I’m a Golden Heart® Finalist!

GoldenHeartWow, this year has really had me in a tailspin. With so much going on in the family, I have not had as much time to focus on the wonderful world of blogging as I would have hoped.  But I just had to tell you guys the news that blew my socks off yesterday morning:

My manuscript, Guardian, finaled in the Paranormal category for the prestigious Golden Heart® award, sponsored by Romance Writers of America®.  For anyone who is wondering, this is a competition that recognizes excellence in unpublished romantic fiction.  It’s kind of like the Academy or Oscar awards for aspiring romance authors.  So um, let me just say with as much somber dignity as possible, “Squeeeeeeee!!!”  I’m still pinching myself. 🙂

goldenheartSo far, announcements about the RITA and Golden Heart finalists have been made at RWA , Publisher’s Weekly, USA Today, and the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood.  I keep thinking I’m going to wake up and this is all going to be some crazy dream.  I am a 2013 Golden Heart finalist.  <– Now I have to post this blog and read and re-read that sentence until it finally sinks in. . .

Posted in Literary Events, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Go Red for Women

GoRedForWomenToday is the ten-year anniversary of the American Heart Association’s National Wear Red Day.  Every year on February 1st, thousands of people across the U.S. participate by wearing red to increase public awareness of heart disease, the number one killer of women (even more deadly than all forms of cancer).  The AHA reported that this disease claims the lives of almost 500,000 American women each year.  Having lost several relatives to heart disease, I am showing my support today by wearing red and spreading the news.

For more information, visit the Go Red for Women website; a community by women, for women.  It provides information on the latest research for the prevention and treatment of heart disease, healthy lifestyle tips for women and their families, and is a community where people can show their support and share their stories.

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hello 2013

ClockBooksPencilsBlog-wise, I am slow out of the gate this month. I think it’s because in the back of my mind I knew that once I wrote out my goals, the holiday laze-fest would officially be over and I’d have to get to stepping. But I’m ready to run now.  Carrot on stick is strapped firmly to back.

I’ve been trying to think of all the fabulous things I’d like to accomplish in the year ahead.  February will be a self-imposed NaNoWriMo month because I’m drafting a new story, so it’s going to be a little crazy at home.  I’m planning the frozen casseroles now.  On that note, how many times per week can I feed my family delivery pizza before I’m considered a loser mom? Anybody?

Here are ten of my goals for 2013:

1) Turn forty. (Done. Wow, look at me go!)

2) Write the first draft of new story in February.

3) Enter the PNWA Writing Contest by the February 22nd deadline.

4) Enter the Daphne du Maurier Contest by the March 15th deadline.

5) Finish edits on book II by end of March.

6)  Send out all requested partials & fulls, and query, query, query.

7) Attend the 2013 RWA National conference in Atlanta.

8) Attend the 2013 PNWA Conference in Seattle.

9) Exercise (Bah! I had to throw it in there, and no, I will not elaborate.  I prefer my exercise goals to be nice and vague, so no one can hold me accountable.)

10) Complete art project mosaic.  Here is just one section of it. The canvas is huge WP_20130118_002and each confetti-sized mosaic square can only be lifted and glued on individually with a pin.  Don’t ask.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Now it sits in my office, reminding me on a daily basis of its unfinished status.  I’m aware that this does not contribute to an uplifting work environment. A chorus of Feng Shui experts are shrieking in my head as I type this.  But now I’ve gone and told you it exists, so I will do my best to actually finish the thing this year, rather than just hiding it under the bed.

This list is only the beginning and I’m sure I’ll come up with a hundred other things, but it helps to start somewhere.  What about you?  Any big plans you’d like to share for the coming year?

“It’s a dream until you write it down, and then it’s a goal.” — Anonymous

Posted in General, Literary Events, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Happy Holidays

ChristmasCookiesFor the first time in three years, we decided to stay home for the holidays.  We put up the tree early, went shopping for presents early, and I even baked a bazillion cookies before the holiday rush.  Believe me, this is all very odd.  Usually we run around like deranged elves on speed toward the end of December, but this year we are relaxed.  We are lazing around the house.  We are reading lots of good books.  We are watching our favorite holiday movies like Elf and A Christmas Story.

I’m in a surreal Norman Rockwell bubble, people. How did this happen? I know it can’t last, but I’m really loving my bubble!  I already told my family that the plan on Christmas  is to spend the whole day at home in our pajamas.  So we’ve got goals.  What are yours?  What things are you planning this holiday?

Whatever you do, I wish you all the happiness you can hold, and lots of peace in the year ahead.  See you in 2013!

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Audiobooks to the Rescue!

AudiobooksI am in a very serious, committed relationship with audiobooks.  Since early September when my fourth-grader started school, I’ve been in the car for a minimum of three hours per day.  At first the drive was novel and I enjoyed the rolling countryside and picturesque scenes, but it soon grew so monotonous that I had to open windows to let in the frigid air, or risk falling asleep.

Now I listen to audiobooks almost every day and the time flies.  I don’t know how I ever lived without them.  If I have to do tedious things like dirty dishes or worse, exercise, I reach for my iPhone and jump into a book.  It’s amazing how many things I can get done if my mind is engaged in a story.  The only downside is that the cost is often much more than a hardcopy or e-book.  On iTunes, an audiobook costs around $20, so if you fall in  love with a series, good luck to you and your wallet.  The good news is that most libraries now have a great selection available, which makes it more affordable.

One more thing to consider:  some narrators are fantastic, but there are a few I’ve encountered who actually get on my nerves.  Even if you love the story, you may find yourself hard-pressed to endure the story’s “voice”.   Luckily, you can often preview the audiobook to get an idea of the narrator’s style before you purchase it.  The funny thing is, whether I’m on the road or folding my umpteenth pile of laundry, I find myself a lot more willing to tolerate an annoying narrator.  Deep, gravelly voiced heroines or high-pitched, nasally sounding villains?  Still beats pure boredom, every time.  Ha!

There are over 1500 audio titles available in the King County Library System in my area.  If you’re not convinced that they will add sparkle to your life, try one from your library first.  I dare you to say that a good audiobook does nothing to brighten the crush of rush-hour traffic or the mopping of floors!  Once you become an addict like me, you may consider joining fun blog challenges like the 2013 Audiobook Challenge hosted by The Book Nympho and Hot Listens.   I’m thinking about doing it. I figure I’ve got over seven months left of driving to and from school, for an estimated 420 hours of road time.  So, yeah.   Audiobooks.  My drug of choice.  I know it can be expensive, but hey, I can quit whenever I want. . .*twitch*

Posted in Reading, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Happy Thanksgiving

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, wherever you are!

Hugs and Warm Wishes,

Tara 🙂

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

What is Steampunk?

Okay, I have to admit, I should have known this.  It’s a fiction genre that has been around for a long time.  It’s been growing in popularity and there was recently a convention held in Bellevue for all things related to Steampunk.  Until now, I only had a vague idea of what it entailed.  I knew it was sort of corsety, sort of gadgety, sort of goggley.  But that was the extent of my understanding.  After visiting Steamcon I was fascinated by the artwork, stories, and the sheer creativity behind this whole culture. According to Urban Dictionary:

“Steampunk is a subgenre of speculative fiction, usually set in an anachronistic Victorian or quasi-Victorian alternate history setting. It could be described by the slogan “What the past would look like if the future had happened sooner.” It includes fiction with science fiction, fantasy or horror themes:
Medieval Steampunk: Speculative fiction set during the Middle Ages.
Victorian Steampunk: A modern Science Fiction work (post-1930s) that is set in the early parts of the industrial revolution.
Western Steampunk: Science fiction set in the American Old West.
Industrial/Modern Steampunk: Science fiction taking place in the late industrial age, early modern age; i.e. World War 1, World War 2”

Examples in movies:  Wild Wild West, Hugo, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Van Helsing, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, The Golden Compass

Examples in books: The Invention of Hugo Cabret, The Time Machine, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Boneshaker, Clockwork Angel, The Iron Duke, Leviathan

Wikipedia points out an important aspect of Steampunk: “The term denotes works set in an era or world where STEAM POWER is still widely used.”  I think this is where the whole clockwork-gadget thing comes into play.  While visiting the convention, I saw costumes that made my head spin.  One lady had tubes attached from her skull to a metal tank on her back.  The tank held her “brain”, in some sort of gelatinous fluid.  Others wore western adventurer garb or gothic-style Victorian clothing, some carrying weapons, others with life-like fantasy creatures on their shoulders. Here is a photo of a woman’s pet Chihuahua dressed as a tiny dragon.  People are so creative!

All I can say is, now that I have a better understanding of the Steampunk culture, I definitely see the lure.  I can see why it has such a huge following.  It’s hard not to get excited about something when there’s so much creative energy in the air. Look, I don’t generally have the desire to corset-up and grab a ray gun, but when I was strolling through the merchant aisles at the convention, marveling at all the wondrous arts and crafts those people dream up, I suddenly wished I, too, had a silver walking cane that emitted steam.  I wanted that lace-wrapped top hat with the dragon sitting on the brim.  I wanted a clockwork owl friend, just like on Clash of the Titans.  I needed these things, I tell you.  Watch out for Steampunk, my friends.  One step into that world and you just might be hooked. 🙂

Posted in Literary Events | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments