Author on the Couch: Tara Harlow

This week’s Author on the Couch is…

Tara Harlow



Tara is giving away a $10 Amazon Gift card! Be sure to enter below!


Me: Tell me about an experience that had a profound impact on your life.

Tara: Having my first child. Not only did I have the pressure of taking care of this little human, but my husband also went back to school. He had to get a third shift job at the hospital so he would have time for classes and clinicals during the day (without sleeping). We never saw each other. I had a terrible time with depression and my husband and I fought every time we had ten minutes together. I felt so alone. Writing became my therapy. Slowly I pulled myself out of that dark pit. My writing turned into this promise to my son. If you really want to do something then don’t let anything hold you back, including yourself. I’d always wanted to write, but have really bad self-esteem. It kept me from thinking I could. Suddenly I had this little person and I wanted him to see me as more. I wanted him to see me as stronger than I was. I don’t want either of my children (now I have two sons) to think they aren’t good enough to go after their dreams. I also want to show them things don’t always come easy, but it is so worth the hard work.

Enter to #win a $10 #Amazon Gift Card from @TaraHarlow. #AmWriting #AmReading Click To Tweet

Me: What personality trait of yours helps you most as an author?

Tara: Optimism. It’s weird because I can go really deep into depression. I’ve been in some very scary, dark places in my head. But I’ve come out as a silver lining type of girl. It’s what pushes me forward. I think with writing you need to keep that hope close to your heart. I hope, so hard, to be published one day, lol!

If you really want to do something then don’t let anything hold you back, including yourself. @TaraHarlow #AmWriting #AuthorontheCouch Click To Tweet

Me: What personality trait of yours hinders you most as an author?

Tara: Self-doubt. I’ve spent my whole life doubting my abilities to do anything. It’s been crippling. And kept me away from following other dreams. It’s the cruel voice that sneaks in. And with writing, it’s always there. But I’ve worked really hard on muting that voice and learning to trust myself and keep working hard.

I think with writing you need to keep hope close to your heart. @TaraHarlow #AmWriting #AuthorontheCouch Click To Tweet

Me: What was your high point as a writer—a time when you were happiest, on cloud nine, flying high? What happened?

Tara: This summer my story Risking Riley won the Rosemary. It was surreal. I had a nightmare, shortly after. In my nightmare some guy from the gym I workout in took the award. Everyone said it really belongs to him I wasn’t supposed to win it. So even with this amazing achievement, I guess deep down that self-doubt never goes away. Imposter Syndrome…?


Me: What was your low point as a writer—a time when questioned your path, a time when you felt really crappy about your writing? What happened? How did you get over it?

Tara: I’ve had more than a few. This journey really keeps you on a rollercoaster, doesn’t it? The crappy writing moment happens almost every other day. Luckily it gets mixed in with a few good days.

I’d have to say the lowest was about 3 years ago. Right after I joined RWA. I just completed my second full-length MS, a little over 120,000 words (yeah, still learning, lol). I felt really proud for finishing a deep, heartfelt story. I met this girl on twitter who offered to critique it for me. No one had ever read anything I’d written before. Well, I get it back, on my birthday, and was so excited to hear all these great things about my writing… You know where this is going. It took months for me to write again. I was paralyzed by that plaguing self-doubt. But for the first time, I wasn’t going to quit on myself. I realized I needed to learn a few things (a lot of–few things). So I started taking RWA classes. Lots and lots of online classes. If my library hosts a free workshop on writing, I’m there. (Check your libraries!!!! They are an amazing resource.) My writing-self lives for my monthly NEORWA chapter meetings. I need the constant refresh of being around other people who know what all these steps feel like. I just told myself this is my dream (with some expletives in the statement) and I am not giving up. And since I’m not giving up then I’m just going to have to WORK REALLY HARD. I went back to that manuscript a couple months ago. (Yeah, it took almost 3 years for me to even look through what she said again.) I’ve learned tons since. And you know what?  Most of her criticisms are constructive and correct. It was hard, but that moment was the turning point for me. I’m glad I got the kick right out of the gate because she set me on the path to being a stronger writer and a stronger person. And in this biz, you need to grow that extra skin (or giant shell) to keep your soul protected and your voice authentic.

In this biz, keep your soul protected and your voice authentic. @TaraHarlow #AmWriting #AuthorontheCouch Click To Tweet

Me: How did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Tara: I’ve always wanted to write. When I was 10 my aunt bought me a typewriter for my birthday. I wrote Civil War stories in the vein of North and South and Gone with the Wind. As I got older I moved on to poetry and short stories to get through math class. In high school, I signed up for a creative writing class, because I wished so hard I could be a legitimate writer. My bad self-esteem eventually stepped in. I lasted one month before dropping it. Right at the time, we had to stand and share our stories with the class. I tried again in college. The dream still there, still gnawing on my brain. I only lasted a week before we had to share and I ran away.


Me: What’s your life motto? Why does that motto speak to you?

Tara: I always quote Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds: “’Cause every little thing gonna be alright.” It’s the optimism. I want my kids to understand darkness doesn’t last forever.


Me: What do you collect? Why? What personal meaning does this item have for you?

Tara: Catwoman. But the one from the 90s Batman Animated Series none of that Halley Berry mess, lol. I have animation cells; statues, dolls, a cookie jar, coasters and a whole lot more. I even have a tattoo of her. Catwoman and Batman have always been one of my favorite not-exactly-a-couple couples. I love what gray characters they are. Good, bad, all mixed up. And she’s badass. It’s total nostalgia for me. Takes me right back to the 90s when my boyfriend (husband) and I would have to hunt everywhere to find stuff, pre-internet kids. Before all the things you loved were only a click away. 


Me: Tell me about your New Adult Romance Risking Riley.



Riley O’Connor worked hard to get into nursing school, but her brother might derail her plans for a better life when she gets mixed-up in his biggest scheme yet. Between the Mafia guys and his Mixed Martial Arts gym thinking he stole money from them, Riley knows her brother’s life is at stake and does the only thing she can—accepts help from his rival at another gym. And the unexpected attraction between them only complicates things.

Mixed Martial Artist Mikhail Sokolov likes to keep life simple, winning fights and women who know not to expect more from him than one night of fun. A family tragedy taught him early on life’s too short to make long-term plans. But he can’t turn his back on a girl in trouble, especially when he knows the kind of trouble her brother gets into. Stepping into the role of Riley’s protector puts Mikhail on a path more dangerous than he imagined. The scheduled fight for his life he can handle, the part where he might lose his heart is a harder risk to take.


Me: Share with us a favorite excerpt from Risking Riley. Why do you love this excerpt?

Tara: This is the point where my heroine Riley is running away from Mixed Martial Arts fighters from her brother’s gym who are not very happy with her. And my hero Mikhail happens upon the scene. He’s a fighter from a competing gym. Their story was just so fun to write. Throughout the whole book, I kind of always feel like Riley is eye-rolling Mikhail. But the eye-roll you give that’s mixed with a smile because whatever it is, it’s kind of endearing. You know that here he goes again look. Or maybe that’s just me with my husband 😉  

I take off again. My lungs are on fire, but I keep going because I can loose them. When I reach the crowd I’ll be safe. I have to be safe.

So close. I’m almost there. Almost safe.

Until he steps drunkenly out of the bar and straight into my path, a girl under each arm. Hitting the hard wall of muscles steals the last of my breath. I don’t have enough to tell him to move. Get out of my way. I’m losing my freedom.

Mikhail Sokolov lets go of his girls and grabs my upper arms to steady me from our collision. Heat burns through my shirt, scorching my skin, shooting right to my racing heart.

Of all the different ways I fantasized about being close to him, this scenario never came up.

Thanks, Newton. I knew I never liked physics.

“Hello, Solnyshko.” And of course he says something to me in Russian I’m going to have to Google later. “Looks like you could use some help, darling.”

I’m screwed.

Totally and utterly screwed.

Last thing I need is a fighter from Endgame Mixed Martial Arts involved in Kieran’s mess. And if one were, I would never want it to be the vain, egocentric, player. No matter how beautiful he is. How talented he is in the ring. Or how many fights of his I’ve secretly watched.

Why did I think staying in my dorm on a Saturday night would be lame?


You can find Tara here:





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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.





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