Happy Holidays & Goodbye to 2017

First of all, I want to wish you all a wonderful holiday season. I hope that it will be a joyous and healthy time. Pay special attention to the stories being told over the dinner table; stories are our lifeblood. Listen with your feelings as well as your ears.  And be present, get out of your head and be present! Santa reading

Thinking back on 2017 it was quite eventful, although I didn’t always realize it. I started the year editing like a fiend on my first romantic suspense novel, “Your Every Move.” It was fun writing about college days in the 80’s, but having a stalker causes serious trust issues. “Your Every Move” was published in e-book in June and in print in July. It’s available in e-book everywhere and print via Amazon, Watermark Books & Cafe, and my closet. 

In case you were wondering why I didn’t blog much this year, well, there were lots of reasons. Life, mostly. You can always find me on the Author Expressions Blog the third Friday each month, however, so I hope you’ll pop over and see what this great group of authors have to say.

Sometimes we creative types have to expand our arena and dabble elsewhere. I like painting and had a blast visiting the Carriage Gallery in Newton with my friend Karen to paint Sunflowers in January. What a wonderful place to express yourselves and enjoy the artworks on display. They have classes for all ages and all levels of skill.

Because I’m not getting any younger (are any of us) my husband and I attended a retirement workshop this year at WSU. That was eye-opening, too bad we didn’t start saving sooner. We learned new ways to save and make money stretch, that’s always a good thing. 

My brother-in-law had a heart attack in February, but he is doing fine, enjoying retirement and learning to cook and count sodium. He is finding that everything has salt and it’s almost as prevalent as sugar. UGH.  We are truly blessed that he is going strong.

In March I had the pleasure of speaking to the First Thursday Bookclub about my novel, “Patchwork Family.” What a great bunch and lunch was very healthy as well as tasty. That same month I visited the Kansas Writers Association meeting, and we discussed query, synopsis and agents. That was a lively talk, I must say.

In April the Wichita Public Library at Westlink invited me to read and discuss, “The Log of the Cowboy.” OMG, what a blast. And I learned so much from the discussion. My current work-in-progress, tentative title “Finding Grace” is set in the 1890’s during the Oklahoma land rush, so the story of a trail drive across the Midwest helped to put me in the period.

I was also a part of the Watermark Literary Festival with three other authors during April. One of the folks from the cowboy discussion at the library came, brought a friend, and bought a book. What fun!

May brought another opportunity to talk about cowboys at Covenant Presbyterian Church. And yes, they were kind enough to feed me. I’m having lots of fun learning about the building of the plains area of our country, and it is fascinating.

Did you see the total eclipse in August? We did, and I must say it was an experience I will NEVER forget. In fact, I will probably become an eclipse groupie, there’s supposed to be one in Texas next year so count me in.

This fall one of my favorite aunts passed away. She had the most infectious laugh, and I loved her dearly. She was the sweetest person I know and we will all miss her.

In December a dear friend of mine, Lois Ruby and her son Jeff spoke at Watermark Books. They both have new books out, and it was so much fun to see them and hear about their writing journies. This is Jeff’s first novel “Penelope March is Melting,” and it’s been on the best seller list at Watermark for two weeks now. Go, Jeff! Lois wrote another spooky novel “The Secret Grave,” and I can’t wait to read it.

I hope you all don’t mind the chatty holiday letter and wish you all well. Let’s all read more books next year!

Bonnie (BD) Tharp

Your humble author and friend.

reading books

2017 – What will you bring?

Last year was challenging for many, but there were lots of good parts, too. Family. Friends. Good Memories. Good conversations. Good books. Good food. See, it’s not all been bad.

We have a new year upon us. How is it going so far?

With ignited enthusiasm, I’m writing and editing like crazy. Hopefully, that will translate to a new book out soon. I tried the agent search method the past six months with nibbles but no bites. So, again I will adjust my path back to the smaller, independent publishers out there. I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m going through “Every Move You Make” and doing what I hope are final edits, after sharing it with my critique group and other writing buddies, whose opinions I respect.

For those of you readers who are looking for another book in the feisty family series, I will resume working on it next. I have a good start beginning five years after “Patchwork Family” ends. The kids are growing up, Peggy has her own cafe business with Tom in the kitchen and Tillie supplying the desserts. Tad is in college and Megan is in high school and thinking college might not be what she wants. But we all know she is the most book-smart of the kids and Peggy is concerned her little sister is going on the wrong track. Oh, and did I mention Megan may be in the midst of her first crush?

That is all for later.

Let me tell you a little about “Every Move You Make, I’ll Be Watching.” Just like the song Sting sang in the 80’s, someone is watching Amanda Cook – at work, at home, at school, everywhere she goes. At eighteen she’s a bit oblivious since she has her own inner struggles with the departure of her parents, the relationships with her best friends Sarah and Andrew, as well as her first love, Mitch Roman. Even though Amanda has the adorable Great Aunt Faye to live with she feels lonely and afraid of the future. I’d better stop before I spoil the surprises in store for readers and Amanda in this New/Young Adult novel.

Sorry, I haven’t blogged much the past year. (I’ve been really busy editing and looking for an agent.) You can find writers advice from me and other talented authors on Author Expressions blog. I post there once a month. It’s a good place for writers to hang out and find support.

Readers, I hope you enjoyed the two feisty family novels I’ve published so far and will be patient while I make my next stories even better.

Good luck to us all in 2017.

November where are you?

Okay, what happened to November? It was here and now it’s gone.surprise

I looked back at the calendar to see just why and it appears to have been inordinately busy, with family visiting, holidays, and birthdays. All good things. Is it my imagination or does time go faster as you mature? I suppose scientifically it does not – but it appears to, none the less.

There’s always something that needs to be done – but do we make good choices? I confess I don’t always. Do we make time for the things that truly matter? I hope so. Some things can wait another day, like dusting and laundry. But sharing a conversation or coffee with friends are important. Make time for them.

Our children grow up, move away and have families of their own. Soon the grandchildren are grown as well. Time does not stop or slow down for any of us, no matter how much we want it to. Some days I am amazed how much time has passed in my life then I think of all things I’ve experienced and realize it’s been not only productive but incredible.

Will things slow down in December? Doubtful. Will I enjoy it? Absolutely. I’d like to repeat myself – make time for the things that matter and have a healthy, happy December.

Santa reading

Summer colds & the magic of storytelling

mature_womanI hate summer colds. When it’s raining and icy outside I anticipate I’ll get the flu or a virus, but not when it’s hot out. I don’t know why. This past weekend my hubby and I spent it sleeping, reading, eating soup, and binge watching House of Cards (Netflix). We saw a couple other great movies on HBO, too.

The book I just finished was one of JD Robb’s Death mysteries and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There’s something amazing about an author who can write so many stories about the same characters and keep bringing something new and inventive into the story. Certainly, there are always new characters and murder situations, but the main characters keep evolving and that makes the story even better. It’s set in the not so distant future, say forty years from now and much of life is the same. But getting real coffee and real meat is a challenge and only reserved for the wealthy. Pepsi comes in a tube. And while cars can elevate and fly, they don’t often so we don’t have to worry about suspending disbelief – it could happen.

Do you ever wonder why movies and television shows have exploded and there are so many channels to choose from? (Money for one, but the other is – storytelling keeps us going.) Since many channels show reruns I don’t see how they all survive, but they do, and not everyone has access to all the same stations. What makes these forms of entertainment so popular is the story. We’re captured by the actors, the scenes, the special effects, the music, the drama/comedy/adventure. We are transported into that story, maybe even flying through space on the starship Enterprise as the Romulans attack. I recently saw “Brooklyn” and I was transported to Ireland and then New York City (Brooklyn) during the 1950’s. The cars, the clothes, the music, the hairstyles, the language (love Irish accents) let me be there while I watched the story unfold.

Isn’t that the same thing we want when we read a book? We readers want to slip between the pages, into the time and place, along with the hero and antagonist, so we can experience this new world we’re reading about. I recently read “The Citadel” by Kate Mosse and I have to tell you – I wanted to be in France, but NOT during the 1940’s. The German occupation of France was horrific. Kate Mosse made the time and place come to life.

We authors want our stories to draw readers in and hold them there until the end. When it happens, it’s magical. When the moving pictures in your head get transferred accurately on the page and into the reader’s imagination – we soar with joy. We take the reader along with us and hope their experience is satisfying. Not every story will resonate with every person – but when it does – it is true magic.  One of my readers sent me a message saying she had seen my character, “Annabelle” on the street in town.  Feisty Family Values and particularly Annabelle had come to life for her. That’s what I call MAGIC. Another reader wrote me that she hated Regina in the first book but really liked her in the second. She said she was glad she wasn’t such a bitch anymore. It made me laugh and gave me a sense of pride as well. The character of Regina came to life for her.

I hope none of you out there get summer colds, but if you do – drink lots of fluids, sleep lots, read and get well soon.

Writers are Readers, too.

You’ve no doubt heard this one before, good writers – READ.  It’s true!  I write mainly women’s fiction, so I do a lot of reading in that genre.  I also read chick lit, mainstream fiction, mysteries, thrillers, romance and much more.  Check out my Goodreads.com books and you’ll see that I am a diverse reader. If there’s a book review in the paper or a magazine I have to read it and if the story sounds good, then it goes on my list of things to read.

 

man_looking_thru_binocularsWhen I find a particular author I enjoy I tend to read everything they’ve ever written, but reading debut novels is enjoyable.  Sharing any new found book treasures is a must.  Many of my friends and family like to book swap, and if we’ve gotten the book from the library we make sure and email the title and author around the group.

Occasionally films will come out about the lives of authors or based on one of my favorite books.  It’s fun to get a group of writers together to see a matinee and then get coffee and hold a discussion.  We writers have such an interesting way of viewing things.

There are lots of book clubs out there that get together and discuss their favorite stories. reading books(But, you have to read them first.)  Kansas has a statewide reading event each year that is fun to participate in.  You will overhear book conversations in the grocery store and all around town.  It is like being a part of a really BIG book club.

Many of us have a library of unread books that we have collected from friends, book sales at the library, yard sales, and those bought with coupons from the local bookstores.    When I’m finished reading and sharing a book, I donate it to the library so others can partake of its pages.  The bottom line is – you can never read too many books.  And reading good books will help you become a better writer – I PROMISE!

bookshelves

It’s Fall in Kansas

Everyone is posting such wonderful photos of the Monarch butterflies migrating on Facebook. This beautiful event is a good reminder that it’s fall. The nights are getting down into the high 50’s and low 60’s and I just love it. The Blood Moon tonight looks like it’s autumn up there, too. That’s one of the things I enjoy about this time of year – the colors.

fall_leavesMy first published novel Feisty Family Values started in the fall. I got married forty-years-ago in October, too.

We made our first pot of chili today. Next on my list, something with pumpkin. Pie. Bread. Muffins. I haven’t decided yet. And homemade veggie soup with fresh bread. Yum.

While the trees and plants are preparing for winter and things appear to slow down, this is the first step into the holidays. Halloween. Thanksgiving. Christmas. New Years. Talk about color! Everyone gets to kick it up a notch every month for the next three months. How cool is that?

We have a new/used Chiminea that we’ll be trying out soon. A glass of hot cider by the fire sounds like a cool way to start this new season. We get to wear cozy sweaters with our jeans, scarves and even boots again!

Long walks in the crunching leaves are another fave of mine. (Raking them isn’t all that great, but plopping into a huge pile of leaves is fun. The first time we introduced our grandson, who was a toddler at the time, to leaf pile jumping he thought his grandmother had lost her mind. But it didn’t take long before he got into the spirit of things. miles1104And dressing up for Halloween with grandkids around ROCKS! I seem to recall a puppy, dragon, Batman, ninja, werewolf and scary looking beast. When my son was young he was a great clown, gunshot victim, the angel of Death, and he even dressed up as me one year. As the boys got older their costumes became more gruesome. And everyone wants to be a super hero at least once.

Another of my favorite things about autumn is that darkness comes earlier, so I snuggle up with my notebook and write, or grab some hot tea and a book to read. LOVE IT!

When I was little we wore these icky plastic masks that made your face sweat. Yes, they still exist, but mostly we use makeup now. The kids are really good at creating the look they want. And my husband’s father told us stories about Halloween on the farm in Oklahoma and the pranks they played on neighbors. The outhouse on top of the barn was quite a feat.

And who can forget Charlie Brown and The Great Pumpkin – although I think it’s Linus who really believes. A few years ago my cousin bought the cutest pumpkin hat and her brother put them on everyone in a photo. It is so cute.

anna_jim_lana_fall14Enjoy your fall, folks. And don’t forget to read!

Writers of the Wheat Literary Festival July 10th

SUNFLOWER PLAZA
presents
image004WRITERS OF THE WHEAT
LITERARY FESTIVAL

Come enjoy the 15 talented authors who reside in Kansas and will present excerpts from their works on
Friday, July 10th, 2015 from 6 pm to 10 pm
Sunflower Plaza, 417 E. Gilbert, Wichita, KS

(I’ll be there to share PATCHWORK FAMILY.)

For more information, contact Tracy Edingfield Dunn, 316-304-5995.

HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!

man_looking_thru_binoculars

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!

reading books