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.

 

Are We There Yet? (Tara Taylor Quinn)

When I was kid one of the hardest parts of the summer for me was the drive to vacation.  From the moment school was out I started to count the days until I’d be on vacation – which in my family meant only one thing.  We had one vacation.  We took it over and over and over again.  We went to the family cabin up in Michigan.  Every summer we’d spend two glorious weeks in the primitive privateness of the middle of nowhere with a stream running through our backyard and the best ice cream you’ll ever eat just twenty minutes away in the closest town – a little place that doesn’t even have a full sized grocery store.  All of that was good.  But for me, vacation meant hours and hours alone with my best friend, running wild and free, with the world at our feet.  Every summer her family met us at our family cabin and the two families vacationed together.  And every summer, I had to sit in the back of my father’s car with my two brothers and sit…and wait…and sit…and wait…for six long hours until we’d get there.  Until I’d see Jeanine again.  And every summer I’d ask, ‘are we there yet’ until I’d be told, in no uncertain terms, not to ask the question again.

This morning, it’s the only question running through my mind.  Are we There yet?  I have an idea of where ‘there’ is.  I’m just not certain how far away from ‘there’ we are.  I’m anticipating arrival.  And at the same time, worried that we aren’t ever going to arrive.  The Chapman Files are on their way.  We’re going to meet.  Someplace glorious I hope.  Like somewhere on a list or two.  We’ve done the work.  And now all I can do is sit in the back seat and wait.  And sit.  And wait.  Last week I saw the review of the first book in the series, The First Wife.  (It did well, thank God, the first hurdle passed.)  Yesterday I got my author copies.  They look…impressive.  Another hurdle crossed.

The next four months are filled with hurdles and, hopefully, milestones as The Chapman Files are released one by one, as I travel on the journey authors travel when books are released, to meet them. 

When I was a kid sitting in the back seat of my father’s car, I’d pass the excruciating time of waiting by telling myself stories.  I’d stare out the window and go off in my head and the car and my brothers noise and the endless waiting would disappear while I was busy becoming a famous writer, or living in a college dorm with Jeanine, or riding off into the sunset with my own true love.  And as I embark on this newest journey, down the path of the release of the project of my career, I’ve come full circle.  But instead of using the stories to take me away as I wait for a real life reunion with my best friend, real life is taking me away while I wait to reunite with The Chapman Files, the stories in their full glory.

Real life – so much is happening I can hardly keep up with it.  Tim and I celebrate our third anniversary today.  Hard to believe we’re an old married couple already.  And yet, in some ways, it’s as though we’ve been ‘us’ forever.  We were in Florida on business this past week.  We stole three glorious days on the beach in St. Augustine to celebrate our anniversary.  What you see behind us there is something called crazy sands.  There’s water in the forefront.  Then that land base.  And then the ocean.  Until fifty years ago, the water in the front was part of the ocean.  Until the crazy sands appeared and made what’s kind of a permanent tide pool.  I’ll spare you our pictures on the beach, but there are tons of them.  I’ll also spare you the picture of the shark we saw.  Mostly because we didn’t have the camera to take a picture.  We were in the water.  The shark was only four feet long.  But that mouth was big enough to take a hand.   We chose to take ourselves to the beach and stay there.

And after our three days of bliss, it was time to go to work.  Which is hard to do when you’re surrounded by Mickey Mouse shaped…everything.  Even breakfast was Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes.  Because of the flooding in Nashville earlier this year, our annual romance writers conference was at the Dolphin Resort in Disneyworld.  “It’s a small world” played in the background while we met up with old friends and made new ones, too.  The work week started at four in the morning, getting up to leave the beach to get to our first meeting.  Tim had an all day digital workshop to attend with my publisher.  He’s officially beginning his part of the TTQ creation.  I was attending the workshop with him in the morning and then had another publisher meeting that afternoon. 

The highlight of the week for me was the time we got to spend with Pat Potter.  Another year of memories was added to the host that we’ve collected over the years.  One of the first, this year, was Pat and her sweet niece and Tim and I at the Fulton Crab House in downtown Disney at ten o’clock at night because that was as soon as we could get away to dinner.  We split two appetizers, had three bowls of soup between the four of us, one glass of wine, one Chivas and water, two sodas.  It was late.  We were all being money conscious.  And the bill came to $160.  Gulp.

And then there was the Harlequin Party.  It was glorious, as always.  A decorated ballroom at the Waldorf Astoria.   Decadent deserts.  Free flowing bar.  Harlequin’s signature drink this year was…I’m not sure.  We tried the cosmos and…they were good.  The DJ was fantastic and Tim and I danced slow dances to fast music.  We did the electric slide.  And somehow we slid into the wee hours of the morning standing in the lounge at the piano, belting out tunes while the DJ accompanied us on the piano.  Pat’s niece, Amy, has a voice that should be the star of a recording contract and after a small bit of coaxing she shared it with all of us.  Heather Graham was there, too, and has a voice that could make her a mint of money, if she wasn’t so busy writing New York Times bestselling novels.  (She’s got a trilogy out right now with Mira Books.  I highly recommend it!)

So much happened at conference I can’t get it all down here, but the highlights are:

This is one of our own – Broadie, Lynda.  I traveled all the way to Orlando to meet a friend who lives practically in my own backyard.  I met her husband as well.  Both of them work at Wright State University.  Wright State is a relatively small university in Dayton, Ohio.  It also happens to be the place where Tim and I met.  Talk about ‘It’s a Small World!’  We all talked about the Rathskeller.  It’s a video arcade now.  It used to be a bar and pizza place on the Wright State campus.  And Wright State used to have October Daze.  A big party where beer was free flowing.  I’d seen Tim in Geology class.  I fantasized about him noticing me, too.  About meeting him.  And during one particular October Daze, at the Rathskeller, fantasy became reality.  Turns out I wasn’t the only one distracted in Geology class. 

Lynda’s a writer, too.  And if I had to put money on someone getting published, I’d put my money on her.  She has everything it takes.  And I’m picturing the day when she’ll come to us here at Storybroads to announce that she’s had her first sale.  In the meantime, we’ll stick together here and travel the bumps in the road together.

Another conference highlight was spending time with another very important person in my life.  This is one of my editors and a very good friend.  Paula and I have been together for fifteen years.  Every life, including a book, takes two to create.  Paula is the other half of my literary creations.  She cares about The Chapman Files as much as I do.  Worries about them.  Works for them.  And, bless her heart, she gave me a list of things to do on this upcoming four month journey that…well…I’ll get it all done.  Because I always do.  Because I care that much.  There’s going to be a blog tour.  Stay tuned for more on that.  And on giveaways.  I’m twittering now.  Please, PLEASE, join me:  @tarataylorquinn.  There’s print advertising.  A magazine article.  Book signings.  And…ha ha…I’m teaching a three day class on Time Management, too, with a copy of The First Wife being given awayto a student in the class each day.  These are advanced copies, before the book is out, so if anyone wants one, you can sign up for the class at:  www.forums.romancedivas.com.  It’s August 16, 17, 1nd 18.

I had a lovely dinner with my other editor, Wanda, who is a woman a lot like me in many ways.  In one dangerous way.  There’s this video game.  Or phone game.  Right now it’s an IPOD touch game.  I’d never heard of it until dinner with Wanda.  She talked about her addiction.  Because I’ve suffered similar maladies with a game called Balls, and then Jewel Quest, and then Bejeweled II, I could related.  I was also releived.  Wanda is a task master.  She’s one of the ones who emails at seven in the morning because she’s already working by then.  I’m a hard worker, too.  I’m at my desk in seven in the morning to know that she’s emailing.  But, still, I do have to play games every now and then.  And then, again.  So this game of hers…it’s called Angry Birds.  I’ve since come to find that it’s the number one game in the world right now.  And my household is addicted.  I told my  mother about the game.  She just happened to have her IPOD Touch in her hand at the time.  She went to the Ap center to check it out.  Downloaded it because it only cost 99 cents.  By the time Tim came home from work, she’d been on the couch for more than an hour, absorbed in the game.  She had him look at it.  And I lost him, too.  Smart enough to know when not to pick a battle, I went out to the car and unplugged my IPOD touch.  I half heartedly searched out the game.  Downloaded it.  An hour later, Tim and Mom and I were still playing.  The lawn did NOT get mowed.  Last night we mowed the lawn.  We went to the county fair for dinner.  We came home and said we were going to bed.  Mom sat down on the stairs for a second with her IPOD in her hand.  Tim and I sat, with me on his knee, on a nearby chair to talk for a second, just about one level of Angry Birds.  The clock chimed.  And chimed again.  We had to be up early this morning (the whole desk by seven thing).  But, hey, we can split birds and speed them, and now we can even explode them!

A side bar of my time with Wanda – she asked if I’d be interested in doing a back to back trilogy for her!  Um…YES.  Thank you.

I got to visit with Maggie at conference, and was so glad to finally be able to meet one of her daughters.  We hear so much about her girls, it was wonderful to see the reality.  She’s as beautiful as Maggie is.  And with that same special spirit glinting from her eyes.  And Anne Stuart was THE  entertainment highlight of the 30th Anniversary RITA Award Ceremony on Saturday night.  The emotional highlight that night was Debbie Macomber.  She was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award RITA.  No one deserves it more.  And no one has ever been classier in her acceptance.  Debbie isn’t lucky.  She’s real – and blessed because of her authenticity.  She’s been my mentor and my heroine for years, and still is.

And the last conference highlight:  I was approached about a possible non-fiction book deal.  The project is in early stages and might not come to fruition, but it’s on my mind.  A lot.  And the more I think about it, the more I want to do it.  Stay tuned on that one, too.

So, no, we aren’t there yet.  But we’re on our way.  I’m including you all in the ‘we’.  I missed you all so much these past ten days.  And I’d much rather sit in the back seat with you all than with a couple of loud dumb boys.