Thursday, December 6, 2012 - It's Official!

Well, it's official! I've got a honest-to-goodness author website now. Check it out:

My husband, Ash, designed it and I just LOVE it! Though blogging is a great way to get your feet wet on the web as an author, blogging takes time away from writing, and, if you're a fan, you're not too happy about my books taking longer to get to you because I'm too busy blogging. So now I can devote myself to whatever novel I'm working on while still having a place on the web for fans to find out about my books, sign up to hear about new releases, etc. Let's face it - it's a very good thing!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Great Stuff re Ebooks and Print Books

Allison Morris reached out to me regarding her very cool and illuminating graphic/post that shows how ebooks and print books can coexist. I couldn't agree more and really wanted to share this article that can also be found on, so see below!

E-books Infographic

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

True Ghost Story

Yes, a true ghost story! It happened to a close family member - though, of course, details have been changed to protect the innocent. However, the ghost is 100% real and what happens related to the ghost in the story is exactly what happened to my relative.

So, in honor of one of my favorite holidays, Halloween, I've decided to re-publish the story here for free - October Twilight (originally published in the October 2011 issue of The Ultimate Writer) - and share it with my fans. Enjoy...

By Tara McTiernan
Copyright 2008 Tara McTiernan

Maggie was on one of her Sunday get-out-of-the-house-before-you-lose-your-mind drives, moving fairly slowly as no one was behind her, and that was probably why she saw it at all. It was a small old graveyard, complete with a black wrought iron fence full of curlicues and a gate. As it was nowhere near a church or even any houses, she wouldn’t have thought to look. But she was drawn to graveyards lately; they were the only places that felt comfortable and right these days. 

She turned her wheel hard and pulled onto the high-grass and wildflower filled shoulder. A few late black-eyed Susan’s leaned in her open passenger window as if to ask her a question. Maggie looked at the flowers. “Don’t look at me. I’m just crazy,” she said. She was talking to herself a lot recently, so it didn’t seem strange to talk to flowers while she was at it.

Glancing in her rearview mirror to make sure no cars were coming up on her side, she opened the door and then walked back to the graveyard, looking around the area. There weren’t any houses in sight, not even a lone driveway leading to some house hidden by trees, just the thick woods and the road. The graveyard was set a little back from the road and up on a rise. She climbed the crumbling brick stairs to the gate and tried it. It was locked. The wrought iron fence was Victorian in style, the pickets topped by pointed arrows as if telling the souls where to go when they died. Go to Heaven and see little Brian, less than a month old, too young to sin. 

She shook her head. I won’t think about that today. It’s Sunday, a good day, a family day. Only that was the problem. First Brian had been taken from

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Coming Soon: Cocktail Hour

I know, you're probably wondering - where's the bar? No, I'm talking about my second novel, Cocktail Hour

Right now we're in the editing process and then a cover will need to be designed, but it's looking good for my next book to be released in either December or January (hope, hope!). So, for those of you who have been interested in seeing more of my work - it's a comin'!

What's it about?

Here's the official product description:

Cocktail Hour, where the elite meet and everything sparkles...especially knives in the back.

What if your friend - someone admired, envied, and fervently sought after by everyone who knew her - was really a dangerous sociopath?  In her latest novel, Cocktail Hour, mainstream fiction author Tara McTiernan answers that question as she takes you on a wild roller-coaster ride of thrilling highs and terrifying lows in this gripping novel about friendship gone horribly wrong.

Spring in glamorous uber-rich Fairfield County, Connecticut is a time of beginnings:  a new diet for the approaching summer spent out on the yacht, fresh-faced interns being offered up at the office as the seasonal sacrifice to the gods of money, and corporate takeovers galore. Five women in their thirties have a brand-new friendship, too, one that fed and watered regularly at local hotspots over cocktails. With all of their personal struggles - Lucie's new catering business is foundering due to vicious gossip, Kate's marriage is troubled due to an inability to conceive, Chelsea's series of misses in the romance department have led to frantic desperation, and Sharon's career problems are spinning out of control - the women look forward to a break and a drink and a chance to let their guards down with their friends. And letting their guards down is the last thing they should do in the kind of company they unknowingly keep with the fifth member of their cocktail-clique: Bianca Rossi, a woman who will stop at nothing to have it all.

As each woman's life is affected by this she-wolf in sheep's clothing, the truth starts to come out, but will they see it before it's too late? Or will their doubts about their own perceptions and gut feelings stop them from protecting themselves in time? Exciting, chilling, and emotionally charged, Tara McTiernan delivers a delicious page-turner that will change your view of everyone you think you know.

How does that sound? Very excited to hear reader reactions to this book once it's released...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Agony and the Editing

If you've ever read a poorly edited book, you know agony. I mean pain. Most people don't even continue reading. 

And if you're a writer today - traditionally published or indie - you must learn how to edit your own writing and do it so well that you don't need much professional editing.


Traditional publishers rarely spend a lot on editing any of their author's books, including bestselling novelists. They just don't have the budget for heavy editing. So if you want your book accepted by a publishing house, you better get that sucker cleaned up.

Indie writers usually can't afford extensive editing. You must hire someone to edit your work, but you'll pay for their time and if you didn't do a ton of editing of your own before sending it out, count on a hefty bill (to the tune of thousands of dollars, money you may never recoup in sales no matter how convinced you are that your novel will be a runaway success (this is kind of like expecting to win the lottery)). 

The following are some suggested steps based on how I edit my own novels and hope it will be helpful to fellow writers. For you readers out there, you can see the amount of hard work that goes into those books you devour, books that may seem effortless and a pure pleasure to create for the author. Yes, writing has many great joys, but it is hard - sometimes agonizing - work.

Copy Editing Tips from the Trenches

"Soft" Edit
This should be your first method of editing. Edit within the live document (not printed). I recommend at least two soft edits. Be careful to keep the story as-is. The part of you that wrote the story and is the creator is better at storytelling than the editing part of you. They are literally different parts of your brain. Just fix things like:

  • Awkward sentences or paragraphs
  • Grammar (except for fragments - they can work to add punch to your writing if used correctly)
  • Spelling
  • Overused words
  • Overused descriptions
  • Continuity issues. Example: a character is wearing a green sweater and then suddenly it's red with no explanation.
  • Story timeline issues. Example: the dinner party lasted three hours but dessert was served four hours after the party started.
  • Clichés, unless they're meant to be tongue-in-cheek/a joke or used in dialogue. Lots of people use clichés in speech, but a novelist who describes their character as "sleeping like the dead" or "screaming like a Banshee" should be hung by their thumbs for a day and made to sing Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby" over and over again for a crowd of angry mental patients.
  • Update and research facts. You can't have things happening in your novel that are impossible. Even if you write sci-fi or fantasy, the things that happen have to be realistic in the world you've created.

Hard Edit
This is when you print out your book and grab a red pen or red pencil. It's

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Beta Readers Rock

Think your own editing and a pro-editor is enough? Think again!

When I finished editing Barefoot Girls I knew that even though I'd gone over the manuscript too many times to count, I still needed many more pairs of eyes to see it and tell me about any flaws or problems or other issues.  No, not just one other pair of eyes, many and preferably not someone who would just say it was wonderful because they loved me. Like my mother.

So, I put out a request to all my Facebook friends and got five wonderful women who were willing to read the book and give me feedback. Let me tell you, it was a fantastic thing and a must-do for any writer, particularly if it is a first or second book and you're still learning the ropes. 

How do you get Beta Readers? Here are a few tips from my experience:

  • Avoid asking anyone you think might just praise your writing no matter how bad it is. You're looking for feedback, not flattery.
  • Likewise, avoid asking anyone you think tends to be overcritical. If they tear apart everything, your poor book will be torn apart, too, and that won't help you at all.
  • Offer your beta readers either an ebook or a bound galley of some kind. Do not give them a huge printed wad of a manuscript - think about making it as convenient as possible for them. I offered an ebook in any format they wanted and used Calibre to create them (proofed them, too, before sending to make sure they weren't an illegible mess).
  • Tell your Beta Readers that they will be mentioned in the Acknowledgements (and do it) as well as receive a print copy once the book is published for their library. Of course, make sure they actually want a print copy (almost all of mine did).
  • When you get feedback, thank them for their time and help and note what their issues with the book were. Do not feel that you have to make every suggested change, but be open to it - otherwise, why bother asking for feedback? If more than one person finds the same problem, you HAVE to fix it. If you can't figure out how to fix it, either join a writer's workshop and submit it or get a developmental editor to help you with that section/part of the book. But if more than one person had a problem with anything in the book, the majority of readers will have the same problem and that must be fixed before any readers buy the book (and subsequently get pissed off, rightly so).

Hope this helps and, while I'm talking Beta Readers, a big shout-out to mine is in order. My eternal gratitude to Elise Gallivan, Tanya Hale, Yvette Hochberg, Rita Morgan, and Tanya Wells for your help and wisdom - you are all goddesses!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Readers Group Guide - Barefoot Girls

Reading groups and clubs are one of the best, most foolproof ways to find great books. Why? Almost everyone who is in such a group is an avid reader. They've been around the block and back and can usually recommend a great novel for their book club to read and discuss. That means a much better lineup of books on your shelf or in your e-reader that you can look forward to reading with pleasure.

When Barefoot Girls was being read and evaluated by my wonderful group of beta readers, one of my readers and friends, Elise, said that a group discussion guide would be perfectly suited to this book: one that covers many issues that matter to women (while it entertains). As a result, said guide was created and included in the back of the book. Yet, it's not easy to reach unless you've downloaded the novel or bought a paper copy, so here it is in all its glory for book lovers out there who are looking for a guide for Barefoot Girls:

READERS GROUP GUIDE: Barefoot Girls by Tara McTiernan

Book Description
When her hometown newspaper reviews Hannah O’Brien’s newly released novel, the nature of her book is called into question when the reviewer suggests it is a memoir depicting her neglectful alcoholic mother – Keeley O’Brien Cohen, the most beloved of the Barefoot Girls -  a little too accurately for fiction, citing rumors rather than sources. Deeply hurt and betrayed, Keeley cuts Hannah out of her life. Desperate, Hannah does everything she can to apologize and explain, but her pleas fall on deaf ears. Meanwhile, the rest of Hannah’s life starts to unravel, pushing her to risk her engagement to Daniel, the one man who had been able to scale the high walls around her heart.

At the eleventh hour, the Barefoot Girls are able to convince Keeley to send Hannah the keys to the Barefooter house, the home and heart of their friendship. Barred from their clubhouse since she was twelve, Hannah grabs the chance to visit the little shack filled with memories and perched at the tip of Captain’s Island in the Great South Bay on Long Island, New York.

As Hannah battles to come to terms with her equally blessed and troubled childhood and understand her mother and her sister-close friends, she’s confronted with the power of forgiveness and the dangers of holding on to the past.

  1. There were several fascinating settings in the novel: Manhattan and Park Avenue society, the wealthy enclaves of Greenwich and Westport, Connecticut, and remote rustic Captain’s Island (a fictionalized composite of several small islands on Long Island, New York). Which one did you find most intriguing and why?
  2. Hannah is lost is the world at the beginning of the novel, slowly finding her way and growing more confident, even demanding, as the

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Marilyn Monroe - The Woman Who Never Got Out of Character

"I have too many fantasies to be a housewife. I guess I am a fantasy."
-Marilyn Monroe

On the 50th anniversary of her tragic death questions still remain about Marilyn Monroe, but after reading many of her quotes and books about her, what struck me most was that she made me think of a character in a book or a movie: a lovely, otherworldly, and wise character, the kind of character every writer wants to create (I certainly do). And that led me to question: was Marilyn Monroe Norma Jean's creation? An artificial persona intended to excite and enchant others, to become their fantasy? A character she concocted and played for the rest of her life, onscreen and off?

I say, yes, without a doubt.

Norma Jean Baker played a character for most of her life, a character she called "her" who wiggled her hips and fluttered her eyelashes and spoke in a breathy voice. A beguiling character who was vulnerable and sexual at the same time - a rare thing in the fifties when vulnerability was tied up by the good girls and sexuality was considered "fast" and "tough" - and one that played to our hopes and dreams about the American woman.

Watch her in movies and then watch her in interviews: she is always playing the same character and no one ever played Marilyn Monroe, the star and legend, better (though many have tried). She lived to be a star and for her

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How to Get the Most Out of GoodReads

I love GoodReads. Not because I'm a writer - but because I'm a reader. Reading was and is my first love. Being caught up in a great story inspired me to dream of writing great stories myself.

Of all the sites out there for readers, nothing rivals GoodReads. However, many people join GoodReads, rate a few books, and forget about it, not understanding that the site is a tool for readers, not just a place to review books. Using GoodReads properly will help you find better books and find more enjoyment in them. It's easier to share what you're reading with friends and get fantastic spot-on book recommendations. It's a playground and a virtual book-loving heaven for bibliophiles!

So how do you use it "properly"?

Top Five Ways to Get the Most Out of GoodReads

1) Rate and Review
Everyone rates and reviews a few books, but what you really want to do is rate (review if you have time) every book you've read. This is important as GoodReads then recommends books based on those ratings. Automatically - just click on "recommendations" and there will be tons of them, all targeted to you. But the only way that GoodReads will yield the kind of results that will help you find the next book you want to read is if you rated enough books in the first place!

2) Giveaways
Under the "Explore" pull down menu is a wealth of GoodReads goodness, but one of the best things, especially for those of us looking for a risk-free way to try out new authors, is GoodReads giveaways! With a simple click,

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mermaid Body Found

Everyone's going ballistic over the body of a mermaid being found. Even the NOAA got involved, issuing a formal statement in an effort to curb the hysteria. News organizations are up in arms wondering why, stating that the show that aired on Sunday on the Discovery Channel titled Mermaids: The Body Found was clearly science fiction.

Okay, media-heads, you want to know WHY people believe this stuff?

No, it's not because we're dumb. Get over yourselves.

No, it's because magic and fantasy and mythology are things that continue to fascinate us, that make us sit up straight and pay attention, even today in a world almost completely explained and dissected by science.  We're fascinated because mystery itself draws us. We're fascinated because a part of us will always be that child trying to stay awake on Christmas Eve and witness Santa's arrival. We're fascinated because wouldn't life itself prove to be the miracle we know in our hearts  it is if creatures like unicorns and mermaids turned out to be real? By finding a mermaid's body, we may all open the door again to the possibilities that swirled around us daily back before the age of science. Anything could be true, even magic.

It's funny that the media is comparing this show and the reaction to it to The Blair Witch Project, because they are extremely similar and the forces at work that made that poorly-filmed amateurish movie a runaway success were the same as what drives this news story. You say "based on real events" and we hear one word: real. You say "witch", we say "really"??? You say "mermaid", we say "where" and "how soon can we book a cruise to go see them"????

It's the reason behind the huge upswing in the fantasy genre in fiction, this

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Free Ebooks for Everyone!

To be honest, I can't believe I've jumped on the free ebook bandwagon. It's shocking, really.

You see, my attitude up until recently was that if it was free, how good could it be? Would anyone even buy an ebook again considering how many free ones are available? And piracy, piracy, piracy - eek! These are valid points...but a brilliant argument made by Neil Gaiman on YouTube convinced me that my fears were misplaced.

Why Free Ebooks Are a Good Idea 

There is one main and extremely compelling reason: exposure to new readers. Think about it - how often do you buy an unknown author's work? Really, I'm serious here. Most people find new writers by getting their books at a library or borrowing a book from a friend or - these days - downloading a free ebook. Because sometimes the sample and the cover and description aren't enough. You want to see if the writer can hold your interest, carry off a story, and even make you think about the characters or tale itself long after you've finished it.


I'm making some of my short story ebooks available for free! Right now, Girl Shaped Shadows is free on Smashwords (go here for a free ebook: or a free PDF is available right off of this website on my new handy-dandy "FREE EBOOKS" page: Another short story is in the works as well and should be published within a few months. Definitely check them out and enjoy!

Other Big News:

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ebooks versus Print Books

I was surfing the internet the other day and happened upon a video by Margaret Atwood, a brilliant writer whose work I adore, who was talking about ebooks versus print books. After watching it, I realized it truly merited a discussion. Why do people still buy paper books? Do you know that 80 % of the reading public ONLY reads paper books? Another fascinating fact is that most owners of ereaders still read paper books, too!

So what is the lure of the paper book? What are the benefits of electronic? Let's list them and compare:

Print versus Electronic: Convenience
Sorry, but ebooks win this one. It's so much more convenient to sit at home in your pj's and order books to your heart's content and get them immediately. No need to climb in your car and go to the local bookstore or wait for them to be delivered. Right here, right now, you can read it.
Round one goes to: Ebooks

Print versus Electronic: The sensual aspect
Holding a Kindle or another ereader just isn't like holding a paper book, smelling that fresh binding-and-paper (or old binding-and-paper) smell. You won't enjoy the cover art as much either, glancing at it only when you first purchase it and open the ebook, then probably never seeing it again.
Round two goes to: Paper books

Print versus Electronic: Portability
Watch out, your ereader is so heavy it might just...wait a second! You can have twenty books on that sucker and never feel the difference as you carry it around! Try doing that with twenty paper books, even if they're slim little tomes. Still pretty heavy. And they take up so much space! Most people find themselves chucking books whenever they move, not wanting to have to box them all up and haul them along. 
Round three goes to: Ebooks

Print versus Electronic: Cost
Ebooks are usually cheaper than print books. Now, they shouldn't be pennies or a few bucks because the cost of paper and shipping are only a percentage of the costs that go into making a book, paper or

Monday, June 18, 2012

What's Happening? A LOT!

First off, the long-awaited print version of Barefoot Girls will be available within the next few weeks! For those of you who prefer the heft of a book in your hand, you'll finally be able to get it in the format you prefer.

Personally, I'm still a paper-book girl. Even though my husband has been sucked over to the alternate universe of ebooks, I'm hard to sway. Let's face it, I'm a late adopter, not an early adopter. You probably won't be able to drag me away from my paper books until they stop printing them!

The other piece of news is.....
(drum roll, please)
My short story collection, Earth and Air, is on sale now in ebook stores! Woo hoo!

This collection contains one of my favorite short stories ever, the title piece, and I really think readers will love it, particularly if you love darker spookier fiction (well, there's a comic story at the end that leaves you laughing, or at least I hope it will).

The cover is at the top of this post and the description is as follows:

A handsome singing gypsy who has the power to make girls sleep, sometimes forever, decides to rest from his journeys in an old Victorian house in suburbia with two mesmerized sisters. A broken jukebox leads a girl into uncharted territory, a wilderness in the back of a bar where the colorful neon lights of a working jukebox beckon and where she learns terrible things from a dragon-like woman breathing fire in the dark. A thirty-something career woman trying to rediscover her purpose on an island retreat is attacked in the still of the night by a neighbor whose greatest wish is for her to leave.

Tara McTiernan's stories resemble twisted modern fairy tales, full of real-life magic and Grimm-like darkness. Containing three unforgettable short works, Earth and Air, like her novel Barefoot Girls, illuminates and explores the lives of women with rare eloquence, keen insight, and a sharp wit.

By the way, the last part of that description was a combination of all the wonderful reviews I've received so far for Barefoot Girls, so, no, I couldn't write something like that about myself.

Very exciting times!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hittin' the Beach - On Book Blogs!

Love the beach? Then you'll adore this week's book tour stops for Barefoot Girls

As you know, my novel definitely qualifies as a beach read (see my post whats-beach-read-anyway.html for details). As you might not know...I love the beach. One of my favorite places in the world! There is no sound more relaxing to me than the sound of waves crashing on the shore rhythmically, and I live for the feel of cool salt air washing over sun-warmed skin and the gritty tickle of sand between toes, the sight of a jaunty parade of colorful beach umbrellas lining the shore and children running and playing in the waves, the sweet childish pleasure of a sno-cone or Italian ice, and the comforting memory-filled scent of Coppertone in the air. 

This week, two book bloggers who obviously love the beach, too (as you can see if you visit their sites), are hosting virtual book blog tour events on their blogs. Be sure to check them out and get a little taste of sun and surf along with great book suggestions and many fascinating conversations in the comment sections of their posts.

Escape with a Good Book (Link: hosted me yesterday and, wow, was that a fun mini-beach-vacation-getaway! Such great comments and stories about readers' relationships with their mothers and was truly inspiring. Lori (Dollycas) is also running a giveaway of a free ebook of Barefoot Girls for the next twelve days, so if you want a chance at a copy, don't forget to enter!

Kathleen at Jersey Girl Book Reviews (Link: is hosting me this Friday and I am psyched! Her book blog is also fantastic, well-written, and very beach-themed with lots of photos and beautiful images of the shore. Can't wait to see how the event goes and hope you can drop by and join in the conversation. 

What a fun week! Now I'm really dying to go to the beach....Ash, honey? Can we? Pretty please?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Who's Talking Trash About Chick Lit?

The short answer: lots of people. And it pisses me off.

What got me thinking on this was an internet surfing session a few days ago when I stumbled on a great post on Jennifer Weiner's blog, her keynote address about blogging at a recent blogging expo. In it she talked about her battle to defend her writing and her genre: chick lit, which is also sometimes called women's contemporary fiction (though that is a more generalized term). Let's face it: chick lit is often made fun of, the words said with a sneer. But as Jen pointed out: 

"As anyone who’s taken a women’s studies class will tell you, as long as there’s a woman writing about her own life, there’s someone – sometimes a man, sometimes another woman -- to tell her that what she’s written is unworthy, unimportant, beneath notice, that it’s not real literature and not worth taking seriously."

Link the the whole post here:

 That is the issue with some people's crappy attitude about chick lit: it dismisses women, says that our silly little problems aren't important. It's insulting and the people who have to start standing up against it are women, because all too often it's a woman doing the sneering. And if we sneer at each other, aren't we validating the argument that is being made against us?

Case in point: after reading Jen's post, I Googled Jen's earlier post

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Summertime Kick-off: Barefooter Style

If there's anything the Barefoot Girls know how to do, it's how to find fun in anything with the help of a little creativity, a lot of style, and some ribald humor thrown in for good measure. But, when it comes to Mean Greens, their famous "kicks you in the pants and makes you want to dance" margarita, the fun's already in the glass, and there's no better way to celebrate the arrival of summer than to kick off your shoes, Barefooter-style, and mix up a batch for your Memorial Day festivities!'s a secret recipe. So secret and coveted, everyone on Captain's has been begging and bargaining for it to no avail for years. Per Keeley, the Queen Bee of the Barefoot Girls:

"Mean Greens were the Barefooter’s specialty – a powerful margarita made of top-shelf tequila, Grand Marnier, fresh lime juice, a dusting of lime zest, a splash of homemade lemonade for sweetness, and two secret ingredients that would go to the grave with the four women."

If you read Barefoot Girls you probably wanted the recipe, especially if you enjoy margaritas. So, how are you going to make your own? Here's a great top-shelf margarita recipe

Friday, May 4, 2012

Featured on She Who Blogs Behind the Rows!

Thrilled. That's the word that fits best. I've been featured on this excellent blog and we're hosting a giveaway (so come and get you some)!

Amanda, the "she" who blogs behind the rows in the name of this blog (images come of vast libraries that smell deliciously of old mouldering books, one of my favorite scents) is an outstanding book blogger who loves books and writes very well-written and well-thought-out reviews on them. She's a fan of writers the way I am - overjoyed to meet Anne Rice recently at the RT Convention and grabbing a photo op with her. I, too, would go numb with excitement meeting Anne, the writer of one of my favorite vampire series (and many other wonderful novels). As much as I'm a writer myself, I'm a reader first. That's where it all began and where the heart of my writing lies: in reading and being transported by stories. I only hope I can do the same for others with my own...

So, want a free copy of Barefoot Girls? Hop on over to Amanda's blog and sign up (and check out the interview while you're there if you're interested)! Here's the link:

Happy weekend!