Tell us why you participate in National Novel Writing Month
I find it a superb way to practice writing to a deadline, write without the worry of editing and letting my creativity flow with no constraints.
How/When did you first learn about NaNoWriMo?
My first NaNo was 2009 when I was persuaded by a new writing friend from my writing group to participate. At the time I’d only written very short stories (and I mean short). The idea of fifty thousand words made me refuse point blank but gradually she convinced me I could do it. That first NaNo’s project was edited and revised almost every year until I finally published it 2018.
How many years have you participated in NaNoWriMo?
This will be my tenth NaNo – I only missed 2017 when I was working on two manuscripts that were published that year.
What is your NaNoWriMo project for this year?
The idea came late in October (almost November) it just popped into my head to write a young romance set within a university campus. The two main protagonists have evolved into fully rounded characters now.
If you were to introduce yourself to a group of strangers, what would you say?
I indulge my creativity in writing whether writing fiction or aiding clients within my freelance business and am a writing community advocate.
Do dreams inspire your writing ideas?
I have used several dream sequences within my works of fiction, they are always vivid and I quickly write them down. I always have a notebook on the bedside table.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
Stephen King is my literary hero. He is the greatest story teller, creating characters with minimal description, grips your interest from the first page and never disappoints. My greatest possession is a personal letter I received from him. It is framed about my writing desk.
What is your preferred genre to write in?
I do not write to genre, I write the story an it chooses which genre it is as it unfolds.
It may seem like an easy to answer question but for most writer’s it is a multi faceted one. I have answered with:
Word or picture prompts
Overheard snippets of conversation
An idea popped into my head randomly
A personal interest
A topic of conversation
A couple of examples:
My children’s picture book, Rumble’s First Scare was a Halloween prompt, which I turned upside down. It is the monster’s point of view of Halloween and his first scare adventure with his Mum.
The Rython Kingdom began as a series of prompts that gelled together to form a story by pure chance.
It is not so clear cut as these to be honest but it helps a non-writer understand the creativity side of our brains a little easier.
I presented a workshop on how to formulate an idea into a novel at the WFSC writer’s conference in the spring. From that initial spark to compiling a story line/arc, creating a plot arc, introducing characters, and finding the correct conclusion for the genre. It was a fun experience.
One of the most defining and yet complicated relationships women have is with their mothers; this was true, at least, of Danielle, the protagonist of my first book. But parents – and especially mothers – seem to lose their identities except as “mom”. I wanted to explore who Danielle’s mother was before she was a mother; her identity, her past. Her secrets. Why is she the way she is, which has such an effect on Danielle? And then, I’m always interested in women’s issues, and the 1960s was such a turbulent time for that, so it all played in to the inspiration.
How did you come up with the title?
To Air the Laundry… the whole premise follows Sharon deciding to tell her secret or not. She spends so much of her day doing her husband’s laundry, and as she does this, she thinks and wonders and remembers, and struggles with whether to air the laundry of her own, so to speak.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
It’s okay. Sometimes it is what it is and it might be hard, but we do the best with what we can and deal with what happens afterward and all of that is okay, even if it doesn’t always seem that way. I also want people to remember that each person has her own story; everyone has thoughts, experiences, secrets, a full identity, and we usually catch only glimpses of the whole story.
How much of the book is realistic?
It’s realistic fiction, so pretty much all of it. In a note from me at the end of the book, I say that this is not the story of any one person I know, but it is one story that could have belonged to any one of hundreds or thousands of young women over the years and generations.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
No, not really. As a teacher I see a lot, and I know a lot of women who struggle with the career vs family decisions, even now, so in the 1960s it was even more pronounced.
Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?
Yes, I do; I’ve started my third book, and while it is a stand-alone, as are my first two, there is tie-in. It actually centers on a minor character from my first book, Allison. I really like exploring different styles of storytelling, and this is something completely different from anything I’ve tried before, so I’m really taking my time with it, but I’m having a lot of fun with it, too.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
Hmm. This is a tricky one. I have to say it’s pretty tied between Mark, the husband from The Girl with the Empty Suitcase, who I feel is wonderfully flawed and human, and Melinda, who makes a brief appearance in The Girl with the Empty Suitcase, but is more present in To Air the Laundry. Melinda is sassy and strong and fiercely fun-loving and brash and independent, and I just think she’s fabulous. Maybe she’ll show up in future stories; I don’t know, but I hope so.
Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
I write women’s literature, which is usually realistic fiction, but there is a lot of overlap. To Air the Laundry, since it takes place in the 1960s, overlaps with historical fiction. My new book actually overlaps a bit with magical realism, and I’m toying with a new idea for the future that overlaps with science fiction. They all are firmly in women’s literature though, in whatever other form they may also take.
Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
I’m in the middle; I’m a “plantser”. I do outlines and have a rough plan or idea for my stories, but the details get worked out as it all develops.
What is your best marketing tip?
Just keep at it. I’m learning every day, and it’s hard, but just keep trying.
Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?
Though it does get to be a distraction, I actually generally find it a very useful tool. I connect with other writers and readers and use it for marketing, but also to “nerd out” over books and writing in general, which I love and find so important.
What age did you start writing stories/poems?
About 5 years old. I remember laying on my stomach on a bed, writing and illustrating stories with crayons. I attempted a novel at age 12; it was awful. My brother accidentally deleted it right around 100 pages, and he probably did the world a solid favour, but I kept the title for use for a future story – it was the best part of it all. When I was in upper elementary or junior high I started telling people I wanted to right a book, and I once recorded all the old family stories and anecdotes and put them together and gave them to my dad for a gift once. When it came time to share talents, I never knew what to do, so I’d always just tell people a story; so I’ve always been writing.
Has your genre changed or stayed the same?
Growing up I didn’t realize how much genres overlapped each other; science fiction can also be women’s lit! So while I always primarily write realistic fiction/women’s lit, I am a lot more playful in combining genres.
Do you read for pleasure or research or both?
Both. Reading for pleasure is also research! I usually have two or three books on the go at one time, outside of work, where I typically have another three. I learn a lot and am made of the pages I read.
Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?
My husband. One hundred percent. He reads everything I write, even though it’s not his genre at all. He encourages; he sets up tables and displays, he shares on social media, he sets up orders at his work, he sells books for me at my launches, he insists I take days where I do nothing but read or write, even when I’m complaining about my to-do list… he is the best support ever. I’m very fortunate to have a great support system – friends, family. My mother-in-law does my cover art and frequently helps me sell at markets. The community and my students are also really supportive.
Where is your favorite writing space?
At home, on my couch, with at least one of my dogs curled across me and at least one cat continuously trying to walk across the keys of my laptop. Add a giant cup of tea and that’s pretty heavenly.
If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why?
Margaret Atwood. She is an incredible storyteller who is able to weave an incredible plot while still focusing on character. She is also concerned with women’s stories, and so important to Canada, not just in the literary world. Plus, I think she just seems like an awesome human being.
If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?
I always say Venice, Italy, but I think maybe I’d just live there part time. Part time on a beach somewhere. And part time here in the Crowsnest Pass. When I was very young – again maybe 5 – I told my mother I was going to marry a man home by 5 every night, and we were going to live in a small town in the mountains where I was going to write and teach kids about reading and writing. And we would have a lot of animals. That’s what I’m living right now, and it’s pretty fantastic.
Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. I’m not doing it now, as I’m a high school English teacher, but for others, most definitely. Maybe one day, as I get older, get a few more books out, it will be for me, but for right now I also love being in the classroom. The people I know who make writing their full-time career; I’m both happy and a little envious of them.
Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?
Sometimes, yes. I like salty snacks, like crackers or popcorn, or occasionally something small and sweet, but most often I’m drinking coffee or tea or occasionally a glass of wine when I’m writing.
What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?
More time reading and writing!
Krysta MacDonald writes about realistic characters confronting the moments and details that make up lives and identities.
She lives in a small Canadian town in the Rocky Mountains with her husband and veritable zoo of pets. She has a B.A. in English and a B.Ed. in English Language Arts Education, and spends most of her time teaching, prepping, marking, and extolling the virtues of Shakespeare. When she isn’t doing that, she’s writing, and when she isn’t doing that, she’s reading.
As writers and authors, we are formidable in our ability to create narratives but we also have to learn how to market the ‘end product’ of those many months or even years of creativity. We become a book business.
The first avenue many authors take is social media, which can be seen as a ‘soft’ option. After all we are not up close and personal with the public but at arm’s length. However, due to the countless sites available just choosing the ‘right’ one or two can be overwhelming. Then there is the matter of maintaining our ‘presence’ on each platform. We need to research which avenues of promotion will work best not just for our genres but also our ability to sustain them. Do your research on similar authors in your genre and see what they use (and of course ‘follow’ them).
2. Following selected authors, genre based bloggers, book reviewers, and writing groups allows you to gain followers but also to learn about your particular genre and gain a reader base. When someone is interested in your genre they ‘search’ for more posts, articles, links and books within that specific field. While you are doing that follow 10 ‘friends’ of friends on Facebook and 100 people on Twitter – this can gain a wider audience. However, in light of these two platforms losing participants also follow people on Instagram. (We have to keep up with the ‘in’ thing!)
3. Improve your author bio on all platforms to entice and inform as many followers as possible on all sales sites, your blog and social media platforms. Ask yourself – does it reflect you as a writer as well as a person.
4. Use hashtags specific to writing, authors, books, genre and associated links – look at what other authors use.
5. Then there is the personal touch, which means organizing or being involved in author readings, attending book events and participating in Q&A panels. Search your local area for book related events, get to know your local bookstores, inquire at your library, join a local writing group, the wider your reach the easier it will be to find avenues of sale for your book.
6. Merchandise is another way of promoting your book. It can be as simple as custom bookmarks to T-shirts with the book cover/main character on the front. Make up a prize basket for a contest to be collected at an event (good photo opportunity to use on social media) or create an online contest for a free autographed copy of your book.
7. An easy promotion is to leave five of your author business cards in local businesses, at the doctor’s or dentist’s office, or anywhere you visit on a regular basis. Many places have community boards too so pin some cards or a poster of an event you are attending there too.
Do you have any promotion tips you would like to share?
I so enjoy this annual event not just because I am involved with the organization of it (I’m secretary of the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County) but that so many local authors attend – some are regular to the event but every year new authors join us. Part of Alberta Culture Days, the event hosted it’s 12th year with 50 tables of authors and artisans.
As may of you know, I am rather an obsessed planner, so had practiced my table displays before hand. With eight published books in multiple genres, it takes some planning! With two tables, I could split the children’s and YA books from the adult books by way of different coloured tablecloths. I also, again, used summary & review pages (backed with linking coloured card to the book background colour – see obsessive!) for each book. This engages the visitors and gives them an idea of the story and what other readers thought of it. I also have merchandise, hats and T-shirts, related to a couple of the books, which are always fun.
This year was the launch of the sequel to The Rython Kindom, which was reader driven (they nagged until I wrote it – a nice thing for an author to experience). Rython Legacy follows the trials of the original sorceress’ grand-daughter.
This is the second book fair in September, a week earlier I was at Word on the Street in Lethbridge, and each time it is the connection to local authors that makes the events so special. I do have several other book events up until the end of the year to attend.