Author BJ Tassin has several projects in the works since the pandemic. They range from stories for family Facebook pages to a screenplay for her book "Bona-Fide." She's also working with her husband in their "Mom and Pop" mattress store, Cloud Nine Mattresses, and taking grandchildren along on adventures in the Ozarks.
"Bona-Fide" was published five years ago and tells the story of children looking for their father and their real last name in the Ozarks of the 1960s. Several of the characters will reappear in other companion novels she's working on. She's hoping to get more input from her readers as she's writing the prequel and the sequel.
The pandemic didn't make her job as a writer any easier, she explained. There were so many distractions, she said, so many people who were hurting. It was difficult to listen to the news and hear about civil rights issues, a topic that should have been settled long ago. She found it easier to write stories for the family Facebook pages she runs. Now that things are getting back to normal, she expects to continue working on her screenplay, as well as the novels that are underway.
Just before the pandemic got serious, she finished an audio version of Bona-Fide and included some original music. It may be the only audiobook around that has its own original music, she said. It was produced locally. She also drew the cover art for the book.
Tassin and her husband moved to Northwest Arkansas in 2002, after all three of their children were married. She knew the area from visiting her sister, but she didn't know that her grandmother had lived in Prairie Grove. Now, when family visits, they often take them to Prairie Grove and talk about both family history and Civil War history.
Some of the stories that her grandmother told found their way into Bona-Fide.
Their former employers in Louisiana helped them open Cloud Nine. They found a building on the outskirts of Bentonville and waited for the city to come to them. It did, but in spite of the traffic, they are still the kind of store that goes out of its way for customers.
Cloud Nine survived the pandemic partly because of Tassin's original take on curbside. She would get the phone calls asking about a mattress and would choose three or four to have available when the customer came in. So shopping was quick and safe. She also used her Facebook pages to draw in new customers.
The pandemic also forced a pause in her speaking career. She was speaking about her career as a writer and presenting to schools and some writer groups. She was also getting started as a speaker for Stonecraft Ministries and is looking forward to getting back to it.
Tassin has 10 grandchildren, including several that live in Bentonville. She spends most of her free time with family and loves to explore small towns and back roads. They also enjoy the local festivals like First Fridays in Bentonville. She's found a lot to love about her adopted hometown.