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

 

 

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!

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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.

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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

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.

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.

Give Thanks by Tara Randel

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

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Every year, in the month of November, I begin to ponder the things I am grateful for. Family and friends. Health. Success in my writing endeavors. If I sat down to write out a list, I’d probably be surprised how long it is. And I’d be thankful for a long list.

With twenty-four hour news stations and constant content on our electronic devices bringing us all kind of news reports, it is easy to be affected by so much negativity in our world. True, there are uplifting stories sprinkled in, but they are too few and far between for me. Because news outlets have to come up with stories to fill time, we get TMI. If you are a news junkie, you’d probably disagree. I like my news in moderation, so I’m not overwhelmed by things I have no control over. I guess that’s why I prefer to sit down with a good book. Or better yet, write my own books. At least in my creative world I have some control on the outcome of my story.

 Getting back to being thankful. I searched for scriptures I hope will inspire you to think of all the good things the Lord has done for you or brought into your life.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4

 

Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

 

I read on a friend’s Facebook post that she was going to take each day to thank God for one specific thing. I encourage you to do so as well, but go one step further and write it down. Hopefully you will have a nice, long list and as the month comes to a close, be reminded of what you are most thankful for.

 

 

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