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Happy (Early) Birthday to Me

I had to actually do the math because I’m at that age when I constantly slip into denial. Am I 55, or 56—surely not 57? But yep, I’m going to be 57 on June 5, and, while there was a time not so long ago that I worried I wouldn’t reach 55, I’m feeling better than ever, and I have to say it’s because of the way I am eating and living. For the first time in my life, I’m taking care of myself—I mean really taking care of myself. I am eating right, maybe not exercising quite as much as I should, but exercising nonetheless. I’m also trying to make sure I maintain a life balance, which is something I sucked at previously. But here we are, with days to go, and I’ve learned a few things by the eve of my 57thbirthday (metaphorically speaking). I’d like to share them, particularly for the writer community, because I think so often lately, the trend is to speed up, and do more. These are the things I wish I could have told my younger self:

  • Slow down, you will not lay on your death bed and wish you wrote one more book. Have a life outside of work.
  • Stop eating meat. Right now. I mean it.
  • Stop eating dairy; it’s shitty for you and DOES NOT do a body good.
  • Exercise more and stop working in weird positions; you’re not 10 and someday you’re going to pay for that.
  • Stay away from ibuprofen; your gut will thank you.
  • Establish boundaries and keep them.
  • Only write what you love.
  • Teach your children more Spanish; stop answering your mom in English when she speaks to you in Spanish.
  • You don’t sing like a frog and you’re not taking ugly pills (thanks, Dad!)
  • Did I mention work-life balance? Yeah, pay attention to that.
  • Age is just a number.
  • Be like a cat: live in the moment, get the hell away if something threatens you, or even annoys you, and take joy in the smallest things… yep, even that tiny ant crawling across the floor. Fascinating little creature.
  • True friends will always be there and will never judge you. Don’t waste time worrying about what people think.
  • Do the laundry (and all those other tasks). Procrastination will put worry lines on your brow.
  • It’s okay to be weird; embrace it.
  • It’s okay not to be the best at everything; accept it.
  • True beauty is not skin deep; it’s a soul thing.
  • If you run with dogs who have fleas, you will get fleas. (Both metaphorically and physically speaking.)
  • Someday, you will have wrinkles and gray hair, but you won’t see any of them when you look in the mirror. You are eternally 18, embrace it.
  • Fix your teeth; you’ll feel better about taking pictures.
  • Don’t just say you love someone, feel it, and show it.
  • Listen more.
  • Talk less.
  • Laugh more.
  • Love more.
  • Let go of the past.
  • Don’t worry about the future.
  • Take more time to just breathe.
  • Stop arguing. Nobody wins.
  • Eat more cacao. Chocolate is good.

That’s it! Love and peace,

 

Tanya

 

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The King’s Favorite – A Top Shelf Nominee!


Contests are SO subjective, and I’ve spent a lifetime reminding myself I’m not in competition with my peers. Where there are winners, there are necessarily losers, and I believe it often sends the wrong message to writers who are providing readers a labor of their love. However, every once in a while, when my publisher has entered a contest, or, when readers, booksellers and reviewers have nominated my books, I’m a little more apt to see where it goes. I’ve been so very lucky in my career to be nominated for MANY, MANY awards, but like Susan Lucci, I’m ever the bridesmaid and never the bride… let’s see how it goes this time. Plus, this is a brand new kind of book for me, and so thank you SO MUCH to those who nominated The King’s Favorite for a Top Shelf Award.  You rock, whoever you are!

What Makes You an Author?

The industry drama continues, of course, but part of the overall scandal has to do with “what constitutes an author.” For me, that has a very straightforward answer. But before I get to that, let me tell you guys a quick story…


Once upon a time, Fabio “wrote” a book. For those of you who don’t know who he is, he’s that long-haired swoon-generating model who once graced hundreds of romance covers. The powers that be decided he had name recognition and wanted to capitalize on that, so they hired a ghostwriter, who was not named on the book (as far as I can remember). Pretty much the entire industry knew these books were ghostwritten, and most readers who followed the Italian model knew he could barely throw three English words together. They understood it was a gimmick and that the book was ghostwritten. Some people bought it and didn’t care; some wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. In the end, I believe Fabio had two romance novels with his name on it. (You might still be able to find these in used bookstores.)


So is Fabio a writer/author? HELL NO. Was it illegal? Nope. Do I think the ghostwriter (who shall rename nameless at this point, at least by me) was “wrong” to accept the assignment? No. She was making a living and they offered her a job and she took it. Do I believe the publishers were wrong to handle this the way they did? Absolutely. Because I believe it disrespects the reader. However, they are also not authors; they are publishers and our bottom-lines are far different. Theirs = Money. Mine = Love of My Craft.

There are a lot of decisions I make as an author that I make for love of my craft. I wake up every day, sit at my computer for eight-plus hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year, give or take a few sick days, and vacations. Given this, I feel pretty strongly that someone who hires ghostwriters and does not give a byline to their co-author is at the very least not being fair or transparent to someone who made “their” work possible. That said, I don’t live in anyone else’s shoes (or head) and only they can determine what they can live with. Ultimately, I had/have ZERO interest in reading “Fabio’s” books, even though I highly respected the true “author.” On principle, I didn’t buy these books or read them. Things like humor and voice are simply not interchangeable, they are subtle and precious and can actually be edited out by a heavy-handed editor. Ultimately, as a reader, I follow authors, whose voices I love.


In the end, I believe ghostwriters can be authors (but not necessarily), while people who hire ghostwriters to write 70 to 100 percent (pulled this figure out of my hat; don’t ask me where to draw the line, because for me, it’s at a heavy edit) of their book are simply NOT. Sorry. Not to me. But, unless you’ve added some of these other shady practices to your efforts, you’re certainly not a criminal, nor should you be dragged over the coals for trying to make a living (though I don’t agree with your ethics). You’re an entrepreneur perhaps, or a publisher, or an ace-editor or project manager, NOT an author. And your ghostwriter deserves a byline. That’s. How. I. Feel.

In the Beginning…

At my first book signing…

I often cringe when I’m asked about my first sale, because it was just too easy, and the telling of this story only adds to my worst fears that, somehow, I must be a fraud. Why? Because, unlike so many of my fellow authors, who endured four-hundred plus rejections, I sold my very first book to the very first publisher we submitted to.

Of course, I didn’t believe it would be that easy. I’m a classic “plan for the worst, hope for the best” personality—all while secretly fearing the worst is what’s really going to happen. 

I bought one-hundred manuscript boxes (yes, really, 100) and put them ALL together. They used to come flattened back in the Dark Ages. And just to get it out of the way, I finished them all—because, of course, I knew I would need every bloody one. So there they were, all stacked in my office/playroom wall, with my desk/old dining room table surrounded by Lego’s and Playskool toys—and, of course, children, who occasionally enjoyed knocking them all down. I mean, who can pass that up? It’s like sandcastles or houses of cards. That’s what they were really made for, to knock them all down. Right?

But here’s the best part and I’ll give you the short version: I printed off three chapters I liked best (WRONG, you’re supposed to send the first three chapters), and then sent them to ten agents and hired the first one who called (WRONG, you’re supposed to be patient, wait, and choose the best). So my first agent (Surprise! There were others) asked who I wished to submit to, and I figured, hey, why not? Let’s start at the tippity-top and get turned down by my entire Wish List before settling. Of course, I chose Avon Books, then owned by William Morrow Publishing, and, somehow, despite having done everything completely wrong, Editor Maggie Lichota called, and I said yes. That was thirty years ago next year (November of 1989). And that book was Angel of Fire, published in 1992.

I can’t say I never feel like a fraud anymore, because that’s just not true. The difference is that, after thirty plus books (and counting), and a precious lot of loyal readers, I figure that maybe I don’t suck. But it still feels too easy, because I’m doing what I love, and there’s nothing in the world I’d rather be doing. 

I was fortunate through my early years in the industry, in that I had a great editor (Lyssa Keusch, who inherited me after Maggie left Avon) who believed in me. She encouraged me to write the stories I was on fire for, and if there’s one piece of advice I have for aspiring writers, it is: Write what you love. And, be ready to persevere. Truly, though I wasn’t tested through first-sale rejections, the industry has a way of testing our resolve. The good news is that there’s never been a better time to be a writer, or a reader, with so many fresh reads. And, in that vein, I hope you’ll enjoy A Winter’s Rose—a bit of a departure for me.

Happy Holidays, my dear friends!

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year’s, friends! Just a few quick updates. First of all, as you can see, the website has a new look for 2019! Yeah! Let’s ring in the new year in style! This is the first time in my entire 30-year career that I’ve ever had a New Year’s Eve book baby. A Winter’s Rose releases at midnight on December 30. And this is the last opportunity to take advantage of the preorder discount and save $1. Also, for those of you who prefer print; the paperback for A Winter’s Rose is available for purchase (surprise!). I just sent out a newsletter chock full of gifts for subscribers, but here’s a chance to win a signed paperback of A Winter’s Rose. Good luck! For those who have already purchased A Winter’s Rose and who are taking it to the top of the charts, my sincerest thanks.

Get your preorder Discount while you can…

Buy links for A Winter’s Rose Apple Books | B&N Press | Google | Kindle | Kobo