Monday, February 23, 2015

Bonnie Tharp, Patchwork Family, plus #giveaway

AUTHOR:  Bonnie Tharp
BOOK TITLE:  Patchwork Family
GENRE: Mainstream Fiction/Women’s Fiction
PUBLISHER: Belle Bridge Books

NOTE:  If you would be interested in a copy of Feisty Family Values (book one in the series), please leave a comment with your contact information. Bonnie will choose one person as the winner of this insightful book.

Please tell us about yourself.
Born and raised in Kansas, I spent my formative years in my grandmother’s kitchen as official taste tester. I’m not much of a cook, but I enjoy good food and conversations over the dinner table. That’s where many families have their best discussions.

Please tell us your latest news.
The second book in the feisty family series PATCHWORK FAMILY was released March 24, 2014 in paperback and eBook by Belle Bridge Books. The story picks up one year after FEISTY FAMILY VALUES ends and Annabelle gains custody of her three grandchildren.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I write part-time, unfortunately, because I have a day job. I write at every opportunity, even when I’m walking my dogs – I’m writing in my head. But the words usually get put on the computer on the weekends.

When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always been fascinated with stories and storytelling. It’s how we share ideas, find answers, discover ourselves, and learn.

What inspired you to write your first book?
In my senior year of college the idea came and set up shop. Three feisty ladies wanted their story told, and I was the scribe they picked.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
Reading, watching good films and spending time with friends and family. Basically swapping stories.

What are your thoughts about promotion?
With the day-job, a home and yard, two very spoiled dogs, and a family, I don’t have a lot of time for promotion. So, I create a plan and check things off as I do them. These days, “slow and steady” really does win the race, since digital books don’t “go out of print”, whereas when FEISTY came out – print books had a very short shelf life – and therefore, a short promo period. It’s necessary to get the buzz going, otherwise, no one will even know about your stories.

What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment?
The toughest criticism I’ve received is also a compliment. My readers say they wish I would write faster. I really try my best, but until I can retire it will probably take me a year or so to write a new story. Then it takes another two years to publish it. It takes me a lot longer to write it than for a reader to read it. Please stay with me, readers, I promise I have only just begun. 

Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?
Yes. Each novel is unique, just like each child in a family is unique.
PATCHWORK was written chronologically, whereas FEISTY was written in scene, then put together like puzzle pieces to make the whole.

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?
Writers block is no fun. Usually something outside of me has gotten in the way of my muse and I can’t break free. Sometimes I do free writing, read a favorite book again, watch a dramatic film, or even take a long walk. Sometimes setting the stage will help – lighting a candle, soft music and a cup of tea.

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?
I always learn when I write. Often I learn how much I don’t know, so that sends me off to do some research or conduct interviews with subject matter experts.

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
My first publisher was Five Star Books, a division of Gale/Cengage Publishing. My current publisher is Belle Bridge Books and I found them through a writing friend of mine. They published her first book and I loved it. Not only was the story wonderful, but the paperback was well done. The cover is amazing. I pitched them and they liked my story and my voice. I’m feeling right at home.

What is your marketing plan?
I’ll be making appearances at libraries, bookstores, women’s clubs and sororities. I’ll be talking about some of the same subjects addressed in the story on social media and blogging. I’ll carry several in my car and show my beautiful book to anyone who might be interested. And I’ll be involved in local writing groups and have opportunities to sell books there. TV and maybe radio will also be in the picture, too.

What are your current projects?
I’ve started a new story about a very young woman who has a congenital heart condition. During her stay in the hospital she’ll meet someone very special and may even reconcile with her estranged family, I don’t know yet. But she begins to realize what is really important, and yes – she begins a bucket list…

What do you plan for the future?
Someday I will get to retire from my day job and write full time!

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
My blog, photos and novel excerpts are at “Bonnie Tharp Books” is my Facebook page, and “bdtharp” is my Twitter handle. I’m addicted to Pinterest and you’ll find me there under Bonnie Tharp. I hope you’ll stop by and comment. I have author pages on and as well.

Any other news you’d like to share?
I’m really excited to share the new about PATCHWORK FAMILY. And although FEISTY FAMILY VALUES is no longer in print, I have boxes of them under my desk and they are for sale.
One more thing, help your authors and fellow readers out by leaving a review on or 
What genre do you write in and why?
I write adult fiction that predominantly deals with women’s and family issues. What can I say – I’m a girl. Family is important and quite messy, so lots of fun to write about.

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.
Annabelle Hubbard thinks she has good reason to be exhausted since she’s the caretaker of her three good-hearted, but challenging grandchildren. They live in her wealthy cousin’s home, where she feels like a charity case. Although the cousins aren’t close, family is family.

What gave you the idea for this particular book?
The feisty family had more stories to tell.

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process?
I outline about halfway through the story to be sure I’ve created an effective arch and plan for building tensions and resolution at the end.

What comes first: the plot or characters?
Character. Character. Character. I just love how feisty characters can be.

Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?
Regina is a witch (with a b), but she has a squishy heart.

Which characters were the hardest to develop and why?
Getting the kid’s voices was difficult, sometimes. Especially the youngest.

How did you decide how your characters should look?
I was inspired by different people I’ve seen: a college instructor with flowing skirts and bangles. The consummate grandmother, with apron and sensible shoes.

What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book?
I start with a character. An idea of a story. Then as the characters develop the story grows. It’s very organic and unpredictable.

Did your book require a lot of research? If so, what kind?
I did a lot of research on senior abuse, child abuse, Social Security benefits, the penal system and our laws about drunk driving and vehicular manslaughter.

Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you?  Why or why not?
I blushed through my first sex scene, but the characters were mature and it got easier. This last book has a couple of teens struggling with their sexual desires; that was kinda fun. Especially since my son is grown and I don’t have to worry about him any more. My hands shook and I cried during a particularly violent scene in my first book. It was very upsetting.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Making the time. There are a lot of things I don’t do anymore because there just isn’t time.

How long does it take to write a book, and what is your process?
It takes me about a year to write a book, then another six months to edit it – over and over again.

What are your current books out right now, and what are the books coming up for release?
FEISTY FAMILY VALUES is available in eBook and hardback. PATCHWORK FAMILY is available in eBook and trade paperback.

What advice would you give a new writer starting out?
Patience. Don’t give up. Dreams do come true.

 How do you classify a “resource book?”
Bird by Bird and On Writing are two of my favorite writing books.

What type of research did you for this type of book? I spoke with the Women’s Crisis Center, cardiac nurse, a lawyer and a police officer.

What “expert” credentials do you bring to this book? I have a Bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies, fine arts and communication.

What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I hope they find a little piece of their family and laugh at the shared experience. I hope they can relate to the main characters and feel like they would be someone they would like to know.

Any tips for new authors interested in this type of writing?
Keep writing. Learn the craft through local university courses, writers groups, writer conferences and by reading lots of good books.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
Reading. Sleeping.

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun? Compelling characters.

What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel?
Tons of typos.

What was your most embarrassing moment as an author?
I was signing a book to my cousin and wrote her daughter’s name instead of hers. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Marie Slaight, The Antigone Poems, plus Artist Terrence Tasker

AUTHOR: Marie Slaight/ARTIST: Terrence Tasker
BOOK TITLE: The Antigone Poems
GENRE: Poetry/Art
PUBLISHER: Altaire Productions

NOTE:  The author and artist would like to giveaway two copies of their book. If you're interested, please leave your contact information so they can email you to obtain your mailing address. This is a lovely fully illustrated volume.


Please tell us about yourself.

I am more or less from Montreal. I was co-founder of Studio Altaire in Montreal, a visual and performance arts studio, and have worked in Montreal, New Orleans, and Buenos Aires as a writer, producer, and performer for film, theatre and music. My play, Random Shots, was produced at the Theatre Centre in Toronto, I collaborated on a series of short films with Terrence Tasker and was an actor and creative consultant for National Film Board of Canada co-productions. My poetry has appeared in American Writing, Pittsburgh Quarterly, Poetry Salzburg, The Abiko Quarterly, New Orleans Review and elsewhere. Other jobs over the years include working in a jewelry factory, as a farm worker, artist model, scene painter, nightclub photographer, and both teaching English and running a bed and breakfast while living in Buenos Aires. I am currently the director of Altaire Productions & Publications, a Sydney-based arts production company, which has been involved in creative consulting and co-producing for independent New Orleans music and such films as the award-winning documentary Bury the Hatchet, Happy Baby Kindred and Anna and Modern Day Slavery.

Please tell us your latest news.

I have just published The Antigone Poems, through my company Altaire Productions. It was created by Terrence Tasker and me during the 1970s, in Canada. We are still working on the marketing of that while doing other Altaire film work, and we are about to get to work on an anthology of short crime fiction.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?

My writing abilities seem to have been lost with a few small strokes I had awhile back. As a result I have been involved in a lot of other work, but I hope I am able to continue.   My writing time is early mornings, with coffee, in a café, after reading the papers. Then random times

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing as soon as I could read and wrote throughout my life until the strokes came along. Writing was as simple as breathing and as necessary. I still remember the feeling of power I got from words on paper as a small kid.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My first book is The Antigone Poems. I first came across the character of Antigone in acting classes with a superb teacher in Toronto, Eli Rill. I was 17 or 18. I worked on Jean Anouilh’s Antigone and became quite immersed. I met Terrence Tasker around the same time. Simultaneously, we began working on a filmic adaptation of Antigone, while he was painting/drawing and I was writing. We began living together. So The Antigone Poems themselves are a result of a synthesis of many elements. In term of what triggered my interest, as in ‘why Antigone’, it is the essential questions it brings into play. What will we do for what we believe in? How far will we go to stand up for our convictions? What is the power of one individual voice? What is the price we pay?

What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment?

The best, or worst, insult from a reader at Library Thing, was that the book should be buried along with Antigone’s brother!

The best compliment was that it is a work of genius, and that came from the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?

My company, Altaire Productions & Publications, published The Antigone Poems. Altaire Productions & Publications first opened in 1978 as Studio Altaire in Toronto’s Kensington Market as a public art studio for the works of artist Terrence Tasker.
In 1981, Tasker and I moved to Montreal and opened Studio Altaire. We occupied 12,000 sq. feet of loft and office space above the French café-theatre La Licorne. Comprised of a 100-seat theatre and a separate art gallery as well as workshop and recording space, Studio Altaire featured theatre companies such as The Painted Bird Ensemble and St. Antoine Street Theatre companies, late night jazz and punk concerts, poetry readings, acting workshops, art exhibits and more.
In 2008, after years spent in New Orleans, Buenos Aires and Montreal, I began Altaire Productions & Publications in Sydney, Australia as an arts production company for independent artists. Altaire has been involved in and co-produced such films as Bury The Hatchet (US), Happy Baby (US), Kindred (Australia) and Anna and Modern day Slavery (UK-Po land) among others. Right now we are involved in the production of a short film based on a Raymond Carver story. The first book publication from Altaire is The Antigone Poems and we are working on 3 titles to be published in 2015.

What is your marketing plan?

We have an intensive marketing plan and the results were so detailed that we will be publishing a Resource Manual for Publishers from the material we gathered.
We chose to focus internationally, both off and online. We sent for review in Canada, Australia, US and UK, and found distribution in Canada and Us. We found that online ads in lit mags did the best in terms of instigating sales, by using Litbreaker, etc. Again, we focused on the 4 major English markets. Submitting the book for review at LibraryThing is excellent as well, and we did book give-aways with Goodreads. We are mailing complimentary copies to some international bookstores and libraries, submitting to awards, etc. We were not able to have a proper book launch as I was overseas with elderly parents, but will do so in 2015.

Tell me a little about your book. When did you first know you wanted to be a poet?

The Antigone Poems is based on the Greek myth of Antigone, who was put to death for her beliefs.  It also featured the charcoal artwork of Terrence Tasker, a Canadian artist who died in the early 1990s.  I don’t think I knew I wanted to be a poet; I simply wrote poetry from the beginning.

Why are you drawn to poetry?

I am not drawn to a lot of poetry, but when I am it is usually quite sculptural, and stark.  It is the images created and what they evoke. It is the fact that in poetry, things are, or can be, said that are not usually said in prose or in conversation.

Would you say poetry is easier or harder to write than fiction and why?

It would depend on who is writing and what one’s abilities and inclinations are. For some, one would come more naturally than the other. The poetry I respond to is very chiseled and worked on in the way you might sculpt or carve something. I think that fiction is, by its’ nature, expository, and poetry is more the distillation of emotion and experience.

What is the toughest part about being a poet, and how do you get past it?

I don’t think being a poet is any tougher than anything else in itself, but obviously making money from it is almost impossible. But it is a choice and possibly a compulsion.

I mean, why would anyone choose to be a poet if they weren’t driven to be and rewarded by the act itself?

Any tips for new writers hoping to write poetry? 

I would say, find the truest possible word and follow it with another. Just that. One word, then another word and no bull.  Four  good and true lines will beat pages of dribble. I would also say go inside yourself, to find your own language and work to avoid replicating the work of others.


What do you do when you’re not writing?

Hard question to answer, as I have done so much different stuff and moved around a lot; it changes. Travel, work on other genres of art, swim, read voraciously, walk, see films, hang out, work some more. I walk for hours every day, wandering, as well

What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel?

The incorrect and constant usage of the word ‘literally.’ Fatuous language, lack of organic logic.

What books have most influenced your life?

Would be more authors than specific books. Nikos Kazantzakis, Garcia Lorca, Mordecai Richler, Walker Percy, Jorge Amado, Lawrence Durell…

Describe your writing space.

I write in cafes, in longhand. I have lived in some great café cities; Montreal, New Orleans, Buenos Aires and now Sydney. So the opportunities have been great. I find a fairly empty café or courtyard or table on the street and go from there…has to be no music at all, or just jazz or r&b, and in the case of Buenos Aires, it’s getting harder to find that all the time. I can’t write if there is any form of techno music playing. So it is looking for a particular atmosphere…I can’t sit near anyone when I write.

What has been your favorite part of being an author? What has been your least favorite?

My favorite part is the extreme solitude and the sense of one person, with one word and then another word following…and, when successful, the amazing sense of sculpting something, of saying something true. It’s magic.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Renee Donne, Hunter

AUTHOR: Renee Donne
PUBLISHER: Anaiah Press, LLC

Please tell us about yourself.

            First, I would like to thank you for having me as your guest today.
            I live on the west coast of Florida, and do most of my writing from my home, looking out at the beautiful coastal scenery.
            I am here today to talk about my book, Hunter, which is soon to be released by Anaiah Press.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?

            I am a full-time writer. I try to devote at least three hours a day to writing, spending the mornings putting my thoughts into the written word. I schedule my days so that I have the late morning and afternoon for every-day life activities, and then, in the evening, I will review the morning’s progress. Of course, sometimes when things are coming together, I might spend the whole day writing.

When and why did you begin writing?

            I guess I have always wanted to write. I have loved books as long as I can remember. In my early teens, I would write short stories and poems. In school, I had a great Language Arts teacher who believed in me and became my mentor.

What inspired you to write your first book?

            My first book, Runaway, is a historical romance. I have always loved westerns. The old west can be a very romantic setting, with damsels in distress and dashing cowboy heroes.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?

            Well, as a writer it is hard to turn off my thoughts completely. I never know when something might inspire me, or the scene I am looking for might just suddenly come together in my mind.
            That being said, when I am not writing, I enjoy relaxing on the beach, curling up with a good book, or getting together with friends.

What are your thoughts about promotion?

            My publisher has assigned a dedicated PR team to promote and publicize my books. Of course, I will also play an active role in the promotion, and appreciate your having me here today. I feel it is important to promote myself, through interviews and blogs, as well as the book.

What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment?

            My toughest criticism was the lack of character development. While I knew and found it easy to identify with my characters, I didn’t develop them enough for my readers to feel as involved.
            The biggest compliment is that some of the reviewers of Runaway said they liked my writing style.

Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?

            I have determined to spend more time on my characters, adding scenes that would give more character insight instead of just getting on with the events of the story.

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.

            Hunter is a YA spec-fic. The heroine, Hunter, has just moved with her mother across country, to her grandfather’s ranch in Wyoming.  Her new home is just a few miles from the secluded hiking trail where her father died when she was a baby.
She meets Logan, the handsome veterinary assistant at the animal clinic where she lands an after-school job. And he seems just as interested in her as she is in him.
            As Hunter begins to settle into her new home, she learns more about the circumstances surrounding her father’s tragic death, and it may not have been the accident everyone believes. Something dangerous lurks in the woods, and Hunter might be the next victim.

What genre do you write in and why?

            I don’t consider myself restricted to any one genre. I love all genres and my story ideas show that.

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process?

            I do outline. Usually I have an idea and main character, and as the story starts to form, I create an outline. The outline may change or be added to as the story develops.

What comes first: the plot or characters?

            I think the story idea comes first, but the main character develops almost simultaneously. Then the plot develops as other characters are added.

Did your book require a lot of research? If so, what kind?

            Yes, actually. I needed to make sure that the town I chose was a small town near Native American lands, and had the terrain that was necessary to the story.

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?

            Interesting characters and a plot that makes me think.

What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel?

            Timeline issues. I once read a romance novel where the main character did not meet the love interest until more than halfway through the book.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Kristen Clark, Becoming a Woman of Worth: Creating a More Confident You

AUTHOR: Kristen Clark
BOOK TITLE: Becoming a Woman of Worth: Creating a More Confident You
GENRE: Christian non-fiction
PUBLISHER: American Mutt Press

1.             Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?  I started writing for the purpose of building credibility as a coach and speaker.  Turns out I’m also pretty good at writing but I am not a full-time writer in the traditional sense of the word.  However, as an entrepreneur I write every day – copy for marketing and promotional materials, guest blog posts, new content for article marketing, not to mention chapters for upcoming books. I’d say writing in general is part of my every day business. 

2.             What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?  As an entrepreneur, when I’m not writing or editing, I’m marketing and networking.  Writing a book is one thing, but getting people to know, like, and trust me so they’ll purchase my book is another entirely different thing.  That’s where marketing and networking come in, both of which can keep me pretty busy.  In fact, I’d say I spend equal time across all three activities.

3.             What are your thoughts about promotion? Are they a good thing?  Promotion is critical to my success - both on and offline.  I think social media forums are a necessary evil in that they can be hugely effective, but require discipline and a well-defined strategy to be lucrative.  Otherwise, they can be a tremendous distraction.  In fact, I limit my time on social media networks to 30-60 minutes a day, which is easy to do with tools that let me schedule posts in advance.  I also make sure my marketing plan includes online AND offline activities, as both are necessary to connect with my readers.   

4.             Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it? Sure. All writers suffer from writer’s block at one time or another.  It’s natural.  For me, taking a walk, calling a friend to get out of self, or spending a day at the arboretum with my camera helps jump start my creative juices.  Also, getting the blood pumping with some exercise pushes oxygen to the brain and that can stimulate new and creative ideas.

5.             What are your current projects?  I’m wrapping up a new book that explores the psychological attitudes and beliefs that keep women from accomplishing their goals.  It’s based on a four-step system for breaking free from the distorted thinking that holds us back and interferes with our ability to take action.  I’m super excited about this new book; I think it will empower readers in new and compelling ways.

6.             How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?  You can find me at:,,, and

7.             Any other news you’d like to share?  I’m thrilled to say that my book, “Becoming a Woman of Worth: Creating a More Confident You” received a Gold medal in the prestigious 2014 Readers’ Favorite Intl’ Book Award Contest in the category “Christian Biblical Counseling”.  Not only is winning an award an incredible honor and source of validation as a writer, but it makes for some great Marketing and PR content!


1.     Tell me a little about your book.  Too many women spend too much time listening to the lies of the enemy and too little time receiving the favor and unlimited grace of our Heavenly Father. We belong to a living and righteous God who breathes into us the power to break every stronghold that tries to hold us down. This book provides practical tools and steps to help women break those strongholds by seeing themselves as God sees them in their effort to experience greater personal success. 

2.     What gave you the idea for this particular book? I am an example of someone who overcame low self-esteem and I wrote this book in an effort to help other women do the same.  We are so very capable and yet we struggle against that old “stinkin thinkin” that tells us we’re insufficient and undeserving.  When we begin to align our thoughts about ourselves with God’s thoughts about us, we begin to develop confidence as a spiritual mindset and we begin to see that there isn’t much we can’t do.

3.     What kind of research did you do for this type of book?  I’m a big fan of research and I studied those I consider experts on the topic, including Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, and Beth Moore.  I’m also a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, which provides a wealth of information on the subject.  Additionally, I turned to my own experience and personal journey in understanding my value and worth.  Finally, I relied greatly on prayer and the Bible for direction and guidance about who we are as daughters (and sons) of a King!

4.     Where can people learn more about this topic if they want to pursue it further?  I suggest checking out the Confidence Coalition, the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, and the Girl Scout Research Institute; these are also great resources.  And, of course, I have a number of resources available on my website,

5.     Any tips for new writers hoping to write non-fiction?  Don’t ignore the business side of writing and make time to also learn the art of marketing and networking.  Make an investment in your craft by attending workshops, seminars, retreats, and courses.  Write, edit, rewrite.  Finally, don’t let reasonable excuses become real barriers; find the courage to hit the “send” button. You have to submit to be published.


1.     What do you do when you’re not writing?  I like to read, practice my photography, and go for walks outdoors.  I also like to take road trips with my husband; our time together in the car is a great way to untangle from technology and brainstorm on other projects and ideas.  He’s my biggest fan and partner in crime, so doing just about anything with him is fun!

2.Describe your writing space.  I can work just about anywhere as long as I have a laptop.  However, the bulk of my writing is done sitting at my kitchen table where I can observe the birds at the feeder that’s been strategically placed right outside the bay window.  I enjoy having a scenic view to admire as I’m working.  Nature itself can be very inspiring!

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: With Social Media and Selfies taking their toll on self-esteem, ‘Becoming a Woman of Worth: Creating a More Confident You’ inspires women of all ages to change their minds about themselves through a Christian approach to developing confidence for greater personal success. Encompassing straight forward, no nonsense tips and suggestions, this book directs women to the scriptures in an effort to build confidence by seeing themselves as God sees them.