The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Jessica Ophus writes a book "Bonus Love"


October 28, 2020

"...Having someone new in your life does not mean that there is less love, but in fact, there is more. Having a Bonus Mom means having Bonus Love." This is one of the main messages in Bonus Love: A Children's Book for Blended Families by local author Jessica Ophus. Jessica recently came to Montana as a travel nurse. While in the area, she met Big Sandy's own Mason Ophus. The pair became friends, eventually started dating, and recently got married. As the couple prepared for their wedding day, the discussion turned to how to best help 6-year old Maci Ophus understand and adjust to having a "bonus mom."

As Jessica describes it: "Bonus Love was a book that was born out of necessity in our little world." Jessica describes the circumstances of "...working with Maci and helping her understand what life was like having both a mom and a bonus mom. Learning that transition in the family dynamic. What it meant for me to be a part of her life, how my role evolved. From a friend, to her dad's girlfriend, to her dad's fiancé, to her dad's wife. Meaning that I got to be a bonus mom to her. When we were working on helping her understand the process, the transition, and even the terminology... what some of those things meant, I started looking for a book to read and make it more real for her or more normal for her. I hopped on the internet and did a search, and I couldn't find anything that quite fit our story." Jessica came across all sorts of books dealing with blended family situations, but none that addressed the situation they were facing.

"I was talking to Mason and I said: 'I can't believe this doesn't exist. This is not an uncommon situation in this day and age, why doesn't this book exist for little people?' He said: 'I dunno. Just write it.' I said, 'Okay.' So, I just wrote the book."

The first draft of Bonus Love was completed in one evening. Jessica describes actually typing it up on her cell phone while lying in bed. The following morning, she printed the text out and began the editing and revising process. For this stage in the journey of taking her idea from a conversation about a need to a printed product, Jessica brought in several friends and family members who had first hand experience being a bonus mom or bonus child. They offered revisions, additions, and tweaks. In fact, Jessica did not have to do any research for the project. Her older sisters were the bonus kids in her blended family. "So living with extra kids and extra people in our life has always been normal. That's been a part of my life since forever. As far as research into the story, it was truly experience and understanding: some of what I saw her go through and pulling in experiences of my family and friends who have gone through it as well." Jessica went on to describe blended families that her sisters are a part of, as well as getting insight from a close friend from High School. These first hand encounters with the phenomena helped Jessica address a complex issue with a great deal of understanding for the things that children go through when their parents re-marry. Her book provides opportunities for conversations about the terminology related to blending families, as well as the jealousy children often experience.

Once the text was finished, Jessica began considering the issue of publication. "The goal for me was to have the book published before we got married. Initially, the wedding would have been in May, so I didn't even try to pitch it to publishers. I just started looking to self-publish so we could have it before we got married." She went with Author House Publishing and chose to work with Taylor Thompson for illustrations. Jessica met Taylor through a Facebook Group for small business owners. The illustrations took six weeks to complete. Once the page layout was completed, publication took an additional 6 weeks. The Ophus family received their first copy of the book the week of their wedding.

How did Maci feel about Bonus Love? "She loved it. She actually didn't know that it was even in the works until after we had a copy in our hands, and we read it to her. That was a part of our wedding week celebration. A part of that was reading the book. And she, at first, didn't realize that it was about us. Then we got maybe four or five pages in, and she kinda looked up and said "Well this girl's name shouldn't be Katelyn (that's the bonus mom in the book), this should be Jessica, not Katelyn.'" Now Maci asks to hear her "family book" at least once a week as a bedtime story.

The first published run of 275 copies of the book arrived while Jessica and Mason were on their honeymoon. It waited in their garage until they returned and Jessica was able to focus on a book launch. She sold the first 60 copies before the book had been printed. Many of the copies were sold to Benton Pharmacy and Simply Natural in Havre, where they can be purchased. Twenty of the books were sold through preorders.

Jessica explained that she had never seriously considered writing a book before this. "It's never something I've been passionate about, but we needed it. We needed this story, and I felt like if we needed this story, then other families would need it, too. So I put it on paper and got it out into the world so that other little people can have that conversation starter with their families and feel a little bit less isolated as this transition happens." She felt it was vital that kids have a resource to normalize the experience for them. "Hearing a story about it makes it feel more normal. Having some of those conversations might help explain some of those emotions, like jealousy or understanding that bringing somebody else into your life doesn't mean there's less love. It means there is more. Having a bonus mom means that you also have bonus aunts and uncles and bonus grandparents. Those things are exciting. It's not that you're having to choose who to love, you have more people to love."

So far the reviews for the book have been positive and can be read on Jessica's website, where the book is also available for purchase: She's already received requests for other variations on the bonus parent theme from parents facing similar situations. She has indicated that she is open to writing them, but because of the nature of self publishing, she will likely wait until the first title has paid for itself before considering getting started on another book.

Jessica was quick to express her gratitude to the community for their support in the process of writing and publishing Bonus Love. You get get your own copy at the Big Sandy or Benton Pharmacies, Simply Natural, or on her website ( The book is also available through the Barnes and Noble website and on Amazon.


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