You’ve just published Tracy Tam: Santa Command. Tell my readers a little about your new book.
Tracy Tam is about a little girl who does not believe in Santa's magic. She believes everything he does on Christmas Eve is based on science - rocket powered sleighs and tricks with mirrors.
What would you like readers to take away from reading this book?
I would like readers to come away believing that there is magic in this world, that even the impossible can be done if you believe hard enough.
What makes the Christmas holiday season special for you?
Magic, plain and simple. I remember when I was little, waking up to find that Santa had visited. We would have a huge lunch with my mom's side of the family. Then, I would head over to my other grandparents' house and spend the night there with my dad's side of the family. I got to spend two days with all of my favorite people. To me, that was magical.
What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
As for my favorite tradition today, I have to watch A Muppet Christmas Carol every Christmas Eve.
Of all the genres you could write, what drew you to writing for tweens and teens?
It's what I enjoy reading. I love young adult coming of age stories. They explore the big moments in life that define a person. Middle grade has that to a certain extent, but those books still possess the whimsy of childhood. They still have magic.
When did you actually start writing your first book? How long did it take to write your first draft? I think I wrote the first draft of my first book in about a month. It, of course, is terrible and will never see the light of day in its current form. It's a young adult novel about a girl who lives on a moon, but I'd like to rewrite it as middle grade at some point.
Who encouraged you along the way?
My sister at first, and then my critique partner, Dianne. Also, the lovely ladies from Fiction Femme Fatale, a short story blog I worked with for a while.
Prior to writing these children’s books, what was your publishing and writing background? Are you active in any writer critique groups?
I've always written in some form or another. I started with short stories when I was eight. I wrote a book of poems when I was fifteen. In college, I started writing novels still unfinished. I was a part of Kelley Armstrong's online writing group for a while. That was where I dipped my toes into the professional pool. Then, during the first Write On Con, I met my current critique partner. I also had two short stories published before Legasea, which was my first published novel.
How did you hear about your publishers?
I had queried Legasea to a ton of agents and it went nowhere. The ones who read it didn't have bad things to say about it, but they either didn't want to go with selkies or they already had something like it. So, I decided to look into small presses. My publisher, Curiosity Quills, was just starting off at the time, and they offered me a contract almost immediately. They've been wonderful, sending me to conventions and such.
I queried Month9Books for Tracy Tam because Curiosity Quills didn't accept middle grade at the time. They do now. One of my critique partners had worked with someone on the Month9Books staff years ago when she worked for Sourcebooks. Also an agent I know has an author with a book through them. So, I had heard good things about them.
It looks like you've done a number of book fairs. How do you promote them?Most of the book fairs I've done have been promoted locally in the papers. I also promote them on Facebook. I'm starting to find a network of local authors, and they help spread the word, too. Next, I'd like to start doing school visits.
My publishers have all had their own illustrator/cover designers. For Legasea, I gave them a stick figure drawing of what I imagined the cover looked like. They gave me almost exactly what I wanted. For Tracy Tam, they used their own ideas, but I had input along every step of the way from sketch to final copy.
What has frustrated you the most in putting these books together?
The most frustrating thing for me is getting that first draft down. I don't really know the characters until about halfway through.
What has pleasantly surprised you in the process?
I've been pleasantly surprised by the editing process for all of my books. I enjoy editing and revising far more than drafting. I used to think that would be the hard part.
What do you know now about publishing you wish you had known sooner?
As for what I know now, marketing is hard. I wish I knew more about it.
What advice would you give someone who wants to write children’s stories?
Read a lot in and out of your genre. Find critique partners who work well with you. Listen to their advice.
What is the writing best advice you’ve been given?
Go straight to the publishers. Agents give form rejections. Publishers will often give more detailed feedback on what works and what doesn't.
How much time daily do you have for writing?
Not much. I have a full time job and a five year old. I get writing time on Monday and Tuesday nights. Occasionally, I can squeeze it in on other nights, but not very often.
What message would you like parents and children to take away from your books?
I hope that when people read my books, they find wonder, whimsy, and a little bit of truth.
What future plans do you have for writing?
I want to write more middle grade books. I want to finish the sequels for Tracy Tam and rewrite the young adult moon story. I also have a young adult circus story that I'm currently drafting.
Twitter - https://twitter.com/KrysteyBelle
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/KrystalynDrown
Short stories - http://fictionfemmefatale.blogspot.com/search/label/Krystalyn
Amazon link to Legasea -