Friday, November 9, 2012

Interview Friday with Debut Author Traci McDonald

I'm excited about today's interview for a few reasons. The BIGGEST reason is because Traci and I are friends. We actually live about a mile from each other, are both on the Heritage Writers Guild (a chapter of the League of Utah Writers) board, attend the same church, have kids at the same schools and both write. The other reason why I'm excited to have her as my guest author interview is because Traci McDonald is my inspiration to keep writing. Now I know she will tell you it is the other way around, but honestly, this woman is amazing and everyone who gets a chance to meet her will say the same thing. She's not only a great writer, but she is blind too and doesn't let it stop her. I know I have grown a lot because of our friendship and I hope this small interview will help to inspire you to keep doing what you love no matter what.

About Traci McDonald:
Traci McDonald has been a writer since she figured out how to make words on a page. Traci wrote for English classes like most people, but she wrote everything else in between. Traci won minor competitions with short stories, poetry and lyrics before becoming visually impaired. That is just a political correct way of saying Traci McDonald is blind. Traci lost her eyesight 17 years ago, but it never stopped her from living life and following her dreams. She has struggled with her health and raising kids, prior to the publication of her first novel. Traci is very excited to see her dream in life coming true. She lives in a small cozy town in the Mojave Desert, less than 150 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada.


Traci McDonald has four other books in the process of becoming published and a whole list of others she plans to write.

VS: What do you do to help balance your writing life with your family life? 

Traci: There are two basic principles to achieving balance: time management and sacrifice. My three children are all in school full time so I am fortunate enough to have 5-7 hours a day to work with. If I lost myself in my writing for all that time, I could crank out novels by the dozen. However, I still have to manage time to do school and extra-curricular activities, clean, and cook. When I plan and manage my time, I can usually fit in a little marketing time, a little home time and a little writing time. When the kids are home though, my focus has to shift and I sacrifice what I have not accomplished to meet homework needs, chores, sports, and family time. Although I would like to be wrapped in my stories constantly, I give up writing a dozen novels for my kids. It works…usually. There are, of course, those days when I’m in the middle of a scene or the inspiration is flowing and the house is not so clean and we have peanut butter for dinner.


VS: Traci, you still amaze me at how much you do each day and I know your kids are wonderful about helping with the house so you can write. Which brings me to my next question. How long have you been writing? 

Traci: Yes, my kid and husband both support me in my writing and I'm lucky. To answer your question, I have been writing since I could hold a pencil and spell. It has always been a part of me. I wrote songs, poems, short stories and anecdotes all the way through college. I lost my eyesight when I was in my early twenties and it became more difficult to write. I lacked the technology that would have made it possible to continue writing seriously. For about 10 years I would type things into the computer and then get someone to read it to me and help me make corrections. This was long and tedious, and therefore I didn’t write very much or make much progress. I suffered a number of health problems during this time as well: two premature pregnancies, an international adoption, kidney failure, and of course progressive blindness. Three years ago after having a kidney transplant and feeling better than I had in 15 years, I got a hold of some computer software and began to learn and practice writing again. I still think of myself as learning and thriving in this world of authors and publishers, but I feel the confidence to push forward knowing if you work a dream long enough, it will come true.

VS: Your story is amazing and still inspires me each time I hear it. What inspired you to write your book? 

Traci: My novel Killing Casanova is a love story about two people who learn to love and trust each other despite the fact our hero is not much of a gentleman and our heroine can’t see who she is falling for. I wanted to show people the simple, pure way love works when we are not caught up in appearances. I wanted to take a man who had everything but was lost, and show him how a blind woman was the only person who truly saw the real man he was. I got the idea from a song that talked about a good time cowboy Casanova. The song describes Casanova as ‘a snake with blue eyes’ and I remember a time in my life when I would have fallen for a nice pair of azure eyes and forgotten to meet the man. Blindness has saved me from those childish follies and I wanted to tell that story.

VS: Wow, what a moving way to describe the inspiration for your debut romance novel, Killing Casanova, and for those of you who don't know...Traci's husband has those azure eyes and is a true sweetheart. Okay, Traci, you have shared a bit your crazy life. However, what is a typical writing day like for you? 

Traci: I get up and get my kids fed, dressed and off to school before I sit down at the computer. I generally check my email and answer what I can. I check my social network sites, post on Facebook if necessary and depending on the day, write on my blog tracimcdonald.blogspot.com\writing blind. I then do the chores on my list for the day: laundry, sheets and towels, floors, etc. After lunch, I will research my current project and write a scene or two from more than one of the novels I am working on. All the while I am listening to audio books, the news and learning from some tapes I have from Romance Writers of America Conferences. 

When my kids come home from school we do homework, chores and go to soccer, scouts, football, gymnastics etc. I usually get an hour or so to keep writing after that because my husband doesn’t get home from work until after 7 o’clock. We have dinner, get kids off to bed and then I may write for another hour if nothing else is going on, but often this is my husband time to catch up on the day, grocery shop or just collapse and go to bed ourselves. One of the privileges of being blind is it allows me the opportunity to multi-task. I can work around the house and listen to blogs or tapes, or even research. I can take my talking laptop, go to afterschool activities and still squeeze some writing in.

VS: I hope you know some authors are sitting here thinking, Maybe I should blindfold myself to get more work done. LOL. My next question I already know the answer too, but I would love for you share how your family is supportive of your writing. 

Traci: My husband and kids are super supportive. They get jealous for my attention some times, but I couldn’t do it without them. My husband and boys are great for untangling all the messes I make when I can’t figure something out on the computer. My youngest, who blesses “Mama to finish her books” in his prayers, is always there to to help me out. I'm grateful for all the sacrifices they make when I let some of my ‘mom’ jobs slip. 

VS: You really do have an amazing family who not only help but surround you with love. They really pitch in and go that extra effort when it comes to your writing. Can you share with us a little about your current book Killing Casanova? 

Traci: Killing Casanova is the story of Jake Caswell, a small town actor/model with the good looks and charm to have earned him the reputation of Casanova. When newcomer Cassie Taylor meets and instantly dislikes him, Jake sets out to add Cassie to Casanova’s list of conquests. Cassie has a bitter past with a man like Jake, but her complete indifference to him doesn’t save her from meeting up with him and seeing the truth of who he is. A disastrous barn fire nearly destroys them both before the two learn to let go of their pasts and figure out who is trying to kill Casanova.

Killing Casanova is a suspense romance ebook, which will be released into print this month. It is published through Crimson Romance, an imprint of Adam’s Media. It is 170 pages long and is available where most ebooks are sold and on Amazon in print.

VS: All writers have different things they difficult when it comes to writing. What did you find to be the most challenging part of writing your book(s)? 

Traci: Formatting and editing are the most difficult part of writing for me. I can’t see what I am writing so the computer reads it to me. His charming robotic voice can mispronounce words or make a word that is spelled wrong sound like it’s correct. I’m learning how to overcome these problems, but formatting is always an issue. The computer can’t tell me if I have the correct page breaks, the right number of spaces between lines or the right indentation on dialogue. I rely on the help of good editors, family and friends to do this visual part.

VS: LOL, I should have known that was going to be your answer. Yes, that would be the biggest challenge when you can't see, but to help you feel better...I know a lot of sighted authors who have trouble with formatting too. Traci, what part of your book do you feel really stands out to you personally? 

Traci: One of the most unique features in Killing Casanova is that parts of it are written from the blind character’s point of view. Not only is this significant for people who are blind, but it provides a glimpse of a blind person’s experience to sighted people. This aspect stands out to me because while I would never wish blindness on anyone, it is an experience unlike any other. I believe sighted people could learn how normal and fascinating being blind can really be.

VS: I totally agree with you. I know my outlook on life has greatly changed in knowing you. I see things beyond my own eyes more now. Which brings me to your characters. Did you put yourself into any of your charaters?

Traci: The blind character Cassie Taylor is most like me. She is more fearless than I am, but I am more open and trusting than she is. It was a unique challenge for me to try to create a character that lives in a world most people can’t imagine themselves in. I hope I was able to show that even though you can’t imagine trying to live blind, you can imagine the feelings, emotions, beliefs and lessons that we as humans share.

VS: I know for me, I really understood and related to what you were trying to do with your character Cassie, but then I spend a lot of time around you so some may say I'm bias. So I encourage those who haven't read your book to do so and see I'm not, and other reviewers who don't know have picked up these exact same things and then were surprised to find you were a blind author. Okay, back to the interview, I know you have other works in progress. Can you share a little about them? 

Traci: I have five other manuscripts that are almost finished or are in the process of being edited and polished. A sequel to Killing Casanova is in the works, a trilogy of paranormal romances and a contemporary romance I am still finding the voice of one of my characters. I have a whole list of book outlines and novel ideas as well as the beginnings of three other manuscripts. I like to have more than one project to work on because it cuts down on writers block.

VS: I'm looking forward to reading your other books/manuscripts when they are ready. I think it is great you have more than one writing project going and do it while raising a family. What tips can you give writing parents with children at home to help them see publication? 

Traci: I think the most important thing you can do is find time to write and keep writing. Get in contact with Writers Digest, a writers guild, critique groups and anyone else who can help and motivate your writing. Second, don’t be afraid to submit your work to contests, publishers, agents and magazines. Don’t be afraid of rejection. It can hurt reading those letters, but it can help with becoming a better too. The best help I ever received was for my mistakes to be pointed out to me so I could stop making them. Finally, never give up! Less than 7% of people make their dreams come true because they let obstacles stop them. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, it only matters you keep trying. 

VS: Great words of advice for all writers seeking publication. What do you think are the basic ingredients of a good book? 

Traci: The basic ingredients are first a really good hook. If you can convince your reader they want to read the story within the first page, you have them. Second, great characters. Vibrant, emotional, heroic and flawed. They must have all the characteristics of real people: heroic but troubled, brave but broken, and selfish and sinister. You need an exciting, fast moving story with some drama, mystery, danger and of course…some really good romance.

VS: All very true and for those who don't write romance, guess what? You still need a little in your books to make the story like real life. You talked about characters being part of the basic ingredients of a good book. you even gave some examples of how to make them life like. What else is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours? 

Traci: In order for a character to be believable, they must have layers. We must peel back those layers as we come to know them whether we like them, hate them or feel sorry for them. We need to see their flaws, courage, goodness and grief. I create my characters with backgrounds, histories, lives and pasts. I interview my characters and ask them about these lives and it helps me know who I am writing.

VS: I love this explanation because I think sometimes writers forget every character has a past even if the reader never sees or reads about it. Being a parent, what do you feel as parents we need to do to help our children see success? 

Traci: I think we need to encourage them toward it, but also push them to be more than they think they can be. Work, discipline, sacrifice and rewards for being willing to put forth the effort. Mostly we set the example by working toward success without giving up or backing down. When our children see success, they believe it is achievable.

VS: Powerful words and words of wisdom I know you live by. Have you received any awards for your writing? 

Traci: I have received some minor awards at the beginning of my career and I have short stories entered in a competition currently. I actually learn more from the contests I don’t win though because when I get good feedback, I know how to do better. I will take the awards though because it’s nice to know your writing is appreciated. 

VS: Traci, where can the readers of The Writing Mama find out more about and your writing? 

Traci: You can come visit me and see samples of my writing as well as the cover and the trailer to Killing Casanova on my blog at tracimcdonald.blogspot.com 

You can also follow me on twitter tracimcauthor or find me on Facebook traci.mcdonald 

VS: Is there anything else you would like to share with us about being a “Writing Mama or Dad”? 

Traci: The best things I do with my day are being a mom to my kids and writing. I love and adore my family, and writing would not be worth it without them. Likewise, I live to write and the support of my family in this dream has made all the work worthwhile.

VS: It has been fun having you on my blog today Traci and I know we can expect some more wonderful books from you in the future. Take care my dear friend.


The World of Ink Network will be touring author Traci McDonald’s debut romantic suspense, Killing Casanova throughout October and November 2012.

Sometimes not only your heart is blind, which happens to be situation with Cassie Taylor, the heroine in this non-stop suspenseful romantic thriller.
 
Publisher: Crimson Romance
ISBN Number: 978-1440552427
ISBN 10: 1440552428
ASIN: B008DVPAW6 (eBook)
Publication Date: July 2012
Genre: Mainstream Romance/Suspense

Get a sneak peek of the book at http://youtu.be/SuE_kpSHock

 


You can find out more about Traci McDonald and her debut romance novel during her World of Ink Author/Book Tour at http://tinyurl.com/8nejedq

To learn more about the World of Ink Tours visit http://worldofinknetwork.com  

2 comments:

  1. A very inspiring story. Thank you Virgini and Traci for sharing it. Traci, your book sounds so intriguing. My best friend is a romance junkie, I know what I'm getting her for Christmas, but early enough that I can read it first.

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  2. Congratulations, Traci! And thanks, Virginia, for sharing, too :)

    ReplyDelete