Author on the Couch: Tamara Lush, Second Session
Today I’m conducting a session with…Tamara Lush!
Tamara is giving away a paperback copy of The Story Series.
Just comment and share this post to be entered into the giveaway! Feel free to use the handy-dandy click-to-tweet links to share it quickly.
~ First things first, if you missed Tamara Lush’s first session you can take a quick look at it HERE.Win a print copy of the Story Series by Tamara Lush @TamaraLush @abbieroads Click To Tweet
Me: Have there been any big changes in your life since our last session—good or bad? Tell us about them.
Tamara: Thank you for having me back for a second session. The biggest change is that I self-published a five-episode serial novel. The series is called Tell Me a Story, and it’s the tale of a bookstore owner and a billionaire who meet at a literary event in Florida. I released the first episode, Tell Me a Story, in January, and the rest of the episodes over the summer. The print book of the complete series will be released November 14.
The book is much different from my first two novels that were published by Boroughs. The Story Series is about more adult characters — Emma, the heroine is 33 and the hero, Caleb, is 40 – and it’s written in first person. I like to say that the genre is erotic chick lit. It was exciting to write and even more exciting to see how readers have responded to the book.
On the nonfiction side, I covered some huge news events this year as a journalist for The Associated Press. The Pulse shooting in Orlando, a few minor hurricanes and the election. It’s been a busy year and not a particularly uplifting one.
Personally, probably the most amazing thing that happened since we last chatted is that my husband and I took a vacation to Iceland. We relaxed in natural hot springs, saw wild Icelandic ponies and hiked to a post-apocalyptic plane crash site. The entire country was breathtaking and I think about it every day.
Me: Oh, wow! Natural hot springs, wild Icelandic ponies, a post-apocalyptic plane crash… Sounds amazing!
If you had to pick a mental disorder to have for only one day (purely for writer research purposes), which one would you choose? Why?
Tamara: During the first session on your couch, I read this question and hesitated whether to answer.
I have had panic attacks for much of my life, beginning when I was 13. I’m 45 now.
As a teen, I suffered from debilitating attacks that would make me miss school out of sheer terror. Unexplained fear. It made no sense, which was why the episodes were so unsettling. My heart would race and I’d breathe hard and I was convinced I was going crazy. And the fear of having another panic attack was almost as awful as actually having one. It’s difficult to describe the feeling of a panic attack, but the best I can do is a single phrase: a flash of unreality.
Therapy, medication and time have helped.
Over the years, the panic attacks continued to crop up, but I’m pleased to say they happen less often and I’m able to deal with them a lot better now that I’m older.
I’m no longer on medication and have learned the importance of self-care. Good sleep habits, exercise and yoga have all helped in my journey to calm my mind. I recognize that certain things trigger me, such as exhaustion, extreme stress and, oddly, fluorescent lights.
Keeping my life as simple as possible has provided comfort.
The other thing that helped me immensely was studying Buddhism and Buddhist scripture.
Me: Panic attacks are scary. I think the reason they are so awful is because they manifest both mentally and physically. That physical component often leads people to truly feel like they are dying or at the very least having a heart attack–both frightening prospects.
What causes stress in your writing life? Why?
Tamara: Writing doesn’t cause me stress. It’s one of my stress-busting tactics. Because I write about terrible things in my day job, I enjoy being able to create fairy tale-like situations for my characters.
Abbie, I think you mentioned on Facebook that you take some of the darkness from your own job and put it on to the page. I do just the opposite, to some degree. With the exception of my first book, Hot Shade (a romantic suspense), I write about purely emotional situations and modern-day fairy tales. I avoid violence and anything dark or gory. I always cheer when a reader says my book is “angst free.” I really just want to give readers sexy book candy so they can escape from reality for a little while.Writing doesn’t cause me stress. It’s one of my stress-busting tactics. @TamaraLush #amwriting Click To Tweet
Me: I’m like you… Writing is part of my sanity maintenance program!
How do you deal with rejection or bad reviews? What advice can you give others?
Tamara: My advice for bad reviews: don’t respond. As much as you want to, it’s never productive and will always make the writer look petty.
As far as rejection, all I can say is that it happens to everyone. It’s something every writer goes through, regardless of genre, age or talent level. Once you accept that it’s part of the process, like opening your computer, drinking coffee or using a dictionary, then it’s a lot easier to handle.
So much rejection isn’t personal. Always remember that.My advice for bad reviews: don’t respond. @TamaraLush #amwriting Click To Tweet ...rejection isn’t personal. Always remember that. @TamaraLush #amwriting Click To Tweet
Me: Your advice of not responding to a bad review is spot on! But that sure is hard sometimes! I had a terrible review from a major publication where they listed things they hated about my book… Things that weren’t even in my book! But I kept my mouth shut and privately vented to my critique partner.
What do you collect? Why? What personal meaning does this item have for you?
Tamara: I’m actually an anti-collector, an anti-hoarder.
For one thing, we live in a small house with only two closets. There just isn’t much space to store or collect things!
I have a strong aversion to clutter. If I could live in a dream home, it would be one of those all-white, minimalist modern structures with just a sofa and a flower in a single vase. But I am married and we have two dogs, so our home resembles more of a puppy kindergarten, which is wonderful and fun.
Books are probably the only things I collect, and even then, I keep most of my fiction on my Kindle. The nonfiction, like cookbooks, spiritual books and my mother’s first editions from Hemingway, London and Faulkner are my most prized treasures.
Other than that, everything else is fair game for the Goodwill or trash. At one point, I got rid of so much stuff that my husband told me that he wanted to see what was headed to the charity bin before I carted it away.
I’m entirely unsentimental about stuff.
Me: I’m totally with you! I have a rule in my house. If it hasn’t been worn or used in a year it goes to charity. The only exception is my husband’s power tools!
Tell me about your upcoming erotic romance, Tell Me A Story.
Emma, a free-spirited bookstore owner in Orlando, keeps her business afloat with innovative ideas. Her most popular evening event is Story Brothel, where customers can pay writers to read aloud to them in a story-time for two, complete with cocktails. Despite the name, the event is usually tame. But things take a steamy turn when a handsome, urbane businessman hires Emma for a session in a private cabana. Daringly, she shares with him a reading of her erotica. Soon both of them are feeling the effects … and Emma’s wondering what kind of lover is underneath his expensive suit.
Caleb may be a billionaire real estate mogul, but he’s never been captivated by a woman as he is by the lovely, quirky Emma. Her rockabilly vintage dresses make him long to strip them off and do very wicked things to her. And her refusal to share her personal life only makes him more curious.
Soon the couple is spending every available moment together. But Emma’s building is in danger of being razed out from under her bookstore … and worse, Caleb may be behind her problems. Can she trust him with her life as she does with her body? Or will the prickly walls built during her harsh past keep them apart?
Me: Share with us a favorite paragraph or two from Tell Me A Story.
Dr. Santamaria turned to me. “Emma, what would you like to say? Would you say that’s accurate? How would you characterize your relationship before he left?”
I babbled and waved my hands around as I spoke, something I always did when I was nervous. “Our relationship was pretty perfect. We had an immediate connection from the second we met. And that connection was unbroken until…well, until now. I mean, we’d have little squabbles, about him working too much or expecting me or the housekeeper to pick up his stuff. He likes the house a certain way, I hate to clean. Normal stuff. But everything else between us was incredible. We’re soul mates.”
I caught him staring at me, and my heart shrank. Why couldn’t I read his expressions any longer? I quickly added, “We were soul mates. I’m hoping we still are. I don’t know anything anymore. I’ve been pretty depressed for months. Really depressed, my best friend says.”
Caleb looked at me with something akin to concern, and in his eyes, I saw a flash of the man I used to know. Decisive. Caring. Worried about me.
Caleb held up his index finger. “In my job as CEO of the King Group, I rely on facts and results. If something’s going well, if something’s profitable, we don’t tinker with it. We stay the course. Apparently at one time, I loved a woman and was happier than I’d ever been. And that woman was Emma. So I’d like to see how I can get back to that place. That’s what makes sense to me now.”
“I want us to be what we were,” I cried.
Dr. Santamaria interjected gently. “It’s obvious that Emma still has those feelings for you and is willing to try to work things out. So you’re both motivated, which is excellent. Many of my clients who come in, one or both of the parties aren’t particularly motivated to make the relationship a success.”
“I’ll bet you probably get more court-ordered clients than ones who lost their memories from malaria medication,” Caleb said dryly. I giggled through my tears.
Abbie Roads writes dark emotional novels featuring damaged characters, but always gives her hero and heroine a happy ending… after torturing them for three hundred pages. Her first novel RACE THE DARKNESS is available now!
HUNT THE DAWN is available for pre-order now.