My next (next) book!

For all those who have been asking what’s coming from me post-Gladys, I finally have an answer for you!

In today’s Publishers Weekly Children’s Bookshelf:

deal announcement pw

Here’s a bit more of the story behind this book.

In January of 2013, my mother was very ill–on a breathing machine in a hospital bed, fighting for her life. I flew to New York to be with my dad and sister, sleeping on a mattress on the floor at my parents’ house for two weeks when I wasn’t at the hospital.

One morning, I woke up on that mattress clinging to the remnants of a vivid dream: Two children in a tiny boat in choppy, frigid waters, trying to sail for help because something was very wrong at home. All of the adults in their little town had mysteriously fallen asleep, and no one could wake them up.

Looking back now, the connection between this dream and my family’s situation at the time seems so obvious–but I didn’t see it then. I just thought “Well, that’s a decent story idea.” And I put it in my back pocket.

Miraculously, over the course of many months, Mom made an amazing recovery. I returned home and resumed my work on the All Four Stars series, though between contracts I started to play around more with my parents-falling-asleep book idea. My dream had also gifted me with the perfect setting, inspired by a remote town in northern Iceland that I had visited the year before. And I had a handful of characters who were starting to feel real to me.

Yes, people live here!

Yes, people live here!

Teasing out the story’s plot strands was harder. I’m a serious plotter–I love suspense and mystery and surprise–but the twists this story seemed to want to take scared me a little. It was a much bigger, much more complicated plot than I had ever attempted before (science and politics and myths and sheep farming!). When I finally drew up the courage to pitch it to my husband, he gave me the full-on “are you crazy?” stare.

I pressed on, though. I outlined. I tackled the dread synopsis. I finally finished an appallingly bad first draft in February of 2015–literally the day before I got the green light to write Stars So Sweet, the third book in the All Four Stars series. So into the drawer my draft went for several more months.

Non-negotiable deadline!

Non-negotiable deadline!

I finally got back to this book in the fall, writing a new draft nearly from scratch. Stars So Sweet was pretty much done at that point, but I had a new deadline: the due date of my first child, who was coming at the end of the year. The story took shape as my belly grew. I made it through two more drafts with the help of an intrepid team of beta-readers. I tamed that roaring bear of a plot (this is not a random metaphor–an unruly bear actually plays an important role in the story 🙂 ) and finally sent the book in to my agent, who had been excited about it ever since I’d mentioned my idea to her at our retreat in 2013.

Two days later, my baby was born.

And now, to my absolute delight, the wacky, challenging book I wasn’t sure I could pull off has found an editor who loves its quirkiness and wants to bring it to readers everywhere!

We can’t wait to share it with you all.

And a one, and a two, and a one, two, THREE!

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman CoverThe_Stars_of_Summer_CVR_LIB1000px-Vraagteken.svg

Exciting news to share this morning: There will be a THIRD Gladys Gatsby book, coming out in 2016! Here’s the announcement from my agency.

I’m so excited that the foodie adventures of Ms. Gatsby and her friends will be continuing, and that I’ll get to work with my wonderful editor Shauna Rossano and her team at Putnam on another project.

2016 is a ways off, but All Four Stars is out now, and The Stars of Summer is coming your way very soon, on May 5! You can find order/preorder links for both books here, and I’ll be updating my events page soon with details about launch parties in Colorado, New York, and hopefully a couple of other east coast cities.

Meanwhile, feel free to whip up some bluebarb crumble today to celebrate Gladys’s new lease on life. She’d definitely approve! 🙂

Interview with Colorado author Darby Karchut!

Colorado is for writersWelcome back to the Colorado is for Writers interview series! Every other Tuesday, I talk to different Colorado-based authors about their work and their connections to this beautiful state. Today, Darby Karchut joints us here on the blog!

Darby is the author of several awesome-sounding middle-grade novels. Let’s get to know Darby better, and learn more about her books!

First things first: Colorado native or transplant?

Darby Karchut - authorAlthough I’ve lived in Colorado Springs since 1983, I was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where both sets of grandparents migrated to World War II. I even went to the University of New Mexico (like most of my extended family) and earned my undergraduate degree in anthropology. But, shortly after college, I came to Colorado, fell in love with the state, then fell in love with my future husband, and am now living the Rocky Mountain dream. I do miss the cultural “richness” of New Mexico, but I am an avid runner, biker, and skier. An even exchange. And I just recently retired from teaching 7th grade social studies in a local junior high school. Go Cheyenne Mountain JH Thunderbirds!

Tell us a bit about your book(s), published and/or in progress!

Hound at the Gate coverMy latest book, The Hound at the Gate (release date is this coming January), is the third book in the Adventures of Finn MacCullen middle grade series. Based on a mix of the Celtic legends of Finn McCool and the Fey warriors known as the Tuatha Dé Danaan, my suburban fantasy is set in modern-day Colorado Springs, and features a master and apprentice duo of goblin hunters. These books are geared toward a very specific reader: the reluctant middle school/junior high boy. That said, girls love my characters and their adventures, too, and I have loads of 4th and 5th grade fans, as well.

Like Finn Finnegan and Gideon’s Spear, the first two books in the series, my stories, while loaded with action and humor, focuses on the relationship between thirteen-year-old Finn MacCullen, and his stern, but caring, master, the legendary warrior, Gideon Lir. One of my goals with these books, besides having fun researching and writing about Bronze Age Celtic myths, is to introduce a positive adult male character in Gideon Lir. He is both warrior and bard, and is becoming a father figure to orphaned Finn. And young Finn is a mirror of every 7th grade boy I have had come through my classroom.

The Stag Lord cover with blurbsI am also spreading my writing wings with my first adult urban fantasy, The Stag Lord, which will be released December 2. This book is actually a parallel series to the Finn MacCullen series, and features the local Tuatha Dé Danaan and their battle with the shapeshifter, Cernunnos.

 

 

 

 

What’s the view like from your favorite writing space?

Finn cover with blurbI have loads of favorite writing spots since I work on a laptop. I usually stand at the kitchen counter or at a tall drafting table in the corner of my office. I have found I can concentrate better when I am upright. Someday, I would love to add a shelf of some sort to my treadmill so I can walk (stroll/saunter/amble/wander/mosey) while I work.

What’s the best thing about being a writer in Colorado?

There are four things that really stand out: The quality of our public schools, the friends I’ve met through both the Rocky Mountain chapter of the SCBWI and Pikes Peak Writers. It’s pretty cool that we have so many writers in a state that is known for outdoor recreation. Because of Colorado’s world-class weather, I can get outside and refresh my brain with blue sky and warm sun almost every day, even in the winter.

Oh, I love the weather here, too. And everything else you mentioned is also pretty great! 🙂 Thank you for joining us today, Darby!

Interview with Colorado author Lauren Sabel (and giveaway of VIVIAN DIVINE IS DEAD)!

Colorado is for writersWelcome back to the Colorado is for Writers interview series! Every other Tuesday, I talk to different Colorado-based authors about their work and their connections to this beautiful state. Today, I am so thrilled to have my very good friend and critique partner Lauren Sabel on the blog, and to be giving away a copy of her book!

Lauren’s debut young adult novel, Vivian Divine is Dead, is a thriller set in Hollywood and Mexico, and it’s received terrific reviews. As School Library Journal says, “The writing shines in the scenes of a richly described Día de los Muertos celebration, and Vivian’s journey through rural Mexico will keep readers in suspense as the heroine faces danger at every turn.”

I love this book and couldn’t agree more. Let’s get to know Lauren and find out what’s coming next from her!

First things first: Colorado native or transplant?

Native.

VIVIAN DIVINE IS DEAD by Lauren SabelTell us a bit about your book(s), published and/or in progress!

Vivian Divine is Dead was published by Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins in June 2014. It’s about a young movie star who receives a death threat and has to flee to Mexico to save her life. Of course, when she’s in Mexico, she finds out all sorts of things about herself and her dead mother that she never imagined.

My second book is titled Out of My Mind. It’s about a teenage psychic who works undercover for the government. It will come out in late 2015, also with Katherine Tegen Books.

[Tara’s note: I’ve been lucky enough to beta-read Out of My Mind. It. Is. Amazing!]

What’s the view like from your favorite writing space?

This is the inside of my head.

Inside Lauren's head

What’s the best thing about being a writer in Colorado?

Trees in ColoradoI love Colorado. I love everything about it: the friendly people, the blue skies, the amazing mountains, the crisp change of seasons, the blankets of snow and cozy fireplaces, the smell of the air in the fall, the sound of aspen leaves tinkling in the wind, the feeling of standing on a mountain and seeing forever and still looking inside of yourself.

Ah, yes, the aspens. There is nothing quite like them! Thank you for joining us today, Lauren.

GIVEAWAY ALERT! You can enter to win a hardcover copy of Vivian Divine is Dead by leaving a comment on this post! You can also earn up to FOUR extra entries by posting about this giveaway on Twitter and/or Facebook and by following Lauren in those places. (Please mention or link your follows and extra posts in your comment to get credit for them.)

Follow Lauren on Twitter at @laurensabel.

Like Lauren on Facebook.

Sample Tweet:
Win a copy of ‘s VIVIAN DIVINE IS DEAD at ‘s blog!  

Sample FB status:
Win a copy of Lauren Sabel’s young adult debut VIVIAN DIVINE IS DEAD at Tara Dairman‘s blog!  

I‘ll announce a winner this Friday, 10/10. Good luck!

Interview with Colorado author Kita Murdock!

Colorado is for writersHey, check it out: the Colorado is for Writers interview series is back!

Every other Tuesday, I talk to different Colorado-based authors about their work and their connections to this beautiful state. Today, I’m happy to welcome Kita Murdock to the blog!

Kita’s middle-grade novel, Future Flash, was published this summer by Sky Pony Press. Read on to learn more about the book and about Kita!

First things first: Colorado native or transplant?

Kita Murdock

I’m a transplant and glad to be here! I grew up in Vermont and my husband and I met in the mountains in Ecuador. We knew we wanted to raise our kids in a small mountain town, but the trick was finding one where my husband could continue his career in technology. Five years ago, we moved here from Los Angeles so he could start a business. For us, Boulder offers the perfect balance of a great outdoor lifestyle, a close-knit community, wonderful public schools and a thriving tech industry.

Tell us a bit about your book(s), published and/or in progress!

FutureFlashFuture Flash (Sky Pony Press, June 2014) is the story of a girl named Laney who has what she calls “future flashes”—visions of the future that she sees when she makes physical contact with another person. When a new kid, Lyle, moves to her small town, Laney dreads meeting him – she almost always gets a future flash when first meeting someone new, and the flashes aren’t always good. Unfortunately her meeting with Lyle isn’t just bad; it’s painful. Engulfed in flames, Lyle’s future flash is the worst Laney’s ever experienced. But is there anything Laney can do to change the future? And will she be able to save Lyle from a fiery death without becoming a victim herself?

I was inspired to write this book in part because of all of the fires that have occurred in the Foothills since we moved to Colorado. The story takes place in the fictitious town of Thornville, but is set in Colorado.

Also, as a teacher, I wanted my book to be fast paced to entice reluctant readers and it seems that future flashes and fires make for fast-paced reading! My favorite review was from a student this week saying that Future Flash is the first book she’s ever read that she couldn’t put down. Comments like that make the whole writing thing worthwhile!

What’s the view like from your favorite writing space?

Kita's writing spaceI am happy writing anywhere as long as it’s quiet and I have a cup of tea next to my computer and my cat, Pip, on my lap. Usually I write at the kitchen table so unfortunately the view is often dirty dishes!

What’s the best thing about being a writer in Colorado?

Can I have two best things? 🙂 [Tara: Of course!]

One is the access to incredible running trails. When I’m stuck with writing, I pull on my running shoes and five minutes later I’m on a dirt trail heading into the mountains, passing coyotes and mule deer as I run. I’ve written most of my books in my head on the Goat Trail or the trail around Wonderland Lake. Then I come back to my computer and type as fast as I can so I don’t forget the ideas I had on the trail!

The other is that I had no clue when I moved here that there was such a wonderful and supportive group of middle grade writers in this area! I am inspired by all of them! I met Claudia Mills when she spoke at a book club for my daughter and I’ll never forget her talking about how she does all of her writing early in the morning. I think of her when I need some extra motivation to find time for writing while teaching and raising three girls.

I couldn’t agree more, Kita–about our fabulous trails, and about the inspiring community of writers around us! Thanks for doing this interview, and I can’t wait to read Future Flash.

ALL FOUR STARS is here!

all four stars tour buttonAll Four Stars hits the shelves today! Hurrah!

I’m celebrating all over the place today. At Candace’s Book Blog, I’ve written a “Meet the Characters” guest post that introduces the four main kids in the book.

I also have a release day post up at OneFour Kidlit, the terrific community of 2014 debut authors.

I’m also interviewed at the Fearless Fifteeners, by one of next year’s crop of debut authors!

My dear friend Krista at Mother.Write.Repeat. has a special post up today detailing a real-life kitchen disaster, and she’s giving away a copy of All Four Stars.

And thank you to Faye at The Social Potato and Louise at Lone Star on a Lark for these heartfelt reviews!

I’m probably missing some links, but I’ll do my best to round them up next week. I’ll be scarce on the Internet this weekend, with my sister’s wedding looming, but first up is my book launch party at Books of Wonder tonight. Can’t wait!

Thank you so much to everyone who has already Tweeted, blogged, and Facebooked, and made today feel like a giant party. 🙂

The ALL FOUR STARS blog tour – stop 7

all four stars tour buttonWe are one day away from publication!!

Today’s official blog tour stop is an interview at Finding Bliss in Books. Thanks for having me, Blythe! Lots of travel-related chat in this one, plus my favorite and least favorite foods. And don’t forget that this is another chance to enter to win free copies!

I also have a new interview up at Spirit of Children’s Literature. If you would like to see pictures of donkey meat and get a sneak peak at what happens in the sequel to All Four Stars, head over there. 🙂

And thank you to Brenda at Log Cabin Library and Lisa at Fic Talk for these delicious reviews.

When I post tomorrow, I’ll be a published author!