April 26, 2021– Our guest blogger today is none other than the one and only Tonya Cartmell! You know her as the author of the number 1, best-selling children’s bookThe 12 Days of Rescue! Available here: The 12 Days of Rescue – Pandamonium Publishing House
Let’s see what her take is for pushing the envelope in her writing:
How do I push the envelope in my writing? That is an interesting question and one which being a new author with only one book published, I am not sure I can offer a lot of insight into. What I can tell you is this:
Push yourself and believe in your ability to accomplish your dreams – For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a writer. Several times a day I will see, hear or read something that makes me think of a story idea, an opening sentence or a “What if?” scenario. The problem was because I never believed that I could create something that someone would want to publish, I never pushed myself to make my dream a reality. I also did not invest in things that could help me accomplish my goal.
Around 14 years ago, I decided it was time to go back and finish my university degree. I took an adult leadership course and the final paper required you to analyse a situation and suggest leadership skills or strategies that could be used to recognize and improve employee satisfaction and workplace workflows. There was a situation outlined that we could use however, it was close to Christmas and there was a song playing on the radio that I thought was a perfect example of unhappy employees about to mutiny. If you have not heard Elf’s Lament by the Barenaked Ladies, listen to the words. I decided to try and base my paper on that song and was able to apply the leadership skills and strategies I had learned about in that class to it. Pushing myself to come up with something original made my paper stand out amongst the others.
In 2019, I faced turning fifty. Not a big deal to many people but, to me it was the kick in the pants to finally push myself to stop dreaming and start doing. I made it my goal to write a book and submit it. I also signed up for a writing course. The one I choose was offered by Pandamonium Publishing House. It provided me with many writing tools and someone that I could ask questions to. The next hurdle was coming up with something to write about. How do I turn a few sentences or an idea into a book? What worked for me was making myself write. I have always been one who writes things in my head and then sits down to put it on paper. While this worked well for school papers, it was harder for a book. I started keeping notebooks everywhere to jot things into when I did not have my laptop and have even used the voice memo feature on my phone in the car. I started doing photo prompts which I had never tried before and now love to do. I even submitted one to Pandamonium in May 2019 and it was picked to be posted in their blog the next month. That was the turning point that made me realize I can really do this. From there I did write a children’s book, Twelve Days of Rescue which was published by Pandamonium in September 2020. All because I finally believed I could do it and pushed myself to work for it.
Try new things – What better way to write and learn about things, then by trying new experiences that relate to the story you are going to tell. The middle school novel I have almost finished is called The Second Hand Witch. Another that I have outlined is Called the Dead Boys. All I knew about witches and ghosts is what I have seen on tv, in movies, read about or stories I’ve heard. Luckily, I have two friends who are always up for an adventure or whatever crazy idea I may have. So, to push myself outside of my comfort zone, and to experience new things, I get them to come along. Together, we have taken classes on crystal ball reading, witches broom making, spell casting, done gravestone rubbings, participated in a Samhain ceremony, slept in a haunted hotel and hostel, participated in the ghost investigation of a cemetery and Fort Henry and done many ghost walks. I love paranormal things but would never do these things on my own. With them, I have met some wonderful people, learned new things, been scared and had tons of laughs. You can be sure that some of our adventures will be in those two books.
Explore a new genre – I want to branch out from writing children or middle school books but was unsure what to move to. One thing I love is the Irish history my husband and I have learned while visiting Ireland, so I thought I would try my hand at an adult historical fiction novel. This is something I have never done or even considered before, so it is a big leap for me.
The word count is a little intimidating, so I know I am going to have to push myself to be organized, create character sheets, and outline my chapters in more detail than I normally do. I know the time period I want to set the story in and have an idea for some of the characters but learning how to tie a fictional story into actual events that happened makes me want to ensure I have my facts right. To do this, I am going to have to do research. With COVID, our local library is closed and there are not a lot of books easily available here on the event I am researching.
I decided to try something I have not done before and requested to join a private Facebook group dedicated to the events I am trying to learn about. From here I met someone with connections to that time period who has helped me find books on the subject as well as shared some stories with me. This has increased my excitement for the project, and I am looking forward to seeing how it develops.
For me, these are the ways that I push myself to try and improve my writing.
Awesome job, Tonya! Stay tuned for more guest bloggers as we wrap up this month’s theme of pushing the envelope.
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