Happy Birthday to Valerie and Me (Tara Taylor Quinn)

It’s that time again.  I get many many requests on Facebook to join the birthday club.  I’m not a Facebook joiner.  But for all of you who have asked to know my birthday – this is it!

I’ve always been a big birthday person.  Because, to me, people are the absolute most important thing in life, celebrating birth is hugely important.  I’ve always done them up big.  I plan occasions for birthdays whenever I can.  Tim is a guy who has never lost the little boy in him.  I love that about him.  He also loves the water and the outdoors.  So for his fiftieth birthday, Mom and I rented a pontoon boat on a lake that Tim is fond of.  And I bought him fifty toys.  And that sunny afternoon, we had a boat filled with family and birthday cake and as Tim opened fifty toys, we played with them.

I had a blast making birthday moments when my daughter was growing up.  One year we had a Looney Tunes Party.  The kid was hooked on Looney Tunes cartoons.  So I reserved the movie theater where we were living and had a buffet and family and popcorn and a Looney Tunes Cake and played Looney Tunes cartoons on the big screen.  The kids swam, too.  I have loads of pictures and can relive the moments and remember how happy she was even now, so many years later.  And I hope she has some happy memories of those times, too.

Today, on my birthday, I celebrate, not how lucky the world is to have me, which is how I feel when I celebrate others’ birthdays, but I celebrate how lucky I am to have life.  I love life.  It hasn’t been easy so far, and I still love it.  As I look back on the years, and the happy times and the not so happy times, I know that it all serves a good purpose.  I am a writer.  I feel incredibly lucky to be a writer.  And, as with all things, it comes with a price.  The pain that I’ve suffered is fodder for the stories that help others.  Every time I receive a letter from someone who has been touched by a book I’ve written, I know that every single second of pain I’ve endured is a cost worth paying.

I wouldn’t argue, though, at having to spend a little less!!  Especially in today’s economy!

So, today, I celebrate.  Tim and I are on our last week of a very long road trip.  And as I sit here today, in a home that is far away from my own, with birthday wishes greeting me from the moment I opened my eyes (Yes, Tim was first!) I also have with me a folder for my birthday celebration.  It’s filled with birthday wishes from years past.  One from my older brother who was killed when we were in our early twenties.  A couple from my Mom.  Most from my daughter.  Those cards carry with them years worth of progressively better handwriting and her sweet sweet voice filled with all of the love she had for her Mama.  And then, Ma.  A precious gift.  And as I look at them I realize that I have something no one else will ever have.  This collection of heart moments from that little girl.  She gave cards to others, but not every year.  And they weren’t all kept.  I have an original collection that cannot ever be re-created.  She’s grown up now.  And still giving her precious heart.  But those long ago moments, they could have been lost…I am so very very glad I kept them.

So, Happy Birthday to all of us!  We all have lives to celebrate!  And can celebrate, every day, that fact that we are alive.  I also wish a very special birthday today to a woman whose fan I have been since I was a kid.  Valerie Harper.  The one time I can remember going up against my father and brothers – and having my mother support me going up against my father – was the night the first Rhoda show aired.  It conflicted with football and my father did not miss sports on our one big color television – ever.  Mom and I lost the battle.  But I still watched the show.  Downstairs in my father’s entertainment room, sitting on a bar stool in front of a much smaller television set.  I watched every single episode after that, as well, and cried when the show was canceled.  So…to Valerie Harper…I am very thankful you were born.  And that you are here with us to celebrate another birthday.

Birthing Day (Tara Taylor Quinn)

Our Birthing Day Cake

Tim and I have officially instituted a new holiday – Birthing Day.

Twenty-seven years ago yesterday I gave birth.  I know, I know, women do this every few seconds every single day, but I only did it once and it was the single most encompassing experience I have ever had so my birthing day is a big deal to me!

A lot of memories from twenty-seven years ago have faded, but that day…I remember the details with crystal clarity.  While in labor I ate french fries at Denny’s.  The child I birthed ten hours later – at 3:58am on September 11, was addicted to french fries when she was little.  Sha shas, she called them.  I got her a happy meal once when she was about a year old.  It was halloween time and they were serving the happy meals in little orange plastic pumpkin buckets.  For YEARS, every time we were in the car that little one wanted sha shas in her orange pumpkin bucket. 

I still have the bucket.

But I digress…it is our custom to celebrate our birthdays as though they are our own.  Each one of us, individually, is the special person on each person’s birthday.  Makes sense.  We are celebrating our advent into the world, celebrating the beginning of our life on earth. And more practically, for human chronilogical purposes, the day marks a chronological advancement for prosperity, history, medical records, etc.

But our birthday, as a celebration of our birth, isn’t exclusive to us.  Think about it, not one of us can even remember the day.  At all.  Nada.  Not one flash of a single piece of the experience.  No, that particular day, your birthday, is embedded, detail by detail, in the mind of only one person – the person who actually did the work, who hurt, and cried, and loved beyond measure.

And so we have Mother’s Day.  One day to celebrate all mothers?  Or all births by one mother?  As though all those miraculous moments, the pain and effort and fear and glory experienced by so many women are only worthy of one day of remembering?  My mother went through the birthing process three times.  She has three sets of detailed memories of the pain and glorious pleasure of bringing her own child into the world.  And on those dates, do we remember her?  Do we celebrate her?

I do, of course, or I probably wouldn’t have the awareness to write this.  I do because one of my mother’s children died in a car accident in young adulthood.  And on the date of his birth every year, I think of Mom’s pain – of all that she went through to birth that baby, to raise him, only to lose him in the prime of his life.  I call her.  We talk – sometimes only briefly – and all day I think of her remembering May 3, 1958 -  remembering all of the details of birthing her first baby.  Her birthing day.

Tim’s mother went through the process five times – twice in her forties.  And she raised five honorable decent men.  Two of them on her own after their father passed away.  Five times.  Those days are her days.  She was the one who had the experience, the memories.  She’s the one whose heart was engaged each of those days as she struggled to bring those babies into the world.  She certainly deserves the celebration.  A Birthing Day celebration.

And we proclaim it’s existence!

To give fact to fantasy, yesterday, in celebration of my birthing day, September 11, 1985, Tim and I celebrated.  We had homemade Italian dinner, with bakery rolls, our favorite Riesling (Chateau St. Michelle) and we had birthing day cake.  White, with white buttercream icing.  The only kind the child I had would eat when she was little.  And the only kind I like.  Funny how it works that way…


An Invitation (Tara Taylor Quinn)

A couple of years ago I bought Tim a camera.  Mom chipped in for a lense.  And now he brings incredible beauty out of everywhere we go.  He brings into our home – beautiful nature when we’re trapped inside the dark.  Exquisitely detailed snippets that bring memories to crisp life.  This is what happens when we dare to say what we want – and then give our desires every bit of our energy.  When we dare to want.

I’ve faced some trials.  I continue to face them.  And I look at this picture and I know that I also dare to want.  I get up every single day because life is there, waiting for me to take it up with all that I am.  And I take it up.

And pictures happen.  Memories happen.  Good things happen.

Next week, one week from today, August 22, I am celebrating another birthday.  And Tim and I, along with Harlequin Books, and others, are bringing the celebration to you.  Every single person gets a present – completely free – no strings attached.  No limit to the number of presents.  If we have a million people, there will be a million presents.  (Thanks, to Harlequin!)  We hope you will join us!!

From the time I was a kid, all I cared about was reading and writing.  And love and relationships.  I didn’t need a lot of friends, I just needed the friends I had to be connected bone deep.  I was the same in my reading.  I didn’t love a lot of authors, but I was connected, bone deep, to the ones I read.  Once I graduated from Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys, I was pretty exclusive.  I read Harlequin category romance.  And I read – and studied – Mark Twain and Edgar Allen Poe.  Both spoke to me, intimately, for different reasons.  I wrote theses on both during college.  And I look at that picture up there, and life comes together for me.  Everything is connected.  Tim takes a beautiful picture of a raven simply because the raven was there and he noticed it - and I look at it and hear Edgar Allen Poe saying, “Quoth the raven, nevermore.”

Please join us next week – I’m daring to want for my birthday – and what I want is connections.  Nothing more.


Two Days(Tara Taylor Quinn)

Where my honey took me on 9/11 so I could write.

I’m counting the hours now, along with the pages!  I have two days to get this book finished and pages and pages to go.  If you’ve been following me on facebook or twitter you know that pages have been flowing every single day.  This is the writer’s life.  The work presents itself when is is ready.  Or when I am ready to let it take over, maybe.

Cal’s Story, or Forensic Book One, as we are calling this thing right now, is holding me captive.  Willingly captive.  I don’t want the book to end.  Which could possibly be why the pages just keep flowing.  I could have refused to write some scenes, to keep it from getting too deep, or too long, but I chose not to.  The scenes were there and I took the time to write them.  The book will come in over page count.  And…oh well.  I love Cal and Morgan.  They’re different, flawed, and yet I can’t leave them.

It’s strange that when I’m living with these people, you all are out there living lives and other stories.  And when you’re living with them, I’m off to other adventures with other people.  I can tell you this, I envy you your time with these people next summer!  I don’t want to leave their world.

I did come up for air on 9/11.  The whole country mourned that day, and while I hurt so desperately for our country, my memories of the horror are mingled with feelings of awe in the way our people drew together.  9/11 is my daughter’s birthday.  And on Sunday, I thought about her all day.  We celebrated her.  We had birthday cake.  And we talked about the day she was born – all the specifics.  I remember them so clearly. 

The 9/11 day that the world remembers, the day tragedy hit our country, my daughter turned sixteen.  I was out in line skating when the planes hit.  I skated every single morning, by myself, for an hour.  It was regular.  Normal.  And when I came in my just turning sixteen year old was waiting and frantic.  I thought, when she first told me what had happened, that she was being a dramatic teenager.  I thought my job was to calm her down, find out what had really happened and then reassure her.  Instead, I was more horrified than she was.  We’d had plans to go out to eat that night at a very nice restaurant.  My mother was meeting us there.  We didn’t know if we should go or not, but eventually decided that we would do so.  And I’m so glad we did.  I’ve never experienced anything like that meal. And I’ve never forgotten it, either.  In a restaurant where usually people speak quietly amongst themselves, having private meetings and conversations, everyone, instead, talked to everyone.  We all needed the comfort of being together.  We all drew together and became one – a body of Americans who cared about our country, about each other, and about everyone who was suffering so horribly that day.  We were frightened, but grateful to be alive.

Okay, Okay!  Sammie, Morgan’s ten year old son, is calling me.  He’s up and wants to get on with it.  He’s making the junior high basketball team today and you know how kids are.  Happy Week everyone!

P.S.  The winner of last week’s Christmas Item is Karen C!  Please send your snail mail address to staff@tarataylorquinn.com to collect your prize!

An Auspicious Day (Lynn Kerstan)

On October 25, the spotlight will shine on Monsieur le Comte Lymond de Sevigny in honor of his tenth birthday! As you can see, he’s already giddy with excitement.

He is also more than a little miffed. It seems that one day cannot encompass the honor due to one of the planet’s premier pussycats. M. le Comte expected an  entire month of homage, but his Can Opener failed to inform the public in time for the festivities to begin.

In fact, acknowledgments stream his way on a regular basis. Long-time admirer Alicia Rasley wrote this only two days ago: “Tell Lymond I was in an archaelogy museum last week, and in the Egyptian section, saw a cat sculpture (it came from a tomb) that looked just like him!” Considering his advancing years, Lymond found the reference to “tomb” somewhat disturbing. But he is now lobbying for a statue of his own self in a museum.

To mollify the already disgruntled celebrant, I helped him establish his own email address. He wanted a Facebook page so everyone of significance could Friend him, but for that, he’d require a C-O with more technical skills than I’ve got. I suggested he have a go at Twittering, but he lost interest when no birds showed up.

Now, all lofty expectations dashed, M. le Comte is relying on his Broadie groupies to party with him. He especially hopes for messages (with pictures when possible!) from his feline fans. Persuaded that dogs get all the good press while cats are underrated and overlooked, he promises to post as many greetings and cat pictures as possible right here on StoryBroads.

So, with or without the pics, please send your birthday greetings directly to His Arrogance:

We’ll be celebrating (especially on Fridays and Sundays) from now until the end of October. Except for nap time.