Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thursday Talk Time : What's Hope Tarr Reading?

Let's welcome Blaze author Hope Tarr to What Are You Reading Thursday! The Pink Heart Society is shaking up Thursday Talk Time - let us know what you think. Hope is reading that book we heard so much about from everyone who made it to RWA ::

Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need by Blake Snyder

Okay, I’ll ‘fess up. I don’t like people telling me what to do. Seriously, I have what you might say an “attitude” about it. For that reason, I give most how-to books a broad berth with the exception of anything by Malcolm Gladwell and that’s partially because I dig his crazy hair.

So why is a romance writer chick reading a how-to book on screenplay writing of all things?

It has a cat in the title *and* on the cover. For those of you who know me, or have visited my Behind the Scenes: Animals in the Story section of this will make perfect sense.

Maybe just maybe I have a screenplay idea up my sleeve. I’m not just a one trick pony, you know.

Learning how to condense a story idea, its dialogue, action, and description, down to 130 pages (the maximum length for a screenplay though apparently 115 pages is better) has got to be really good discipline for writing novels, too.

I had the great pleasure of hearing Blake speak at last year’s Romance Writers of America national conference in San Francisco and how-to curmudgeon that I am he totally wowed me. Witty, engaging, and packing twenty years and counting of experience in the screenwriting and producing biz, Blake makes the steps to writing a selling screenplay or “beats” seem, if not exactly easy, logical and yes, fun. Given that the book has gone into a twelfth printing, obviously others agree.

As to the significance of saving the cat, I could tell you, but I’m not going to. You’ll simply have to read the book—or visit Blake online.

Okay, so enough about the spectacular Mr. Snyder. Anyone want to chat about my latest Blaze release, Every Breath You Take...? Heroine Alex Kendall is a microbiologist by day and a (frustrated) novelist by night--not a screenwriter but close enough. Hero Cole Whittaker is a former FBI special agent turned “bullet catcher” i.e., bodyguard. When the two meet again after five years and end up on a mission to steamy Belize, can they put the past to ahem…bed and embrace a Happily Ever After future?

Okay, enough from me. I’ll be blogging here all day, so please come on over and say hi. To sweeten the proverbial pot, I’ll be giving away three copies of my New Year’s themed Blaze, Strokes Of Midnight.

Hope Tarr is the award-winning author of a dozen historical and contemporary romance novels. Every Breath You Take…is her first book written from her new home of Manhattan where she lives with—you guessed it—her cats. To check out her blog or enter her monthly and special contests, visit her online at


  1. I need to get that book! Everyone reccomends it.

  2. Yes, Jenna you need to get Save the Cat goes to the Movies. It is absolutely fascinating. It clicked on several levels.
    I ended up getting because Anne McAlister reccomended the first one...

  3. It is an excellent book! I also was at the workshop he gave in SF. Everyone rushed out to buy the book and it had sold out! It made story structure click for me.

  4. Hi Hope,
    I've got a cat on my lap as I'm trying to type this. Congratulations on your new book. It sounds like an intense story. New York is an amazing city. I hope you and the cats have a smooth transition.

  5. Hope who is the male cover model for your Every breath you take book?

  6. I was at the talk too! LOVED HIM.

    Now hang on. Strokes of Midnight... isn't that part of a two for one in the UK... *runs off to bedside table to check book - brb* Why YES IT IS! Max is YUM! Scene in the snow? SIGH! Great minds think alike?

    My July Romance is two screenwriters working on a script... ;)

  7. LOVED STC. I don't have Goes to the Movies yet, but it's on the wish list. Michelle and Anne are terrible at increasing my amazon bill....

  8. Hi Ladies,

    Mea culpa for the late start but ah, the writer's life. Maureem you get extra points for the cat in the lap. Actually you're a better cat mother than I am. Mine are pining on the other side of the closed office door right now.

    To Natalie's question of the male cover model for Cole on EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE..., honestly girlfriend, if I have that information, do you really expect me to give him...oops, I mean it, up? ;)

    Okay, I've got half a cup of coffee under my belt and I'm ready to rock n' roll. Fire off your questions and I'll do my darndest to answer.

    Or we can all collectively gush over Blake Snyder's books, including yes the new one, SAVE THE CAT GOES TO THE MOVIES. Yep, that'll work, too.

  9. Trish, yes, you are correct. The way Harlequin works its category lines, at least Blaze, is that the company releases the book as a stand-alone here in the ole US of A. At some opints, months down the line, it has a second incarnation overseas as a two-for. So, as an author you get to build that overseas audience, too, which is great.

    And then there are the foreign language editions. The first time I saw one of my books in Spanish, I felt like Danielle Steele. :)

  10. Hi Hope - was wondering if your cover art actually matches your characters or scenes? Do the Blaze artists take the time to read the specs you send?


  11. Hi Linda,

    Yes, I'm happy to report the covers really do match. Harlequin is great about this. They have an amazing process for getting author input--and then even more amazingly, they actually listen to us!

    Each author completes a *very* detailed electronic AFS--Art Fact Sheet. The AFS operates with a series of drop-down menus in part and the options listed are so detailed, its a little scary. You even get to suggest scenes for the cover, hence the waterfall depicted on EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE...

    Per describing each main character, you don't just say if the hero's eyes are, say, blue. But rather, are they aquamarine, cerulean, midnight blue...You get the picture.

    And though I probably shouldn't share this, given I'm in a naughty mood, I will. There's a category for character disabilities (I guess the legacy of those medical romances) and one of the choices is "missing testicle."

    Yes, really.

    How a solo resticle would influence cover art I couldn't say but the first time I saw that I almost suffered a disability myself: gut busted via too much laughing.

  12. OOps, I meant "testicle." Good thing I don't write medical romances.

  13. Thanks for the reply, Hope. What a hoot ! And yet with all those description tags, it's sort of hard to find tht right one sometimes, eh? Is your male broody, wounded, etc. Well, whatever you put in there, you did a great job, cuz your covers do reflect the word... BLAZE.


  14. Hi Hope,
    Congrats on the release of "Every Breath You Take..." I loved "The Haunting." When will your next historical be out?

  15. As luck would have it, I'm reading EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE! (And, I might add, loving it - the great thing about a Blaze, especially one of Hopes, is that it is like having a great, intense bite of scrumptious chocolate - small but oh, so satisfying!

    But being a Gemini with a short attention span I am also reading Diane Ackermans' A History of the Senses and a non-fiction title by Elizabeth Norman about the American nurses that were trapped on Bataan and sent to Japanese POW camps during WWII, called We Band of Angels.

    Happy reading all!

  16. I'd definately buy a book with a precarious cat on the cover. I'm firmly in novelist mode right now and I know my process couldn't be more different than the plays I've published in the past. Screenwriting I've just never had the guts for, but I'm warming to the idea. I'll definately have to pick up this book, thanks for the feature. Great post and congratulations on your latest releases!

  17. Hi Jane,

    I love these kinds of questions, I do! Thank you for asking. My next historical will be another Blaze for Harlequin, the sequel to BOUND TO PLEASE. The book picks up where BUND left off, namely with Ewan's twin brother, Callum, and Alys, Brianna's handmaiden, falling in love.

    O' course you know what 'they' say about the course of true love...

    I'm writing the book "as we speak" (well, more or less) and having loads o' fun cooking up mischief for the love birds to work through.

    As yet untitled, it will be out in December, so think mistletoe, toasty fires, and other yummy holiday goodness.

  18. Thanks, Leanna Renee.

    Everyone, Leanna's first book, THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER, will be out from Dorchester this September. I believe she's billing it as Victorian ghostbusters. It's simply delicious.

  19. Lise, your reading schedule has my Libran head spinning. I never realized how boringly linear I am until now. :) Seriously, I can read one novel and one nonfiction (usually something related to research for a work-in-progress) and that's about it. Wow!

  20. Hope,

    Congrats on your new release. It sounds awesome. If I ever wrote a screenplay I would want Clint Eastwood to direct and produce it.

  21. I totally feel you on that one, Sage. My fantasy scenario goes something like this:

    ((phone ringing))

    Clint picks up: Yeah?

    HOPE: Clint, baby, have I got the screen play for you!

    CLINT: Who the (expletive) is this?

    HOPE: Never you mind that now. You don't know me yet but you will. Oh, you will.

    CLINT: I'm hanging up...

    HOPE: No, really, I mean it. This screenplay I wrote's got something for everyone--sex, violence, sex, paranormal elements, more sex, this time among the paranormals, all with an upbeat, family-friendly message. I'll have my people send it to your people ASAP--and no, you don't have to bother thanking me. It's my pleasure.

    CLINT: What the...

    HOPE (smiling broadly): Clint, baby, it's going to...make your day.

  22. So, how'd I do in my screenwriting demo debut? Pretty impressive, huh?

    Blake's book can't claim all the credit. I do watch a lot of ENTOURAGE. ;)

  23. So, how'd I do in my screenwriting demo debut? Pretty impressive, huh?

    Blake's book can't claim all the credit. I do watch a lot of ENTOURAGE.

  24. At the moment, I'am reading Stephinie Bond's Watch and Learn Yum Yum

  25. Hi Hope,
    Congratulations on the release of Every Breath You Take... It sounds like an awesome book. I am so happy to read that you are writing a sequel to Bound To Please. I cannot wait to read it and see what you have in store for Callum and Alys.

  26. Thanks, Raven. I'm actually reading through BOUND TO PLEASE to refresh my memory. It's a little weird because I don't usually read my own work once its published. But this book is going to be a lot of fun to write. For one thing, I get to show Ewan and Brianna as a happily married couple. They're expecting, btw. :)

    As a writer, you tend to fall in love with your characters and so its nice to revisit them once in a while.

  27. Hi Rane,

    Thanks for stopping by to post. Anything by Stephanie B is a good pick in my book (so to speak).

  28. Congratulations on the release of Every Breath You Take.
    Wow, Strokes of Midnight sounds like an awesome read and intriquing.

  29. I just received Emma Holly's 'All U Can Eat' but haven't started reading it.

  30. Thanks, Robyn. I had a lot of fun writing STROKES OF MIDNIGHT, I did. The heroine, Becky, is a romance novelist and bit of an updated Kathleen Turner from "Romancing the Stone." In point, my original title, which was definitely not Blaze-y enough, was "Romancing Becky Stone."

  31. Contest Winners...

    My three contest winners are Maureen, Linda T-S, and Sage B.
    To recap, the prize is a signed copy of my New Year's themed Blaze, STROKES OF MIDNIGHT, and a coverflat keepsake for my single-title historical, UNTAMED.

    Ladies, please email your mailing address information to me at, and I'll get your prize packages out ASAP.

    Again, thanks for hanging out with me last Thursday--it was fun!--and for all the great questions and comments.

    Happy Reading,