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. 

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