Well it is the start of a new month, so thought it fitting to start off with an author interview. So it is great to welcome Tawnya Bulger to my writing corner.
Tawnya’s book, Katrina: Growing Wings is a small, 28 pg illustrated book that deals with a caterpillar’s journey to butterfly and the struggles therein. She doubts herself, her purpose for life and gets rather angry with it all.
Tawnya wrote it as a reminder to herself ‘to trust and to have faith, not fear,
when times seem to be darkness never-ending.’
Thanks Helen for inviting me to your blog.
My pleasure Tawnya. First, could you tell us a little about yourself?
I grew up in beautiful western North Dakota and spent the majority of my youth exploring our ranches. In high school, I realized how much I enjoyed writing, but never pursued it in college; actually graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from Minnesota State University, Moorhead.
For the last eight years, I’ve been blessed enough to stay at home with our two youngest children, work on my writing a bit more and fight with our computer.
What inspired you to write, Katrina: Growing Wings? And how long did it take to write?
This is a pretty crazy story and to appreciate it, I have to share a bit about the way I grew up and my mindsets about life. My parents divorced when I was eight (8) and my mom was an incredible woman; extremely capable and independent, a product of women’s lib to a degree. Partially because of that, I wanted to be a professional and independent as well. The thought of marriage, children, love, etc. wasn’t a concept that I had entertained much, even though I had two daughters out of high school; had become pretty cynical at an early age, too. I guess what I am saying is that being a mom seemed to be less important than “making a difference.”
Then, in 2002, my heart had undergone a transplant about who I truly was and what God was calling me to be. Shortly after that, I fell in love, got married and had two babies in the first two years of our marriage, quickly raising the count to four children. All the old mindsets of “being someone” or “doing something important” began grating on me. I was now “just” a stay at home mom, cleaning up diapers, messes and homework. It seemed such a struggle to find “me.” Then, one morning, my two youngest were both napping – miraculous!- and Katrina’s story came pouring out of me. It was the first thing I’d written since college and in about 20 minutes it was done. It was such a sweet reminder that God has a plan and a time for everything. And He really impressed upon my heart that if I truly wanted to “make a difference” and do something significant with my life, I had the perfect opportunity to start with my own home.
Is this your first book?
It is. But I am hoping to make “Katrina” into a series and even have the next two books written. Each one deals with a lesson and is wrapped around a verse. Currently, I am working on a novel, Undivided Heart.
What is the message you want your readers to take away from reading your book?
This book, for being so little, has a lot of big lessons in it. Trusting in a bigger purpose, having faith through trials, perseverance, and hope for our future. My goal for “Katrina” is that no matter what age or how many times you read it, you’ll hear another big truth each time.
What has been the response from children, teachers, parents, adults?
Everyone has really seemed to enjoy it and appreciate the lessons in it. It has been so amazing to share it with people. In schools, I share it from the perspective that words are powerful and we have to choose them wisely. My favorite testimony about it came shortly after it was published. There was a young lady in her 20’s, also named Katrina, who received it as a gift and it moved her to tears. Apparently, she’d been battling bulimia most of her life and the book was such an encouragement, that she called her mom and read her the story. While they were crying, this young lady said she now knew that she was going to be alright. Whatever else happens, just knowing that “Katrina” spoke to this young lady’s heart means so much to me.
Tawnya, did you always want to be a writer? And, what inspires you to write?
I never planned on doing anything with my writing before Katrina: Growing Wings was published. I think what inspires me most is being able to use fiction to speak truth into peoples’ lives. Words have tremendous power to create new perspectives and being able to be a small part of that process is very rewarding. I honestly feel as if it is a gift and part of my purpose here.
Have you written in any other genre?
Undivided Heart is an adult fiction and Angel Song is geared more towards the 12-20 range. One of my goals in my writing is to present something real, and even gritty at times, but in a way that is honorable and full of integrity; so that any age can learn from them and not have their minds inundated with what most of the world claims is entertainment.
What writers do you think have influenced you? Do your children offer their creative ideas?
Currently, a few of my favorite authors include Dee Henderson, Cliff Graham, Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker. I also love the descriptive nature of Nora Roberts when the settings of the story have a character on their own. I think that my children still have a hard time seeing me as a writer or author, but at bedtime, we do make up stories together. I love that all of my children enjoy reading and seem to be quite creative.
Some writers have a preferred writing schedule. Do you?
I would love to be that disciplined and it is something that I am aspiring to do. Even though I am not much of a morning person, that’s usually my most productive time. I was born an unorganized procrastinator and am slowly recognizing the need and the blessing for having a time for everything.
And do you have a favorite place to write?
At this point, most of my writing gets done at our dining room table. However, I recently did some writing at one of the most beautiful places I know – my dad’s ranch. When I don’t have the distractions of my own home, I seem to concentrate better on my characters.
Did you encounter any obstacles to the road of publishing this book?
Oddly enough, not too many. I went through a publishing company by the name of Tate Publishing from Oklahoma. I sent them the manuscript and they sent a contract. I didn’t realize then that Tate is very similar to a self-published or vanity press company, but experience is a valuable tool and teacher.
How did you go about getting your illustrator?
Jeff Elliot was one of Tate’s in-house illustrators. Jeff did all the illustrations, but one, the butterfly herself, which I found on my Grandma’s linen napkins. But Jeff did a fabulous job illustrating Katrina: Growing Wings and bringing her to life.
Are you involved in marketing your book?
Very much so. When “Katrina” was first published, I gave my publicist a list of possible stores that would want to host a signing. They made the initial contact and allowed me to do the follow-ups personally. Currently, I have a marketing agent through Tate that I can bounce ideas off of for finding my niche market and getting Katrina’s message out there.
Apart from creating stories, could you tell us a little about your other passions?
I am extremely passionate about reaching our youth and young adults with the message of God’s unconditional love and giving them a foundation in truth, so that when life’s storms come, they still have something permanent to hang onto. I have been involved in children’s ministries for about seven years and especially love working with young adults. I have a dream of opening a ranch that rescues neglected horses and pairs them up with ‘neglected’ youth and helping both heal and hope again.
What projects are you working on now?
Besides my novel and short story, I own a small business that specializes in the selling and education of self-defense products to women. Personally, I am entertaining the notion of homeschooling our two youngest children for a time, as well.
What attributes do you feel are necessary to be a successful author?
A passion for words and story-telling. On a more tangible level, some skills in organizing and consistency are huge for a successful career, as is diligence and growing a thick skin to rejections.
What words best describe you?
Fun-loving, optimistic, critical of myself, passionate, dreamer, outdoorsy and definitely a lot goofy.
Before you go, do you have any words of advice to fellow writers?
Don’t be too critical of yourself. There will be plenty of others who will point out your flaws. And when they do, learn to lean on the truth of who and Whose you are. If their criticism is meant to grow you and smooth out rough edges, accept it graciously and become that much better. If it is just to be critical, hang on to the passion for which you write and the one who gave you the passion. Write daily, even if it’s just for you. Read often and feed what grows you to be your best.
And Tawnya, just to finish up, could you please complete the following:
At school I was … The peace-keeper, counselor, and everyone’s goofball friend.
When I was a child I wanted to be … a veterinarian.
I relax by … Reading, walking in the hills, brushing a horse, and alone time with God.
Where can we find out more about you and your lovely book?
Blog: http://tawnyabulger.tateauthor.com/target=”_blank”>http://www.tawnyabulger.tateautor.com (coming soon!)
Book reviews/interviews at: http://lisatortorello.blogspot.com/2012/10/proud-to-support-our-troops.html
Stockists: The books can be purchased through my website or Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble’s website or ordered from any bookstore.
Tawnya, thanks so much for sharing your writing journey, and your inspiring words to people of all ages. Katrina: Growing Wings has a wonderful message. Wishing you every success with Katrina: Growing Wings.
Helen Ross interviews Tawnya Bulger 1 May 2013 Copyright 2013.