Status: Drafting the fourth book in the PERILOUS series!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Out of Town!

So I'm on vacation, at a family reunion in Branson. I thought I'd have some internet access, but as it is, I only have internet if I sneak down to the lodge. And the internet is very slow!

You probably won't see me for a week. Hope you don't miss me too much!

Friday, June 25, 2010

On the Rebound

Today I have the fun pleasure of participating in a blog tour for Heather Justesen, who just released her second book, Rebound. She's got a ton of fun contests going on at her blog right now, so be sure to check it out.

Now to our feature presentation. Rebound is a romance novel that centralizes around Lily, a pregnant stay-at-home-mom who lives a pampered lifestyle. The problem arises when the FBI arrive for her dinner party instead of her husband. From there Lily's life turns into a whirlwind of broken dreams and expectations. She struggles to hold on to her indifferent husband all while taking care of their child, preparing for baby, and finding a new place to live. When her husband leaves her desolate and she has to fight for every penny from him, Lily is forced into a single, working-mom lifestyle. Romance is far from her mind, but she finds it, in the face of an unexpected acquaintance, Curtis.

I really liked in this book how the husband was so two-faced. He was active in their church and seemed a model citizen, but was living a double life. I also liked how Curtis, who never saw himself assuming on the responsibility of a family when he fell in love, also fell in love with Lily's children. I have many single-mom friends who fear they will never find a man who accepts them and their children. While this book is fiction, hopefully that trend will catch on!

I didn't like how forced Lily's husband's indifference felt. I thought even a deceitful man wouldn't be so obviously hateful to his wife. Their marriage wasn't that troubled, after all, just 'issues' that many of us have. I honestly would have enjoyed seeing him feeling more regretful that she didn't see this coming, but it's time for them to move into different places in their lives. The completely hateful and obnoxious felt out of character.

This novel is a spin-off from an earlier novel, and many of the characters and their story lines came from Heather's first novel. I found this distracting, as I haven't read the first novel. The characters felt thrown in and I didn't really care about their story lines. I wanted Lily's story. But that is my opinion. I know other readers who really enjoyed getting those background stories.

Overall, it was a fun read, and romance is always fun because it helps us remember the feelings of falling in love with our own dear ones. So exciting! Heather is still breaking out into the market, so if you get the chance to go to her blog and check out her novels, I'm sure she'd appreciate it!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Seat-of-your-Pants Synopsis

There are many smart, proper ways to write a synopsis. They usually involve careful outlining, thinking about your main characters, your main plot points, and putting it down in a nice, concise manner. Very good. I applaud everyone who does it this way. It's probably a lot easier.

Then there's the "I need a synopsis and I need it now" way. This is what I went through today. My editor requested a synopsis of my sequel before we go into final edits of my prequel. Which was immediately awe-inspiring and daunting. I mean, final edits!!! That's way cool! And then I thought, "Oh no! What if she doesn't even like it?" I sure hope that's not the case!

But that's besides the point. The point is, I wrote a synopsis today for my novel sequel. This way worked well for me, and it might for you, so let me share.

1) Open your novel in a word document.

2) Resave your document with the word 'synopsis' in there (in this case, I saved it as "Altercation Synopsis").

3) Across the top, make one line with this information: Title, genre, author, word count.

4) Go through and summarize each chapter in 1-2 sentences. Make sure you write in the present tense and write each character's name in ALL CAPS the first time you mention them.
Once I got done with this step, I had 4 pages. I had summarized 146 pages into 4. Not bad! But still, a synopsis is generally 2 pages, double spaced. So next I formatted.

5) Format your synopsis. It should be double-spaced with normal paragraph indentions.
Now I had 8 pages instead of 4. Time to start trimming.

6) Go through and pull out every sentence you think isn't necessary. (Result: 4 pages.)

7) Go through and pull out every plot point that doesn't need to be explained yet. (Result: 3 pages.)

8) Go through and pull out about 6-7 sentences that might be important, but the synopsis still flows without them. (Result: 2 pages!)

This took me several hours. But I found it wasn't too painful. And I got my synopsis done! It's off to my editor.

How do you do synopsis? (Plural, anyone?) Any trial runs? What do you recommend?

Oh, and tomorrow, watch for a book review of Heather Justesen's new book, Rebound! She's already got some awesome giveaways going on, so be sure to check out her blog here.

13630 / 60000 words. 23% done!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Countdown: 4: Marketing

If we are still on schedule, we are now four months out from my book release. I think the final round of edits before copy-edits has been turned in. But of course, I don't know. I may have blown something that my editor doesn't like, and we'll have to do another round. But we're getting there. We're definitely getting there.

I've talked about marketing so many times on this blog, but it's hugely important. Especially if you go with a small press, like I have. Who's going to find my book? Where are they going to buy it? These are things that it comes down to me, the author, to lay the foundation for before my book comes out. If anyone hears about my book, it's going to be because of my own (initial) contact with that person. I expect the first 2-300 copies I sell will be direct sells, where I have personally spoken with someone, told them about my book, and either hand sold it to them or directed them to my website to buy it.

So marketing starts now. This little thing I call (and you call) a blog is because I'm hoping each person on here will buy a copy of my book. Then I'm hoping you'll blog about it and everyone who reads your blog will buy a copy. (The book is THAT GOOD, trust me!)

I've also got my website up so when people start to Google me (they aren't yet, but they will), they'll find information about me and my book. Since the book will be difficult to find in bookstores, I will be able to sell it directly online to anyone who wants a copy. I'll even autograph it.

I'm hoping this book takes off like wildfire. Like Catching Fire. I'll let you know how beneficial my marketing efforts turn out to be.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

To the love of my life!

I know you check my blog whenever you can, so this message is for you.

We love you! My life is so much more enriched with you in it. I know you wouldn't believe it, but I'm more patient and more mellow. I think I'm a better mother when you're around. You keep my calm. We miss you. Jacen wanted me to save some ice-cream for you.

You're the best father. I'm so proud to be the mother of your children. Take care of yourself. We can't wait for you to come home and meet your new little one. We're proud of who you are and what you're doing. I tell people very proudly that you are a soldier, serving our country.

I hope you have good enough internet to talk to us soon!

Stay healthy and strong. We love you.

Tamara, Jacen, Asher, and baby

11243 / 60000 words. 19% done!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Elevating Families through Writing and Literature

Let's face it: the family is in trouble. Broken homes are less of a statistic and more of a common occurrence. Here are ten problems families face today (taken from providentliving.org).

1) Parenting Issues
2) Marital Issues
3) Divorce
4) Grieving
5) Out-of-Wedlock Pregnancy
6) Emotional and Mental Problems
7) Substance Abuse and Addictions
8) Eating Disorders
9) Stress
10) Pornography

Granted, writing and literature can't cure all of these problems. But they can help. One of my missions with my writing is to help elevate the family. Here's how I plan to do it.

Parenting Issues. No one is given a manual on how to raise a child. Sometimes the problems we have feel so farfetched and unreal that we're certain nobody could relate to us. That's where the right literature can change a parent's outlook. Just realizing that other people go through what we go through, and worse, and make it through it, might help a parent feel more enabled to tackle the next challenge. Not only that, but when we read, we are put behind the eyes of the character. Parents and teenagers can begin to relate better to each other if they read books that share stories similar to theirs. By reading YA literature, parents will see what life is really like for their teens. As long as they are reading to understand, not to censure.

Marital Issues. Marital issues can stem from so many things, from infidelity to financial ruin to emotional issues. But I think one of the biggest hang ups is SELF ESTEEM. It's a big problem for men as well as women, but as I am female, I want to focus on the woman for a moment. There's a lot of truth to the saying that if "Mom ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." It is hugely important for the woman to take some time to reach her own self-fulfillment. When she feels like a whole person without needing to be codependent on her role as wife and mom, she will be a more willing, happier partner in her marriage. (Men, it's probably very similar for you.) Writing is therapeutic. I bet many women could come to know themselves better and know their needs better if they started writing.

Divorce. In general, divorce comes from marital issues gone bad. Therefore, if writing can help out with the marital issues, hopefully divorce will become less prevalent in those families as well.

Grieving. It's fairly obvious how literature and writing help with grieving. Even if it's a fiction book that helps someone laugh or cry or get in touch with their emotions, of if it's taking the time to remember and put those memories somewhere lasting. I think grieving becomes a problem when we refuse to deal with it. We wallow in it, allowing it to take control of our lives. Writing can help us stay in touch with reality and what really matters as we work through our emotions. It can also help us channel our negative feelings into a positive reservoir.

Out-of-Wedlock Pregnancy. This is one I hope to target simply by reaching out to teenagers through my novels. Kids know what is what and don't need to be preached to. We need to recognize that children are their own people, and they are independent, breathing entities that are going to make their own decisions. But I want to influence them. I want them to be so touched by my characters and to resonate so much with their lives and decisions that they change their lives. That they reach for something bigger. I want to motivate them to accomplish something greater. My novels are full with what I hope are very subliminal, uplifting messages.

The last five, I don't really have any specific ideas on. But I do know that great literature can inspire anyone, no matter what the issue is. Writing is not a catch-all that will cure every problem. But I do believe it can be targeted to help resolve many of the issues families face today.

Here's to hoping!

10308 / 60000 words. 17% done!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I think we can all safely admit that there are things people do that drive us nuts. I, for instance, can't stand it when people drive below the speed limit in the left-hand lane. I can't tolerate it.

We've all got things like that. But hopefully, as a whole, we are more tolerant of those around us. Of the differences of people, in their families, their cultures, their behavior, and their attitudes.

Unfortunantly I've seen example lately of intolerant behavior. What it really boiled down to was people who were self-righteous in their own assertions/ideas, and were therefore intolerant to those who they considered 'wrong' or even 'inferior.' Here are two examples.

1) The Fat Lady I was in the grocery store one day, waiting in the check out line. The woman in front of me was larger and kept fumbling with her coupons. And then she fumbled with her checkbook. The woman between the two of us said, "You should have written your check while you waited."

She didn't say it nicely. It was a snide comment, and it didn't make the woman move any faster. It's possible she would have acted so haughtily to anyone, but what crossed my mind was that she judged this woman as inferior because she was overweight, had coupons, and wrote checks. She should have just been quiet and waited.

2) The Undisciplined Children In church the other day, a single lady sat in front of a mom with two kids. Most of the moms with children and no spouse sitting by them spend the entire service attending their children; I know I do. When they passed the sacrament, this mom was whispering to her children. I don't know what she was saying. It could have been to be quiet, a story about Jesus, or the latest football scores. At least she was quiet, which was more than I could say for the kids screaming in the row behind me. I saw the woman in front turn around and say, loud enough for me to hear, "Would you please be quiet during the sacrament?"

Again, it was the attitude of delivery that struck me. Obviously this woman wanted silence so she could feel the Lord's Spirit, and felt that this woman was disturbing the meeting. She had such an unhappy scowl upon her face that I doubt she would have been able to feel anything. She then proceeded to stick her fingers in her ears for the rest of the service. I was astounded. She apparently thought she was more spiritual and Christ-like than the mom behind her, who I bet would have loved some help keeping her little ones occupied!

3)The Unwed Mother And finally, this is one that I see quite a lot, subtly directed at me. Why? Because I'm pregnant, look seventeen, and am wearing no wedding ring. I have one, a gorgeous one, and every day I rub my finger and wish I had it on. But my fingers are swollen and have been for months. So no ring until baby comes out.

The natural assumption from people is that I'm not married and pregnant. I especially get weird looks if my other two children are with me. There are little hints of disdain from people, whether it's not meeting my eyes in a conversation, or glancing between my tummy and my ring-finger. It's embarrassing and I want to defend myself every time. There are people I don't get this reaction from. These are the people who smile warmly at me in the store and ask me when the baby is due, people who hold doors for me and tell me I have beautiful children. When I speak to these people, I find many of them are single moms. They include me in their fellowship because they think I am like them. We share something.

It is sad to me how excluding we can be of people who don't seem to fit in our social circle. The chances of seeing a person a second time are rare; for the two minutes they cross paths with us in this lifetime, can't we be kind? Can't we be accepting? I ask myself this question as well and hope that I also can be more tolerant of those around me.

7975 / 60000 words. 13% done!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Is it the Rain, or Me?

I am tired.

It's been raining a lot, and every time it rains I feel really tired. But I'm also pretty pregnant and I've noticed a huge energy drain lately. So which is it? The rain, or me?

My head is too foggy to think up a real blog post. I've happily been able to get some work done on my latest MS. Rough drafts are hard for me. I just have to plow through them. The first two chapters of this one were especially difficult for me, as I was trying to get my focus back. But by chapter three, I was feeling very into the novel and quite excited to keep going.

Right around then was when the sleepy juices hit me and I had to go to bed. Hopefully I'll get more done today!

On another note, I planted strawberries in my hanging planter. I hope we get some still this season!

Watch for a real blog post tomorrow!

5724 / 60000 words. 10% done!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Woman Power


Do we realize how important our role is?

Sometimes I think we allow ourselves to think we are second-rate citizens, content to sit on the back-burner while our lives revolve around EVERYONE ELSE. I'm not saying that we're subservient to our husbands. Or our children. But we start to think we are not that important. We begin to define ourselves by how well we cook, or how dusty the table is, or (heaven forbid) how much money we bring home.

I've struggled with this. My children and husband are the most important things on earth to me. And yet, I have found myself in places were I feel I have nothing more to give. If all I am is a caretaker, a cook, a housekeeper, I'm easily replaced. And easily displaced.

Ladies, there is nothing replaceable about our role.

We don't just pop to-go boxes on the table for dinner (most nights). We shop for groceries and plan a menu with LOVE, imagining our children and husbands enjoying the food. We buy what we think they will enjoy. We plan around their tastes. And yes, that is more catering to their needs, but at least it's not something someone else can do.

We don't just change diapers and wash laundry and pick out clothing for our children. We hold them when they crawl into our beds and we kiss their owies and we smooth back their sweaty hair after they've been playing. We LOVE them. That's irreplaceable.

But still, that's what we do for other people. What I want to know, girls, is what are you doing for yourself?

Is there something you enjoy doing, but you feel guilty taking the time to do it? Stop now. Plan out your day. Look at the hours you give to everyone else. If you take 2-4 (or even 6) hours a week and do something FOR YOURSELF, you will feel invigorated. You will feel more empowered in your role as a wife, mom, caregiver, etc. You will feel more prepared to handle the parts of your roles that you DON'T ENJOY (for me, the housekeeping).

You are a successful contributor to society. Not just to your family. Find your niche. Find your group. And enrich your life by doing something more.

I write when my children are napping. I scrapbook on occasion while we're watching a movie. I teach English in the morning before my children wake up. These activities help me to feel motivated, ambitious, and fulfilled. None of them take away from my family.

Women, don't sell yourselves short. And take time for you.

Picture taken from this blog: http://www.blogtrepreneur.com.Which looks like it has some great blogs for women, so check it out!

4453 / 60000 words. 7% done!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Loot

My digital camera has lost its charger and I don't know where to find it.

My camera battery is dead.

The point being, I can't show you the loot of goodies that I purchased for Follower #150, Kate Larkindale. This picture is a good example, though, and I borrowed it from Kate Charlottesville's blog.

Kate, thanks for following! If someone referred you here, let me know, because they get something too! Send me an email with you address -- tamara at byu dot net -- and I'll get these yummies off to you. (No chocolate--can't risk the melting. Sorry. Yes, I know, chocolate's the best.)

And what's this 'your friends' thing beneath 'your followers'? How is that different? Sheesh, now my followers aren't my friends? Am I supposed to do my recruiting here?

As for me, I'm seriously trying to get my mind off the full MS I just sent in. I know I shouldn't expect a response for at least a month, but that doesn't keep me from getting jumpy every time I have a new email. And I'm having a horrible time getting my thoughts to focus on my next project. All I can think about is the one I just crash-revised.

So this week I am taking a break from writing and working on reviews. I have so many people I promised I'd help review, and I haven't done it. This week's the week. Hopefully by next week, I'll be refocused enough to write some more.

How do you find your focus again when you've lost it? Do you take a break or plow through it?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Constructive Rejections

First of all, an item of business.

The winner of May's random book, as decided by Random.org:
Jay Eckert!

Congrats, Jay!!! The book you won is The Journey by Robin Hawdon. I just need your address and I'll get your book in the mail to you! My email is tamara at byu dot net.

All right, business is over. Hubby's gone. Doesn't really feel real. I keep thinking he's out of town and coming home soon. It's also nice that this is totally unlike Basic Training, where I didn't hear from him for weeks at a time. He has his phone on him and I can talk to him anytime I want, plus he gets to email me. Hopefully soon we'll be skyping each other.

I'm going to take advantage of this time before baby comes to really get some writing done. I've gotten a few responses back from the queries I sent out for White as Snow, my fairy-tale series. Rejections are interesting beasts. You might know they are coming, but the feeling is still like, "What? You didn't like it??? Are you crazy?" Most rejections are what we call the dreaded FORM LETTER, which says basically, "This isn't a good fit for me, but thanks for sending it and try another agent because this is just my opinion." (I'd be really interested to know if anyone has gotten a rejection that says, "You suck. Stop writing.")

And then sometimes you get a rejection that is constructive. It tells you what the agent really thought and what you might be able to do to improve it. I've gotten two of these. One agent said, "I really enjoyed the sample you sent me, but I'm already representing something similar." Maybe she was just being nice, but I like to think not. This also pretty much confirms my theory that fairy-tale retellings aren't hot right now. I mean, they'll never be dead, but there are a lot of them out there and not a great demand for them. Which is why soon I'll get back to work on the novel I was supposed to write last month.

Another constructive rejection I got from an agent said, "I exclusively represent children's literature, and your 20-year-old protagonist puts this outside the YA range." I have two thoughts on this: 1) There must've been something else he didn't like, or certainly he would've just asked me to change the age of my protagonist. 2) While I don't agree that 20 is outside the YA age, I know a lot of people do. Thus, I've decided to change the age of my protagonist. It is, after all, a fairy tale, and fantasy, and make-believe, so she can still do everything she does, but at a younger age.

And then I did get a request. A request for a full, which surprised me. And caught me off guard, since we were in the middle of wrapping up everything we left for the last minute before DH deployed. But now he's gone, and I'm going to spend today re-reading my full to make sure it is ready to go out.

I am very curious. Anyone have original query responses out there?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Website: Launch!

My website is up!!!!

You can see it here: tamarahartheiner.com.

I am so pleased with it, and so pleased with the company that did it for me. (If anyone is interested, they have fantastic prices. They are Bright Design Graphics. Check out their website here. Fantastic people, and I loved working with them. If you've looked into having someone do a website for you, I guarantee that they're better!)

Of course it's meant to be very fluid, as things (such as my release date) are definitely subject to change. So far we're good. But I have many many friends, from several different publishing companies, who have had their dates pushed back. So I'm prepared for it. It'll be nice to display a shiny, pretty cover up there, too! And after I get my publisher's approval, I'll be able to put up nice little excerpts from my book. Believe me, I'm going to hook and reel!

So check out my website, imagine me as a bestselling author, and visit often. Please? :)

On another note, I'm calculating all the comments from May and will hopefully have the book winner up by tomorrow. No promises though.

How many of you have author websites? Share the links! I want to see them!
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