Novel By Wichita Author Takes State Organization’s Top Book Prize

WICHITA, KANSAS, May 2015 – PATCHWORK FAMILY, a novel by Wichita native Bonnie Tharp, has won first place in the Kansas Professional Communicators annual competition. The book won in the Novels for Adult Readers category.

Patchwork Family_cover1PATCHWORK FAMILY, published by Bell Bridge Books, is the follow-up to Tharp’s award-winning debut, FEISTY FAMILY VALUES, published in 2010 (under the name B.D. Tharp). The book, set in Wichita’s Riverside neighborhood, is a compelling story about ordinary people handling life challenges. For cousins Annabelle and Regina, growing older is easy; handling it with grace is the hard part. And chaos ensues when Peggy, Annabelle’s eldest granddaughter, seeks answers from her absentee father and struggles with adolescence. Will the pain and love stitch them together or tear them apart?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born and raised in Kansas, Bonnie Tharp spent much of her formative years in her grandmother’s kitchen as official taste tester. Although not much of a chef herself, she enjoys good food and believes all the best discussions happen at the kitchen table.

Bonnie Tharp graduated Magna Cum Laude from Wichita State University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications, Women & Minority Studies and Fine Arts. Tharp has written for several publications, including: Active Aging, Generation Boom, Women’s Focus, the Wichita Register and East Wichita News.

A self-proclaimed book-a-holic, Tharp admits that when she’s not writing, she’s reading or watching old movies. Tharp’s books are available through bookstores and online. Check out her blog, book reviews, and novel excerpts at bdtharp.com.

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How to be a Great Writer

I don’t profess to be a GREAT writer YET, but I’m getting better at it every day. Back in September I read an interview with Stephen King about the 22 lessons he recommends to be a great writer. THANK YOU STEPHEN KING. The article in the Business Insider stimulated my imagination to the point that I wrote the following (it was kind of like a test of what I retained from the content):

G – Grammar is only for understanding

R – Read as much as possible

E – Endeavor to write every day

A – Avoid adverbs, passive voice and run on sentences

T – Tell stories about people

W – Write for yourself and don’t worry about what others think

R – Retreat from the world when you write

I – Imagination can help you create and describe clearly and vividly

T – Temper your writing with only what is necessary, info dribbles not info dumps

E – Edit, edit, edit “Kill your darlings” is what Stephen said, be balanced not egocentric about your writing

R – Resist twenty-dollar words with a dollar-word will do, don’t be pretentious

King inspires me. He writes so well, having been successful for many years. I aspire to that as well. Wish I had a first reader like his wife, Tabitha King (also an author), but I do okay with my critique group. They are a great bunch of writers with vivid imaginations, huge hearts, and good advice.

Enjoy the journey, fellow scribes!

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Life Ventures Rocks!

Do you ever wonder what you will do when you retire? There’s a great program called Life Ventures that has groups on the East and West sides of town. They’re learning programs for all ages and I had the pleasure of speaking to the East side group Oct. 28th. What a delightful group of folks came to listen and ask questions about writing family stories and my books in particular. Some came to hear me speak just because they had read my books and others were curious. I had a great time and hope they did also. East Heights United Methodist Church has a wonderful facility and I’m honored to have been asked to participate in this wonderful program. Thanks again!

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Goodreads Book Giveaway

I’m honored that over 750 people signed up to win a copy of PATCHWORK FAMILY. You are some rockin’ readers and I love you to pieces. I’m preparing the winners copies now and will be sending them out today. Thank you all for your interest.

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Storytelling, art for all generations

storytellingHave you ever heard a storyteller? I’ve met several very impressive storytellers in my time. They were dramatic, physical, and so much fun. They brought their stories to life, with props, their voices, and their body movements. Basically, that’s what oral history is all about, and how families, warriors, and religion was shared across generations. Don’t forget, minstrels and troubadours were very popular in the middle ages. Cowboys around the campfires. Scary ghost stories at camp. And parables in the Bible.

Society is so enamored of stories that we have a plethora of ways to enjoy them. Audio books. Films. eBooks. Hardback and paperback books. Television and movies. Photography, music and art. Graphic novels. Stage plays. Even advertising tells us what we should be buying. Stories are EVERYWHERE. It’s how we relate to each other and the world around us.To Kill A Mockingbird

We all have favorite stories and mediums to experience them. I love them all, really. But reading a book is more interactive for me. When I’m watching a film or TV I feel passive – like I’m absorbing the experience, but not sharing in it. When I’m in a good book I really feel like I am there in the room, or outside, and I’m a silent partner in the story. My imagination works overtime!

Some of my favorite authors have a way of putting me in the story: Dorothea Benton Frank, C. Hope Clark, Diana Gabaldon, Stephen King (just to name a few). I smell the salt of the sea or the blood on the body. I’m transported back in time or to a place where monsters live. While films give you the audio and visual experience your imagination is put on hold. They give you the experience, and it’s not the same as taking it away from a book. Don’t get me wrong, I love movies, they make me laugh, cry, and shudder. I do experience the story.

But…it’s not the same as with a book. At least, not for me.dot_frank_cover

Now is an amazing time for storytellers. They have so many lovely ways to share their stories. Publishing is easier than it has ever been with electronic and self publishers on the web.

Do you have a story you want to tell? Tell it.

Do you have a story you particularly love? Share it.

But most of all – ENJOY stories.

Consumer Reviews

With so much shopping being done online now, the consumer review is more important than ever. We miss the opportunity to chat with another shopper in the store to see what they think of the item you are considering purchasing. (Unless they have chat software, but the person on the other end is being paid to say good things about their products.)

air_mailMost web sites give you the opportunity to review and even remind you in email to review the product you purchased as well as the shipping. I purchased a cool Impressionist Coloring book from Amazon, and the box I received was totally smashed. Thankfully the contents, however, were shrink wrapped and in fine shape. (They will be told the good and the bad of it, so the next customer doesn’t receive their purchase in bad shape.)

I prefer to shop locally, but if the brand I’m looking for isn’t carried here I take my search elsewhere. Perhaps that is why I love quirky shops like Lucinda’s and Watermark Books & Cafe. The service is great and they have really fun things for sale. I also enjoy shopping at antique stores and consignment/thrift shops where you never know what treasures you might find or be able to repurpose.

As many of you know I love comfortable shoes, but they can be expensive.relax So, I watch for my favorite brands to see if they are on sale locally and online. (The shoe sales sites that have free shipping both ways are the best, because sometimes shoes just don’t fit and you have to return them and try again. I read the reviews to see if customers found them true to size or if they were durable and comfortable. )

Whenever and wherever I shop, I let people know whether I had a good (or bad) experience. Through social media. Through Customer Reviews. Through word of mouth. When we discover a great new place to eat we tell everyone we know. We humans love to share experiences, it’s story telling in its purest form. That’s a good thing and has probably gone on since the Neanderthal Grug  warned his mate not to go near the cave where the neighborhood sabor tooth tiger slept. (Warning! See there is value in letting people know your experience?)

Keep in mind, though, if it’s not dangerous – your opinion is just that – one person’s opinion. There’s no need to get nasty, just say I didn’t like it because… or I liked it a lot because… Let others form their own opinions, and be kind enough not to blame the clerk at the clothing store for your bad day. We all have them, so be responsible and courteous when leaving your review or comments. It’s called “constructive criticism.” Make your reviews count!

 

No free lunches

Folks, there really is no such thing as a free lunch.  But I have to admit I love discounts, coupons, and sales.  If I feel as though I’m getting something extra I am that much happier with my acquisition.  I wouldn’t have nearly as many great books in my library if I hadn’t had a coupon or got them at the used bookstore at a great price.  How does that apply to writing, you ask?  It means giving your reader more than they expect.  More twists, surprises, mystery, things that will keep them reading. Giving them a bigger helping of fun!

kids_icecreamI got a call from a friend who said, “It’s all your fault I don’t get anything done.”  She was reading Patchwork Family and was having trouble putting it down.  That’s the kind of news authors want to hear from readers. That’s how I want to feel when I’m reading, as well.

reading_lotsWhat makes the book so hard to put down? Is the character multi-layered?  Is the plot unpredictible?  Does the tension keep increasing? These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself and share the answers with the author.  Is there a surprise?  As a reader, I like plausible surprises.  Personally, I don’t like loose ends.  I must be satisfied with the resolution of the conflict, but that doesn’t mean everything is tied up with a big blue bow. It means, things make sense and feel mostly resolved. 

snoopy happy danceGive readers more than they paid for…give them a GREAT read instead of just a good one. That’s my goal as an author. One more thing Readers: Be sure and leave a review when you finish a book, good or bad – they are helpful to other readers and to the author, too.

Photo Contest on Facebook

Sunday, June 15th I announced there would be a photo contest on Facebook where readers can submit their photos of Patchwork Family wherever they find it. For example, if you see it on the shelves at a bookstore or library – photograph it and post it on FB (don’t forget to tag me so I know it’s there). If you see someone reading it – Snap that Kodak moment and share it! Have fun with it – set up a lovely end table, lamp, and cup of tea with Patchwork Family and capture the image. Below is a pic of Patchwork Family on the table at Watermark Books. Cool, huh? The deadline is next Saturday, June 21st (Summer officially begins).  See you around! Oh, and the winner gets a signed copy of the book. (I love free stuff.)

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What’s in a writer’s tool kit?

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My tool kit contains:

  • Computer (for writing, researching, and wasting time)
  • Pen & Paper (for times when I’m stuck and need to switch things around)
  • Dictionary (mostly the on-line kind, but the paper kind is close at hand)
  • Thesaurus (this is a well used item, because sometimes writer’s use one word way too many times)
  • Music (optional, of course, depending on if it becomes a distraction – no lyrics, please)
  • Comfortable chair (OH YES, a total must)
  • Lots of terrific books to read (paper, electronic, library books, used, loaned or purchased – because when you’re not writing, you should be reading!)
  • Writing friends (they understand me – excellent for bouncing ideas around, support, tissues, chocolate, sympathy, celebration partners, critiques…)
  • Imagination, Faith, Patience, and Tenacity
  • Libraries & Bookstores (great resources & you meet the best people!)
  • Doo-Dads (the toys on your desk that can stimulate humor, inspiration, focus or distraction – I have MINIONS, but they aren’t real)

What’s in your tool kit?

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Patchwork Family book cover is here…

Patchwork Family - 600x900x300Isn’t it beautiful? I’m so excited. And yes, readers, I’m using my first name instead of my initials. Pub date is the end of March. Stay tuned for events to be scheduled in my calendar. Right now I’m battling day-job demons so I have some planning to do. And don’t forget – dreams really do come true!