About Tonya

When I decided to bite the bullet, to put my work out there for the public eye, I had a bunch of silly thoughts. One of those being that I needed a pen name; a pseudonym. At first I thought it’d be neat, but then it become a hassle and people were getting confused. Goodness, I was getting confused!

You can laugh at these other two reasons, I know I do, now. I didn’t think my real name would look pretty on a book cover and I feared everyone would ask, “Is she related to Rip VanWinkle”? Silly right? Perhaps it gives you a teeny tiny glimpse into my slight touch of OCD. Though if you ask those closest to me they may disagree on the “slight” part.

Now, don’t laugh at this one, it’s the most legit. I thought it would be a great way to honor the memory of my mother-in-law. Her name was Marilyn. I added the ending of her name to my maiden name, creating “Westlyn”. I’ve since come to the conclusion that the absolute best way to honor not only my mother-in-law but also my grandpa is to simply write the BEST stories I possibly can.

Where did Renea come from? It’s actually my middle name. So if you see Renea Westlyn connected with my name or on some of my books that is why.

On to business! What about me? Well, what is it you’d like to know? If there is one thing I hate writing, it’s “about me” sections. I mean, do you really want to know how long I’ve been writing, dreaming up stories and battling the fear within? Since I struggle writing these types of things I reached out to my readers and here’s what a couple of them wanted to know.

  1. What inspires your writing?
    1. Life experiences mostly, and feelings. Sometimes I can be listening to a song, watching something on t.v. or even reading a book and an idea will come because of what I heard, saw or read. It evoked a feeling within me or some might say struck a cord. It made me think, it brought back a memory or moment in time I’d forgotten and gave it new life, perhaps even new meaning.  I believe this is the way God designed me and when those ideas come out to play, well I tend to find it’s simply God’s way of getting my attention. He is the ultimate creator and master of all inspiration.

  2. How long have you had your notebook of ideas?
    1. Funny you should ask. I started writing around age 8. It was an outlet for me and I wrote everything. By the time I was 17 and in love with my now husband, I had a collection of filled journals. Those journals are long gone. I was embarrassed by them. I was afraid of them being read and ruining my future. I shared my whole life in those journals, the good, the bad and the oh, so very ugly. My fear developed into a bonfire and every word I’d written went up in smoke. It wasn’t long before I found myself buying journal after journal. I’d removed the ones I feared being read and traded them in for new ones I feared being read, because no matter what I have to write. I need that journal and that pretty pen and I need that outlet, like I need air in my lungs. So basically, I’ve always had a notebook.

  3. Would you include something from your time traveling aboard in a book?
    1. I can see that happening. I do have a few ideas that are linked to that time in my life.

  4. Where does the basis of your strength come from?
    1. Do you attribute it to your upbringing?
    2. A strong faith in God?
    3. A single religious experience?
    4. Having to defend yourself as a child?
    5. Being bullied?
    6. A certain author’s work?
      1. ^^^As you can see, that’s one loaded question. Let me knock 2 of them out of the way real quick. I didn’t have to do much defending myself as a child, nor was I bullied to any extreme. That doesn’t mean times weren’t hard or unpleasant. I had several traumatic experiences, just as I had many happy ones. I call it life and I choose to believe that I am an overcomer. I believe that strength comes from three places. God, my Mom and my Dad. So that kind of answers the second question. I believe I have a pretty strong faith, however, I’ve been proven on multiple occasions that it’s not as strong as I thought. I’m always learning and growing in the Lord and I will never be perfect. Perfection does not exist. It was already created and it died for me, for you, for every one of us. He was beaten and nailed to a cross, a crown of thorns placed upon his head. He died a most painful death, so that we might live and be given the opportunity to choose to have a relationship with our heavenly Father. The Father of all creation, all inspiration and all strength. Strength I believed he bestowed to my earthly Mother and Father, for I have seen them overcome many things. With my Mom I had a front row seat and with my Dad, I watched from the sidelines. Both have amazing strength and both are just as humble about it. So do I attribute it to my upbringing? Yes, yes I do. Do I attribute it to a single religious experience? No, I attribute it to many. And lastly, a certain author’s work? No, MANY! I do have my favorites and I do have those that I dream of writing like. Mostly, I find myself wondering what their real story is and am in awe at the strength in their writing.

What would you like to know? Send me an email, message me on Facebook or join my reader group and ask. I’ll answer.

One thing I can tell you, is that my Grandpa said some powerful words to me once. Those words continue to push me forward and I have to remind myself of them every time I struggle. Which is a lot and this is what he said:

You should have mailed that letter. It would have brought her great comfort, quit hiding the gift the Lord blessed you with.

I’ll leave you with one piece of advice, don’t hide your gift for you were meant to shine.




Something I wrote a couple years ago:

January 29, 2017: Twenty-Nine Years and Counting

A million pages written. A thousand chances lost. Stories yearning to breathe.

“The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live; a live thing, a story.” – Ursula K Le Guin

If the unread story could speak – then those I’ve written are crying; for they are all unread.

I reached for my journals and blew the dust off, watching it swirl and fall upon my trembling hands. “Just Breathe” – I reminded myself as I attempted to draw a full breath – just breathe. The ever-present rattle of my lungs hissed as the air escaped from within. I could do this. I could not worry. I could not panic. I could not…fear. I could just…

Just Breathe… Just Breathe… Just Breathe…

Perhaps, I should try again tomorrow. Slumping against the shelf I place my heart back inside the wooden box with the faux book front; where it is safe once again.

Tomorrow, I’ll be brave. Tomorrow, I’ll lay my heart before you.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear;

but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

~ 2 Timothy 1:7 ~