Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Guest Post Wed: Write What You Know!

Write What You Know! 

with Mary Cunningham

The dream takes place in a mysterious attic. At times the attic is exciting and mysterious, but many times it is dark and foreboding.

I'd just finished telling my best friend, Diana, about the recurring dream I'd had for almost 20 years, when I had a "light-bulb" moment. It occurred to me that the dream took place in the attic of my childhood friend, Cynthia. "Hmmm…" Diana pondered, "Cynthia's Attic. What a great title!" That's when the dreams stopped and the writing began.

I sat in my New Jersey home wanting desperately to write about the dream and to recall the fond memories of playing in Cynthia's attic as a child. I should write a memoir! No…a picture book…maybe a song! (That didn't work!) Nothing seemed to strike me, so I let go and just started writing. A four-page memoir eventually turned into a 33,000-word young reader novel, and took more than three years to write. Another two years would pass before the book was published, and the final edit submitted.

I believe the greatest obstacle I had to overcome was reminding myself that it was permissible, even preferable, to write "outside the box." The only limits would be my imagination (or lack thereof). Whenever I felt myself getting stale, I'd open Harry Potter. If there's one thing I learned from J.K. Rowling's writing, it's that anything can happen in fantasy fiction. If you can write it…it can happen.

So many authors force themselves to write a specific number of hours a day. Write! Write! Write! Even if it's no good, or doesn't make sense. Eventually, I'll write something that's good and makes sense to somebody…somewhere. This method may work for them, but it's useless to me. If I sit for more than ten minutes struggling with word after word, I get up and do something more constructive.

The best advice, however, is write what you know. I picked up this little tidbit early on and have never forgotten it; evidenced by my 5-book series, Cynthia's Attic, set in my hometown using ancestors as story characters. I get great feedback from elementary school students and teachers after my Power Point "Ideas" presentation that highlights family pictures and settings.

My wish is to inspire the young and old to write! And, if you need further inspiration, keep in mind that I didn't write my first book until I was 50!

Cynthia's Attic: Legend of Lupin Woods (Book 5) 

Cynthia and Gus have solved a lot of mysteries across time, but something is seriously wrong and things are beginning to unravel. Aunt Belle is missing…again! Cynthia’s great-grandfather, Beau, was never found! And now they are wondering if Blackie is still making life miserable for Lilly and Annie. This time, the twelve-year-old girls journey into a strange woods full of frightening creatures and dark secrets in search of answers. From Aunt Belle's cottage to a small village in France, they meet new friends and discover a connection to New Orleans that may lead to the devious source behind these alarming developments. Or bigger trouble.

Mary Cunningham Bio: Like Cynthia and Gus, my childhood best friend, Cynthia and I grew up in a small, Southern Indiana town…the setting for the series. Not one summer day passed that we weren’t playing softball, hide and seek, badminton, or croquet with friends in the vacant lot behind Becky’s house. In my attempt to grow up, I joined The Georgia Reading Association, and the Carrollton Creative Writers Club. When giving my fingers a day away from the keyboard, I enjoy golf, swimming and exploring the mountains of West Georgia where I live with my husband and adopted furry, four-legged daughter, Lucy.

Together we’ve raised three creative children and are thrilled with our 2 granddaughters. At last count, I’ve moved 9 times to six different states (all after the age of 36), and aside from the packing and unpacking, it’s been a great experience, having made some very dear and lasting friendships. My non-writing time is spent showing power point presentations on gathering ideas and the writing process to schools and libraries.

Mary Cunningham Books 
Smashwords Ebooks
B & N Book Nook OmniLit

video: Cynthia’s Attic Series for 'Tweens

Want to follow Mary Cunningham's virtual tour. Here is the schedule

1 comment:

  1. I'm thrilled to be a guest on the Writing Mama Blog to share my writing tips!

    Thanks! (Now, go forth and write!)