Where have you been?

Researching the Oklahoma land rush of 1893 has been interesting and time-consuming. I didn’t realize how long it’s been since I blogged. My apologies, dear readers.

Life tends to interfere in many writer’s plans. Illness. Death. Work. Laundry. Home Repair. Vacation. Truly, life goes on. But creativity cannot be denied. It slips into our days in small ways. The key is to be grateful for every moment.

Make a note. Make a sketch. Leave a voice mail, just don’t forget. Capture the dream. Make note of the smells, sounds, sights and feelings you experience. They are the things that make stories real.

I love to write and learn new things. Please be patient. It takes a long time to write that first draft and edit and make it come to life. Thank you so much for reading my books, sharing your precious time with them, and letting everyone know if you enjoyed them. You inspire me. You make all the hours of work worth while.

Bless you, dear readers and Enjoy the Ride.

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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.

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!

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Life is not a straight line…

Life is not a straight line. We bounce around and find our way through.

forget me notsIf you follow your “curiosity” it will give you clues. Be aware. Be open. Listen. Trust that every place you go is where you are supposed to be in order to gain experience, wisdom, grace, humility, discipline, faith…

This was especially true in my twenties. But I have to say that even at my current age I must not fall into the pit of focusing so hard on one outcome that I miss opportunities to grow. How about you?

When I’m writing a story and think I already know the ending it’s surprising what can happen along the way. New characters appear. Old characters change. Assumptions made no longer apply. And sometimes the ending morphs as well. Follow the path, wherever it leads you.

I love when I’m reading and the story surprises me. Occasional unpredictability can be inspiring – emotional – even educational. But writer beware of throwing a huge rock in the soup, it will totally change the flavor and splash not only the broth, but the reader right out of the pot.

snoopy happy danceI’m a fan of satisfying endings. Who wants to read about a total loser who never ever wins? Totally depressing. You want readers to feel hope for the characters, satisfaction that the story ended as it should and they didn’t waste their time.

I hate to see a cool character die or an antagonist that can’t be redeemed (even just a little bit). In life, those things happen, so they have to occur in story as well. What is story, but the telling of a life experience (real or imagined)? A path taken that resulted in certain consequences that the reader can relate to, utilize as a lesson learned in their own lives, or imagine and enjoy.  which way signLife is not a straight line…so the story can’t be either.

Enjoy the journey, my friends. I plan to.

 

 

 

HE KNOWS HOW IT FEELS TO WRITE

“You first dreamed of becoming a writer to create a deep connection. You wanted another person to know how you felt. You wanted to change someone’s life.” excerpt from Joe Bunting article on Writing Practice, Medium Daily

He writing wineis so RIGHT. Good books move me on so many levels. I want to write those kinds of books. It is my wish for readers and a dream for me. Thank you, Joe, for putting it so succinctly.

 

BOOK REVIEWS ROCK

The best gift for an Author is a Book Review. Did you just finish a good book? Then do not pass go, do not collect $200, get on Goodreads or Amazon and write a review!

Don’t forget that Readers also benefit from book reviews. That’s why I have shelves full of books to read – someone wrote a great review. bookshelves

It doesn’t have to be detailed or long. “I love this book.” or “I liked this book a lot.” or “These characters are so real!” give just enough information to others to tantalize them into checking out the book.

I’m writing my first mystery. I’ve never written mystery, but I’ve read hundreds of them. I’ve written two full length novels. And I had this cool idea for a story. Reader reviews are so important, to new writers and experienced writers alike, so I’m anxious to read the reviews once my mystery is published. (Date is yet to be determined.)

Authors learn from reviews. Personally, I get a kick out of the reviews that are very detailed and tell me just what the reader liked and didn’t like. Everyone is different and certain things appeal to some and not others, but I understand that not every reader is comfortable expounding on their impressions of a book. Sometimes we just don’t know why we liked a story, it just worked, that’s all. That’s part of the reason why I read lots of different genre’s. I never know what will strike a cord and pull me in.

I love to read new authors, as well as authors that I’ve read for years. Bottom line – we all enjoy a good story. So share the experience and write a review. We authors will appreciate you even more than we already do. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

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Dreams of Media Attention and Snake Oil

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure and honor of being a part of the first WRITERS OF THE WHEAT LITERARY FESTIVAL. What a great time! Lots of friends, families, readers and literary lovers came to visit and listen to a group of authors read and talk about their books.

In preparation for the event we were in the Wichita Eagle newspaper and that was super publicity for us and the event. KAKE and KWCH TV were also on board to talk about the event. LOVE our local news media!

By the way, there are two Bonnie Tharp’s in Wichita. We finally met after being Facebook friends for some time. The other Bonnie is always being asked to sign my books and she shared that with Carrie Rengers a couple of weeks ago. So…check out “have you heard?”

Anyway, what this is all leading up to is this. I received a call today from an online broadcast company who tells me they can make my books a bestseller. Ah, the stars come into my eyes as he tells me all the things I want to hear: my books are poignant, relevant, interesting…. At least those were the words that stuck into my mind, the rest took quite some a bit of my time and sound like “wah, wah, wah” in my memory (like the Peanuts cartoon grownups).

The promise of nation-wide exposure happened to me once before and I bit – I went on the air and got about 2,000 listeners and only a slight uptick in sales. Not enough to warrant the expense, believe me. Was it fun – LOADS! Was it expensive – LOTS! This time, the offer is a bit more money, with the promise of global media exposure, video, web updates, and one year exclusivity – for them, not me. I must admit I almost bit the poison apple again. Their sales people are amazing! You know the kind who can sell ice cubes to Eskimos. I need to learn those skills, because then my book would be a best seller, for sure.

Many creative folks get caught in the dream that their work is worth much more than it’s being sold for now. The snake oil salesmen tell us that we are worth much more than we make. We dream of thousands of people enjoying our work and sharing it with their best friends or families or just shouting it from the social media rooftops how wonderful this or that creation truly is… We don’t have to be rich, but it would be nice to make a living doing what we love. We don’t have to be a celebrity, but it would be nice to be recognized as a really good author. And the snake oil salesman senses our desire, feeds it and boom – SOLD.

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Making Characters Memorable

We’ve all met interesting people on our day-to-day lives that come to mind when we’re writing. And while sometimes it is the physical characteristics that capture us, or mannerisms, or the way they speak – they can be the jumping off point for a very interesting character in your book that everyone loves or hates.

Maybe the check out girl at the grocer who constants chews gum and blows bubbles. Irritating. Or perhaps the dentist that hums old show tunes while he works, rather than the Little Shop of Horrors guy. dentist_funny

The check out girl inspired a gum popping receptionist for the doctors office (in my case). There are no humming dentists in my stories yet, but perhaps it will inspire a writer to tell the story of a serial killer that hums or sings while he does his thing.

What I really enjoy is emphasizing unique characteristics and making them memorable to the reader. Regina was a hair flipper. We’ve all known a hair twirler, flipper, or chewer. Right? It’s a very memorable habit. I once had a boss that had sinus problems and he was constantly clearing his throat, every day of the year. It was really annoying. How about the boss whose hair is NEVER out of place. A perfect plastic coated football helmet. OMG. I finally asked mine what kind of hairspray she used so I wouldn’t buy it by mistake, preferring a more care free – messy look. But that’s just me.

ladies_50s_fashionDo you know someone whose clothing, jewelry, shoes and purse match? Not so much anymore, but when I was growing up my mom even had a belt that matched her purse and shoes for many of her outfits. She was “put together”. Now days many of us wear jeans and anything goes with jeans, right? These are the things readers will remember, too, so use them. lady_jeans

You can never tell who will inspire you to write, so be aware and watchful for that memorable character you know or see on the street. They just might inspire you.

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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