Services & Portfolio

I offer editing services for articles, works of fiction, and more, as well as owning Saga Event Planning, which I founded after spending over 13 years organizing conventions and other themed events.

Additionally, I have approximately seven years’ experience in Human Resources, including creating Policies and Procedures from scratch, updating existing Employee Handbooks, and more.

 

EDITING SERVICES

I have been editing everything from editorials to reviews of shows, movies, and books for many years, most especially for The Geekiary. I have also beta’d and edited works of fiction as well as self-help books for more than 5 years. Please contact me for more information about my experience or if you have interest in my editing services!

Articles
0-1,000 Words: $25
1,001-2,500 Words: $40
2,501-5,000 Words: $50

Short Stories
Up to 10,000 Words: $100

Novelettes or Short Non-Fiction Works
10,001-20,000 Words: $150

Novellas or Similar Length Non-Fiction
20,0001-50,000 Words: $200

Novels or Lengthy Non-Fiction Works
50,001-80,000 Words: $250
80,0001-100,000 Words: $300
100,000+ Words: Please email me for more information.

EVENT PLANNING

Visit the website for Saga Event Planning, a company that I founded after spending many years organizing a fan convention, charity pub crawls, and themed parties, as well as collaborating with other students to run my University’s V-Day College Campaign in both 2003 & 2004.

HUMAN RESOURCES

While I am not licensed in Human Resources, I have both classroom and real-life experience; I am fluent in writing and editing Policies and Procedures and Employee Handbooks.
Please contact me for more information about my Human Resources services.

WRITING PORTFOLIO

BIOGRAPHY

Tara Gross is a fandom and geek culture expert, public speaker, event planner, and writer. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning. Additionally, she is co-administrator of the popular geek media website The Geekiary and co-hosts the “FEELINGS…with The Geekiary” webcast. Tara has spoken about geek culture at San Diego Comic-Con, C2E2, Dragon Con, Ohio State University, TedX Sarasota, and more. Her debut novel, The Way of Reckoning, was published in December 2014, and she is currently finishing up her second novel.

  • Professional Pen Names
    • Tara Lynne
    • T.L. Walker
  • Job Titles
    • Freelance Writer
    • Editor
    • Staff Writer
  • Social Media
    • Instagram, Twitter, & Tumblr: @ageeksaga
    • Personal Website: http://ageeksaga.com
    • LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tara-walker-gross-4bb87421
  • Experience
    • Wrote and performed a personal monologue for Longwood University’s 2004 production of The Vagina Monologues
    • Wrote and presented an original speech entitled “Self-Defined: Geeky & Proud” for TedX Sarasota, October 2014
      • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BCBp4URjbI
    • Debut novel, The Way of Reckoning by T.L. Walker, published December 2014
      • https://www.amazon.com/Way-Reckoning-T-L-Walker/dp/1532982879/
    • Second novel, How to Start Living (in the Zombie Apocalypse) by T.L. Walker, published February 2017
      • https://www.amazon.com/How-Start-Living-Zombie-Apocalypse/dp/1542657725/
    • Co-Administrator, Writer, & Editor for TheGeekiary.com
      • http://thegeekiary.com/author/tara-l

WRITING SAMPLES

SAMPLE #1

“Everybody Wants to Be a Puff: The Rise of House Hufflepuff”
Original Publication: http://wizardsandwhatnot.com/2015/12/28/everybody-wants-puff-rise-house-hufflepuff/

With Newt Scamander of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them a proud and true Hufflepuff, isn’t it time that everyone became a ‘Puff?

On a recent trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I was sporting a Hufflepuff tank top, lanyard, and Head Girl pin, and while checking out at Honeyduke’s the employee behind the counter asked, “You’re a Hufflepuff?”

“Yes,” I told her, fully expecting the usual snarky commentary about potatoes or some such nonsense…but instead her response was, “That’s a really popular house.” And no, I didn’t sense a hint of sarcasm in her voice.

My reply was automatic. “I was Hufflepuff before it was cool,” I said, and yes, I kind of expected at least a chuckle. But instead she just stared at me in confusion.

“Hipster Hufflepuff?” I hinted.

Still nothing.

At that point I gave up, flashing her a polite smile before leaving the store. But the more I’ve thought about this interaction, the more I’ve realized how right she is – House Hufflepuff is far more popular these days than it was even just a few years ago. It started out slow and steady, but lately “my” Hogwarts house has exploded onto the scene – and while the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film may play a part in that (after all, the hero is a Hufflepuff), I don’t think it’s a big one.

Probably the biggest change is the amount of time that has passed since the books – and even the movies – were released. With constant re-reads and re-watches, it’s a lot easier to understand that Gryffindor isn’t perfect and the other houses aren’t all just boring or evil.

Perhaps it’s also the simple fact that when people were younger, growing up with the series, being a Gryffindor felt exciting, or being a Slytherin felt cool and edgy, while being a Hufflepuff was decidedly less so. But we all grow up (eventually, anyway), and as we do I think that the Hufflepuff traits – fairness, hard work, loyalty, etc. – eventually seem more fulfilling, if still not as…shall we say…flashy. But we Hufflepuffs aren’t just a bunch of potatoes! (Seriously if someone shares that stupid meme with me one more time…)

Hufflepuffs may once have been considered the underdogs, and the house was certainly overlooked both in the series and the fandom. But now? We’re on the rise, and hopefully the Hufflepuff hero in Fantastic Beasts will make us proud.

SAMPLE #2

“Secrets of Comic-Con: The Things Most Attendees WILL Tell You”
Original publication: http://thegeekiary.com/secrets-of-comic-con/36202

Earlier this week, Buzzfeed posted an article about the “15 Secrets People Who Love Comic Con Will Never Tell You”. Well, I’m here to debunk that, because it’s ridiculous. Will I or anyone else ever know all of the secrets of Comic-Con? I highly doubt it. But that doesn’t mean that most people won’t share them with you – because in every case I’ve encountered, they absolutely will.

The thing is, even though being a “geek” or “nerd” no longer means you’re automatically an outcast, many geeky people – especially those who attend conventions, SDCC included – feel the same way: whether it’s your first time at Comic-Con, or your tenth, if you’re searching out answers to your questions, we’re willing to share whatever we know about these so-called “secrets of Comic-Con”. So without further ado, I bring you…

THE 15 SECRETS OF COMIC-CON THAT *MOST* ATTENDEES WILL TELL YOU

1) There are many Comic Cons. There is only ONE San Diego Comic-Con a.k.a. Comic-Con International a.k.a. Comic-Con a.k.a. SDCC. Some people think it’s the best; others, like myself, generally prefer fan-run conventions such as Dragon Con. But you really can’t compare THE Comic-Con to other “Comic Cons”, mainly because…

2) While some things remain the same, SDCC has very different elements, rules, and even guidelines that other conventions don’t hold to. For instance, they sell out. They also don’t clear panel rooms. And being an industry convention, there’s a lot of advertising and free stuff that non-industry conventions don’t feature.

3) And speaking of free stuff, you don’t even need an SDCC badge to enjoy much of what San Diego Comic-Con offers, and that’s no secret either. There are tons of offsite exhibitions and activities that don’t require a pass to Comic-Con, including the Game of Thrones Experience, the Nerdist and Geek & Sundry Conival, EW’s ConX, and more.

4) In addition to the free activities, there are plenty of outside events throughout the weekend for which you can buy tickets, including HopCon on Preview Night and NerdHQ panels throughout the weekend. But note that many of these events do sell out very quickly, so plan accordingly!

5) Now, this is very important: document your experience. Take pictures, take video, write in a journal, live tweet, post on Instagram, or just share everything on your personal Facebook. Don’t be glued to your phone, but it’s in your best interest to write down or share as much as you can. Because you’ll never remember all of it, and you won’t remember even more if you don’t record anything.

6) On another note, yes, sadly, there is a lot of “panel squatting” at SDCC, because it would probably be a security nightmare for them to clear rooms after every panel. It’s not something I personally agree with, but I understand the logic. So if you want to be in Hall H for, say, Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead on Friday, or Marvel on Saturday? Plan on getting in line no later than 6 PM the night before. It is what it is, folks, and here’s a very important tip – be respectful to the convention volunteers, the security guards, and to your fellow attendees.

7) But if you can’t get into the really “big” panels, remember that there are plenty of other awesome great things going on elsewhere. I sat in a room for several hours last year because I wanted to attend and have a good seat for the Allie Brosh panel, and as it turned out the one right before hers was for BOOM! Comics and was probably the second best panel I attended all weekend.

8) That said, here’s another harsh reality – cosplay isn’t any sort of central theme at San Diego Comic-Con. Yes, people cosplay. I’ve done it, and I’ve seen some amazing cosplayers at SDCC…but unlike many other conventions, it isn’t as prominent. I don’t bother with it anymore because there’s simply too much to do to bother with that extra time it takes to put on a costume; on average I would say that about 40% of the attendees cosplay. (Yes, I’m guessing and could be a little bit off but it definitely isn’t a hardcore cosplay convention.)

9) The thing is, the fact that this isn’t a huge cosplay-centric convention means that it’s a great place to start cosplaying. The vast majority of attendees you meet who recognize what you’re wearing will be excited to see you and want to take a picture, which isn’t something that happens at cosplay-saturated conventions.

10) But what about celebrities? Listen, if you hang out in the right places you may randomly run into some. I almost tripped over Elijah Wood at my first Comic-Con; I ran into Wilmer Valdarrama in a bar last year. That said, unless you’re really willing to search out these encounters, you’re not guaranteed to have one. I got lucky my first year when I got to meet people like Peter Beagle, Greg Nicotero, Norman Reedus, and George R.R. Martin. Just know that it’s not guaranteed to happen.

11) There’s also no point in keeping the idea of “Con Survival Gear” one of these supposed secrets of Comic-Con. When you leave your hotel, bring food like granola or protein bars, a BPA-free reusable/refillable water bottle, portable chargers if you want to keep your phone running all day, pens and a notepad just in case, preferably a pair of comfortable shoes…the list goes on and on, and I could never remember everything, but those are the beginnings of a decent SDCC survival gear pack!

12) As great as those survival gear ideas are, though, nothing is as important as The Big Three: (a) eat one solid meal each day (at least); (b) shower at least once within each 24-hour period (at least); and (c) get an AVERAGE of five hours of sleep – in a bed – each night (…at least).

13) Now, Buzzfeed was right – many times, people feel like they’ve embarrassed themselves after meeting their favorite actor, author, or other celebrity…but hey, unless you bite someone or seriously insult them, you’re doing a-okay. Most people don’t know how to react when they meet celebrities. It’s normal. It’s okay. And I think that’s where Buzzfeed was wrong – many of us are totally fine with admitting that we didn’t comport ourselves well in some of these situations, because we want fellow fans to know that they aren’t alone in their awkwardness, if it happens.

14) One thing I was seriously confused about was why one of those secrets of Comic-Con be that “at the end of the day, it just feels incredible to hang out with people…who understand you.” Are you KIDDING me? That’s something most convention goers – including myself – have been pushing for YEARS now. Yes, Comic-Con is different from every other convention. To be honest, they are all different. But in general, despite its flaws, it’s still a geek convention that brings people together. If you’d told me two years ago that I’d meet some of my closest and most respected friends because of SDCC, I probably wouldn’t believed you. But I did, and I can’t wait to return in less than 24 hours and be with those “people who understand me” once again.

15) …because at the end of the weekend, the best times I’ve had at SDCC have always been with my friends. Attend panels together, grab food together, party together at least one night, if not more. They’re the people who will truly make your Comic-Con experience magical.

SAMPLE #3

“What Star Wars Means To Me: A Love Letter”
Original Publication: http://thegeekiary.com/what-star-wars-means-to-me-a-love-letter/28567

Here’s the honest truth: I grew up in a world without Star Wars.

As in, I knew next to nothing about it. My family didn’t watch much TV and the extent of our movie-going was Disney films. It was only when they announced the re-release of the original trilogy in theaters that my dad finally said, “Wow, I love Star Wars! We have to take you to see it!” (You being my fourteen-year-old self and my two younger sisters.)

So yes, the first time I saw Episode IV was in a packed theater the weekend it re-opened as a “special edition”…but from the moment I heard those first notes of John Williams’ perfect score, I was hooked. I begged my parents to buy me the [unaltered] trilogy on VHS and then I faked being sick so that I could stay home from school and watch them all. I stayed home sick for three days and all I did was play those three movies over and over and over again. (It drove my entire family half crazy.)

I was at the mall the very next weekend – because that’s about all there was for teenagers to do in the area where I grew up – and as usual one of my first stops was the bookstore. Despite having browsed this particular store probably hundreds of times, I’d never noticed the Star Wars books. Prior to the re-release, the few that were on hand were always tucked away in the science fiction section…and somehow I’d never had family members or friends who were “into” Star Wars enough for me to give the EU novels a second glance. Or even a first glance, really. But suddenly they were front and center, and after that I spent every penny I could glean from my allowance or beg from my parents on them. (Consequently this led to me reading certain ones out of order, as I had to prioritize which ones I was purchasing each time I went to the bookstore, and there was no Wookieepedia to give me a comprehensive list of which ones to read when.)

The thing is, all of this happened at a time in my life when I was still unsure what I liked in terms of media. I loved Jurassic Park more than just about anything, but every other movie I saw fell short. And the books I’d read when I was younger – lots of children’s versions of classics (and then later the original versions of said classics) and more novels about horses than I care to think about – weren’t quite cutting it, either. But then there was Princess Leia with her blaster and Luke with his lightsaber and Han with his awesome spaceship and [seemingly] impossibly loyal best friend Chewbacca. (Admittedly I had a bit of a crush on Luke but I think it was more the initial Jedi-awe than anything else because the more I watched the original trilogy, the less attractive I found him.

Star Wars drew me in like nothing had before – even Jurassic Park. (Yes, I know, shocker!)

Princess Leia was beautiful, but that was nothing compared to how badass she was. She was an ambassador who was secretly part of a rebellion – she was brave and sassy and stood up to torture in many many forms. Luke started out naive, and yeah he was reckless…but he was brave, too, and adventurous in ways that I – a small-town girl who felt suffocated by my parents and their rules – understood all too well. And Han…well, he was the bad boy with a heart of gold (no matter how much he denied it), and he inspired loyalty. Even C3PO’s annoying realism was difficult to dislike, and RD-D2 was cheeky and a hero in his own right – and they were “just droids”! These were characters to fall in love with. (And wow, did I.)

Then there was the idea of this evil Empire and the rag tag group of rebels fighting against it, a truly epic saga in which the good guys won and lost and then won again. It was perfect in its simplicity, but that simple story combined with the otherwordly settings to transport me directly to “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”. (And as a fourteen-year-old girl that sounded a hell of a lot better than being where I was.)

Star Wars inspired me to write again – a horrible science fiction story that will never see the light of day, but one which I treasure because at that time I hadn’t written in nearly a year and these movies brought me back around to my passion.

It taught me what it was to truly love movies. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it gave me chills. It frustrated me and excited me and still to this day I can’t help but grin stupidly half the time whenever I’m watching any one of the original trilogy installments.

It gave me something to bond with my father over, a rare occurrence that of course makes it all the more meaningful.

It was something I sat my niece down to watch, something that when she asked a question about what was going on, I knew the answer. I got to watch her fall in love with it, and I’ve never felt closer to her than I did that day.

I guess none of this really says what Star Wars means to me, so here it is: it means entertainment of which I’ll never tire. It means watching and reading and learning about a story and a universe and characters that never get old. And as cliche as this sounds (especially considering that whole Skywalker thing), it means family. Not just my dad and my niece, but friends who have sat through complete Star Wars marathons with me, friends who will gather together and play original trilogy Trivial Pursuit or Monopoly with me, friends whose enthusiastic posts about Episode VII have entirely taken over my news feed. It’s something positive to bond over with others, in a world where so few things like that exist.

And on that note, I asked some fellow Geekiary staff members to share with me what Star Wars means to them, because it is, after all, different for everyone…and yet there are definite similarities.

Fellow Geekiary writer Undie Girl mused, “It’s always been difficult to explain why Star Wars is so important to me, but I think that inability to describe what it means to me probably says more than anything else. Falling in love with Star Wars the first time I realized that I was a fangirl (although I didn’t know to call it that[at the time]). Everyone around me liked Star Wars, loved it even, but it became part of who I was in a way that no one else seemed to understand. This story pushed me to a level of devotion and obsession that changed my world. And not to be fake deep or anything but I literally wouldn’t be the same without it.”

Geekiary writer Jamie said, “Star Wars was my first obsession and at the time I had no idea why. When I was a kid, there was a summer where I watched at least one of the original trilogy every day for, like, a month. It resonated with me in a way so few stories do, even now. I think it’s because it’s the ultimate blend of everything: action, comedy, romance, sci-fi… Even though there are setbacks, good always triumphs over evil, and as a kid that was something I fell hard for. Plus, my aunt was even more obsessed than me, and it was nice to have something in common that could connect us.”

Admin Angel described, “For me, Star Wars hits two major aspects of my life: geek community and film.

When it comes to geek community, I feel that Star Wars is a major defining aspect of who we are and how we’ve evolved since the 70’s. It brought us out of the shadows and into the mainstream. It created the term “blockbuster” and brought science fiction into a pop culture realm. I have friends from all aspects of life who love the films and we are unashamed in our enjoyment of it. We have custom light sabers. We run table top RPG campaigns. We cosplay. We write meta. We squee. We cry. We flail uncontrollably when when a new trailer comes out, and we are not ashamed. Star Wars is a cultural phenomenon and we are proud to be part of it.

As a film school graduate, A New Hope is my go-to for pointing out a well structured story arc and the franchise in general has become the gold standard for science fiction and space operas as a legitimate genre. I can endlessly discuss the story structure and genre impact with people who don’t identify with geek culture, which further highlights just how important it has become to people far removed from geek culture.

Star Wars has enabled me to relate to so many people and easily fosters a large diverse community in a global scale. Geek culture and the film industry, both of which I identify as being part of, would not be the same without it.”

To me, the energy and excitement surrounding Episode VII is something out of a dream; it’s something I’ve not felt in a very long time. It’s like the Force – a transcendental energy that is part of all us Star Wars fans, a truly inexplicable magic that binds us together.

I think I speak for a lot of people when I say “Please, Disney and J.J. Abrams…help us continue to feel this way. And oh yeah – please, please, please don’t screw up.”

________________________