New Fall Promotion!

On Friday, September 18th
The Love of Gods
will be discounted to

$ .99 (Ebook)

This special price will continue until Oct. 31st –

If you’ve yet to try this Paranormal Romance series, now is the time. Book 1, The Love of Gods, is the perfect introduction to a complex and oftentimes dangerous world known as the Pale. Follow the exiled god, Lugos, as he solves the mystery surrounding a prominent witch’s death and uncovers the truth behind a rumored shifter-plot. Navigating the various supernatural communities and their politics is always tricky. But this time, Lugos will have to do it while protecting the woman he loves.

The Love of Gods is a 2020 Georgia Independent Author Award Finalist and received Literary Titan’s Silver Book Award in 2019.

Promotion starts Sept. 18th!

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/mZByNy

Where to Start: Sharing Tips for Self-Publishing (Formating)

I’m back! The creative block I was dealing with is gone and I’m back to working on my next book. I’m not entirely sure where this new avenue of inspiration will lead me, but it doesn’t matter. Eventually, everything will become clear in time.

And blind faith in my storytelling abilities kind of sums up what this entire self-publishing journey has been for me. Over the past ten years, I have wandered down paths that didn’t work and ones that did. My sales have been fabulous and sometimes dismal. But I kept going. I kept learning. I kept searching for new ways to move forward.

Eight books and counting!

Exactly how much I’ve learned about the self-publishing industry astounds me. I now have writers coming to me for advice on how to publish their books. What are the steps? Where do I start? There are just so many questions! I talk with them or exchange emails and I’m always reminded of how overwhelming the process can seem the first time around.

My Marketing page gives all sorts of advice and tips for after the book is published, but it doesn’t address any of the steps indie authors need to tackle before they publish. Today I’d like to begin a series of posts that might help. And yes, do your own homework. Goggle ‘how do I self-publish my book’ and read everything you can find on the subject. I just want to add to the conversation and share how I publish my books in the hope that it will help new authors in their own journey.

Where to start: Formating the Interior

Okay, you have written a book and you’ve opted to go the self-publishing route. Where do you start?

(My personal formatting notes are at the end of this list)

Photo by Romain V on Unsplash
  1. First, make sure your book is edited! If it is, then promise yourself you aren’t going to go back a year from now and tinker with it again. This is the final-final drop-dead last version of your print book. This promise to yourself matters. It matters because you have to determine how many pages the book will be. The number of pages and the overall size of the book will determine its print cost. (You can easily make corrections and additions to an ebook format, but print is a different animal altogether.) So have a hard talk with yourself and then no more massaging the prose.
  2. I publish my print books through Amazon KDP. (Back in the day, it used to be called Createspace.) Once you create an account, you can dive into all the information Amazon provides writers on standard book sizes, formating tips, cover specs, and what file type your book should be in when you submit it to Amazon. Read everything they have, and take notes.
  3. Decide on your overall book size, and keep it a standard size. Is your book a 5.25 x 8 or is it a 6×9? Go to your own bookshelf and study the different sizes. Hold them in your hands. If you’ve written a 50k book and don’t want the paperback to look like a chatbook, you’re probably going to pick a smaller overall size. If you’ve written a 200K doorstop, go with a larger overall book size.
  4. After you’ve decided on your book size then go back to your manuscript and change the overall page size to match the book dimensions you’ve chosen. At this point, your document might still be double-spaced and in Times New Roman. First, hit Ctrl-A and change the entire book to single-spaced and to a font Amazon suggests. Novels are single-spaced. If you don’t believe me, go back to your bookshelf and crack open several traditionally published books. No double spacing there! Okay, now you have a rough idea of how many pages your book will be. Do you want to change the overall book size from your first choice? If so, do it now. (A 300-page book will typically cost you more to print than a 250-page book. My books are just under 300 pages and are approximately 87k – 90k word count.)
  5. Book size determined…then the next step is to set your margins and format your text so it looks like a book. Consistency is important here. If you are going to center your Chapter Headings then do so throughout the book. Remember those notes you took while researching what Amazon suggested? Grab those and write down what your margins will be, your heading text size, pick a text font for the body and headings, the number of lines between headings and the top of the page, the line-spacing between the heading and the first line of prose, the amount of indent each first-sentence of each paragraph will receive. Write all of it down so you can refer back to your plan. You want the book’s formatting to remains the same throughout the book.
  6. Once the book is formated to this degree, look at it again. Are you happy with the font you’ve chosen? Go back and grab a few novels from your bookshelf to compare to your screen. (Make sure you set your view to 100% so you are comparing apples to apples.) Amazon suggests several different fonts for your print book. I like Perpetua although it’s not on their list. Some fonts are inherently larger than others. And some are easier on the eyes. Now is the time to decide what you like. What do you find to be the most readable?
  7. Good, all those decisions have been made and implemented. Now you think you have a page final count. But wait! Not quite yet. Time to deal with the Title page, copyright page, dedication page, any prologue or beginning quote, table of contents if you want one, about the author page (usually at the end of the book), previous credits/books published, or added promotional pages and social media links placed at the end of your book. That’s a lot of extra pages to add. Add those. Make sure you refer back to your bookshelf to see how those pages were handled by other authors.
  8. Almost there! Okay, now zoom out so that you can view on your computer screen 4-6 pages of your book at a time. This will give you a better idea of how a reader will experience your book. With mirrored-margins you will see that your title page is first (that’s what I call a facing page. It will appear on the right side when the book is held in your hands. The next page will be the back of your title page (left). This might be your copyright page. Then the facing page (right) is probably your dedication page. The back of the dedication page (left), might be a quote. If this seems crowded, then perhaps you need to add a blank page. Go back to your bookshelves and compare books. Most have a blank page inserted here and there so that there is a little breathing room between all this information. What you want is for your first chapter to start on a facing-page (right). Whether you treat all your chapters this way is up to you, but Chapter 1 should always start on the right.

    I know this can get complicated so here is an example from an early formatting effort with my poetry book. (Releasing in January of 2021.) Five-page view to make this more understandable.

    The title page is a facing-page (right-side when the book is open). The copyright page is the backside of the title page (left when you’ve turned the page and the book is open). The dedication page is a facing-page (on the right and directly across from the dedication page when the book is open). The message to the reader is behind the dedication page (left when the page is turned) and will appear directly across from A Writer’s Prayer. The Introduction begins on the back of the Writer’s Prayer. This way when the book is open the reader can view the introduction in its entirety. The same will apply to the table of contents. What you don’t see in this screenshot is the Grayscale Image will be on the left and the section title will be seen on the right (next page). Then I inserted a blank page (left and backside of the section title page) so that the first poem is viewed on a facing-page (right). And so on… throughout the entire book.

  9. Now that you’ve got all your extra pages inserted into your book and you’ve worked out the section breaks so that only the body of the book shows page numbers, you’re set! You now know the total number of pages your book will have. Amazon KDP has a tool that will give you the cost per book at this point. They can also provide you with a cover template that includes the printable space, spine, and bleed dimensions for your cover. If you aren’t good at graphic design, hire a cover designer and give them this information. Amazon will require a PDF for your cover file. You can choose gloss or matte finish when you enter the book’s general information into their forms.
  10. As for the interior. Save your Word document as a PDF. Embed any non-standard fonts. Now view the PDF in a PDF Reader just to make sure there aren’t any weird anomalies like added pages from hidden format problems you missed. If there are, go back into the word document and find them. Then resave and recheck. The interior of the book will look exactly like your PDF file. If there is a formating mistake after printing, it’s your fault.

My book formatting notes look like this: (applies to all my novels)

Book overall size: 5.25 x 8

Mirrored Margins .4 top, .4 bottom, .5 outside, .75 inside (gutter)

Centered and Bold all Headings: Chapter and all Titles

Chapter headings: 12.5 pt. – no line-spacing from the top of page

Title: 16 pt. 3 lines down from the top of page

Indent first line of prose/paragraph: .24

Body Text: Justified

Text font: Perpetua 12.5 pt. (all but Book Title which is Viner Hand ITC)

Spacing between paragraphs: .0

spacing between lines: .0 (Microsoft Word will automatically make it .8 if you don’t check this in your Paragraph formatting menu)

Page numbers: outside of page

Photo by Bram Van Oost on Unsplash

That should give you plenty to work on! Next post, I’ll walk you through Amazon’s publishing process.

Until then, keep writing and learning!

Not at my Desk

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

Today is one of those days I’m not getting anything done. For the past three day’s I’ve been binge-watching a new TV show on Netflix, learning to speak Spanish from an app on my phone, and researching all the reasons I should consider making the move to veganism from vegetarianism. And why not? It’s only is a little more complicated and socially awkward for friends and family. Yeah, I know veganism is on the rise. Getting dairy substitutes isn’t all that difficult. But still, I’m not sure I’m ready to cross that rainbow bridge quite yet. My husband, bless his heart, is still getting over the day I announced I was never buying meat again. That was five years ago, and I had to backtrack almost immediately afterward. Because of him, fish makes an appearance twice a week at our house. So technically, I’m pescatarian not vegetarian. But I could be, and that’s the point.

Anyway, procrastination….

I tell myself that I can take a day off from my writing—especially this year with the pandemic. The pandemic is a good excuse for anything. Want to change your hair? Pandemic cut. Want to redecorate or work through a list of home projects? Sure, you’re at home because of the pandemic. Why not? Want to start a new business from home? Kind of a must, cause maybe your job doesn’t exist anymore.

But writing is my job and I love it. And I know why I’m procrastinating. I’m totally stuck. Not creatively—not exactly. I know where the book is ultimately going. My dilemma is I have a logistic problem that only occurs when a writer doesn’t fully understand her character’s strengths and weaknesses. Just how much can he/she take? How much will kill them or drive them mad? And then what? What will happen if they just lose their shit? How am I going to fix it later?

I know from experience that there is nothing worse than digging yourself into a plot hole that no amount of rewriting will fill. And I hate cutting multiple chapters after I’ve written them. You do it so your character can travel to the past in order to make a different choice, take a different path. Of course it can be done, but I’ll always retain the memory of the events that didn’t make it into the book because that storyline/time continuum offered no clear endings. I think having all these partial outcomes floating around in a single person’s head is what drives writers to drink—a lot. Drink a lot. Like lots. It’s also why time travel is so tricky.

So, I’m watching tv, learning Spanish phrases I might never use, making vegan-friendly grocery lists, and blogging about not writing. Maybe tomorrow my muse will show up to work and give me the answers I’m missing. I hope so. But until then….

Photo by Nikola Johnny Mirkovic on Unsplash

The Magick of Editing

(And yes, I meant to put a ‘k’ on the word magic. I’m a witch. It’s a thing we do.)

So many writers I’ve talked to hate the editing process. And for a long time, I did too. But I learned to love the benefits. I treat the task as an adventure, a game, a series of levels my work must travel through to become better. It sounds a bit silly, I know… but if you want to improve and produce your very best work, a writer has to find a way to accept the necessary time and effort it takes to edit their manuscript/ book. Having now published eight books, I’ve got a few pointers I’d like to share with any budding authors who care to listen. Here are the reasons we all dread the editing process and how I’ve learned to handle it.

Photo by Ilya Pavlov on Unsplash

Unlike the rush of discovery that occurs when creating your first draft… editing the first, second, third, and fourth effort is a slow, time-consuming, and soul-sucking endeavor. Or is it?

  • My first edit pass usually begins with a massive copy edit. That means I look for obvious plot holes while I am cutting unnecessary action and my propensity to over-explain the situation. This is where I allow Microsoft Word’s spell-check and Grammarly to help me catch hyphenated and misspelled words. There are usually tons of them.
  • The second pass I start concentrating on unnecessary words like all those extra then‘s and now‘s. A few are fine, but too many in a book sounds as if the author is thinking aloud as you read. I also try to spot the words I left out, like an a or the because I was typing so fast during the first draft stage that I couldn’t be bothered with putting every single word on the page. At this point, I also eliminate entire paragraphs that aren’t moving the plot along in any meaningful way.
  • By the third pass, I’m honing in on repeated words and phrases. I’ve broken out the thesaurus to look for more unique ways of saying something. I am also searching for imaginative words to support the emotional aspects of the story I’m telling. Why cry when you can weep. Why yell when you can bellow. Why see when you can glimpse.
  • When I get to the forth pass in a manuscript, my focus has narrowed to double-checking the appropriate word for the meaning I intended. This is where I discover I’ve correctly spelled a word but it’s the wrong word. It is very embarrassing and sometimes unintendedly funny when I find these. This callous does not have the same meaning as this callus. Shutter versus shudder. I’ve begun to keep a running list for myself because it happens far too often. Don’t forget the occasional loose verse lose. Choose and chose. It’s and its. Through, though, thought… and all those other words your bratty fingers automatically typed when you weren’t paying attention.

The editing process requires rereading. Over and over again. And again. And again. Eventually, you begin to dread the work. Sometimes.

  • This is a definite problem for me. By the second edit, I’m pretty sure my plot is weak, I’m a hack writer, everyone knows I can’t spell, and the entire book is a waste of everyone’s time. By the end of the fourth edit, I’m fairly certain I don’t suck, but I’ve stopped seeing ways to improve my novel.
  • To get me through this ordeal, I make deals with myself. Edit 2 chapters today and then go do something fun. Somedays I end up spending all day engrossed in the editing process. Somedays I can only get through one chapter before I walk away in disgust. As long as I’m making some progress, I count it as a win.
Photo by Gian Paolo Aliatis on Unsplash

Allow your book/manuscript time to sit undisturbed between edit efforts. Edit one, two, and three are fairly easy to accomplish back to back because the mistakes are obvious. That’s not true by the time you’ve read your book from beginning to end four times. Allowing distractions between the fourth, fifth, and even sixth’s edit is your friend. You might even get hit with an OMG moment!

  • I’ve definitely found this hack to be true. By the time I’ve done four complete passes, it’s time to give myself a full month or two of not even opening the document file. Without this break, there’s no way I can see the book with fresh eyes. This is when I usually get an OMG moment. An extra level of understanding I didn’t have before. It could be… OMG that’s the real reason that character reacted that way. Or it can be in the form of an inspired sentence that sums up something I had been trying but failing to say in an entire paragraph.
  • During that planned vacation from my book, I read other people’s work. I binge watch Netflix and I work on new writing projects like poetry or an entirely new book I’ve plotted. I basically do whatever I can to distance myself from the story I’ve been editing. The movie-watching helps me write realistic dialogue. The book reading keeps my narrative-voice remain sharp and flowing. Poetry helps me better understand the musicality of prose.

Your last planned edit-pass needs to be read aloud. After this pass is complete, you have to stop tinkering with the book. Really.

  • Reading aloud is my secret to catching any remaining sentences that clunk. I’m listening to how the words flow, how they sound musically. Where are the pauses, the breaths for the reader? Readers unconsciously notice when the prose of a book sounds off in some way. Prose, like poetry, should have a cadence. A rhythm that is pleasing to the eye and ear. Too many short sentences strung together sounds choppy. Jarking. Too many long sentences in a row slow the book’s pacing and bogs a reader down in comma-punctuated phrases that never seem to end.
  • Having Microsoft Word read a book aloud in its unflattering computer-generated voice will catch any last-minute mistakes that cutting and adding words during your previous edit attempts have created. The missing a or the double the the becomes apparent because the program is going to read exactly what’s typed on the page, not what your mind imagines should be there.
Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse on Unsplash

Lastly, have your polished manuscript edited by a professional after you have done everything you can as the author to improve the book’s writing.

  • Don’t skip this part and publish without having a professional’s help. I have found that turning my book over to my editor is never a waste of my money.
  • You’re a writer. You dream. You write. That’s your job. Editors edit. Editing is their job. They will approach your work differently than you do. And you need that. You need a trained eye to comb through the 50-90K words you’ve strung together. Their sole purpose is to make your book the best it can possibly be.
  • Editors know grammar rules you don’t. A good editor will know the difference between by the by and by and by. They will tell you that a British author can use the word alright, but an American author should spell it all right. And when rules and standard change, a professional editor will let you know. They will clean up the mistakes you didn’t know you’d made, and oftentimes, push you to be better.

When you get your book back from the professional…

  • It can be crushing or a not so bad experience to see all the corrections an editor thinks you should make. It all depends on the level of edit you purchased and the relationship you have with the editor. I’m lucky that after publishing so many books with the same editor, I feel comfortable with her level of expertise. I can trust her judgment and not beat myself up for not knowing what she knows. I almost always accept her suggested changes. She understands my writing style/narrative voice and doesn’t attempt to make me sound like anyone but me.
  • Never forget to do one more pass of the final draft after you’ve accepted the changes. I usually have Microsoft Word read the book to me over the span of two days as a final opportunity to catch any weirdness that might have occurred because I accepted my editor’s suggestions. Leftover formatting issues sometimes pop-up. Double the the‘s, or a misplaced or extra punctuation mark because that sentence of dialogue now ends in a period instead of a comma.
Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

Writing the first draft of any book can take as little time as a month. Editing a book from first-pass to publish-ready often takes a year or more.

This time paradigm is just something every author has to accept. Whether you choose to self-publish or traditionally publish, producing a polished manuscript takes time. Rushing this process can only harm you. Readers expect quite a lot from authors. They want to be hooked. They want to be surprised. They want to escape into a world different from their own. Crafting those unique worlds using only words takes time and dedication. It also takes a willingness to admit to your mistakes. A willingness to accept criticism. Correct what you can. And then, be willing to accept more corrections by a professional.

The goal of editing is to reach a point where the reader can no longer feel the author’s presence behind the story they’re reading. That’s the best sort of magick and well worth your time.

Updates from my Desk

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

The summer of Covid has been anything but fun. Thank goodness I have my family and characters to keep me motivated on the writing front!

Here’s the latest tidbits…

The fourth book of the Pale series is going to be delayed because my editor simply can’t get to it until the first of September. However, this has given me one more chance to improve the book’s writing and storytelling. I always do my best to give readers more than what they might expect in a romance. This book is no different. As of today, The Souls of Witches will still be released this year before Christmas. I’m shooting for mid-November. Let’s hope I can pull it off.

I just received word that the first book in the Pale series, The Love of Gods is a finalist in the romance category of the 2020 Georgia Independent Authors Award sponsored by The Southern Pen Bookshop located in Monroe, Georgia. It goes without saying that I am thrilled to be considered. I have stiff competition in Georgiana Fields, author of the Crimson series. If you haven’t checked out her books, here’s a link to her Amazon Author page. The winner will be announced at a banquet dinner on September 26th in Monroe, Georgia.

In other news…

I’m hard at work on two more books for the Pale series. They’re both coming along well. And, I almost have my poetry book pieced together and formatted for its late January 2121 release.

Poetry Collection – to be released by Feb. 1 2021

Knowing that I’ll have a book coming out at the first of the years has taken some pressure off the need to blast through the first drafts of book 5 and 6. The longer I write and produce books, the more I realize that rushing to publish is the worst mistake an author can make. It’s much better to finish a thoughtful draft and let the manuscript sit for a month or two before revisiting it. Fresh eyes are what’s needed during the rewriting stage.

You may have noticed that I’ve recently pared down my website and changed the landing page to feature the Pale novels. Each series has a single page that gives a brief blurb, shows the cover, mentions any awards, and has a buy it link. I like the clean look and this process has eliminated a slew unnecessary pages.

I had have played with the idea of setting this platform up as an eCommerce site due to COVID and the impact the pandemic has made on sales this year. After a good bit of thought and experimentation, that idea isn’t going to happen. Instead, I’m taking a middle of the road approach.

This is what I’ve done.

  1. Because my usual book signings can’t happen, I’m happy to sign a book (or books) and ship them to you if you reside in the US and you email me directly at TarrantSmith@gmail.com. I can process credit cards through Square or PayPal, the details of which I’ll cover in a private email.
  2. If you don’t want a signed paperback… I would much rather you purchase your books through places like The Southern Pen Bookshop, The Madison Artist Guild, or your favorite online book retailer. Shop locally if you can and support your neighbors. If your local bookstore does not carry my books, I am happy to provide them, even if it is only a single copy of you. Just have your bookstore email me.

At the end of last year, I went wide with my marketing. I realized that not everyone likes Amazon, nor is Amazon always an indie author’s best friend. So, all my books are widely available. Barnes and Noble’s Nook, Apple’s iBooks, Kobo, and many more. That is why when you click on a universal buy it link, you will find yourself directed to a site that gives the buyer plenty of choices.

To view all my books on Books2Read go to my Author’s page.

This is what you see….

Scroll down and you are shown the rest of my books.

Cool platform, right? I thought so. I still publish my paperbacks with Amazon, but I distribute my ebooks to all the other booksellers through Draft2Digital. Books2Read is their sister site.

Let me leave you with a request…

If you are spending part of your time reading this year, whether it’s my books or another author’s, please leave a brief review on the site that you purchased the book/ebook. It doesn’t have to long or read like a book report. All it needs to be is thoughtful and honest. If you loved it, say so. It doesn’t take much of your time, and it helps spread the word to other readers. A review is the best gift you can give an author. So give often. We all appreciate it. 🧡

Happy Happy Happy!

Literary Titan has come back with their editorial review of The Dreams of Demons. Here’s what they had to say:

The Dreams of Demons is the most unique book I’ve read this year in that it is set in modern-day, but involves gods and demons who have lived for thousands of years, so there is an ancient feel to it as well. Smith has been able to not only braid these two times into one, but the lives of mortals and gods as well, and she has done it exquisitely.

Smith gives a bit of back story here and there, but not too much that would make the reader bored if they had already read the series in its entirety.

There are only so many ways you can describe the act of love and lovemaking. But Smith has breathed new life into the classic romance genre, with steamy scenes enhanced by the raw power of a demon and a mortal who may have otherworldly blood in her. While reading you can feel the magnetism between Murmur and Gabriella. Their relationship was an enthralling escapade of emotions that I looked forward to.”

To read the entire review on their site, click here.

Readers’ Favorite is in!

The Readers’ Favorite review is in and The Dreams of Demons, book 3 in the Legends of the Pale Series, has been awarded five stars! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. Murmur is one of my most favorite characters to date and I am thrilled that readers and reviewers are enjoying The Dreams of Demons as much as I loved writing it.

If you just want the highlights, I have them here.

“Tarrant Smith’s The Dreams of Demons, while part of The Legends of the Pale Series, can be read and enjoyed as a standalone novel, as the author provides a cast of characters as well as a summation of preceding events in the story.

Smith’s characters are well-defined and complex, and the relationship between Murmur and Gabriela is thought-provoking and troubling at times. One can’t help but get involved in Gabriela’s story and wonder if becoming the possession of another vastly more powerful being is really what she wants or needs.

The plot is marvelous and filled with unpredictable beings, plots, and complications.

The Dreams of Demons: The Legends of the Pale Series is well-written and bound to please paranormal fantasy and romance fans. It’s most highly recommended.”

Jack Magnus reviewer for Readers’ Favorite

To visit their site and read the entire review, click here.

I am still waiting to here back from Literary Titan on their review, but in the meantime, Readers’ Favorite has given me a reason to put 5-star stickers on this books cover. 💖

Perspective is Everything

So much of the poetry I read is about the loss of love, the ache of new-love or wrong-love, the addiction to love, the lack of self-love, and the old favorite…unrequited love. My own perspective of seasoned-love feels a little out of step with the times. But as writers, we must write what we know.

When Defining Love, Relationships, and a Poem’s Meaning

Photo by Carolyn V on Unsplash

I wrote a poem the other day. I do that a lot lately — write poems when I should be working on my next romance book. My poetry is mainly about love, though I have penned plenty of sensual poems and my fair share of witch-related verse. However, when I went back to edit this one particular poem, Happily Ever After, it struck me as being a bit condescending. After considering what I should do, I changed a few lines and submitted the poem anyway.

It’s all a matter of perspective.

So much of the poetry I read is about the loss of love, the ache of new-love or wrong-love, the addiction to love, the lack of self-love, and the old favorite…unrequited love. My own perspective of seasoned-love feels a little out of step with the times. But as writers, we must write what we know.

I’ve been fortunate enough to love and be loved by one man for over two decades. The love we experienced at our beginning is not the same as it is today. It can’t possibly be the same. We’ve raised a child and been homeless. We’ve weathered extra-marital temptations and thoughts of walking away. There were the difficult-years of being partners in business and watching that business fail. The bankrupcies and financial recoveries, both self-inflicted and externally inflicted. Recently, my husband has been working in an entirely different country for weeks at a time and I’ve had to readjust to living alone — something I hadn’t done for over 30 years. We adjusted to having a child early in our relationship, sending that child to college, and then welcoming that grown adult back home. 

Loving each other is different now because we’re different and we have so much history between us. We’ve changed each other by staying together, by sharing a life filled to the brim with ups and downs. 

So, when I pen a poem about the nature of love, it’s from a perspective of knowing how much effort it takes to remain together over the long haul. How you have to be comfortable with the uncomfortable until you and your partner reach the next plateau. Love isn’t static. It’s always changing. There’s grief in that, but there’s also something thrilling about it too.

I didn’t understand any of this when my parents tried to dissuade me from my first marriage. I was twenty-four and no one was going to tell me I didn’t know my own mind. 

I divorced my first husband five years later after a chance meeting with my current husband. On that fateful day, I had a flash of insight. I suddenly understood what my parents (who had been married then for as long as I have been married now) had tried so hard to explain to me. You can love lots of potential partners, but there are a few perfect fits wandering the world and you owe it to yourself to find them. Once you meet each other, there will still be relationship-work to do as time passes, but the core of him and you will provide something to hold on to when the ground shifts beneath your feet. 

When my son went off to college and I was worried about what my marriage would look like once the nest was empty. Our dynamic had been three for so long I wasn’t sure if my husband and I could figure out how to be a couple again. Luckily, I received some of the very best relationship advice I’d ever gotten from a close friend in my writer’s group. She’s in her sixties, retired, and has been married far longer than myself — and, I was receptive to what she had to tell me.

She said, “Speak to each other from a place of kindness. Even when it’s hard.”

OMG! So simple and yet it’s the hardest advice I have ever implemented. But it has also been the most impactful. It has transformed all my relationships, not just my marriage. 

Approach every situation from a place of kindness and love. That doesn’t mean become a doormat for others to walk on. Setting hard limits is important with friends and with your significant other. That too is a form of love…self-love. 

So when I write…

Too often we rush to the Ever After
in our white gowns, not knowing the way.
It is in all the best of stories we are told
Happily is just assumed,
payment for our vows rendered.
And so we also lose the Ever in our After.

But the magick we seek isn’t straight forward,
and the destination is not the goal.
The secret of Happily rests in the beginnings,
in the mundane moments exchanged.
It is in the decades of holding hands
and overlooking the Prince’s discarded socks — 

It is the reward for repeating the I love yous
despite wanting to win the fight,
the righteous anger
and knowing him far far too well.
It lives in kindness that only blooms
in the straightening of each other’s crowns.

Happily Ever After cannot be reached before,
but only in the glancing behind — 
when the dust has settled and life slows
When softness is the way of living
there is no more rushing — 
and only time to relive the beginnings.

It’s because I have loved and been loved for decades by a man who adores me and has chosen to stay beside me no matter what the future brings. And I have done the same — stayed and loved. I’m not in my twenties, thirties, or forties anymore. I’ve lived through all that drama and somehow reached the other side still holding his hand. 

A seasoned-love is what I know. It has shaped me and my writing. That’s my perspective.

***** *****

Similar Love Poems I’ve published on Medium.

Touchstones
Through Love’s Lens

News from my Desk

Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash

It’s been a crazy 2020 so far. All my events were canceled because of Covid-19. But never fear, I will find a way to have an event before this year is done.

Now the News…

The third book in the Legends of the Pale Series was released on time and The Dreams of Demons is starting to see some reviews trickle in. All of them are positive thus far. I am currently running a discounted price across all ebook formats with the hope that I can gather several more reviews from readers for this book. Because… reader reviews are the best!🧡🧡🧡🧡🧡

This story kept me captivated from beginning to end. It’s a steamy romance between a demon and the only human who can see him. Add in danger and intrigue, and it’s really hard to put down. Even though there are quite a few characters, I didn’t have any trouble keeping them straight in my head. Most of them I liked enough to want to know more about… hopefully in future books! This is the first I’ve read from this author, so as soon as I finished the book, I went and bought the first two in the series. Can’t wait to read more.

Amazon Reviewer… 5 stars

I’m still waiting to hear back on the editorial reviews for The Dreams of Demons from Literary Titan and Readers’ Favorite. I’ll be sure to share them as soon as they hit my email account.

In the meantime…

The Love of Gods and The Fate of Wolves are in the running for a possible award sponsored by The Southern Pen Bookshop. The GIAY Awards is a direct response to the Georgia Writers Association’s decision to exclude self-published authors from their annual award. I have often preached about the quality and value of independently published novels. I am glad that two of my books have a chance to be recognized this year. They have both been well received by readers.

In other news…

I had the opportunity to design a cover for a good author friend of mine. Crystal Jackson‘s book of poetry will be released this summer. As she formats the interior layout of her manuscript, I’ve had the good fortune to read many of her poems and I’m eager to add this collection of poetry and poetic prose to my bookshelf.

Before I forget…

Crystal Jackson was kind enough to mention The Fate of Wolves in her list of Beach Reads and Book Reviews Perfect for a Quarantine Summer. The following is an excerpt.

The Fate of Wolves by Tarrant Smith

Think the beginning of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers meets a grown-up Twilight — if you take out the singing and the teenage love triangle. Yes, this is paranormal romance, and it perfectly combines mystery, romance, and magic for this werewolf tale like none you’ve read before. The dialogue is smart, the characters are well-developed, and something about the pack dynamics reminds me of the start of the aforementioned musical when you have one strong woman surrounded by a crowd of wild men. Expect to be enchanted yourself and to fall in love with this supernatural beach selection.

To be fair, the Legends of the Pale series start with The Love of Gods, and Smith just released the third in the series, The Dreams of Demons. However, they can be read in any order you like.

If you’d like to read her Medium post and see all her recommendations, follow the link. Medium will allow anyone three free reads before you are asked to pay a $5 subscription fee.

https://medium.com/the-partnered-pen/beach-reads-and-book-reviews-perfect-for-a-quarantine-summer-81fe65bb420

As always, thanks for checking in at The Chalkboard.

-Tarrant

Books 1, 2, and 3

Looking Back- 1 Year Ago

If Not Now…Then When Are You Going to Dream? was the very first article I published on Medium. So much has changed since then. I’ve learned what works on that platform and what doesn’t. I’ve also found my poet’s voice. With a little luck and a lot of persistence, I’ve managed to remain true to my dream. I also realized while revisiting this article that the basic message has not changed, nor has my commitment to living the life I was always meant to live. I hope by sharing this, I can give other writers the confidence and encouragement we all need in order to keep writing, to keep trying, to keep carrying on no matter the obstacles.

(Jun 24, 2019 · 4 min read)

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

*** ***

If not now…then when are you going to Dream?

A deep and growing fear has taken root in me. A lot like kudzu, it’s persuasive, persistent and unbelievably hard to entirely eradicate. You see I’m an author who recently took a leap of faith in myself. I quit my job in January to pursue writing full-time.

I was inspired to drastically alter my life for two reasons. One, I was turning fifty-two and the old cliché of I’m running out of time kept buzzing in my head. I could be dead soon. A morbid thought, I know, but there’s nothing like facing your own mortality to blast you out of a comfortable life. My second reason came in the form of Crystal Jackson. We met through my local writer’s group and have become friends. She’s younger than me by nearly twenty years. She’s single-ish and has two small children to support, and yet she’d managed to make my dream of being a full-time author happen for her. Suddenly, I had no more excuses. So, after careful planning and a year’s worth of putting every extra bit of money I could in savings, I quit my stable job with the hope that I might reestablish my online presence and begin to publish my stockpile of books.

I thought I had fought all my demons parading about as insecurities, but these last six months has shown me just how wrong I was.

This morning I checked on my savings balance, subtracted the likely cost of professionally editing my next two books then divided that number by six. The number staring back was sobering. Of course, the very next thing I did was log onto my Amazon sales page only to discover that all the money I’d allocated for promotion was not creating the impact I’d hoped.

I’m now scrutinizing my possessions. Could I sell something to buy myself more time — a few more months of precious freedom to live the life I’d always wanted? Or should I accept defeat and get my job back? Or look for a part-time job somewhere else?

Can you write books and keep a job? Most definitely yes! And most writers do. I’ve lived that paradigm for as long as I can remember. Go to work and write whenever you can — in the morning, on a day off, or over a weekend. By the time I had turned fifty years old, I had managed to self-publish four books and a handful of short stories which had done moderately well in an ever-changing publishing world. I had gone through the heartbreaking ordeal of querying agents and publishers with those first four books. The rejections had been professional, polite, and encouraging. They often reminded me that this business is very subjective. The longer I work to get my books noticed the truer this sentiment seems to be.

But let’s get back to my morning panic attack.

So there I stood, my laptop open to my sales page, and my calculator on my cell phone showing an absurdly low figure. I could feel the vines of desperation wrapping themselves around my heart, my neck, my dream.

Once I got past the basic questions of what now, I realized that I’m hardly alone in this struggle. Writers are like any other artist. We struggle to be seen, to be heard, to be understood. We write because we have to. It’s a compulsion. I understand the world and myself through the medium of storytelling. Even if I reenter the workforce, I’d still write. I’d still live part-time in the worlds I create. Those worlds and the characters that populate them are part of who I’ve become.

I’m not sharing this with you because I think I’m special. I’m not. My fears and dicey finances are far less dire than some. I’m not likely to become homeless. I’m not starving. And my personal insecurities aren’t going to keep me from writing the next book, or the next chapter, or even the next sentence. I’m sharing my morning moment of terror because I’m not special. I could be just like you. I’m going after a dream with no net because if not now — then when. When are you going to gamble on yourself?

When are you going to reach for the life you really want and not the one you stumbled into or settled on?

I’m here to tell you to go for it. No matter your age or circumstance. Even if living your dream turns out to be the length of a single summer, give it everything you’ve got. Live your authentic self and embrace your voice — the uniqueness of your soul. Someone who needs to see or hear your message will find it.

Hi, my name is Tarrant Smith and I’m a full-time author. I carry a wicked-looking machete to keep my vines of doubt and insecurities under control. If you’ve misplaced yours, don’t worry I’ll lend you mine.