Faith and Writing by Tara Randel

Lately I have been hunkered down at my computer, typing away as I create stories that are under contract. I love to spend my day writing, love the unexpected scenes that pop into my head when my characters take over. Writing is never dull, that’s for sure.

Each time I start a new book, I’m filled with expectation. Although I plot before I ever type the opening sentence, I wonder, where will this story go? What crazy side paths will I wander down? How long will it take me to complete this journey? Questions plague me as I write the entire book, yet I don’t shy away from the answers. In writing, answers are good.

Unlike, life, where we don’t always get answers. While I can control the circumstances surrounding my characters, I can’t do this in my everyday life. Maybe that’s why being an author appeals to me. Not that I’m a control freak, but in the uncertain world we live in, who wouldn’t mind knowing just where they’re headed?

Enter God.

I’ve served God a long time. I have faith, that no matter what life throws my way, He has His hand upon me. Through good times and bad, I know He is there.

Faith is a funny thing. You can’t see it, can’t touch it. Yet it exists.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1

For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

How do we believe in something we can’t see? Good question. Because God is faithful to us. He is the example.
God’s word is full of the many ways He allows us to have faith.

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. Deuteronomy 7:9

To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless
Psalm 18:25

Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” Matthew 9:2

For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Romans 1:17

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13

I could go on, list many other passages of Scripture, but this next verse seems to boil down to our heart.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
Romans 10:178

Are we willing to hear the message? And if you do, will you believe in faith?

Just as when I begin a new book, I start with a blank page and can’t see the entire story until I begin to write, I have to be active. I have to put words on the page. Let my imagination flow. The same happens with our walk with God. We take that first step and faith begins to grow. I type the words and my story progresses. I believe in God and my faith expands.

Some may take exception to me comparing faith with starting a book, but believe me, I have lots of faith that I will complete my story. Just as i have faith that one day I will stand in the presence of God.

I encourage you, no matter where you are in your walk with God, to pursue Him. Seek Him daily. Focus on faith, no matter what trials you my face. You will face them, so allow faith to keep you grounded.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2: 6-7

Mother’s Day Giveaway!

Mother’s Day is right around the corner. The Harlequin Heartwarming authors are celebrating with a special giveaway. Enter here to win the grand prize or Harlequin Heartwarming books.

http://heartwarmingauthors.blogspot.com/

 

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Developing A Book by Tara Randel

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One of the things I enjoy about writing is the developmental stage. I’ll get a hint of an idea and suddenly a world of possibilities opens up. A world I have to quickly narrow down to a reasonable story plot. Which I manage to do while still dreaming about where the story can go.

Every writer has their process. Does the plot or characters come first? Setting? Names? Most of the writers I know don’t sit down at their computer with a fully formed idea and characters without first spending time and thought into the overall picture of the story.

I’m one of those writers who has to plot before I start. Beginning, middle and end. I’m not bound by my decisions, because sometimes I divert when a character insists I’ve gone in the wrong direction. Yes, I listen to the voices in my head. But having the story plotted out, having an idea of where I’m going, frees up the logistics so the creative part of my brain has free reign.

My favorite part is developing characters. Who are they? Why are they at this point in their lives? What do they look like? How will they all react to one another? I fill out a character sketch because believe me, at some point in the story I’ll forget what color eyes my hero or heroine have. But the sketch also lets me delve into their personalities as well. What are their conflicts? How will they overcome? Reach their goals? I know I’ve done a good job when I begin writing and fall in love with these people on page one.

Since I just started a new Harlequin Heartwarming, I’ve been in the developmental stage. The original synopsis is pretty detailed, so I had the fun of adding events here and there to torture my characters. I set my stories in a fictitious town in Florida,. As I get into the new story, I revisit places and people I’ve come to love in previous books. I keep a detailed file of names and places so I don’t have any repeats. Again, all part of the process.

I’ve jumped into chapter one, and yep, I love these people! My fingers have flown over the keyboard with ease as I began the journey I’ll spend with them for the months to come.

Hopefully, the remainder of the 70,000 words comes so easily!

Easter Memories by Tara Randel

Hallelujah, the Lord is risen!

This Sunday we celebrate Easter. For some of the world, it’s a day of bunnies and candy treats found in a basket. But for those who serve the living God, it is a day reflecting on the ultimate gift of love.

When my children were little, I didn’t get caught up in all the bunny decorations. So unlike Christmas, the consumer stress is nowhere near as crazy. Sure, my girls got baskets with candy, but I made sure they understood what this day truly stood for.

For a few years, our church held a sunrise service where were we enacted the final days of Jesus leading up to the time of His resurrection. My daughters participated, excited to be rising before the sun rose. The area where we held the service was close to our home, so when we got out of bed, we put on our costumes and walked in the dark, ready to play our parts. Because we were outside, the story was narrated over the microphone, so we acted out the scenes as he told the story. Every time it got to the part where Jesus carried the cross, the song Via Dolorosa played over the speakers. My heart swelled in my chest, just to imagine the suffering Jesus went through. It still haunts me whenever I hear that song.

I was proud of my girls for wanting to take part of the service. They never complained about taking the time to practice or performing the actual day, even when they were teenagers and didn’t like rising if the sun hadn’t been up a few hours. It’s a family memory I will never forget.

Now, I have one daughter in heaven, who gets to see Jesus in a way we will never understand until we stand before Him. It will be an honor when my time comes, to see the Living God , hopefully with my daughter by my side. My other daughter still lives on this earth, so we celebrate together on this side of heaven.

I hope your Easter Sunday is a special day, spent with your loved ones. Take the time to think about the sacrifice Jesus made for us, as well as his joyful resurrection. He is alive!

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” Mark 16:4-7

Jesus told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. Luke 24: 46-49

 

 

The Promise of Spring by Tara Randel

While the parts of the nation are digging themselves from an especially snowy winter, the temperature is rising in Florida. After watching the news and seeing piles of snow in the Boston area, I remember why we moved to the Sunshine State years ago. The sun is shining and the days are warm enough for short sleeves and shorts. Azalea’s are blooming, which means other plants are starting to bloom as well. Before you get envious, let me just say; blooming plants…cue in the allergies.

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I’ve always loved the beginning of spring. I know we celebrate new beginnings around the first of the year, but as spring brightens up the world around me, I can see what the new year has to offer. I’m filled with expectation and ready to take on the new projects. There’s a spring in my step, if that doesn’t sound too cliché. (Blame the writer in me.)

 
But sometimes before we celebrate the spring, we have to get through the downtime of winter.

 

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: Ecclesiastes 1:1

 
Over the last few months, I filled much of my time studying the Word of God. I’m probably like most people. When I’m not consumed with a project I have to make time for one-on-one with the Lord. I took this winter to get my priorities straight and enjoy the wisdom the Word shares with me. Sometimes I’d tackle subjects that are personal, other times I’d do a Bible study. No matter what I did, it always brings me to an new place in my relationship with God.

 
I love the image of the bride waiting for the bridegroom. I view my study time as preparation for the days to come. The beauty of the spring days remind me of the things God has in store for me. Anticipation for the wedding day.
I encourage you to take time out of your day to read the Word. Spend time in the presence of the Almighty. If you have done so, even the weather won’t bother you. It’s all about perspective and keeping your eyes on what is important.

 
After a dry spell, I’m excited to have been offered new writing opportunities. There is nothing better than knowing I can take the talent God has given me and share it with others. I’ve never considered writing a job. No, I consider it a precious gift.

 
….but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers. Psalm 1:2-3

Heartwarming Giveaway For Valentine’s Day

The authors at Harlequin Heartwarming want to thank our wonderful readers for their support, so we’ve put together a Valentine’s Giveaway perfect for those who love to read. My December release, Honeysuckle Bride, is included in the giveaway.

There is a grand prize and three additional prizes packages. Stop by to get registered!

Heartwarming_giveaway

http://heartwarmingauthors.blogspot.com/2015/01/its-huge-heartwarming-valentines-day.html

New Beginnings by Tara Randel

For the past few months I have been attending bridal shows with a friend who is starting a new business. It’s so much fun to talk with the brides-to-be. Their excitement about the big day is contagious as they gush over their plans. The promise of a new beginning is appealing, no matter how old you are or how many years you’ve been married. Think back to those giddy days of young love and how you couldn’t wait to spend the future with the one you love. How you looked at life with hope for the best times yet to come.

When we start a reading a book, aren’t we filled with the same expectation? We are drawn to a book by a review, word of mouth or perhaps because it is our favorite author. When we open the cover, we’re hoping that the story takes us to a special place. As a romance author, it’s my job to do all the background work and bring you the special story. My characters demand their happily ever after despite the rocky road to get there, but I aim to deliver. This is why I love being an author.

Talking to the future brides is part enjoyment, part research. ( Sorry ladies!) My ongoing series for Harlequin Heartwarming is The Business of Weddings, so I constantly have my attention focused on the emotions of the women I meet, as well as keeping up with wedding trends. As I attended the shows, I kept an eye on the other vendors to see what is popular. At the shows, photographers, florists, bakers and wedding planners, the foundation of a successful wedding, are all represented. But I also have seen candy vendors, print material vendors, for invitations, and even financial institutions who offer help for the big day and beyond. One trend I noticed at all the shows were health specialists. Think about it, you certainly want to be healthy for the big day. Makes sense that you would want brides to get information on exercise and dietary advice.

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During the show, there are fashion shows featuring bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses. The focus is not only on the gown, but hair and makeup as well. The brides-to-be love this part of the afternoon. As the show comes to an end, the women are full of ideas. They can now begin to plan their day.

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Being at these bridal shows jump started creative ideas for my future books. I always bring a notebook and jot down ideas, impressions and trends. Some might find research tedious, I find it exhilarating. I get more ideas for stories than I have time to write, but I can hope too!

So my good friend knows I’m helping her at the bridal shows, but really, she’s opened a whole world of possibilities for me. Possibilities I plan to share with my readers.

Tara’s newest release, Honeysuckle Bride, received a 4.5 star rating from Romantic Times Book Reviews Magazine.

Read an excerpt: http://www.tararandel.com/harlequin
9780373367047

Christmas Is In the Air by Tara Randel

I can’t believe another year has come and gone. It’s almost Christmas!

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2014 has been a productive year, with two Harlequin Heartwarming releases, Magnolia Bride and Honeysuckle Bride. Rival Hearts came out in June. I’m now waiting for the word on proposals I sent to my editor.

I hope 2014 has been an awesome year for you. I pray you have a beautiful Christmas, enjoying precious time with family and friends. Catch up on quality time with those you love, curl up with a good book and a cup of hot cocoa, or keep the season busy with shopping and visiting friends.

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Here’s hoping for a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year. 2015, here we come!

Reading In December by Tara Randel

Now that Thanksgiving is over, we move into the crazy, busy time of year. As I was thinking about my to-do list for the month, I realized that this year I have time to do the one thing I usually don’t do in December.

Read.

Yep. That’s right. Read.

I bought a couple Christmas themed books and I plan on reading all of them before year’s end. Anyone else up for that plan? There are so many wonderful books out this time of year and if we get too caught up in all the hustle and bustle, we might miss a treasure.

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(picture taken at Hollywood Studios)

Whether you sit down with a good book, or you read a beautiful Christmas story to your children or grandchildren, please enjoy your holiday season. You never know how a book might inspire you this Christmas!

9780373367047

Just a reminder, my December release, Honeysuckle Bride, is now available. This is the last day to enter the giveaway at Goodreads.
https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/114663-honeysuckle-bride 

Read an excerpt: http://www.tararandel.com/harlequin

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December Release

I’m excited to announce my newest book release from Harlequin Heartwarming. Honeysuckle Bride is the third book in the Business of Weddings series. It will be available on December 1.

9780373367047

One part happiness. Two parts love.

Relocating to the coast of Florida after becoming guardian of her best friend’s twin daughters could be the best move LA celebrity chef Jenna Monroe ever made. This is her chance to create a stable, loving home − something she never had. But can she be the mother the girls need?

Wyatt Hamilton thinks she can. The rugged charter boat captain, who came home to Cypress Pointe still grieving the death of his son, has faith in her. But the feelings he awakens in Jenna both exhilarate and frighten her. Because Wyatt no longer believes in forever… Unless she can convince him otherwise.

To receive a copy of my book, go to Goodreads and enter the giveaway.

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/114663-honeysuckle-bride

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

 

Giving Thanks by Tara Randel

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Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Soon, our homes will be filled with guests, celebrating the season with a big turkey feast with all the trimmings.

As you get ready for the holiday, please take a moment and remember the less fortunate. The holidays can be difficult for folks with financial troubles. If God has blessed you, please consider donating your time, money or donation of food items to your local church, food bank or homeless shelter.

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:19

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Through the love of Jesus and his blessings in our lives, people’s needs can be met. My church plans on giving out 30 complete Thanksgiving dinners to those in need. Raising the money was easier than we thought because deep down, I believe people are truly generous of heart. God has given us the capacity to love and give to those in need. Let the Thanksgiving season be a blessing to others this year!

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34

Godly Relationships by Tara Randel

Last night I attended a Girls Night Out at our local hospital. It was a wonderful community event that included vendors spotlighting their products, samples from local restaurants (YUM) and information about doctors and services available at the hospital. It was very well attended, especially if you considered the cupcake line. Longest one there!

I decided I didn’t want to go alone and invited a dear friend to come along. As Pam and I walked through the lobby, set up with tables for the vendors, I couldn’t help but notice that most of the women attending either came in a group or at least had a buddy with them. It got me thinking about how women thrive in a social atmosphere. I don’t know about you, but I love taking a friend along when I’m on an outing. I guess it’s the visiting and chatting that we enjoy, sometimes more than the event itself. Even after visiting every table at the hospital event, Pam and I went out for coffee, taking girl time to catch up on our busy lives.

As a society, we do love to gather together. It forms our community. Think about it, you probably love to be around friends, attend church or get together for reader or writer’s groups, just to name a few. We want to be a part of something. Something bigger than ourselves.

After I got home, I started thinking about relationships. My mind quickly focused on my relationship with God. It is so awesome to think that God created us because He wanted a relationship with us. Over the years of my Christian walk, I’ve gone from the early years of thinking of God as a hazy figure who sits on a throne in heaven, to understanding that He is my Father and my friend. I approach Him so very differently than I did in the beginning. There is an intimacy now when I go to God in prayer, when I spend my days talking to Him, when I spend my quiet time listening to his voice.

God created us for relationship. And because of Him, we have life. That is certainly something to praise Him for.

The Bible is filled with stories of people. People who had a relationship with God. People striving to get things right. Didn’t always happen, but God’s grace and the love of Jesus sure go a long way in making our walk here on earth special. Good times of bad, the spirit of the Lord is always with us. We are never alone.

Take a few minutes to think about the special people in your life. When you fellowship with your friends and neighbors, think about how much God loves us. He put those special people in your path. I know I plan on doing just that throughout the day.

Life’s Projects by Tara Randel

Last time I posted, we were beginning a remodel of our house. I’m pleased to say, the work is almost finished. My husband is putting down the floor and then everything will be complete. Or will it? After the floor, we have to install baseboards, then paint. Finally, my favorite part, we get to move the furniture back in.

It seems as though life is a never ending project. Just when we think we’re near the end of one thing, another project pops up. The only constant in life is our relationship with God. He is there, every step of the way in our journey, giving encouragement, strength and most importantly, listening. His shoulders are wide enough to carry our burdens and his love is deep enough to touch us no matter what is happening in life.

Psalm 24 is one of my favorite scripture verses. When I read this, I’m reminded that no matter what life throws at me, I will worship the Lord. With Him, I’m never alone. He is in control. And knowing this, I can move from one project or circumstance to another, through joy or sorrow, and share it with the Almighty God.

Throughout the mess of the remodel and the stress of having the house upturned and my schedule out of place, I found myself thinking about the Lord more than usual. Praising His holy name for who He is. Maybe getting out of my comfort zone was a good thing. Even in change, God is bu my side.

Enjoy reading this Psalm. Take the time to meditate upon it as you go about your day.

Psalm 24
The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters.

Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD?
Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god.

They will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God their Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob.
Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.

Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
Who is he, this King of glory? The LORD Almighty—
he is the King of glory.

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.

 

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