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Best Selling Author, Tonya Cartmell is Our Guest Blogger!

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.

To check out our writing classes, click here:

Children’s Book Writing Master Class – Pandamonium Publishing House 

Transitioning from Writer to Author (An Introductory Course) – Pandamonium Publishing House

Course: Get Your Book Noticed and Increase Your Sales – Pandamonium Publishing House

Novel Writing Course – Pandamonium Publishing House

Kids Creative Writing Course – Pandamonium Publishing House

 

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Once Upon a Time by Sam Nemeth

April 28, 2021-I’d like to wish my sweet nephew, Harvey a very happy first birthday! We love you so much, Harvard and are so excited to watch you grow!

Our guest blogger today is our very own Samantha Nemeth! We’re continuing to talk about pushing the envelope in our writing and we’re so excited to get Sam’s perspective. Check out her book DJ the Terrible, here: DJ (Djeaneautha) The Terrible! – Pandamonium Publishing House

Once upon a time, there was an ordinary bookstore employee named Sam and every day she helped customers, worked the cash, and dreamed of being a writer. At home, she wrote for fun and through a stroke of serendipity, her first novel was published! She then spent her retail days dreaming of a summer filled with festivals and fairs to sell her beloved work of art…until the Pandemic hit and shook the foundations of life as she knew it. Retail was shut down, Festivals were cancelled, fairs postponed. And because of that she had a surplus of time, and nothing to dream about. What was a dreamer with no dreams to do?

Aha, she thought, I’ll work on my sequel! But the times were grim, inspiration was scarce, and she grew tired of sitting in the dark of writer’s block. So she reached for the shining blue light of her computer and took to the internet.

She gathered tips from her publisher and fellow writers and put them to practice. She made herself write when ideas were dry. She read genres she’d neglected before. She listened to music that embodied the tone for her tale. She enrolled in an improv class, stepping out of her comfort zone. She embarked on a quest for mindfulness to squash the gremlin who whispered lies that she was not good enough.

And because of that, she began to believe. In her story, in her characters, and in herself. She no longer had to force herself to write. She was alive with ideas! The ebbs and flows of the music that trilled through her headphones inspired twists and turns that thrilled the author. Her characters surprised her with uninhibited quirks, quips, and moments of growth. Her story grew into something more fantastical than she ever could have imagined when her journey began. Her fingers flew across the keyboard and committed to paper the escapade unfolding in her mind’s eye. And as the decadent hum of the printer faded into the night, she held up her fresh, shiny precious with a grin. Her outline was complete.

And because she’d written such an outline, she was faced with the age old question…to submit to the publisher, or not to submit? She was afraid. She loved what her story had become and the fear of rejection was strong. But thanks to her tactics, her newfound confidence was stronger. She didn’t shy away, but took the fear with her as she bravely hit that Gmail send button.

She spent the afternoon biting her nails as she awaited a reply. What if she hates it? The gremlin whispered until finally, a blipideboop rang out from her computer. She had a reply, and it was good!

And ever since, Sam has spent her days not as a dreamer, but as a writer, nurturing that outline into her sequel, and being happily entertained by her own creation.

***

In case you’re wondering, that girl is me. Hi, I’m Sam. The theme of this month is all about pushing the envelope and trying new things, so I wanted to try something a little quirky with my story above. I actually have been utilizing all of those tactics in addition to simply writing more often. When I look back at my first book and compare it to what I’ve written of my second, I can see a definite change; for the better in my humble opinion.

The most important thing for me was to get out of my own way; to figure out how to believe in myself and my imagination. Mindfulness has been huge for me in that sense. The next thing that has been super fun in terms of broadening my horizons, has been improv. I’m also an actor, so performing has been a part of my life for a long time, but improv was always this big scary beast that I cowered from. When I started to embrace it, I realized that it was an excellent way to get into the moment, let ideas fly without fear of looking “dumb”, and to see things from a different perspective.

In this class, I also learned about something called the Once Upon a Time Story Spine, which was developed by Pixar and is used in the movie industry to pitch plot ideas. I actually challenged myself to use that Story Spine format to write my story up above. Here’s the general flow of it.

  1. Once Upon a Time there was (insert description of your character)…
  2. Every day (this happened, or they did this, etc)…
  3. Until (insert some course changing event)
  4. And Because of That (what did they do?)
  5. And Because of That…
  6. And Because of That…
  7. Until finally, (some big crux happens)…
  8. And ever since (their world and their ‘every day’ has been changed)…

So, I challenge you to write a Pixar movie plot about yourself. Who knows, maybe the hero your writing needs, is you!

Thanks, Sam! We can’t wait for your next book! If you’re looking for inspiration in your writing, check out my number 1 best selling book here: Advice From a Publisher (Insider Secrets for Getting Your Work Published!) An Amazon Best Seller – Pandamonium Publishing House

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Use Your Voice

April 17, 2021– As we continue to explore pushing the envelope in our writing this month, we need to discuss vulnerability as authors. Oftentimes we limit ourselves by not using our voices to write about things that matter. Here are some ways that you can challenge yourself and push the envelope in your writing:

  • Write a letter to the editor. Writing an opinion piece can do wonders for helping you break out of your writing comfort zone and help you express your ideas to a large audience. Each time you do this, you become more confident and self-aware of your beliefs and what matters most to you. Also, letter writing is a whole new world for some of you as this practice has generally fallen by the wayside, with email and texting now available. It’s always good to try something new.
  • Guest blog. Some blogs will allow submissions for guest posts, and it’s important to take these opportunities if they are presented to you. Not only will you be able to reach new readers, but you’ll be able to give a different perspective from the blog host to keep things fresh and interesting. I love inviting guest bloggers to submit articles for our site because why should readers only be exposed to my methods, techniques, and viewpoints? A unique take on an old subject can do wonders for helping you push the envelope in your writing.
  • Ask a question. If you have social media or a platform to connect with your readers, why not ask them a question? Get them involved in the discussion you’ve started, and watch as all the different points of view add up. Then, use some of those discussion points to challenge yourself in your writing life. You will see that there are two sides to every coin, and if you look close enough, you’ll see that they are actually multi-faceted when it comes to opinions and beliefs. You could incorporate the information you gather into a storyline, plot, or while developing characters.

Speak up, speak out, and use your voice as an author to change the world around you for the better.

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Challenging your Characters

April 9, 2021– Today, we’re talking about pushing the envelope with your characters as we continue to explore our theme this month! But what does this all mean? Here are a few ways to stack the odds against your character and challenge them to reach their potential in your writing.

  1. Increase the stakes. There’s no better way to keep your reader on the edge of their seat rather than putting your character into a life-or-death situation. For children’s books, we must be mindful of threatening situations, but the rest of the genres are fair game. Perhaps the main character is in a car accident, and their car plunges off a bridge and into a river. Maybe your character comes face to face with a stranger who gives them an ultimatum, or perhaps they have to fight their way out of a dire situation that requires physical and mental stamina. However you choose to up the stakes, make sure you’re making them relevant to the story.
  2. Take a risk. What are the risks that your character needs to take, and how can you make them even riskier? Think of the best-selling book by Stephen King, IT. We know that Georgie took a risk and followed his paper boat down the flooded streets and into the sewer, where he was greeted by a sinister, homicidal, supernatural clown. This is an integral part of the story that sets the tone and without the risk of Georgie following his boat, the book certainly wouldn’t have come to life. And if we think of all the additional risks the characters take to defeat IT; their challenges make for an incredible journey of triumph over evil.
  3. Back them into a corner. You should always back your characters into a corner while writing because it allows your reader to relate to them. We’ve all experienced what feels like impossible situations at times, but the good news is, we have survived 100% of our bad days. If you can make your reader care about your characters, they’ll care about your book. Backing your characters into corners can include situations like not having money to pay the bills, a threat of eviction, being fired, and experiencing a breakup all at the same time. When you get your reader to sympathize with your character and root for them (whether good or bad), you’ve done your job as a writer. It also allows your readers to see that anything is possible, any situation can be overcome (one way or another), and the strength of the human spirit. Give your readers hope that they too can get out of tricky situations.

Push the envelope and find out what your characters are made of! Happy Writing X LLB