I have been writing fiction for more than twelve years. It has been an exciting journey for this math-loving-dyslexic girl. I had read less than a handful of novels by the time I graduated from college and I thought I would end up in the field of science or math. But God had other plans and I wouldn't trade this journey for anything. As someone told me once, God's plans may not be easy, and they may not always make sense but they are never boring.
Represented by Wendy Lawton at Books & Such Literary Management, I am a member of ACFW and My Book Therapy. I am a 2017 Genesis winner, 2016 Genesis finalist and double semi-finalist, 2014 Genesis finalist, 2012 Genesis semi-finalist, and a 2012 Frasier bronze medalist.
In addition to my writing, I also work for My Book Therapy as a special project project manager and blogger at LearnHowToWriteAnNovel.com.
When I am not writing or working, I spend time with my amazing husband. We have been married for fifteen wonderful years and have three sweet children. In my free time, I love coffee, rock hounding with my husband and kids, and distracting myself from housework.
Q & A with Tari
What made you choose Heritage, Michigan as the setting for your new series?
Heritage is a fictional town located approximately where the town of Shelby is located. I haven’t spent a lot of time in Shelby but I did spent a lot of my childhood visiting family in Ludington and fell in love with the area. Ludington was too large for my story but when I fell in love with the Little Sable Point Lighthouse I knew it was the perfect location.
How did you become interested in historic small towns?
I grew up in the small town of Spring Arbor located in south-central Michigan. Both of my parents grew up there and I always loved pouring over old photos we have of the town. Some date back almost a hundred years. So I guess I have always had an affection for the history of Michigan’s small towns.
Now that my husband’s job has taken us across the country to live in a town where everything is modern and new, I find that I miss the character and uniqueness that each town had to offer. I miss the Victorian homes and historic architecture. So writing about it became a way of visiting my roots.
What do you love the most about writing romance?
I love the happily-ever-after endings and all the feels along the journey. But even more than that, I think that romance captures the greatest emotion in the world—Love. God is love and we are on a great romantic journey of being pursued by God.
A great romance brings the feelings of love to life on the page for us to enjoy over and over as it stirs up feeling of joy, hope, and the desire to belong. Three emotions that God promises to fulfill for us.
Do you have a favorite character in You Belong with Me?
I truly have grown to love each of them but if I had to pick a favorite it would be Luke. There is something about his loneliness and never feeling that he belongs that most everyone can identify with. He shares a lot of similarities in his personality with my husband and I loved writing the character.
What is the most important lesson you have learned while writing your first novel?
Patience. I typed the first version of this novel eight years ago. I thought after that first attempt that it would be published. But I was very wrong. So I learned more and more about craft and rewrote it over and over. But looking back, I can see how much I grew in my writing as well as my faith during that time.
Susan May Warren says, “If the journey of hasn’t changed you, then you’ve missed the point.” The journey of this novel definitely changed me and I expect every book I write to do the same.
What do you hope readers take away from your book?
That God is a God of second chances, or third chances, or however many we need. He is always loving, caring, and gentle with us. He never gives up on Luke or Hannah as they try to plow their way through life on their own. He doesn’t give up on Thomas, even though he is being an idiot for most of the book. You might say that I wrote it that way, but I wrote it that way based on the character of God we see in the Bible and how I have seen him work in my life and many friends’ lives. I hope my readers will be reminded of that love and promise that God will never give up on them.
You manage learnhowtowriteanovel.com. What is the best piece of advice you could give another first time author?
Be teachable. There is so much to learn and many new authors believe they know more than they actually do. The industry is always changing and we must continue to grow and change with it.
Two of my mentors, Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck, have hit best seller lists and won awards and yet they recognize that they are still learning and growing as authors. They strive to always make the next book better than the last. That is an honorable goal that I hope I can aspire to as well.
What are you working on next?
I am working on book two in this series. It picks up the following spring in Heritage as the town begins the process of spending the money they won from the grant, including hiring a landscape architect for the square and a new librarian for the town. We will also finally find out what the tension between Olivia and Nate is all about and there may just be a baby in store for one of our couples from You Belong with Me.
How can readers connect with you?
I am on Facebook and Instagram pretty regularly and you can always send me a message through my contact page I do my best to reply to every message personally. You can also sign up for my newsletter below. In my newsletter, I give updates about my life and what is going on in my writing and occasionally even give away books and short stories that give a bigger picture of our characters in Heritage.