Q and A with Tonya Wilhelm
She will be teaching the one-day Saturday course, “Becoming a Social Media Maven.”
Q: Tonya, where do you live and what is unique about it?
A: I live in the small town of Northumberland, Pennsylvania. The Susquehanna River is visible from my home, and I can be found exploring its banks or crawling around fields with my camera and macro lens searching for the overlooked exotic creatures in my backyard to photograph.
Q: What was one of your favorite books as a child?
A: Growing up, I read a lot of fantasy and adventure stories, but my favorite book was Alice in Wonderland. I was delighted when I learned that the author, Lewis Carroll, was also a photographer. Photography and writing go hand in hand for me. Both are a form of creative storytelling. Now I am working on my own historical fantasy novel. In the meantime, I find myself creating my own wonderlands in fine art photographs. In fact, one of my most popular images is of a fat, colorful Prometheus Silkmoth Caterpillar on a mushroom. I frequently receive comments about how it looks like a page from Alice in Wonderland come to life.
Q: Have you ever visited the home of a famous writer?
A: When I was growing up, my dad tried to ruin a lot of good vacations with educational excursions that a child would not be impressed with. But if we ever visited the home of a famous author, I do not remember it.
Q: What are you currently reading for pleasure?
A: I am catching up on popular young adult fiction stories that my kids have on their reading list. I am currently on book four in the Harry Potter series (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). Although I am chalking this up to responsible parenting, I would have easily read this for my own enjoyment.
Q: What animal do you most identify with as a writer and why?
A: I identify with an otter; at least I do now that I have been asked this question. Like the otter, I am self-motivated, get distracted by my desire to be social, and if I can choose any restful activity, you will find me on my paddle board in the river.
Q: Do you consider yourself an introvert, an extrovert, or somewhere in between?
A: I don’t think I am naturally extroverted, but between the outgoing man I married and the nature of my business, I have forced myself to break out of my comfort zone. I crave my alone time, but my daily routine is a bustling mix of portrait photography, blogging, and social media hustling that require me to at least pretend to be extroverted.
Q: Can you share what a day in your writing life is like?
A: I approach a writing project the same way I create a fine art photography project. I start with a Pinterest vision board. Then I get paper and a pen. I sketch my photography ideas, and I handwrite my first draft. Both are disastrously messy looking, but I brainstorm more freely away from the computer.
Q: What advice would you give attendees to help them make the most of their time at a writers’ conference?
A: Soak it in. Whether you are trying to get to every class and event, or you need a retreat to finally get your thoughts in order and on paper, St. Davids provides an environment where you can be completely focused in your area of passion. I come home feeling accomplished. Every social interaction, class, and new goal set has me one step closer to realizing my potential to create.
Q: What are you most looking forward to during your faculty stint at St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference this June?
A: The theme of St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference, “Created to Create,” captures the way I have felt God leading me my whole life. I am looking forward to being immersed in an environment that encourages and thrives on creating. There is such an incredible connection to be made with the kindred spirits found at St. Davids.
Last year, was my first year to have a published book at the conference. I had the unique opportunity to photo illustrate a charming book of historical nonfiction. My skills as a photographer were not the only reason that my book was snatched up by a publisher. The publisher took on my project based on my social media exposure. My experience in marketing my business online ultimately made the book a risk work taking on. I am very passionate about social media marketing to promote creative endeavors of all types. I am so excited to help others do the same in my workshop this year.
Thank you, Tonya. Learn more about Tonya and her photography business at htttp://www.wilhelmphotography.net/.