Sunday, February 15, 2009

Meet Tara Manderino

Today we welcome Tara Manderino to the SRN blog.
Always a daydreamer, author Tara Manderino loves to create stories and situations for the people running around in her head. She first began writing in third grade when she realized she couldn't afford her reading habit.
Tara resides in her native town in southwestern Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. When she’s not writing her own stories, or reading, Tara likes to bake, watch old movies, and do a variety of crafts.
Tara, we’d would love to get to know you.
Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?
What's your favorite genre to read?

I really am a romance junkie. But under that, I think I love nearly every sub-genre – suspense and paranormal being my favorites. I have to have my happily ever after at the end.
When you have writer's block how do you break free?
If I’m faced with writer’s block, and it does happen now and then, I try to write through it. That means while I can usually get several hundred words down in an hour during my normal writing time, I might get a hundred. They’re usually garbage, too. The good part is that eventually something clicks in the brain and I get past that really nasty part. I find the longer I stay away from the writing, the harder it is to face it.
Also, I’m one of those people that absolutely freezes looking at a blank page. Hate it. So now when I write, I have to trick myself. I usually divide even my rough drafts into chapters. So now, when it’s time to start a new chapter I tack on the heading at the bottom of the old one and continue on from there. After I’m a few pages into the chapter, I cut and paste the new chapter into it’s own file. It’s rather silly, really, but it works.
Please tell us what you have planned next?
I’m working on a series of books set in mid-1870s America. I am having an absolute blast with them. When I finish the current one, number five, I’m going back to polish the first and see if I can find a home for them. They’re a little different from my regencies, but they would have to be because the whole mind-set of the time was different. The books are probably heavier in adventure than my others too, but great fun.
Who is your perfect hero? And why?
First, I love all of my heroes in my books. They all share very similar traits in one way or another. I value intelligence, humor and integrity – something they all have.
What do you do for inspiration?
Now that is something I wish I knew the answer to! I’ve been struck by ideas in the oddest places and at the strangest times.
What kind of research do you do for your books? Do you enjoy the research process?
I find research quite dangerous actually. I love it and can just get sucked right into it. There are times I literally have to pull myself away from it and get writing. Most of my research is via the Internet for my historical fiction. The Internet is an amazing tool for research as long as you hit the reliable sites. I’ve found old dance instructions from the Library of Congress, train time tables from the various RR sites, maps, and the NY times articles from the era I research is invaluable. The best part is that I never have to leave my computer. As I said, though, it can just suck the time right up. There’s always the thought that ‘maybe I’ll find something else….’
Do deadlines help or hinder your muse?
Once I get past the shock of a blank page and the knowledge that there is a deadline, it helps.
It’s one of the reasons that I love writing with the Endurance Writers online group. We meet in Yahoo IM, set a timer, and go. There’s that rush to see how many words you can get down before the time is up.
When did you first decide to submit your work? Please, tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step.
I first submitted my paranormal romance when my then crit partners decided they didn’t want to see it anymore. J They were extremely helpful in getting me on track, but I felt like I was torturing them by saying look at this again. After they had nothing else to offer that was really going to change I decided to toss it out there and see what the editors had to say.
What is the best and worst advice you have ever received?
These are kind of related. The worst advice I had ever received was that each section of my writing had to be the best I could make it before moving on. Chapter one should be perfect before moving on to chapter two, and so on. Talk about writer’s block! I did develop it quite often then. Heaven forbid something changed further down the road (writing) because then you had to back and fix the previous parts.
The best advice: Just write. Throw those words on the page and go from point A to B and don’t look back. That was an amazingly freeing concept to me. When it’s all done, you can go back and fix what needs fixing. Obviously, I am not an Isaac Asiminov who’s first draft was his last.
Do you outline your books or just start writing?
I always have some type of outline. It’s not very formal, or very pretty but it does keep me on track. Actually, I’m rather upset right now because I can’t find the outline I had for a current book. I had put the writing down in December when life got crazy and recently picked it up again with the thought of finishing it. Fortunately, I do remember where I was going and what the ending was to be. The bad part is that I’m trying to figure out where I was going with the chapter in between. I’m untangling threads now and am confident that by the time I get to the edits it will all be perfectly clear. But you can be sure I’m writing it down again (and I don’t just mean in the story!).
Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you?
I just joined a small online group, but haven’t actually had a chance to participate yet.
What was your first published work and when was it published?
My first published work was Soul Guardian, a paranormal romance between a vampire and a psychic. It still holds its place as one of my favorites.
What would be the best way for readers contact you? Do you have a website? Email address? MySpace site? Blog? Message Board? Group?
Definitely email. I am an email junkie. Sad, but true. I have this compulsion to check my email at least half a dozen times a day. All right, it’s probably much, much more than that. ( While I check on email a lot, I don’t play with my website nearly as often as I should. It needs a major overhaul, and I’m working on it, but in the meantime, everything about my books is up at my current site:
How can readers find out more about you and your books?
Either at my site, Amazon, or the publishers’ site. For my regencies that would be Also, I have a few book trailers on my site.
*When did you start writing?
I started writing in third grade and never put it down. At the time, the coolest thing was to see my handwritten words on the yellow tablet written with a blue Bic ballpoint pen. I just had to write because even at that age I realized that I couldn’t afford my reading habit!
*How, why and when did decide you wanted to be a published writer? How did you go about it? What did you do to achieve this end?
I don’t know that there was a definite time that I could say that I wanted to be a writer. I just had a compulsion to tell stories. I love stories and love sharing them. At some point, it dawned on me that that was how some people actually had their names on books. Once I decided to become a writer, I took writing classes in college and read nearly everything I could get my hands on that dealt with writing. Here’s a good point – in the end, you can only learn so much. You have to let go of the research and jump in.
*Who is your target audience? What motivated you to start writing for this audience?
Women who want to read romance, but not worried about there being a bedroom scene every few pages. I also like to think the books are about adventure as much as about romance. Think Romancing the Stone. I have to admit, that like most writers, I probably started writing for this audience because that’s what I wanted to read.
*What are your main concerns as a writer? How do you deal with these concerns?
I always hope that what I’m envisioning in my writer’s brain is making it to the reader. I love to tell stories and want the reader to see what I’m seeing, and hopefully, enjoy it as much. That’s one of the reasons I try to test certain sections of the story with others, particularly not with any one who might be in a crit group, but a reader.
*Do you write everyday? How does each session start? How do you proceed? How, where and why does it end?
I try to write everyday. There are days it simply does not happen because there are simply too many other things going on, or I am so drained from work that looking at another word will make be crazy. On the other hand, there are days that I will sit at the keyboard and write until I literally fall asleep there!
*What is your latest book about? How long did it take you to write it? Where and when was it published? How did you chose a publisher for the book? Why this publisher? What advantages and/or disadvantages has this presented? How are you dealing with these?
My last published book was released in June (2008) – Dere’s Demons. It’s a regency historical published by Awe-Struck. Where I was submitting the book was never an issue since I have two other regencies listed with Awe-Struck, an ebook and POD publisher known for that genre.
While Dere’s Demons focuses on a missing artifact, I just simply could not resist commenting on the times, something I’ve done in all of my regencies. In Dere’s Demons, which takes place in Manchester, not London, I simply had to comment on the factory working conditions, especially as they pertained to women and children.
*Which aspects of the work that you put into the book did you find most difficult?
I don’t know that any aspect is more difficult than another. To me, they’re all the same and the elements have to be woven together.
*Which aspects of the work did you enjoy most? Why is this?
Another tough question! I love all of it –- I just like one part better than another on a given day. I love coming up with the characters – actually, I just listen when they come calling. The research is fun, and then learning where I can go and not go and still be historically correct could be limiting, but it’s not, instead it presents a way for me to think outside the box.
*What will your next book be about?
That’s a tough one. I have several rough drafts here waiting for me to do something. One is a paranormal, and four are set in 1874 America. I have to admit the historical ones are begging to see the light of day, which means that I have to tell the regency bouncing around in my head that it simply must wait.
Dere’s Demons Excerpt
“I wondered if you have any news of your brother. Surely he would have sent word by now.”
She gave him a tired grin. “Obviously, you do not know Collin all that well if you believe that.” She took a sip of her tea. Real tea. Something she had not had in years. She closed her eyes for a moment to savor the taste. It was much richer than anything she could recall.
He watched her drinking and her reactions. “Is there something wrong with the tea?”
Her eyes snapped open. “Heavens, no! It’s lovely.” She gave him a reserved smile. “Was there anything else, my lord?” That did not seem much of a reason. Still, she was glad for it had got them inside and this delightful tea.
“I had not expected you to leave your home so quickly.”
“It seemed the best thing to do, my lord. I have not heard from Samuel, so I can only assume that Lord Hawke has taken possession.”
“He has. I am puzzled about something. He seems to think that Collin is in possession of some items.”
Jane set her tea carefully on the table. “I did not remove anything of import,” she said thinking guiltily of Evangeline’s doll.
“May I have another cake, Jane,” one of twins interrupted in a whisper, at least he assumed it was to be a whisper, it was rather loud.
Jane looked at the plate in front of them. She could see why her sister was tempted. She was herself. With true regret, she gave an almost imperceptible shake of her head. She had to remember why they were here.
“Please, Jane.” That came from the other twin.
Before she could answer this time, Brayden did. “Of course you may,” he told them. Turning to Jane he said, “It is far enough to dinner that it will not spoil their appetite.”
Jane couldn’t even answer. She was sure of that! It also served as a reminder of why she was here. She sat up a bit straighter in the chair and placed her cup on the table. “I have some business I would like to discuss with you, my lord.”
Now that was intriguing. “If you think we can trust the moppets with the rest of the cakes, we can go to my study.”
She raised stricken eyes to his. She had not wanted them to take more, and certainly she needed him to think well of them. “They will not touch any others,” she assured him, and stood.
“It was a jest,” he said, standing also, and guiding her to the room across the hall. He couldn’t help but notice that she did not smile in return. Whatever was bothering her was weighing heavily indeed.
Ushering her into the room, he gave her a seat in front of his desk. Rather than sitting behind it, he hitched one hip on the edge, so that he was fairly close to her. He noticed her rough hands again as she twisted them together.
“Come,” he told her. “It can’t be that bad. What can I do for you?”

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