Demo Day by Tara Randel

That’s right, demo day. Today begins the remodeling of my kitchen, living and dining room. Which means walls coming down, flooring coming up and general noise and confusion. And during this renovation I must also finish writing projects.

I’ve been emptying out cabinets for three days. Why do we let ourselves accumulate so much stuff! At least I can purge during this process.

While I’m excited, the prospect of not having a kitchen for 4-5 weeks is daunting. Good thing only my husband and I live in the house. Well, the cats too, but I expect they’ll be so wigged out over all the commotion that I won’t see them much.

It’s during times like this, when everything is out of my control, that I learn to trust in the Lord, because He is in control. No matter the circumstances of life, I know God is with me every step of the way. You don’t need a major remodel of your home to know that life can be messy and loud. But in those quiet times spent with just you and God, there can be peace and joy.

So while I clean out my cabinets and move furniture, I’ll sing songs of praise and thank God that he has me in his hand no matter what I go through in life. And if you’ve been through the renovation process and have a few words of wisdom to share. let me know!

My Take on the Writers Life by Tara Randel

Writing, like any profession, is hard work. Like anything worth striving for, writers put their heart and soul, time and energy, into making each project their very best. I can’t tell you how many times people, when they learn I’m an author, tell me that they want to write their special story and get it published. As with every writer, they have all these ideas they want to share. The first thing I tell them is, sit down and write. Even if you have no idea what is involved in putting a book together, the first step is getting words on paper. Later, after time has passed and I see that friend who wants to write I ask, have you started writing? Making notes? Jotting down ideas? Most of the time the answer I receive is, well, I don’t have time… If you don’t make the time, you can’t expect to be an author.

As a professional who loves what I do, I’ve learned that I have to sit down each day for a certain amount of hours if I want to be successful. This is my job. I have deadlines, word counts I need to reach and certain commitments I make to a publisher. This requires a lot of discipline. I have a day planner beside my computer so I can keep up with the demands of the week or month. Don’t get me wrong, I get great enjoyment from what I do, but I’m not naive enough to think that I can sit down and in a few hours throw something together and expect it to be any good. Writers spend hours carefully choosing words, and on top of that, spend addition hours honing the craft. I still read craft books, still go to writing workshops. To be my best, I put forth the effort to keep my mind coming up with fresh ideas and then applying those ideas to create a book.

Writing has to be a passion. It requires a huge commitment. Waiting is also part of the writers experience. Trust me, this isn’t for the faint of heart, but we do it because we are compelled to write. We have to do this. To those who don’t write, this concept may seem a little nutty, but hey, it is the truth!

No matter what genre we write for, there is an expectation from the reader. Again, this is where I have to make sure I work extra hard at delivering. That means a first, second, third, and probably more, draft of my story. And still I’m not finished. Readers will pick up our books and expect a story that touches their hearts and emotions. Which means I have to nail that. So I plot and I plan, I create characters that I love first and hope the readers will also come to love later.

Did I mention that I LOVE what I do? Every day I am thankful that I get to sit down at my computer and live in a world that I’ve created and hang around with characters I’ve come to think of as friends. Anyone who wants to join the ranks of the author can do so, just be prepared to put in the time. Once you do, you’ll see that a writer’s life isn’t glamorous, but it is very satisfying.

 

July Release by Tara Randel

I’m pleased to announce the release of my newest Harlequin Heartwarming book, Magnolia Bride.

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Married for a day, in love for life

Nealy Grainger knew that returning to Cypress Pointe meant an inevitable encounter with her teenage crush, and momentary husband, Dane Peterson. She could handle it. She wasn’t the wounded girl who’d left Cypress Pointe years ago, heartbroken and furious when Dane had annulled their marriage the day after they’d eloped.

Now one of L.A.’s most in-demand celebrity event planners, Nealy’s only come back for a vacation and to help with her sister’s wedding—not for a reunion with her long-lost love. But the more their paths cross, the more the sparks fly! Maybe their connection isn’t over just yet…

I had such a blast with this book. Watching Nealy and Dane get over the past and find the love they had once shared was a joy to write. I love wholesome books and if you haven’t given Heartwarming a try, check out the books.

If you read Orange Blossom Brides, come back to Cypress Point and catch up with old friends and make new friends. This book is a great summer read.

Visit Goodreads now and enter the giveaway for a copy of Magnolia Bride.

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/98739-magnolia-bride

Summer Reading by Tara Randel

Summer is here! The kids are out of school. Hectic schedules slow down. We might have a vacation thrown into the mix. All in all, a perfect time to catch up on our reading. If you are anything like me, you probably have a to To Be Read pile collecting dust beside your bed. Even with hopeful expectations to sit down with a good book, life usually gets in the way of well intentioned plans.

Celebrate June’s release by entering to win a summer camping kit (grill, tent, and camp chairs) from Quilts of Love.

http://prmo.me/XNubt7

My favorite memories of summer revolve around reading. As a child, I signed up for the summer reading program at the library. I checked out more books than I could carry, but had a blast. Worlds I had never imagined opened up to me. Characters made an impression that stay with me even today. The life-long reader in me was hooked.

Later, in high school, I had required reading during the summer. As much as I loved reading, I didn’t necessarily enjoy the book list. I must admit, I like to pick out my own reading choices. Still, I learned a thing or two from the books and got good grades on my reports. When my daughters had required reading in school, I encouraged them to keep up with the book list, but still brought them to the library or book store to select their own choices. I’m proud to say I have well read and intelligent daughters!

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As an adult, I still read frequently, but those long days of summer hold special memories. To this day I love camping out at the beach for the day, soaking up the sun, waves and words on the page of the book I’m reading.

I hope you have reading plans this summer. Drop me a line and let me know how you plan on spending your reading time this summer.

Rival Hearts-available now. Magnolia Bride- July 2014

New Release by Tara Randel

I’m excited for my new release, Rival Hearts, on June 17. I so enjoyed writing this book and working with Abingdon Press during the process. Here’s a overview of the book.

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They both want the promotion. But will they find out that it is worth the cost?

Molly Henderson and Ben Weaver have been rival magazine writers for the same publishing group for years. When both come up for the same promotion, they find themselves in an unexpected competition to win the spot. Molly, editor of Quilter’s Heart, and Ben, editor of Outdoor Adventures, must switch roles, each working for the other for one month, then their publisher will decide the winner.

Can girly-girl Molly survive the outdoor adventures that Ben has planned? Can Ben navigate the perils of the social dynamics of quilting events without destroying a valuable quilt in one short month? More importantly, in this he-said, she-said situation, will Molly and Ben give in to their attraction and fall in love, no matter who wins?

I’m delighted to be part of the Quilts of Love series. If you are available, we’ll be having a Quilting Bee-themed Facebook party on June 17, 8pm EST. Stop by and visit!

“>https://www.facebook.com/events/1421634858096062/

Traveling the World-Two Hours Away by Tara Randel

I just finished a deadline for my tenth book. Yay! I never dreamed I would be able to make such a claim. So in honor of completing the book, my husband I decided to travel the world in a day, by driving two hours to EPCOT at Disney World in Orlando.

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There is no way I’d be able to afford visiting all the countries represented at EPCOT, but I can certainly enjoy a beautiful sunny day, strolling from country to country. As we were walking, I decided to snap a few pictures to share. Some of you may have vacationed at a Disney park, so you will recognize the sights. If you haven’t been, I recommend you put a trip to Disney on your wish list.

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We ate delicious sandwiches in France, enjoyed sweet pastries in Norway and went on a tour in England where we learned the history and art of tea blending, given by Twinings of London. I will admit, hubby wasn’t as interested about tea as I was. We enjoyed the gorgeous flower displays especially created for the Flower and Garden Festival.

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All in all a great way to celebrate meeting another deadline!

Do you have any vacations planned? Drop a line and let me know.

Perfect Season for a Book by Tara Randel

Spring is here in Florida. The temperatures are warming up to make for very comfortable days. Everything is blooming. The azalea’s are gorgeous and the grass is starting to turn back to a healthy shade of green. It’s a beautiful time of year. Just ask the tourists!

These are the azaleas blooming in my yard.

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As an author, one of the things I must decide as I start plotting a book is, what time of year will I set my story? Christmas is always a popular holiday, especially if you love snow and the fun details of holiday decorating. But then I think, who can resist a book set during a summer vacation? The beach. Or maybe a cruise? And what about the mountains in autumn when the leaves are changing color? With so many traditions scheduled at different times of the year, picking that particular season to plan the story gives authors plenty to work with.

So how do I chose? First, it depends on what is going on in the story line. If I start out knowing the book will be a Christmas story, then I can jump right in. I might decide on the season because of my character’s jobs. For added conflict, I might factor in the worst time of the year to travel to visit family or help a friend in need, due to bad weather or my character’s messy personal circumstances. It’s all about the dynamics.

Rival Hearts (Quilts of Love, #19)

 

When I wrote Rival Hearts, my June 2014 Quilts of Love book, I settled on the springtime. Set in Tampa, the warm weather best suited my heroine’s kayaking adventures. Unlike my heroine, who is an indoor kind of girl, I love to be outdoors. The spring temperatures in Florida are perfect for bicycling or hiking.

For Magnolia Bride, my July 2014 Harlequin Heartwarming release, I set the story in June, with warming temperatures beginning to rise in anticipation of summer. So of course I had my characters walk along beach, because you have to hit the beach in warm weather or admire a star-lit night.

I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of winter, but I can get into the spirit of writing a snowstorm scene since I won’t have to deal with actual snow banks in Florida.

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love,
and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Leave a comment and let me know your favorite season for a book.

Acclaim the Lord! by Tara Randel

Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord. Ps 89:15 NIV

I read this scripture the other day and thought, have I learned to acclaim you Lord? To acclaim means to cry out, to greet or announce with loud approval or applause. In the KJV, it says, Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance. I had to stop and think, do I know the joyful sound? Do I make the joyful sound in daily living in order to walk in His light?

One of the reasons I love reading the book of Psalms is that no matter what verse I study, I always end up taking stock of my life. More times than not, questions pop into my mind and I find myself really pondering the answers. Not that I always get answers mind you, but by spending time contemplating the verses, I at least come away feeling like I have walked in the presence of God.

Being an author is mostly a solitary job. I sit for hours before a computer scene, creating a world for my characters to live and work in or I read, reread and read yet again, my work in progress. Not exactly a noisy endeavor. There’s not a lot of loud commotion around me, certainly no applause. Yet I can find ways to greet my Lord by being mindful of his promise that I walk in the light of His presence.

On Sundays, I sing on the worship team. Through years of being involved with music, I have come to understand how our praise and worship draw the spirit of God. There are instruments, sound systems, and a congregation crying out in loud approval and applause. It’s a time of celebration and reflecting on our almighty God.

And then Monday morning rolls around and I’m back in my quiet house, typing away. So how do I acclaim Him? By understanding that God is always present. Even as I work, I know He is with me. And if that isn’t enough to get excited about, I don’t know what else is! Each morning I take the time to acknowledge His mighty presence. I may have a full day planned, but I’ve learned to make special time to acclaim the Lord. To speak words of admiration. To bask in His light. I can’t think of any better way to start my work day. Or any day.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the business of life. No matter what type of job you have, at home or in the workplace, be blessed by taking the time to acknowledge Him before starting your day. I can certainly sing out to God from before my computer screen or while driving if I have an appointment. As God’s people, let’s acclaim Him in a loud voice and please, pass on this scripture verse to others. As you share with others, you never know just how He’ll bless you.

Writer at Work by Tara Randel

If you’ve ever been in a public place, watching people and coming up with characteristics from the people you observe that are a perfect fit for future characters in a book…you might be a writer.

As an author, I’ve found an interesting aspect of creating characters is to watch people. Where ever I go, I observe what people do, how they do it, what they say and how they say it. I can be at the mall, at a sporting event, even in church, and pick up tidbits that help shape my characters or story to some degree.

Creating characters in not easy. With each character, I must determine their inner struggles and how those struggles impact the story line. I go so far as using a character check list, not only to flesh out the inner conflict, but to detail physical attributes. Names sometimes pop into my head as I create a character, or the name comes to me and from there I draw the character sketch. Kind of a which came first scenario, the chicken or the egg? And depending on the type of book I may be writing, I search for names for their specific meaning to the story line.

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Once I have the characters and story established, I gather nuances from life around me. For example, I plotted my 2013 Harlequin Heartwarming release, Orange Blossom Brides, while attending a bridal fashion show. As I wrote the book, I remembered the conversation going on around me, room decorations, what the models wore and the time of year. Little bits of this added creative touches to my story. Also, remembering the details gave my imagination a jumping off point. From there, anything is possible.

Inspiration comes to writers in a myriad of places. I once named a character Ruby Sue after the cool name of a friend’s cat. I watched a Civil War reenactment and listened to the crowd for color commentary in a scene I later used in a book. Even when my writer friends and I meet for coffee, and ultimately start discussing our works in process, people wonder if our characters are real live people. And please, don’t discuss how to commit a literary crime because that raises a few eyebrows.

I bring a notebook with me everywhere I go so I can jot down impressions or take notes. Just recently, I went for a helicopter ride. I had to take notes because, hey, I may have a character who travels in a helicopter. My husband humors this behavior because he’s grown used to my note taking. Anywhere I go I can find something that will enrich my story.

There is a big world out there and so much of it can be used in conjunction with my imagination. That is the fun part of writing. Not only does life imitate art, but every day experiences create a treasure trove for writers. Even if you aren’t an author, who hasn’t sat on a park bench and watched the world around them? God made humans to be very diverse, interesting and multifaceted. Observing human nature is very compelling, and I get to do it in the name of research.

Kind of makes you want to take up writing just to be a student of human nature. Or read a book and see the world as your favorite author sees it. Either way, people watching is lots of fun.

Dream, Destiny, Or Both? by Tara Randel

When I was growing up, I loved to read, but never had the inclination to become a creative writer. I went to college to be a dental hygienist, and while I wouldn’t say a job in dentistry was my dream, I liked the work and looked at helping patients as my destiny.

At the first office I worked in, I met another fellow reader. We’d exchange books and discuss the story lines. One day, my friend uttered these famous words, “We can write a book.” How many times have you heard someone you know make the same claim? Probably multiple times. And truth be told, I was intrigued.

So, not having a clue what a writing career entailed, I dove in. I read books about the craft of writing, as well as the business of writing. Soon, I was actually typing words on a blank page. And while those pages were far from Pulitzer worthy, I began a journey that started as a dream and turned into my destiny.

I now write full-time. The road wasn’t easy. I took workshops. Joined writer groups. Spent hours coming up with plot lines and characters. All while working in the business my husband and I own and raising my daughters. My overnight success took nine years to achieve. And still, I worked part-time even though I couldn’t shake the idea that there was more to the writing career than I knew.

My point is, go after your dream because it can become your destiny! God has given each of us a talent and a purpose. Sometimes we know what the talent is, other time it sneaks up on you, just like the idea of being published came to me. Trust me, during the times when I couldn’t get an editor to look at any proposals, I wanted to quit. But the Spirit of the Lord told me to keep at it. I did. Even when the hope of getting published again looked grim. I decided I would always write, even if it was just to fill the well. But I kept the dream and God’s promise tucked in my heart and suddenly, I began to sell projects again. I have seven published books, two new books will be released this summer and I’m currently working on number ten.

Did I have any idea God had this destiny planned for me? No. I thought I’d be in the dental field my entire life. But once the writing fever took hold, I prayed about it. Asked God to help me with my talent and to open doors. Persistence, faith and a strong dose of stubbornness made my dream come true. If I can do it, you most certainly can.

Seek God. Put yourself out there. And soon, you’ll have your own success story to tell.

Look for Tara’s 2014 releases:
Rival Hearts, Quilts of Love, June 2014
Magnolia Bride, Harlequin Heartwarming, July 2014
http://www.tararandel.com

Get On the Right Path for 2014 by Tara Randel

At the church I attend, my pastor has declared 2014 as the Year of the Sword. This year we are going to read the Word of God more and listen to what God has to say to us.

 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

There are two reasons to become deeply immersed in God’s word. First, we all need to be in the Word to understand who God is. Why would we want serve God if we don’t know Him?  He gave us the Word for the purpose of learning about His love, His character and His plans for us. Secondly, once we begin to understand His word, we can affect the kingdom. We begin to understand our destiny and place here on earth.

“In the beginning, God created…” Gen 1:1

God’s word has creative power. We see this in Genesis when God spoke the world into being. Because He creates, God has also given us the ability to create. As a writer, I live that possibility every day. I believe the ideas for my books, and the fact that I can complete a manuscript, comes about because of the creative power God has instilled in me. Creativity has allowed me to have a career in writing, for which I am grateful because I love being an author!

My destiny is to use words to affect my sphere of influence. What is yours?

Creative power is not limited to writing. There are so many other creative ways to live life and fulfill your destiny through God. The question is, do we want to seek God and truly know what our destiny is?

Sometimes the idea of reading God’s word is daunting. Where do I start? Is there something specific I should study? There are Bibles available that can take you through the entire year a day at a time. Or you can get involved in a Bible study. There are studies focused on one book of the Bible, or different topics. The point is, dig in this year. The time spent with God impacts our lives and those around us.

As you get into the Word, search and ask God about your destiny. I believe that is God’s gift to you. Once you begin to walk in your destiny, that is your gift to God.

New Goals by Tara Randel

Here we are in the month of January, typically the time of year we reassess where we are in life and look ahead to what we might strive to do or change. What’s going on in our career, family, or personal health? If you look at the store circulars in the Sunday paper, you find ads for storage bins to organize our lives, fitness equipment and workout clothing. How can we not take stock of the state of our lives?

Which begs the question, goal setting, friend or enemy?

For me, the start of the year is the start of new beginnings. I pull the old calendar of the wall, go through it month by month, to make sure I transfer all the important birthdays into the empty spaces. As I flip through the old calendar, I’m reminded of what transpired last year, but the clean spaces of the new calendar beckon possibilities still to come.

For my career, I purchase a weekly planner, which I keep in my workspace. This comes in handy to keep watch on deadlines and other work related projects I have scheduled. Now that I’ve moved into the new year, let the work begin!

For my Christian walk, I’ve taken time to reflect on what God did in my life in 2013. I pray that 2014 will be an even better walk with Him. I want to grow closer to the Lord, in every aspect of my life. Does that mean penciling in time to spend with God? If it helps, why not? I talk to God constantly during my day, but when it comes to serious Bible study, I do find it better to pick a specific time to read and study.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, Jeremiah 29:11-14

Twice a year, the women in my church do an intense Bible study, usually six to eight weeks long. I always get so much out of this time. I put in a lot of study time, but it is well worth it. I find new truths about God, new revelations in the Word. And once we finish the study, I can’t wait for the next one! Studying the word keeps me engaged in my relationship with God.

Everyone has a different way to keep them motivated. We all have goals. The secret is to find something to keep you anchored to that goal and hang on during this crazy ride we call life.

New Year Reflection by Tara Randel

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been one to make new year’s resolutions. To sit down and make a list of things I need to do or change seems a bit daunting. Since life can change so much in a year, how is it possible to be successful? Instead of making resolutions, I like to take a scripture and concentrate on understanding the Word to better enrich my life. Reflection. A much better word.

Last year I, spend many months getting back to basics in my Christian walk. Due to personal grief, I wanted to renew my relationship with Christ and grow deeper in my walk with God. I wanted to understand why certain things had happened and how I could accept the outcome with more grace. I spent many months reading the Word, but mainly, spent lots of quiet time with God, talking to Him and listening to His response. Yes, if we talk to God, He answers. It’s up to us to find time alone with Him, seek Him and hear His voice.

In my quest to hear God’s voice, I learned a lot about Him and myself. This year, I feel renewed in my spirit and welcome a new challenge in my walk of faith. I want His glory to be evident in everything I do. God has blessed me with a writing career and I will not squander the opportunities given me.

This year, I’ve chosen Gal 2:20 to study. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Going back to basics last year encouraged me to focus on the life I now live for Christ. How will He use me? What can I do to have an impact on His kingdom? Lots of new questions, but I have faith my God will answer me.

In this new year of 2014, I challenge you to step up your personal time with God. Find a scripture in the Word you can mediate on, a scripture that will not only change your walk with God, but renew your spirit to be the best for God that you can be. Believe me, there will be tears and soul bearing, but there will also be joy and rejuvenation. Growing closer to God is a journey worth taking. I can’t wait to get started. How about you?

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

This time of year is so busy. Our time is filled up with shopping and decorating, cooking and baking. If your children are involved in school plays, they can run us ragged. Even church activities can be overwhelming this time of year.

Because I had a book deadline this week, I didn’t put up any decorations until Tuesday. And you know what? It didn’t bother me. Years ago I would have been stressed, thinking everything had to be done in a timely manner, and then done perfectly. I spent many a Christmas stressed to the max instead of enjoying myself. This year, I had a quiet afternoon all to myself to put up my snowmen and holiday do-dads. I may turn this into a new tradition.

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Like my little friend in the picture, sit back and smell the gingerbread!

No matter what your holiday season consists of, I wish you a very, merry Christmas. Enjoy your family and friends. And most of all, remember to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. Don’t let the demands of the season draw your heart away from the true meaning of Christmas.

Enjoy!

Thanksgiving Greetings

I know Thanksgiving isn’t until next week, but I wanted to take a moment to wish you and your family the best.

Thanksgiving is a day to make memories as we spend time with family and friends. Or, as Julie pointed out in her post yesterday, it can be a time to change traditions. I have to say, I’m a stickler for keeping traditions the same.

My family loves to get up and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. While they watch, I’m usually in the kitchen getting the turkey and all the fixings prepared. The morning always flies by and before I know it, we’re seated around the table, enjoying dinner. Then it’s back to the living room to watch football. Or the ladies take a walk. But no matter what activities fill the day, the best party is being with family.

So enjoy your day. Count your blessings. And remember, Christmas is right around the corner!

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