Tara Taylor Quinn | Measurements … of love

Tara Taylor QuinnIT HAPPENED ON MAPLE STREETHow do you measure that which is not quantitative?  My husband, Tim Barney, and I are on tour with our new book, IT HAPPENED ON MAPLE STREET.  We were here at Fresh Fiction last month.  And last week, a ‘tour mate’ asked if there was a way for us to know if we’re doing what we set out to do.  Is the tour working?  Is the book working?

It’s not a question I’ve ever heard from a reader before.  As a reader, I’ve never once wondered such a thing.

As an author, I ask that question every single time I put words to paper.  My editors and the marketing and sales and art departments that all have a hand in the creation of my books never stop asking that question.  For the publishing professionals, there is a quantitative answer.  For a lot of them, there is only one scale upon which they judge — did the book sell well?  For them, it’s all about the numbers.

For my editors it’s more than that, of course, but ultimately, they, too care if the book sells well or not.  The sales of a book they’ve purchased and worked on reflect on them and can ultimately have an effect on their employment.

As an author, I care about sales, too, but it’s not just a business to me, as it is for the publishers.  It’s not just about profit.  I care because my numbers determine whether or not I get another contract.  I have to maintain good numbers in order to have the opportunity to write the next book.  That opportunity means everything to me.

But this time is different.  IT HAPPENED ON MAPLE STREET is different.  This book is a one time shot.  I’m never going to write another one like it.  My publisher isn’t watching numbers to determine if they want to buy from me again.  We came together for this one project — because we had a job to do.  A message to impart.

While it is a love story — my true life love story — it’s purpose is not solely to entertain, but to reach out to a society of women who are hurt by silence — the society of women who are victims of domestic violence.  According to the Center for Disease Control, one in four women in the United States are victims of domestic violence at some point in their lifetime.  The Harris poll showed that sixty percent of all Americans personally know someone who is a victim of domestic violence.

When HCI, the publisher of IT HAPPENED ON MAPLE STREET asked me to write this book, one statement closed the deal.  The acquiring editor said, ‘if we can help just one woman with this book, we’ve done our jobs.’

Our ‘tour mate’ knows what we’re trying to do.  She’s on tour with us, of course she knows.  More, she’s now got a stake in the job — the passing on of the message.  And she wants to know if we’re making a difference.  She wants to know how we’ll know.

Tim and I have talked about this.  I’ve been thinking of it a lot since I first read the question here on tour.  We’ve been getting letters from women we’ve touched.  We’re receiving a lot good response from people who’ve read the book.  But have we really helped someone yet?

And, of course, that then asks the question, is there more I can do?  More I should be doing?  Is there a stone I’ve not yet turned?

Probably.  But if it’s there, we’ll find it.  Tim and I are on a mission and I can’t rest.  I can’t reach a point where we’ve scheduled enough appearances, or agreed to enough events.  I can’t be done.  No matter how many women we talk to, or how many letters we get, there’s still another woman out there who might be living in the darkness of abuse-imposed silence.  I will be her voice until she can speak.

Something else occurred to me as well.  I was trying to think of a way to bring together people who’ve read the book.  To create a means by which people could post their thoughts of the book so that people like our ‘tour mate’ could see that the book is out there, possibly making a difference.  And also so that others who have not yet read the book can find out about it.  And spread the word.

My wheels were spinning and I was up and running on this project that was going to be a conduit for us all to continue to show support to victims of domestic violence who are afraid to speak out.  Until it dawned on me that I was re-inventing the wheel.  The tool is already out there — right where it needs to be.  On the book’s page of on-line retailers.  So today I’m asking any of you who have read IT HAPPENED ON MAPLE STREET to visit at least one of the big three — Amazon, B&N or Borders.com(s) and leave your thoughts about the book.  It’s free.  If you have time, visit all three.  We need your voices.  Numbers aren’t going to speak to the success of this project.  People are.

And if you go, above all else, please be honest.  If you had a problem with the book, say so.  If it moved you, please tell us all why.  This book is about truth.  About standing for truth.  And I stand by that.

This post is brought to you as part of the IT HAPPENED ON MAPLE STREET International Blog Tour. For a complete tour schedule visit www.tarataylorquinn.com. All blog commenters are added to the weekly basket list. One Unique Gift Basket is given each week to one randomly drawn name on the list.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, or if you suspect someone is, please contact www.thehotline.org, or call, toll free, 24/7, 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). The call can be anonymous and is always confidential. There is not one second of life that is worth wasting.

Next tour stop: Saturday, May 21, Storybroads.

To get your copy of IT HAPPENED ON MAPLE STREET, visit your favorite bookseller, or www.maplestreetbook.com.

Don’t miss The Chapman Files! Still available at: Amazon.

IT HAPPENED ON MAPLE STREET is available on Kindle and NOOKbooks, too!

Tara Taylor Quinn

To comment on Tara Taylor Quinn’s blog please click here.

Tara Taylor Quinn | What REALLY Happened on Maple Street?

Tara Taylor QuinnIT HAPPENED ON MAPLE STREETI’m so glad to be back with Sara and Gwen and Faye and everyone here at Fresh Fiction.  My husband, Tim Barney, and I are on a fifty stop original post blog tour, and a physical tour as well for our new book, IT HAPPENED ON MAPLE STREET.  We’re having all kinds of new experiences and are very grateful for every one of them, but it just plain feels good to be someplace familiar!  In celebration of our return to Fresh Fiction, we’re giving away a copy of IT HAPPENED ON MAPLE STREET to one of today’s commenters.

IT HAPPENED ON MAPLE STREET is a very unique book.  It’s marketed as romance fiction.  And it’s a true story.  I am a romance writer.  And I wrote my true life story in the form of one of my fiction novels.  As we travel, we’re hearing some of the same questions over and over and today I’m going to answer the three at the top of the list!

First:  How much of the story is true?

Almost all of it.  As in with films based on true stories, some of the names and circumstances have been changed, but not many of them.  Most of the story is told one hundred percent as it happened.  Tim and I did not spare ourselves as we told this story.  We wrote this book, in large part, to reach out to women who, like I did, are living in the darkness of silence.  In large part, I  lost twenty-seven years of my life because of my silence.  I spent years in the internal hell of isolation chained by fear and guilt and feelings of unworthiness.  I lost Tim twenty-seven years ago because of that silence.  With his help, I’m speaking out, in the hopes that other women who might be suffering under the same misconceptions that held me silent, will find their voices.  We can’t reach these women if we glorify ourselves.  We’ll only set ourselves apart and seem like some kind of magical lucky ones.  And so in IT HAPPENED ON MAPLE STREET, you get us for real.

The intervening years – the term Tim and I use to refer to the years we were apart – are fictionalized.  But where he and I are concerned personally (meaning, the way we felt inside) even those years have factual basis.  And a drive by Tim does during the intervening years in the book really took place.

Second:  What Happened On Maple Street?

Everyone, from our publisher’s sales staff to newspaper reporters, are asking this question!  Maple Street is where Tim grew up.  It was where he lived when he and I met in college.  He and I fell in love on Maple Street.  Tim gave me his class ring there.  And as you’ll find when you read the book, things were pretty hot and heavy there.  The culminating factor to our original break up took place there.  And today, Tim and I live only a couple of miles from that house on Maple Street.  It looks pretty much the same now as it did thirty years ago.  New paint.  Some renovation, but the same exact bones on the same exact lot.  The book was titled by those who knew the story.  I had no idea the title would raise such question from the outside looking in.

Third:  What is your association with the National Domestic Violence Hotline?

I am a spokesperson for the hotline – and what that means is that I am distributing their information every single place I go.  The hotline The National Domestic Violence Hotline was established in 1996 as a component of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) passed by Congress.  The Hotline is a nonprofit organization that provides crisis intervention, information and referral to victims of domestic violence, perpetrators, friends and families. The Hotline answers a variety of calls and is a resource for domestic violence advocates government officials, law enforcement agencies and the general public. The Hotline serves as the only domestic violence hotline in the nation with access to more than 4,000 shelters and domestic violence programs across the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Advocates receive approximately 23,500 calls each month. The Hotline is toll-free, confidential and anonymous. It operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in more than 170 different languages through interpreter services, with a TTY line available for the Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing.

I can tell you that every single call to the National Domestic Violence Hotline is treated with respect and kindness.  Even if you just think you or someone you know might possibly be a victim, they will listen with compassionate ears and give sound direction.  They really really can help.

And as IT HAPPENED ON MAPLE STREET attests, there is no shame in making the call.  No shame in being mistreated.  No matter how hard that is to believe sometimes.

Tim and I are making appearances from now through April, 2012 and would love to see any and all of you if we happen by your area or you happen by ours.  Our appearance schedule is up at www.tarataylorquinn.com.  And for the Tea Readers – we’re going to be at Readers and ‘Rita’s in November!!  We can’t wait to visit with you all – and party hardy this time around.

In the meantime, we hope you’ll join us for the IT HAPPENED ON MAPLE STREET International Blog Tour, underway now.  We’re giving out a basket of goodies each week drawn from the week’s blogs commenters.  In addition to the random book giveaways.

This post is brought to you as part of the IT HAPPENED ON MAPLE STREET International Blog Tour.  For a complete tour schedule visit www.tarataylorquinn.com.  All blog commenters are added to the weekly basket list.  Gift Basket given each week to one randomly drawn name on the list.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, or if you suspect someone is, please contact www.thehotline.org, or call, toll free, 24/7, 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).  The call can be anonymous and is always confidential.  There is not one second of life that is worth wasting.

Next tour stop, Wednesday, April 20, Australian Romance Readers Association:  http://australianromancereaders.wordpress.com/.

To get your copy of IT HAPPENED ON MAPLE STREET, visit your favorite bookseller, or www.maplestreetbook.com.

Don’t miss The Chapman Files!  Still available at: Amazon.com

IT HAPPENED ON MAPLE STREET is available on Kindle and Nook, too! KindleBarnesandNoble.com

Tara Taylor Quinn

To comment on Tara Taylor Quinn’s blog please click here.

Tara Taylor Quinn | True Love Does Conquer All

TARA TAYLOR QUINNIT HAPPENED ON MAPLE STREETTim Barney was the first boy I ever dated. The first boy I ever kissed. I met him when I was eighteen — a freshman in college. I’d never been on a date. Didn’t go to high school proms or dances or hang out at parties. I read Harlequin romances. I worked. I wrote. And then, in geology class in 1977, I met Tim. I fell so hard and so fast and had so little experience, I was completely out of my element. Tim broke my heart.

Twenty-seven years later, when I was living in emotional isolation, Tim sent me an email. He wondered if I remembered him. He claimed that I broke his heart back in college.

Did I remember him? A girl doesn’t forget her first kiss. Or her only true love. And as for breaking his heart, I didn’t think so.

But twenty seven years had passed. Life had taken its toll. For me, the price had been heavy. I’d been attacked by darkness. Lived in darkness. I wasn’t the same naïve young girl Tim had held in his arms all those years ago.

HCI books heard about our story from an author friend of mine. This past fall, they invited me to write our story. Tim and I talked, and while we knew that there would be difficulties, that dark secrets were going to have to be revealed, we decided that if we could help even one woman with our story, then it would be worth telling. The book, IT HAPPENED ON MAPLE STREET is out in April, 2011.

Maple Street is where I fell in love. And it’s where I came back home to that love. IT HAPPENED ON MAPLE STREET is a book about the healing power of love. About a love that is so true it surpasses all earthly time and space, a love that is so strong it can carry the heaviest burdens. A love that is so joyful it brings happiness and peace to a crushed and disbelieving heart. I’ve been writing fictional stories about true love overcoming life’s tragedies for over twenty years. I am now here, standing before you, living proof that the love I write about, the love that heals all hurts, really does exist.

HCI Books is so excited about the project that they’re running a presale promotion. If you order the book now from Amazon, you’ll get 20% off the cover price, one of the first copies off the press, AND, immediately, you’ll get a high gloss full sized, autographed IT HAPPENED ON MAPLE STREET poster. If you order by December 17, the poster can still arrive in time for Christmas!

To find out more go to: Vows Giveways.

And…I’d really like to know what you think of the cover of IT HAPPENED ON MAPLE STREET. It’s a trade paperback and the cover is very different from any of my other books. Tim and I were surprised when we saw it. We like it, but…our jury is still out.

To comment on Tara’s blog please click here.

Sandi Shilhanek | Readers ‘n ‘ritas

As I started this I was reflecting on the first day of Readers ‘n ‘ritas 2010. It was a rather full day that started at home. with attempts at prepping my home and family for a weekend without me. The dogs I think understood fairly well what was happening, but my son said, “you didn’t tell me you were going away for the weekend.” My response…”what do you think I’ve been talking about for the last several months?” Oh well!

Got to the hotel and finished prep work for the actual convention. Finally the convention started, and while I worked registration it sounded like the party in the room behind me was in full swing. Thanks to a great team I was able to sneak in for a few minutes here and there, and got hugged by Dakota Cassidy, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and Dianna Love. Could it get better than that?

Well, for me it could. For several years now I’ve been fascinated with the works of Tara Taylor Quinn. Her current work is a four book series titled The Chapman Files. When Tara arrived I was pretty excited to be the first to greet her. I got a few minutes of private time with her, and expressed my disappointment that The 4th Victim was not going to be available until after she was gone. Next thing I knew I had my very own personalized copy straight from the author’s hand! I almost cried!

As I went to sleep on Friday I wasn’t dreaming of sugar plums and fairies, but rather murder, mayhem, werewolves, and hunky chefs….all things I can read about from the talented brains of the writers who attended Readers ‘n ‘ritas this weekend.

I awoke on Saturday raring and ready to go. What a great surprise to come to breakfast to find 3 more books waiting on me. After a breakfast of brownies and coke…the “true” breakfast of champions it was off to the author lounge for some quiet time with Louisa Edwards and Tara Taylor Quinn.

That was followed by being a part of a lively panel discussing e-readers and are they really the wave of the future. A break followed that…whew!

Lunch where I sat with Tara Taylor Quinn, and managed to win her gift basket centerpiece. Can’t tell you what I won as it’s still all wrapped up to make for easier transport home. Off to be on a panel with the ever funny Dakota Cassidy, and Louisa Edwards.

Now it’s time to buy more books! What a great selection, and wonder time to chat with the authors why I get my books signed. Dianna Love, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Laura Griffin, Lauren Willig, and others couldn’t have been friendlier and now I’m wondering when the next time they’re coming to town so I can become a “stalker. The night came to a close with a costume ball. I’d never been to one before and it was a fun lively time hosted by Candace Havens who is one of the most bubbly people I’ve ever met..

Thanks to all the Readers ‘n ‘ritas committee members for their hard work to make this the best event, and I look forward to seeing you all next year.

Click here to leave a comment on Sandi’s blog.

sandi shilhanek

Tara Taylor Quinn | The Third Secret

TARATAYLORQUINNTHE THIRD SECRETThere are times in life when things happen that we couldn’t possible orchestrate. Things that take extraordinary circumstances to come to be. My father told me when I was little, and during all of my growing up years, that I could do anything I wanted to do, I could be anyone I wanted to be, as long as I put my mind to it and kept it there. And I have always believed that if I do all I can do, and keep my mind on what matters, then everything will fall into place as it needs to do. Not necessarily how I envisioned it, but as it needs to do.

Right now, this fall, I am a living example of all of this. Circumstances were put into place, starting thirty years ago, and have culminated in a huge way. I couldn’t possibly have envisioned, or constructed the things that have come together, but I am accepting them and running with them just as fast as I can because I recognize that forces stronger than I am are at work here.

From the time I was fourteen I knew that I had to write for Harlequin Books. I put my mind to that goal — sometimes to the detriment of other things — and that dream became a reality. (Not that easily. There were tears and a lot of years of rejections on that journey!) And once I was a Harlequin author, I had to do all I could to remain a Harlequin author.

To that end, I was delighted (jumping and hollering excited) two years ago when the company offered me a chance to do a back to back trilogy for MIRA and even added in a Superromance starter. Kelly Chapman had been lingering in my mind already and I proposed her as the tie in for the series. The First Wife, the first book in the series, had already been purchased as a bigamist story and we simply added Kelly Chapman into the court case to make the book part of the series.

In the meantime, in my personal life, I’d been dealing with a twenty-eight year silence regarding an abusive situation. My husband, and the love of my life, was on that journey with me, pushing me to face the past, and helping me to heal.

This past summer, I was in Orlando, Florida for the Romance Writer’s conference and a woman came to see me at the literacy signing. She’d read all of my books, owns most of my books and just wanted to meet me. In talking, we realized that she and her husband both work at the university where my husband and I met thirty years ago. The university was in Ohio.

Later that same conference, in a completely separate venue, someone who knew of my personal situation asked me if I’d be interested in speaking with a publisher interested in real life romance. I said yes and in September of this year, Tim and I contracted with HCI books to write our own true story. Reality based romance. HCI wanted photos and any other history that Tim and I had from our lives together at college.

In the meantime, I’ve been championing a domestic abuse shelter. I came in contact with the owner of the shelter a few years ago when Harlequin asked me to write a novella for their More Than Words charity project. The proceeds from the novella went to the charity. Sandra Ramos, founder of Strengthen Our Sisters, my charity, changed my life. She was an example to me of the power of determination and fighting for what is right. She helped give me the impetus to stand up — at the exact time that my husband was demanding the same.

And I was doing a huge blog tour as part of larger promotional efforts for the four book series that was hitting the shelves, one of which dealt with domestic abuse. I saw the blog tour as my opportunity to give back to Sandra and SOS, unknowing that SOS had just lost $400,000.00 in donations. Now my cause was huge. My blog tour was huge. And I’d just contracted to write my own story which is about domestic abuse and the healing power of love. (It Happened On Maple Street, HCI Books, April, 2011 — www.maplestreetbook.com) Sandra needing the money at the same time I had a domestic abuse book out was not anything I could ever have concocted. The blog tour happening at the same time Sandra needed money was not anything I’d dreamed up. It Happened On Maple Street came to me without my even knowing the possibility was there. And it was all at a time when I was living the life I write about — living a true life love story.

I had a book signing in Ohio last month and the woman I met in Orlando appeared with an envelope of photos from the University party where Tim and I met. It turns out she manages the archive division of the university. Not only did she have photos, she also arranged a release so that HCI could use the photos. I could never, ever in a million years have orchestrated that one.

There are many more synchronous happenings in this story. They all continue to build to give faith and strength, not just to me, but to everyone involved, in any way, with any of this. And so my message today is, dreams really do come true. If you believe hard enough, if you give all of your effort, if you don’t give up, if you can hold on in the darkness, the light will show up and it will shine brighter than you can even imagine.

For years the moniker on my books was “Read the books. Live the life.” The line came from my editor. A marketing tool. Today I can say that I don’t just write the books, I live the life. It’s like my editor was telling my future. I’ve always written books with real life issues, sometimes hard truths, and yet the love prevails. I always believed in what I wrote. And now I am living it.

Life isn’t easy. My life still isn’t easy. There are always bumps in the road. Sometimes there’s painful whiplash. But there is also great joy.

If you’re in Dallas this next weekend, stop in at the Hilton Garden Inn and see the story in action. Tim and I are delighted to be attending Reader’s and Rita’s with Sara Reyes and Gwen and all of the wonderful people here at Fresh Fiction (who have also had a synchronous part in all of this.) We’re looking forward to a fabulous party!!

This post is brought to you as part of The Chapman Files International Blog Tour. Please join us in our fight against domestic abuse. We’re hosting a charity skate/walkathon on December 4th in Phoenix, Arizona. If you can join us, we’d love to have you. Tim and I are skating and we’re going to have a blast. If you aren’t going to be in the area, you can still sponsor us. Please. In our downed economy domestic abuse has risen and the monies to help have dwindled. To register for the skate, or to donate any amount to the cause, click here, or go to my website and click donate.

There’s an item from our new book, The Third Secret, hidden on the tour with us. Guess the item to enter the drawing to win it! Today’s clue: They aren’t worn when you’re shooting a gun. Send all guesses to staff@tarataylorquinn.com. To see previous clues visit blog sites listed at my website. Guess as many times as you’d like!

Don’t miss The Chapman File tour party on December 4th at eharlquin.com! We’re giving away a KOBO e-reader and many other cool prizes! All you have to do to be entered to win is leave comments on the tour!
E-books of all of The Chapman File Stories are available Storybroads. We hope to see you there! The more blogs you visit with us, the more chances you have to win! Every time you comment your name is dropped in the bag for the prize drawings.

For weekly blog tour dates, visit my website. Or to have the weekly schedule sent directly to your email, send request to staff@tarataylorquinn.com.

The Third Secret by Tara Taylor Quinn. MIRA, ©2010. ISBN 9780778328346 (paperback), 400p.

To comment on Tara’s blog please click here.

Tara Taylor Quinn | Crashing The Hand That Feeds You

AUTHORTITLE

Life has a way of teaching me lessons. I’m thankful for that. I love to learn. I remember sitting in a religious gathering once where someone was talking about life after death. The speaker described paradise. In detail. Minutes and minutes of minute detail. Clearly he was intending to create an image of a place so fantastic, so magnificent, that anyone sitting in his audience would do whatever it took to be able to spend eternity in such a place.

I sat there feeling more and more trapped. Because while I pictured myself in this magnificent place, floating, or whatever, in paradise, encased in love, living in a world without pain, I saw a major flaw. If I had all knowledge and understood all secrets as the man promised, I was going to be bored stiff! What was I going to do all day in paradise if I couldn’t keep learning?

I crave learning more than I crave food. So, yes, I’m thankful for life’s lessons. I’m thankful I seem to be served them in abundance. It just takes me a little longer sometimes to feel the gratitude – and sometimes to get the message.

I’m on a three month blog tour. With more than seventy destinations. More than seventy original blogs. I’m also on physical tour. And I have two books due before the end of the year. All good. I love what I do. I brought this on myself. I made it happen. I am NOT complaining. I type upwards of 120 words a minute. As long as the words are flowing, the pages will appear with time left over. And these words really want to flow.

I’m also a wife to the man of my dreams. A man who has made dinner more often than not over the past six weeks. A man who has eaten more fast food French fries in six weeks then he’s had in three years. A man who lives in a house that had dust motes migrating from corners into the middle of the floor. A man who was having conversations with a woman who responded but had no idea what he’d just said. Who had conversations with a woman who couldn’t converse about anything but The Chapman Files, blogging, book signings, and getting pages done. A man who endured all of this without complaining. Seriously. Not one complaint.

My brother called a few weeks ago and asked if we planned to head up to the family cabin in Michigan again before it had to be closed for the season. My husband responded, immediately, in the affirmative. A weekend away. We’d take pictures of fall colors. I said fine. And made lists of all the things I had to before I could leave my office for two whole days. And lists of things I could handle on the blackberry while I was away, with a ‘thank goodness we have cell service up there’ under my breath.

I got them all done. I just hadn’t left time for packing. Oh that. I hadn’t put it on my list. So half an hour before I’m due to leave to pick up said dream guy, I’m rushing around my world trying to collect all of the things I needed to spend two days up in the woods. We’ve got linens at the cabin. I co-own them. I don’t use them. I don’t like having to worry about getting them washed and back up there before my brother needs them. We’ve got blankets there, too. In abundance. I have to take my own. They’re softer. The cooler had to be packed with perishables. We’d want the twenty-two and bullets. The camera. Dog food. I had to remember the dogs. It was going to get down in the thirties. I had to pull out winter clothes. And socks. And hiking shoes. And fire starters and…I had half an hour.

I had no choice. My honey was at work, without a way to get home as I’d taken him to work so we could leave from there because it was half an hour closer to our final destination…

I made miracles happen. Everything appeared out of nowhere and lined up by the door. And I picked them up and started rushing back and forth from the house to the car. The house to the car. Problem was, there was a door in between the two. A screen door with a strong spring latch and a metal handle that didn’t have the wherewithal to get out of my way. With fully loaded heavy cooler in hands, leaning up against body, I pushed the handle, plowed through the door and it swung right back at me. I didn’t slow down. Didn’t pay attention. I just let the darned thing smash against the hand that feeds me. I didn’t slow down. Didn’t pay attention. I had a car to load. A man to collect. A trip to take. I was on a mission. On a schedule. I had things to do.

It wasn’t until I was pulling out of the driveway – small dog in lap and larger dog on his towel in the backseat, mind you – that I realized I hadn’t felt my hand in a while. I don’t mean, as in reached over and touched it, I mean, there was no feeling. But as I gripped the steering wheel, I had the oddest sensation – like when the dentist shot novacaine in my cheek. I remembered hitting the door. I remembered that I’d never looked to see what I’d done. I glanced down.

My hand had sprouted a golf ball. Under the skin. A couple of hours later, it also hurt like hell. At that point, there was only one thing to do. I panicked. I didn’t care about the darned hand. All I wanted to know was how I was going to type. I started tapping out words against the console of the car in the dark, late at night, as we drove into the outer regions of nowhere. It not only hurt, the thumb and forefinger on my left hand wouldn’t mind me. I guess they were pissed at my lack of regard for them. My lack of appreciation for all of the faithful service. I was scared to death.

Man of my Dreams told me that I’d be fine by Tuesday, which was when I was due back in the office. I waited for streetlights, put my hand up by the windshield so the light would shine down on my hand. Had the swelling gone down any? At Saturday morning’s first light, I was right back at it, looking for any sign of golf ball dissipation. By Saturday night, not only was there no shrinking of my new body part, but I’d become multi-colored as well. I was going to make dinner anyway. We were having chili and we like my chili. Man of my Dreams opened the cans that I requested. I allowed the concession. I stood at our little stove in a hundred year old cabin out in the woods in the middle of nowhere, picked up the newly opened can of kidney beans with smashed hand (because my well hand was busy stirring) and promptly dropped it. Man of my Dreams didn’t get upset with me. Little dog and big dog enjoyed their dinner.

A broken blood vessel was pronounced. Man of my Dreams said it just looked like I had a tan. By Sunday the tan had spread across the back of my hand from thumb to little finger.

And there was nothing I could do to make it stop. I had to accept that I might not be able to type by Tuesday.

Funny thing is, the world didn’t end. As a matter of fact, breath continued to flow in the moment after the realization just as it had in the moment before. People went on with their lives. I stared at my hand. Constantly. Willing it better.

I practiced tapping words on and off all day on Monday. There was some pain. But, hitting only air, I could do it.

Tuesday morning dawned and I approached the office with trepidation. Could I do it? Would I be able to put in the full day’s work, the full week’s work that was required of me? I could deal with the pain, but would the fingers have the ability to apply enough strength to the keys to make letters appear? Could they do it with enough dexterity to type quickly with clarity?

You’re reading this blog, which was the first thing on Tuesday’s agenda. My hand, bless it, blessed me. It hurts to touch it, it looks a bit…tan…but it came through. It continues to feed me. And the blog tour, the books, the work moves smoothly on. Ahhh. All is well.

I got the message, by the way. Nothing, no amount of success, of financial security, or even personal fulfillment is worth more than the people you love.

If I don’t remember to tend to things outside of the books and the blog tour and work, I might lose something much more important than the temporary use of a hand. I could lose the use of my heart.

Or I could lose who is in my heart.

I’m sitting in the office I share with Man of my Dreams, waiting for him to come home, thinking about him, very grateful that I smashed one of the hands that feeds me. I think I just saved the life that feeds me.

This post is brought to you as part of The Chapman Files International Blog Tour. Over the next three months, as we celebrate The Chapman Files, expert witness psychologist, Kelly Chapman and I are going to be asking for help. If you can, join us in our fight against Domestic Abuse. If you’d like to help, click here to go directly to a secure paypal site. Or just comment here to show your support.

There’s an item from our new book, THE SECOND LIE, hidden on the tour with us. Guess the item to enter the drawing to win it! Today’s clue: You’ll never find a Mrs. Named after it. Send all guesses to staff@tarataylorquinn.com. To see previous clues visit blog sites listed at www.tarataylorquinn.com. Guess as many times as you’d like!

Don’t miss The Chapman File tour party on December 4th at www.eharlequin.com! Tour prize winners will be announced!

E-books of all of The Chapman File Stories are available for pre-order at Amazon.

Next tour stop: Monday, October 11, 2010. Harlequin Books http://harlequinblog.com/. We hope to see you there! The more blogs you visit with us, the more chances you have to win! Every time you comment your name is dropped in the bag for the prize drawings.

For weekly blog tour dates, visit www.tarataylorquinn.com Or to have the weekly schedule sent directly to your email, send request to staff@tarataylorquinn.com.

For a money-saving coupon to purchase The 2nd Lie

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October Best Bets for Suspense…

I love October. The summer heat is mostly gone. I no longer have to be up by 6:00am to take the dogs for a walk. The new TV season has started. I’ve been back at work for about 6 weeks, so everything has settled into a routine. I work in academia so I get to take some time off in the summer, something for which I am very appreciative. I must say, though, the transition back can be a little rough. “Meetings? I have to go to meetings? Really?” fades to “So, when’s the next meeting?” by October. The resentment I feel over the fact that work seriously cuts into my reading time has also eased by now. In the summer I like to beat the heat by lying in bed and reading. By October, I’ve relearned how to prioritize my reading, since I’m lucky to get time to read over lunch or before going to sleep.

The 2ND LIECOLD DAWNI made a point to take a sneak peak at two of this month’s new releases. THE 2nd LIE is the second book in The Chapman Files by Tara Taylor Quinn. The lynch pin of the series is psychologist Kelly Chapman, whose cases form the basis for each story. In THE 2nd LIE, Kelly is contacted by a mother concerned about her 14-year-old, Maggie Winston, who seems to have developed a romantic interest in an older man. Sharing her concern, Kelly asks her friend, Deputy Samantha Jones, to help. Sam is dealing with her own issues–a concern about a growing meth problem no one else seems to share, and sorting out her relationship with Kyle, her former fiancé and current lover. Ms. Quinn deftly handles the complex issue of how meth can infiltrate a small town. Her characters are engaging, and the relationships are believable. Look for the release of the THE 3rd SECRET in November.

I also took a peek at COLD DAWN by Carla Neggers which continues the story of the Cameron family, as seen in COLD RIVER and COLD PURSUIT. In the latest book to take place in Black Falls, Vermont, Rose Cameron gets two surprises in one day. First, she finds a dead body in a shack, only to find out it’s a man with whom she had a contentious relationship. In that moment, who should turn up but Nick Martini; a friend of her brothers with whom she had a one night stand (or so she thought). Nick, on the other hand, is interested in more than one night but has to convince Rose she wants the same thing. COLD DAWN is well written, and I really liked the characters. Ms. Negger’s seamlessly provides important background information from the earlier books. However, I think reading the first books in the series before this one is important. I had some difficulty keeping the characters straight and felt I was missing a lot of the nuance. I plan to go back and read the first books in the series, and come back to COLD DAWN, I think it’s worth the time and effort.

TWO LETHAL LIESPURSUIT OF JUSTICENow, a rundown of some of the other new releases. TWO LETHAL LIES, by Annie Solomon, tells the story of Mitch Turner who went on the run when his daughter was born because he has concealed a truth so dangerous, its discovery could jeopardize both their lives. Now he finds himself a suspect in a series of murders, and his daughter has gone missing. His only help comes in the form of Neesy Brown, a woman who believes in him and vows to help Mitch find his missing child.

PURSUIT OF JUSTICE, by DiAnn Mills, starts with the legend of the Spider Rock treasure which has lured people to West Texas with promises of unimaginable wealth but has so far only resulted in three deaths. FBI Special Agent Bella Jordan is sent out to investigate the murders, only to discover that the prime suspect is someone from her past, a past she’s tried desperately to forget.

PLAY DIRTYDESPERATE CHOICESDESPERATE CHOICES, by Kathy Ivan, is romantic suspense with a little paranormal element thrown in. Psychic Theresa Crawford’s former beau, Max Lamoreaux, walks into her New Orleans New Age shop, looking for her help. He is a private investigator looking for his missing godson. The police think he’s a runaway, but Max suspects he’s in danger. He may be skeptical of Theresa’s abilities, but her clues may be what it takes to save Tommy.

PLAY DIRTY is the first book in Lorie O’Clare’s Bounty Hunters series. Sexy bounty hunter Greg King hasn’t gotten over his estranged wife, Haley. What he doesn’t know is that she was forced to leave him and enter the witness protection program after putting a vicious criminal behind bars. When she finds herself in trouble again, she breaks her silence and turns to the one person she knows she can trust… her husband.

LIE WITH MEI just downloaded my copy of LIE WITH ME by Stephanie Tyler. I’ll be posting a review and will let you know in the comments section when it’s available. At this point, I can tell you it’s the first in the Shadow Force Series. Framed for a double murder, Delta Force operative Cameron Moore is given a new lease on life by the CIA—provided he pays them back by doing their black ops dirty work. But now Cam is ready to renegotiate the deal, and he thinks he’s found the perfect bargaining chip: Skylar Slavin, bestselling author of espionage thrillers and the daughter of the CIA man who saved Cam from a prison sentence.

On a related note, Dee Davis, will is our guest author for the October meeting of the Fort Worth chapter of the DFW Tea book club. I am rapidly making my way through her A-TAC series, DESPERATE DEEDS, DANGEROUS DESIRES, and DARK DECEPTIONS. I’ll let you know what Ms. Davis has say.

Any questions you would like me to ask Dee Davis? What do you like about October? How much reading time can you squeeze into a day?

Happy reading!
Maria

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TARA TAYLOR QUINN | THE LINK BETWEEN ME AND MY CHARACTERS

TARA TAYLOR QUINNTHE SECOND LIE

People always ask me where I get my ideas for stories. The second most asked question is ‘where do I get my characters?’ Generally the questions instill a measure of discomfort within me. Because the truth is hard to explain. Or maybe, I just don’t have enough faith that the answer will be well accepted. Or believed. And, after all, they’re aren’t many of us who want people to think we’re weird.

My answer to both questions is usually some sort of vague ‘Oh, they’re just there.’

Not much of an answer, I know. And yet, it’s the complete truth. I don’t have a trunk in my attic filled with ideas, or people, or even costumes for people to wear. I don’t have a diary, or a ledger, where I make lists. I don’t go anywhere or look anyplace for the stories that fill my pages, or for the people who live and breath between the covers of my books. They’re just there. They always have been.

I believe that the ideas, and the people who fulfill them, are given to me by a source that is greater than I am as an individual – given to me as a part of the talent that I was blessed with to write. I am most comfortable telling myself that I am merely a conduit, a partner in a collective job, so that I don’t have to worry about ideas or characters. I just have to listen, and to put on paper the things that I hear. And describe the things that my mind’s eye shows me.

And yet, through the years and over the course of fifty books, I hear again and again from people who know me about things they recognize in my books. Mostly they are things they recognize about me. As though, parts of me leak through every story I write. Makes sense, I guess. It also makes me uncomfortable.

When my heroine is making a sandwich, my mother knows what kind she’s making before she reads it on the page. When a scene takes place in a meadow many of my family members recognize the place before I’ve described it. A male character gave some advice one time – it was the same advice my sweet husband imparts when things get tough.

And now, there’s Kelly Chapman. (She’s the expert witness psychologist I told you all about last month.) She’s an inline skater. When something is bothering her, when she has a decision to make, when she has questions, she skates. Skating takes her out of the every day world, quiets the noise in her mind, so that she can get in sync with the deepest parts of herself. So that she can hear the still small voice that speaks ultimate truths. She finds clarity when she skates.

I skate, too. I skate because I am addicted to the feeling of strength I experience flying over cement with the wind cooling my face. My skates are a part of me. I am comfortable with them. I feel invincible in them. And it’s often when I’m skating when I hear the stories clearly. When I see the people that will inhabit them. Whole scenes fall into place. People introduce themselves. Life’s truths – a necessary part of storytelling if you are to bring your readers satisfying conclusions – become clear.

So, like a lot of the things in my books, Kelly stole a part of me to make herself. I’m good with that. Mostly. You see, Kelly, unlike any other characters, took a vital part of me and then messed it up. She skated alone. On the path I frequent most often. It’s a converted railroad track out in the country, surrounded by corn fields and little else. Women shouldn’t be out there alone. Not in today’s world. Kelly thought she was invincible on skates, too, I guess. And something bad happened.

I’ve been avoiding that stretch of path ever since. I’ve skated it. I’ll skate it again. But it’s a struggle every time. I keep feeling things at my back. I can’t relax. My breathing isn’t rhythmic. But, like Kelly, I’m not giving up. Or is it that, like me, she doesn’t give up?

Either way, Kelly’s hard at work. In The Second Lie – the second of her upcoming four books – she takes on a fourteen year old client and finds herself on the trail of a possible pedophile. You can rest assured. Neither one of us give up on that one.

Kelly skates in all of her books: The First Wife, Harlequin Superromance, 9/10; The Second Lie, MIRA Books, 10/10; The Third Secret, MIRA Books, 11/10; and The Fourth Victim, MIRA Books, 12/10.

If you pick up any of The Chapman Files, Kelly and I would love to hear from you! Write us at staff@tarataylorquinn.com.

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Tara Taylor Quinn | Introducing The Chapman Files

TARATHE 1ST WIFEI’m currently living in a small town in the Midwest. I’m not really a small town girl. I have nothing against small towns; I’ve just always lived in cities. I feel at home in the city. I like having a lot of things going on around me. I like choices. Lots of choices. I’m a shopper and need the stimulation of many different stores within a short distance from me that I can wander into on the spur of the moment just to see and touch pretty things. I’m a people watcher and love knowing that every day when I go out into my world there will be many new people to observe, in many different walks of life, doing many different things. I need an international airport nearby so I can fly off to exotic places. And I like city living because of the anonymity. I can be out in the city and never be seen. Never be noticed. I can live in the city and not have anyone else in my business.

You can imagine then, my culture shock, when I find myself living in my husband’s hometown, population 12,000. I’ve learned to love many things about small town living. Small towns are more peaceful. They aren’t frenetic and worrying about keeping up with the Jones (whoever they are). Your neighbors know who you are and look out for you and your property. They don’t think you’re nosy or interfering if you look out for theirs. When you frequent the local eatery, they greet you by name and meet you at your table with your drink of choice. There’s a sense of family and belonging in a small town that you don’t find in the city.

And still, while I appreciate the small town benefits, I didn’t feel as if I was living in my town. I felt like an interloper. A visitor. And so I did what writers do. I created my own place. My senses and emotions took in this small town in which I live and from somewhere within me came my own version of this town. It’s called Chandler, Ohio. The small counseling office on the corner by Main Street that I pass every morning on my way for my diet coke became the office of expert witness psychologist Kelly Chapman. Kelly has a life full of files -cases and clients she’s handled – and she offered to share them with me. One at a time. And so, The Chapman Files came to be.

The new series starts with four back to back books. The First Wife, (Harlequin Superromance, 9/10) takes place right here in Chandler. And in Chicago, too because, well, I’m a city girl! In The First Wife, Kelly’s called in as an expert witness on a murder case. It’s a husband accused of murdering his wife. And the key witness is – his wife. Turns out the guy’s a bigamist.

Following The First Wife come three MIRA Suspense novels, The Second Lie (10/10), The Third Secret (11/10), and The Fourth Victim (12/10.) MIRA will be sending coupons for these titles to my personal mailing list. If you’d like to receive the coupons send your name and e-mail to staff@tarataylorquinn.com to be added to our list.

Happy Reading!

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Tara Taylor Quinn | A Ninth and a First

The first, first. Last week delivered to my door, in five boxes, were my copies of my first, first printing hardcover. It’s not wholly mine. It’s an anthology of work by five authors. But my name is on the cover. My story is inside. I’ve had two other books in hardcover. One was a foreign edition. The other was a subsidiary sale to Thorndike Press who prints mostly for libraries. Both were cool.

This is cooler.

The book, More Than Words Volume 5 is due out in April. Heather Graham, a woman I’ve known and admired for years, is the headliner. I’m honored to be in the volume with her.

Even more meaningful than being out in Hardcover, or being published with Heather, is having been a part of the work itself. More Than Words is a project that Harlequin started several years ago. Throughout the year, the company solicits applications from private women’s charities. Five are chosen. Each of the five authors, who are hand chosen by the publisher, are given one of the charities. I was given Sandra Ramos, founder of Strengthen our Sisters. Sandra founded the very first battered women’s shelter in the United States. She’s an amazing amazing woman. I spent a couple of days reading about Sandra, speaking with her, getting to know her. And then I wrote a fictional story inspired by all that I had learned. Each of the other four authors in the anthology did the same with their charity founders.

All proceeds for the book go to the five charities.

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