flower series‘ on the walls of my home. He is constantly featured in galleries and art shows. His blog is Artduh. If you need help with web, graphic, or logo design, he’s your man. He also has done illustrations for books and even book covers. Check out his resume, He’s basically amazing!

Enjoy the tune – Tara