Everyone loves choices.

Need a beach read? Need a book to read while traveling? Want a nostalgic look at the 80’s and college days? Want a little romance and intrigue? You can have it all in “Your Every Move,” out in print and e-book.

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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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“The Crossroads” is here!

During the great depression jobs were scarce and the hope for a bright future even more so. For Sylvia Gray her life of poverty, cleaning, cooking and taking care of her three brothers is about as bleak as it can get. With her father out of work and nipping at the jug, her mother has to wait tables at the diner to make ends meet. All the family puts their support to the eldest of the brothers. There’s nothing more for girls living in the back hills of Arkansas in 1935. But Sylvia wants to finish high school and get a job so she can make her own way.

THE CROSSROADS novella available on Amazon.com

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The importance of “time off”

skaterWe all know that we need “time off” to recharge our personal batteries. From work, especially. Many of us wear many hats and have many jobs and never really get “time off.” We cook, clean, tend homes, groom yards, take care of our families (including the furry ones) all around the “day-job.” Most writers have a day job and then they write the rest of the time. In between laundry and preparing meals, among other things. Our lives are busy.

Many nights when my body says “enough” my brain just keeps right on going, keeping me from the much needed rest that will charge my batteries for the next day. The notepad on my bed table is filled with thoughts about my new novel, what I’m going to cook tomorrow, what I didn’t get done today, and what is on the list that I must not forget.

Often times we take a vacation and visit family outside of our home town, or we’ll take the weekend and just travel around the state to see what interesting things Kansas has to offer. (There are lots, by the way, but that is for another time.) This past year we’ve done “stay-cations.” I’ve gotten extra sleep on those days, read and wrote to my hearts content, BUT…I still had to do all the daily chores living requires. It’s nice to not wear a watch and only look when it’s time for a movie we want to see. It’s nice to know we have tomorrow to do whatever we didn’t do today and there’s no deadline to meet. But it’s not strictly “time off.”

mature_womanIn my day job I work for a global company and the Europeans understand the importance of Vacation. When they are on “holiday” they are GONE for two or three luxurious weeks, which they tell me is required to adequately unwind and refresh. They travel, ski, go to the beach, but whatever it is – they are taking “time off.” We need to take on that mindset as well if we want to enjoy nice long lives. Too many Americans work on their “holiday” and we are missing out.

Due to medical advances we’re living longer lives, but what about their quality? I’m slowly coming around to the realization that the dust will be there until tomorrow and it won’t hurt anyone if it stays another day. We don’t have to wear our favorite tee shirt or jeans, we can dig out the ones that are in the back of the closet and do laundry later. It’s okay to read one more chapter if you’re at a good part of the book. And if the muse taps me on the shoulder and says “listen to this idea” then I need to stop and write it down.

Making time. Making dreams come true. We “make” them happen, folks. No one else. We are the ones who make the choice. So, when the work day or work week is done, take some time for yourself and recharge. Eat sandwiches instead of a huge meal once in awhile. “Time off” is important. Don’t waste every minute on those lists, breathe, read, walk, write, whatever you need to do…DO IT.

RUNNING ON EMPTY

Remember that song “Running on Empty”? Jackson Browne. Here’s a piece of the lyrics:

“…I don’t know where I’m running now, I’m just running on
Running on-running on empty
Running on-running blind
Running on-running into the sun
But I’m running behind
Gotta do what you can just to keep your love alive
Trying not to confuse it with what you do to survive…”

Everyone goes through periods in their life where this song resonates with our feelings. Now more than ever, with the techno world of constant information, there are times when we need to unplug, allow the quiet to fill our minds. BUT, there is always something that needs to be done. Places to go. People to contact. Demands on our time and energy are constant. We’re on those moving walkways hurrying from A to B to C.

running-the-race2What do we differently? We make choices. That’s all we can do, unless we’re obscenely rich and can hire someone to do the things we don’t want to do (dust, mow, laundry, home repairs…), while we do what keeps us thriving (reading, writing, physical activity, music, painting…). Keeping our love alive.

Taking a couple of days off to sleep in, spend time with family, and yes, do a few chores, but not worrying about the ones not completed. They WILL be there later. Right now the urge to write this felt more important than chasing the flying dust bunnies that floated off my ceiling fan when I turned it on. They are fewer now, blown into corners to emerge when something disturbs their new resting place.relax

Where am I going with this? I don’t really know, but I thought maybe you could relate. Tomorrow it is back to work and the “routine.” So, what choices will I make to complete the day? Dinner. Reading? Maybe an old movie. A bit more recharging is needed on the old battery. Enjoy, my friends.

 

Survival Tools

No, I’m not talking about the zombie apocalypse now (okay, maybe, just a little). As writers what are your survival tools?

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Here’s my list:

  • Pen & paper (or pencil, but you’ll need something to sharpen it – a knife might be good)
  • Computer (but in case the zombies knock out the electricity see first item)
  • Good books to read (you can never have too many of these, and good books inspire- Question, do Zombie’s read?)Zombie Reading
  • Writer Friends (preferably not the walking dead)
  • A good light source (critical for reading and writing, but candles add a nice touch and can be used as defense weapons)
  • Generous supply of coffee, tea, chocolate or your favorite muse stimulating snack
  • zombie_ice_creeamReaders (a total must, but not to be confused with the item above)
  • A means of communication (telephone, cell phone, newspaper, Facebook, Twitter, word-of-mouth, road signs, theater marquees, magazines, posters…I guess it all depends on what’s left)
  • Print books (eBooks won’t be working when the infrastructure collapses, guys, but real books can keep you company, can be used to teach you how to do a field dressing or what plants are edible, can be used to throw at advancing hordes, can be burned if you need heat or fire to cook with…ah, I think I’ve stumbled onto something here…)

What were your survival tools, again?

Thank you Veterans

It was fun hearing on the radio and television all of the freebies for veterans today. Meals being top on the list. You know, sometimes that is all it takes – a small gesture – to let someone know how much they mean to you.

These men and women have given more than we can ever repay and we appreciate it every day we wake up. We are free. We are safe. We are lucky to have such dedicated people doing the job. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

I always think of my dad on Veterans Day. He spent most of his life in the army, but lost the war with heart disease and cancer. There are some enemies that you can’t beat every time.

Bless you for your families and friends who have served.

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A dozen years ago…

Sept. 11, 2001 is burned in our memories. Our hearts still ache for those who died, the families and friends left behind. The New York skyline was drastically altered. With it some of our innocence and swagger was destroyed as well. We must care for one another, protect each other, be tolerant and appreciate our differences. But most of all, we must honor the “life” we’ve been given, and respect this gift that God gave to all. He also gave us free will. Be careful how you use it. Bless you all!

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Life is a room full of domnios.

Erma Bombeck used to say that life was a bowl of cherries, but today it feels like a room full of Dominos. dominos_standingThere’s nowhere to safely step without one of them falling down and taking them all along for the ride.

You make one mistake, and someone says, “what else can we make better” and you have instructions to update everything you did the day before and do it another way. Out of three items only one had an oops. Now they want to change all three for various and sundry reasons. Just because!

dominos_fallenIt’s very frustrating when this happens, and I think it happens a lot. You spill the bowl of eggs you need to add to the pot and while you’re cleaning up the mess the stuff in the pot boils over or burns. <sigh> It happens.

Today feels like one of those days to me. I was trying to think of the most positive person I know so I could call them up and feel the sunshine come through the phone line. But I realized, heck, who doesn’t have rough days? Crazy days. Frustrating days. Everyone does. Don’t call someone and bring them down. Tug your big girl panties up and smile.

So, it’s time to change my attitude.

I went out for lunch and grabbed some cheap tacos. $2.50 for lunch for two people! That’s pretty cool. I go back to work and what do you know, I’ve bumped another domino. ACK! Now another project is on the way down. Look out below!

What a mess. I can’t clean this one up, I didn’t make the oops, someone else did, but I’m in the row that’s effected. I tried to shore up the tile in front of me, but…it’s just going to have to wait until tomorrow. <sigh>

Might be time for a quick walk around the block and a little sunshine, don’t you think? I also think I need another vacation…sunshine_tree