Conversations on the Craft of Writing with Tonya Penrose
The Multi-Genre Author Who Plunges Spirit-First Into Creating Each New Story
I'm always looking to learn from other writers about their approach to the craft! I want to know what motivates them, what they find challenging, and — most of all — what they love about writing.
I recently got to the chance to hear from Tonya Penrose, who is passionate about storytelling and fascinated by the influence it has on people and the decisions they make in life.
Here's what she had to say...
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? What studying or training have you undertaken that’s brought you to where you are now?
I knew that I wanted to create books in first grade. My initial attempt at writing a fairytale with two words on a page depended on my crayon illustrations to move the story along. Alas, an illustrator I am not. I had to wait for my reading and writing skills to catch up with my desire.
Tell us about any work you’ve had published or anything you’re working on now. How do you decide which projects you want to pursue?
My fiction and nonfiction stories are published in numerous anthologies, e-magazines, local press, and literary magazines. Old Mountain Cassie: The Three Lessons was my first novel.
A Secret Gift is a light romance offering sighs, smiles, and surprises.
The Shell Isle Mystery Series introduces two novels: Baubles to Die For and Red, White, and Boom.
Do you have a preferred genre to write in?
I've smartened up and no longer proclaim preferred genres. To date, in fiction: mystery, romance, magical realism, and a big flirt with paranormal romance in novel 5, Charm.
Who is your favorite character or what is your favorite part from any work you’ve written?
My favorite character is Old Mountain Cassie. She taught me her secret for how to have an amazing life.
What’s your writing process? Do you have any routines or habits that help you do your best work?
I don't underestimate the power of my two writing chairs. One sits in the mountains and the other at the beach. In fact, I dedicated A Secret Gift to my two chairs for their continued support. 😊 When a story is coming in, I park myself each morning in a writing chair and repeat the process each day until the first draft is finished. I allow exceptions if the call for fun grows loud. And it does. What helps my stories to flow is trusting the process and pushing my inner critique voice to the side.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received? And the worst?
The best advice I received was to suspend judgment until the story's first draft is completed. The worst advice came from my English professor who told me if you can't write a theme, you can't progress. I still can't, and I did progress. So there…Dr. W.
Who’s an author you really admire?
I confess that I admire different authors for different reasons. Rex Stout for snappy dialogue. Agatha for her exquisite weaving. Austen for her ability to create clean, steamy romance. And science fiction writers for seeing into the future.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to face with any given writing project?
The biggest challenge for me today is finding a publisher/agent who has discovered a fresh creative approach with marketing in these changing times. My latest novel, Charm, is looking for such a happy and prosperous home. I’m intentional about building a solid author platform and inviting readers to discover the messages within my books.
When you have a bad case of writer’s block and are procrastinating, what would we probably find you doing?
Writer's block, huh? You'd find me standing at a cosmetic counter swatching lipsticks for retail therapy. Kidding. I'd be walking on a trail asking my muses what gives?
What’s the best feedback you’ve ever received from a reader?
The best feedback from a reader that I've received was, "Give me lots more stories."
What does literary success look like to you?
I believe that success gets defined by each day. I strive not to define something that can deliver on amazement. I try to ignore the temptation to leave the now.
Finally, where can readers follow you — website, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook page, etc.?
Facebook: Tonya Renrose