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)

9781462119325

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.

IMG_5546

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.

FullSizeRender-55    FullSizeRender-54

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.

 

 

Fairy Gardens & Writing: how they relate

FullSizeRender-12

Planting fairy gardens is one of my favorite things to do every spring. I do this for one of my jobs and on occasion, I teach how-to’s.

I’ve planted countless container pots over the seventeen years I’ve been doing this, but planting fairy gardens feels completely different and is always exciting to me.

Here’s why:

I escape into the mini world I am planting. Just like I escape into the worlds I create while writing.

FullSizeRender-11

The writing and planting connection didn’t come to me until recently, while teaching a customer how to plant a desert landscape fairy garden.

“That’s the fairies’ winter home,” I said to her. “They go there when the frost covers their forests.”

The woman looked up at me with big eyes. “Ohmygosh. Yes! I didn’t think of that, but yes!”

I twirled over to another customer. “Oooo,” I said. “I like how those stepping stones trail off beneath that maiden hair fern. Where is it leading to?”

The girl looked up at me and showed her toothy grin. “A waterfall.”

And that’s when years and years of why I love planting mini landscapes, clicked.

It all stems from creating a believable SETTING!

Now, there are rules to planting fairy gardens, just like there are rules to writing.

FullSizeRender-4

1- Scale: Nothing bugs me more than having a huge fairy, or dog, or bird bath right beside an iddy-biddy fairy house the same size. You need to have stepping stones in relation to the fairy house or have people bigger than animals. So, look for trinkets and decor that are to scale.

Scale in writing: This is called world-building. What are the rules, the magic system, the laws? Keep it consistent, and tight, and to scale. Don’t make the reader confused with things that don’t make sense.

 

FullSizeRender-9

2- Plants: To set your fairy garden up for success, the plants all need to be able to survive in one pot together. Don’t plant outdoor with indoor. Or succulents and cacti with ferns. Or sun plants with shade plants. I know this seems like common knowledge, but this is the #1 issue I’ve seen. People buy plants just because they are pretty and then wonder why the beautiful flowers aren’t blooming inside in a dark room.

Plants with writing: I could go on, and on, and on about setting. In fact I have, many times on this blog. Here’s an award winning article I wrote about setting, if interested. I am extremely picky of the plants I see in novels. If the author names a real plant, in my mind, it better be able to grow in that realistic setting. If it’s fantasy, well, go crazy.

 

FullSizeRender-7

3- Layers and texture: A woman I helped the other day was creating an herb fairy garden. She had rosemary, lavender, and curry all grouped together. She asked why it wasn’t working. I moved a few things around and added parsley, basil, and thyme between them. “It’s because all those plants have the same, slender leaves. See how they stand out now that they are next to other, cohesive plants with different texture?” I said. Think how a real forest grows with tall trees, shrubs, then ground cover. Add layers.

Layers and texture in writing: Resonance. Hints. Metaphor. What are you trying to say to the reader? What is the underlying theme? That’s the layers. – Voice. Substance. Emotion. How do you want it to make the reader feel? That’s your texture.

 

IMG_5846

Now, the fun part about fairy gardens is the play time. It’s the escapism. I made this one of The Shire. The whole time I was planting it, I thought about how much I love Tolkien and the vibrant way he creates setting. A customer came in and bought it right as I put it on the table to sell. She was a huge Tolkien fan like me. We were kindred spirits right away and it was because of the playful, whimsical thing that I’d created. It was cool.

As authors, writing should be fun. Creating things are fun. You have the power to create a world that others can escape into. I watch kids, and adults, play with the gardens I create, just like people can read the books I create.

And giving people that escapism to another world, is pretty cool.

FullSizeRender-3   FullSizeRender-6

IMG_5850   IMG_5844-2

Here are some of my Instagram photos. You’re welcome to follow me for other planting, art, or writing tips.

FullSizeRender-53   FullSizeRender-19  FullSizeRender-13

Thanks for stopping by!

  • Tara

IMG_5940

 

Award time!

photo-5

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

 

 

 

 

Broken Smiles coming September 23rd!

I feel like I did when I was six months pregnant and people would ask “when are you due, you look huge, when’s the baby coming?”

Well, I finally have a “due date” for my novel Broken Smiles – September 23rd 2014!

Six months pregnant, that’s where I’m at in my book publishing… only three months left! I need to have this fetus of a book gestate a bit more. I need to feed it, nourish it, care for it, and yes, keep it all to myself for just a little longer. This book has grown inside of me. It has made me nauseous, sick, and yet elated.

This novel used to be only a concept. It has grown, matured and I’ve even taken it to be put under a microscope or ultrasound for inspection. I have been pregnant with it for years. So it’s about time it breaks free!

Am I ready? No… yes… I don’t know. Are we ever truly ready for parenthood? Gah! The responsibilities. The doubt. The fear. The unknown.

This is a novel of my heart. I have written many other novels and short stories since Broken Smiles. But this was my first. I love all of my “babies” but there is something about the first of anything.

I hope you celebrate with me on it’s birthday, come mid-September!

Tara

 

Remembering the Tiananmen Massacre…

Image

I remember the day… cloudless. Always cloudless, for there is no sky in Beijing. Grey haze of toxic pollution, equivalent of smoking seventy cigarettes, blanketed Tiananmen Square. We awoke early to watch the daily flag ceremony. The droves of people who gathered on the paved plain, was staggering, even at that early hour. Soldiers marched in syncopating rhythm. Silent and eerie. Like marching robots to a dawn of war. Every morning they do this.

I had traveled on a suffocating forty hour train ride, during the Chinese New Year, from my home near Guangzhou to visit Beijing. That is a whole other story for another post. Let’s just say I came home with a parasite and I’m pretty sure it was because of those trains!

I was twenty, and the whole world was at my fingertips. Excitement and curiosity bubbled inside my stomach as I observed the gathered crowd. The older generation wore muted hues, which mirrored the dismal sky, but the younger generation donned vibrant colors, resemblance of their newfound courage. We had spent the entire day flying kites on the square, ecstatic as can be. We also meandered within the walls of the Forbidden City. Oh if walls could talk! We could only wander through the 600 year old structures left behind. Imagining stories of 24 different emperors, 9,000 concubines, and thousands of eunuchs; with their 100 course daily meals and the wealth of the world at their disposal. Again, another post for another time.

It was here, standing at the “gates of heavenly peace”, (Tiananmen translated)  and the Mausoleum of Mao (Where Mao Zedong has been embalmed for viewing) where I learned about the massacre which had occurred June 4, 1989. I had never heard about, read about, or even knew that event had happened. I followed the huge human river to the different sights, learning about this event from a skewed point of view.

Standing before the Socialist Statue, my friend mumbled beneath his breath. “That is jacked up.”

“What do you mean?” I replied.

“Hundreds, if not thousands of students demanding freedom, lost their lives — right here.”

I gazed around the massive Tiananmen square, imagining it lined with tanks and soldiers who had opened fire into the protestors only eight years earlier. People, mostly my age at the time, had fought for freedom… and died for the concept of freedom. A statue, the Goddess of Democracy, in resemblance of the Statue of Liberty, had been erected. Only to be crumbled beneath the teeth of a tank.

The smog seemed to darken around me, as if the spirits of those protestors swooped down to beg for remembrance. And yet, those voices had been silenced, shoved under a rug — not allowed to be remembered. A stone sat in my gut the remainder of the day. As time went on, that stone simmered to an angered flame. Living in the communist country, I was unable to research that terrible tragedy, as it has been erased from their national history and called a “political incident.” It wasn’t until I moved back to the U.S.A that I was able to resurrect the memories which haunted me that day. I wrote papers in college and read what I could.

Now, on the 25th year anniversary, those feelings surface. I close my eyes and think of the brave men and women who fought for democracy, for equality, for freedom. The photo below, is courage at its core. Image

 

I am blessed to have freedom.

Tara

Into the Mystic

Video

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