Tag Archives: Tara Taylor Quinn

Summer Reads

There is a temperate zone in the mind, between luxurious indolence and exacting work; and it is to this region, just between laziness and labor, that summer reading belongs. ~Henry Ward Beecher

There’s something magical about reading over the summer. Those long, hot days, sunshine aplenty, offer endless opportunities to read the hours away. As a child, I loved summertime reading because it was free from tests and quizzes, from discussions and reports. I didn’t have to *do* anything with what I read but enjoy it, picking and choosing what I wanted to read next, how fast or slow I finished it. That, to me, was the absolute joy of reading over the summer months. For someone who devoured books, those months offered the absolute freedom to read how and what and when I wanted. It was hard to find a greater joy.

During grade school and early middle school, books on my summer reading lists included the entire Little House on the Prairie series and every Nancy Drew book I could get my hands on. I loved being taken to exotic places (or at least locations more exotic than the Midwestern fields I was reading in…..) in between the covers of books like Island of the Blue Dolphins, Pippi Longstocking, or Misty of Chincoteague. Those years brought my first encounter with The Little Prince, fueling a lifelong interest in the book and its author. And I remember feeling very grown-up when I finally made it through Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret. By high school summers, I was well into my romance novel habit, oftentimes finishing a book a day during the summer. The librarians in our small town library used to tease me about rereading them if new ones were slow to arrive on the shelves.

As an adult, my summer reading selections are even more eclectic, though my mainstay reads are my ever-present romance novels. But other genres make their way onto the reading pile as well. Michael Connelly books are regular favorites from the mystery side of the bookstore aisle. One of the benefits of living across the street from one of the largest bookstores left in town is a never-ending supply of new options, oftentimes fueled by the chance to hear and meet new authors as they pass through on book tours. Our shelves of autographed books — and often ones that we probably would not have picked up without having met the author — now fill more of my bookshelves than I ever would have guessed.

As for this summer? My reading is a bit slower than in previous years as other things are occupying that precious free time I normally devote to inhaling books. But the one sure summer read this year happens to take me back to a special location that I love, one that I haven’t had the opportunity to re-visit in a number of years. All because a new book in the series is just two weeks away, and picks up the story of a character from one of the earlier books. So, I’m back to evenings spent buried in the pages of old favorites, and anxiously awaiting new arrivals.

I guess that sounds like my typical summer reading after all……

What are you reading this summer?

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RWA Workshops

RWA Workshop panel

Each day learn something new, and just as important, relearn something old. ~Robert Brault

One of the greatest benefits of conferences is the ability to attend workshops to learn new things and rethink things you already know. RWA provides an astounding amount of workshops to pick from, and, like most conferences, oftentimes there are several engaging ones all at the same time. Luckily, RWA records many of the sessions and makes them available for purchase, so attendees can have access to nearly all the content after the conference. RWA also tags sessions into various tracks, such as Craft, Publishing, Writer’s Life/Muse, Research, and Career, to help attendees focus on a particular area during the conference if so desired. Some of the most informative sessions are done by the publishing houses, offering spotlights on their lines presented by editors of the house, highlighting upcoming releases and talking about what they’d most like to see in submissions. And the signings, where authors of specific publishers sign free books. If desired, attendees can end up with extremely large amounts of books to haul home!

On the first afternoon, workshops I attended focused on making the most of your pitch appointment and a fun and engaging session on “Can You Do that in an Inspirational?” which covered what you can and can’t do when writing inspirational romance. The last session of the day was an editor discussing the importance of romance fiction, and she was full of practical advice for writers at all levels. And keep in mind, each of these sessions were just one of nine or ten options being offered each hour!

Thursday brought workshops all day, from 8:30 in the morning until 5:30 that evening. Sessions I went to included information on world-building, e-books, contracts, and romance review websites. This day was also the Harlequin book signing and the spotlight on Harlequin single title books. One of the sessions I most enjoyed was the one by Beth Adams, Senior Editor at Guidepost Books, who presented on “Using True Facts from History to Spin a High-Concept Story.” Not only was the topic intriguing, but I was totally unfamiliar with Guidepost Books prior to this session. I was also able to contribute a comment about the benefits of using and partnering with archives when writing historical fiction, a topic I previously discussed here on the blog. Without question, however, the highlight of the day was the Awards Luncheon and the very emotional keynote given by Sherrilynn Kenyon, which left many in tears. In contrast to the emotional highs of the day, Thursday also brought the moment where I left a session going, “Did she really just say what I think she said?” In one of the sessions, the presenter unfortunately chose to introduce her comments –not just once, but twice– with the phrase: “Well, let me put this in dumb people’s terms…..” I was certainly not the only one offended by that one. But overall, an amazing day!

Friday was the last workshop day, again filled from morning to early evening with more sessions than I thought possible to absorb. If you aren’t familiar with Deb Dixon’s book, Goal, Motivation, and Conflict (GMC), it is worth every penny. Dixon presented a condensed workshop focusing on the “Big Black Moment” that offered suggestions on building and creating the BBM in your writing. Other great sessions focused on one-page plotting, revisions, submission packages, critique partnerships, punching up the emotion of your story, and historical clothing. Finally, Tara Taylor Quinn packed the house for the last session of the conference with her highly informative workshop on creating a successful blog tour. After her Chapman Files tour and the recent tour for It Happened on Maple Street, she was full of excellent advice, and attendees peppered questions to take advantage of learning the best practices of creating a successful promotional blog tour for their own books.

Friday night brought an end to the conference with the annual RITA and Golden Heart Awards Ceremony where the best of both unpublished and published works are honored. For romance writers, this is our Emmy, Oscar, and Tony awards all wrapped up into one big evening. Emceed by Meg Cabot, the evening always brings emotional speeches and memorable moments.

Each year always brings, as the above quote suggests, the chance to learn new elements of romance writing as well as the opportunity to relearn (or better learn) things writers already do. I come away inspired to do more and to do better. And looking forward to next year’s conference.

Tomorrow I’ll share some of my favorite moments and a RWA 2011 wrap-up, including my visit to Broadway!

What kinds of things do you take away from conferences? Do you think they’re worth the money and time to go?

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Guest Bloggers: Tara Taylor Quinn and Tim Barney

Maple Street Cover
[Lynda’s note: Please join me in welcoming my first guest bloggers, Tara Taylor Quinn and Tim Barney — very special visitors indeed! They are stopping by as part of the blog tour for their newest book, It Happened on Maple Street, which tells their true life love story. I’m very honored to have them here. And for those stopping by on the tour, thanks for visiting here with us today!]

Tim and I have been looking forward to today’s stop. It feels more like a day off then a day on the road. We won’t take up too much space because I want you all to have time to look around, to spend enough time to browse. I found the site by accident. I was doing a search on the internet that ultimately led me here. I was reading for a bit before I realized that the site’s owner is one of us. She’s been right here on tour with us this entire trip. I read on. And on. I’m busy. I barely have time to read my mail, but I just kept reading. I didn’t want to leave. And when I need reminders of what really matters in life, when I’m getting ahead of myself, or starting to panic, I come back here. I hope you all find some of the same solace here that keeps bringing me back.

A post that most particularly sticks with me is Lynda’s post from her mother’s journal about her grandmother – the fact that she’s able to publish her mother’s words is phenomenal enough to make the post worth reading. But her grandmother’s wisdom – that’s priceless. The grandmother’s words keep repeating themselves in my brain. I’ll give you just a teaser – in my brain it goes something like this, ‘if you don’t have the time to do something right the first time, how will you ever find the time to do it a second time?’ I don’t know why that spoke to me so voraciously, but I’m listening! And applying, too.

To me, this blog, this stop, the way you can be looking for one thing and end up stumbling upon a great gift is what life, the Maple Street tour, and our communing here together is all about. We strengthen each other just by putting ourselves out here. And life, no matter how difficult, always has good to offer us around the corner. We just have to be open to it.

Tim is here, too. The idea behind the site spoke to him – this idea of second memory. It inspired some great conversation. Between us – and with our dinner companion last night. When we got home, Tim put some of his thoughts down to share with you all. Here’s what he has to say:

It’s funny that when you’re a kid and living in the moment you take everything for granted. Your world is the way the world is supposed to be. You have kind of an oblivious look at your environment. But when you get a bit of age on you, you tend to remember those same things with a bit more emotion attached to them. You tend to let emotion spice them up. However, there are certain memories in life that really were just the way you remember them. For example, Tara and I met at Wright State University in October, at October Daze. I can still remember the day exactly the same as it was when I was there in 1977. The day was overcast, drizzling rain, and cold. To some that would seem like a horrible day, but to me, the feeling I had when I was talking to Tara kept me oblivious to the weather. Still to this day when the weather is, as it has been for the past month, rainy and cool, I love it and want to be outside in it. I associate those cool rainy days with the way I felt that 1977 October day.

Tim and Tara

Tim and Tara

It’s those clear and vivid memories that you can actually write about in great detail. When Tara and I sat down to write It Happened On Maple Street, we had no problem remembering the details of what happened from our own perspectives. And when we compared notes, we found that the stories were identical except for the point view they came from. Our memories were so clear and vivid – and accurate. I realized through all of this that certain memories stay with us vividly because they’re enhanced by a longing to have those times again.

And every once in a while, we get lucky. Every once in a while we get to go back, as Tara and I did, and find that what was there, still is. And it’s every bit as good as the memory promised it would be.

This post is brought to you as part of the It Happened On Maple Street International Blog Tour. For a complete tour schedule visit www.tarataylorquinn.com. All blog commenters are added to the weekly basket list. One Unique Gift Basket is given each week to one randomly drawn name on the list.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, or if you suspect someone is, please contact http://www.thehotline.org, or call, toll free, 24/7, 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). The call can be anonymous and is always confidential. There is not one second of life that is worth wasting.

Next tour stop: Tuesday, May 17, SuperRomance Authors Unplugged: http://www.superauthors.com/.

To get your copy of It Happened On Maple Street, visit your favorite bookseller, or www.maplestreetbook.com.

Don’t miss The Chapman Files! Still available at: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Tara+Taylor+Quinn.

It Happened On Maple Street is available on Kindle and Nook, too! http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0757315682/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_d2_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0SKJ9D86BB5XG2BPT4MV&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=470938631&pf_rd_i=507846; http://search.barnesandnoble.com/It-Happened-on-Maple-Street/Tara-Taylor-Quinn/e/9780757315688/?itm=15&USRI=tara+taylor+quinn.

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The First Ones

book cover NO time FOR love

A book reads the better which is our own, and has been so long known to us, that we know the topography of its blots, and dog’s ears, and can trace the dirt in it to having read it at tea with buttered muffins. ~Charles Lamb, Last Essays of Elia, 1833

Today, it’s all about firsts. And before we get too far, there is a very special first happening here on Monday — my first guest blogger! I am thrilled beyond measure that Tara Taylor Quinn will be blogging here on Monday, May 16, as part of her extensive blog tour for her newest book, co-written with her husband Tim Barney, It Happened on Maple Street.  We celebrated the launch of the book back in April, so I’m very pleased she will be joining us for a stop along the way. The excellent reviews keep pouring in, as in today’s Library Journal review. So please make a note to come back on Monday for this very special first!

Given that fantastic first, it is only fitting to talk of another. Do you remember the first romance novel you read?  The first time you lost yourself inside a story? Or maybe even found yourself?

I don’t recall the absolute first romance novel I read.  I’m sure there were a few before the ones pictured here.  But these are the first two I remember reading, or being able to recall characters and the story anyway.  On a whim, I tracked both of these down on Amazon.com, surprised that I could actually find them for purchase — you really can find just about anything there.  Once in hand, I reread them.  I wanted to see why I could remember, thirty years later, these two books enough to google the story to find the author and title.

Of course, that answers the heart of the question, doesn’t it?  I remembered the story.

No Time for Love (1980) was an early favorite, and I know it was most definitely because of the story.  The heroine, Lorelei, was a violinist with the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra; her love interest was concertmaster, playing first chair.  She was innocent, shy.  He was grumpy, distant, committed only to his career.  Throw in a healthy violin competition and references to classical pieces, a European tour, and a stalker and you’ve got a story.

book cover winters loving touch Winter’s Loving Touch (1979) is harder for me to understand why I remembered this story so long.  Maybe it was the exotic Alaskan setting, as this was a few years before I had the chance to visit that beautiful state.  Carrie, the new doctor in town, was engaged to a like-minded environmentalist.  The hero thinks her cold and hostile.  She thinks Zachary is arrogant and a danger to the environment in his job as an explorer intent on developing the rich energy resources hidden in the land.  Competing goals and personalities wove a tale set against a harsh, unforgiving and distant environment.

Reading these again showed that the basic story held true to my memory of it, but given the intense stories around these days, the plot and structure were decidedly flat. What it also showed, not surprisingly, is how very far the genre has come in those thirty years. Some of the language and actions, behaviors and descriptions would not be in a book published these days — too misogynistic, too “forced” – and that is especially true at its most literal meaning in what were considered the “love scenes.” Shudder. So why were they so memorable? Does the story triumph? Or is it a combination of things? I still am not sure.

What was your first one? What made it so memorable for you?

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Book of Her Heart

Cover image for It Happened On Maple Street “It Happened on Maple Street is not only the book of my life.  It is the book of my heart.” ~ Tara Taylor Quinn

*cyber confetti*  *cyber balloons*  *cyber cake* *cyber wine*

A BIG congratulations to Tara Taylor Quinn and Tim Barney on the launch of their newest, and most special, book!  It Happened on Maple Street hit stores and e-readers on Friday, April 1, 2011.

And it’s no April fool’s story either.

Nor is it one that you will forget.

If you are a new reader, or an ongoing fan, be sure to join along on the blog tour.  Tara and Tim know how to celebrate.  When the four books of The Chapman Files series were released last fall, they took readers on an 80+ stop blog tour culminating with the first annual Tara Taylor Quinn Charity Skate and a simultaneous real-life and cyber launch party for The Fourth Victim that was amazing.  As were the books!  During that tour, Tara urged support for Strengthen Our Sisters and raised awareness about the issue of domestic violence.  It was good work.  With this tour and this book, that work goes very personal, as Tara has become a spokesperson for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

The blog tour started almost a week ago, March 28, and celebrated the launch of the book on Friday with six stops!  Yes, six!  You don’t want to miss a single one, as Tim and Tara walk through the process of how It Happened on Maple Street came into being.  A full schedule of their blog stops is available on her website.  As is a list of their upcoming appearances.

One of Tara and Tim’s upcoming appearances is especially close to the heart.  They’re coming back to the campus where they met, where part of this remarkable story happened!  And I couldn’t be more delighted, because that is where I work.  In yesterday’s post, I wrote about how archival collections can be an excellent source of research for writers.  And how partnering with an archival institution might also be a possibility for promotion.  Special Collections and Archives at the Wright State University Libraries is very proud to be hosting a book signing with Tara and Tim on Saturday, April 16, 2011, from 2-4 p.m., in our reading room, located on the fourth floor of the Dunbar Library.  It is free and open to the public, with plenty of free parking in front of the library.  It Happened on Maple Street will be available for purchase as well.  Their visit coincides with the celebration of the American Library Association’s National Library Week (April 10-16, 2011), the theme of which is “Create Your Own Story @ the Library.” As part of that celebration –of their visit as well as National Library Week–  there’s an exhibit on the first floor of the library, and on that Saturday, there will also be an exhibit highlighting Wright State’s history with materials from the University Archives collection.

If you are new to Tara’s books, please join along on the blog tour and go get any one of her books, but especially this story, their story.  If you are a long time fan of Tara’s books, as I am, you’ll love her even more after this one.  Plus, you’ll get to know her real-life hero, her husband, Tim Barney.  His story is here as well.  Your faith in the power of love, in the reality of happily-ever-after, will be renewed.

If you can, please come visit during their upcoming stop!  We’d all love to have you there!

information for book signing

You're Invited!

[Note: This post is #2 of 26 of the April A-to-Z Challenge.  Please see the button at the lower left of the page for more information.]

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Filed under April A-to-Z Challenge, Archives, History, Reading, romance