What if we couldn’t see the stars…

f5172c36d85f4aae94a0e4c2

images-18

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 foreign exchange girls had come home from Mexican food (which they had never tried, but loved) 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. A tug pulled on 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 radiant than I had seen them yet—more than 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 watery 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, family business.

By the end of their stay, each one of them has opened up and told me the desires of their hearts, not their parents hearts, theirs. Author, fashion designer, architect. But to them, the dreams of those futures were veiled. Just like the stars.

Soon, my own children came out to see what was taking us so long. And then we all just stood there arm in arm, looking into the endless heavens. I pointed out constellations that they had never seen. It was so interesting to hear the different views of what lies beyond our reach. And what our different beliefs are. I don’t talk religion with them, although they have come to church with us, for research, mainly. That reminded me of another time when I was on a stinky 40 hour bus to Beijing many, many years ago, when the surrounding people were so curious about my American religion that I couldn’t share with them. But anyway, I still want to talk about the stars, so let’s go back go that . . . I take them for granted. I do. Sometimes they are veiled to me in the moments that I am looking down and it takes someone from a faraway place to remind me to be grateful for what I have and look up.

I am so grateful when these girls come to stay. 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.

images-17

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

Tara

***

Here’s when I do a bit of self-promotion… I have written a book called Broken Smiles. (clean romance.) 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!***”

Here’s a link to the book. 🙂

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.

IMG_2679IMG_2678

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

****

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:

—-

Class 1 – Walking on an established trail

Children’s books, picture books

—-

Class 2 – Hiking up a steep incline

Early Reader, Middle grade reader

—-

Class 3 – Climbing up a steep hillside

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

—-

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.

—-

***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.***

FullSizeRender-3

—-

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.

—-

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.

—-

Class 5.8 – Vertical climbing on small holds

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

—-

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!***

FullSizeRender-6

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

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

—-

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.

—-

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.

—-

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.

—-

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!

—-

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?***

—-

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.

FullSizeRender

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

Climbs range from a 5.10b-5.14a)

FullSizeRender-4

—-

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 –

IMG_2680

Tara

12 Days Of Christmas Book Blitz: Day 8 – Eight Birds for Christmas by Tara Mayoros

Here is a 12 Days of Christmas book tour that my Novella “Eight Birds for Christmas” has been a part of. Thank you to all of you bloggers and reviewers who have been a part of this! My novella is only $.99 – Happy Holidays.

julkbearreads's Blog

BLURB:

In the Christmas novella Eight Birds for Christmas, a Holiday funeral sends Laidan into a dormancy of sadness. Holed up in her mother’s lake house with her best friend and her bodyguard, birds appear one by one as gifts that help her through a time of grieving. Each birds carries with it a word and a hope that things will begin to look up.

Hurt from the realization that the rock star life Laidan led had made her selfish, the birds reveal forgotten memories and glimpses into how she can become a better person. It will take confronting her past to make peace with her future. By taking to heart the gifts the birds bring, Laidan begins to realize the true meaning of Christmas and that there are other ways that she can share her song.

SNIPPET:

Another song from my Christmas novella
Oh lovely in heart. The meek…

View original post 244 more words

“Eight Birds for Christmas” is only $.99!

8Birds_1600x2400

BUY LINKS FOR MY BRAND NEW NOVELLA EIGHT BIRDS FOR CHRISTMAS

Amazon US:  http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Companion-Novella-Broken-Smiles-ebook/dp/B00PR3N962/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416335434&sr=1-2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Christmas-Companion-Novella-Broken-Smiles-ebook/dp/B00PR3N962/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1416341410&sr=8-5&keywords=Eight+Birds+for+Christmas

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/eight-birds-for-christmas

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/eight-birds-for-christmas-tara-mayoros/1120792055?ean=2940150641716

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/494278

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23586445-eight-birds-for-christmas