Monday, December 5, 2011

On Writing Author Interview: Kim McDougall

To avoid pre-conceived notions which can sometimes be connected with certain genres, the number of books published and/or an author's appearance, none of that information will be revealed until the bottom of the interview.   So pour a cup of coffee, have a seat, and check out this interview - see how much, or how little, you have in common with this published author.

What is your favorite part of being a writer?
I think I have an inherent need to create. If I’m not writing, I love to do crafts or photography. Writing is my number one creative outlet. I love rereading something I wrote months or years ago and thinking “Wow, I like that.”

What is your least favorite part?
Of course, rereading old works is a double-edged sword. I can also rediscover something I wrote years ago, and think “Gods, that is so bad.” I’ve learned to use these past atrocities as a learning experience and a measuring stick to gauge how much I’ve learned in the craft of writing.

Name one obstacle you’ve had to overcome.
The biggest hurdle I’ve had to overcome as a writer is discipline. I’m certain I’m not alone in this. It’s what separates an amateur writer from a pro. I had to learn that the muse isn’t always going to shine on me. But deadlines wait for no muse. Writing on demand, can be difficult. I often felt that my prose would feel forced and lack sparkle. However, once I learned to organize my thoughts and outline, I found the opposite was true. It turned out that my mind was freed from worrying about the greater picture (and making sure that every little insight was noted) and let me concentrate on the chapter at hand.

To get to this point, I studied outlining tactics (I particularly like the Snowflake method) and I created my Nine O’clock Disciplinary Hour. This was my first working hour of every day. I made a ‘job jar’ filled with mini-writing prompts. Every morning at nine, I would select one and just write for half an hour without revising. Many of those scribblings were turned into published short stories later, but more importantly, they gave me the courage to write on demand.

Is there a specific part of your writing you’re working on to improve?
Plotting. I love character driven stories, but I also like a good, intricate plot. I’m still learning how to build believable worlds, whether they are a contemporary neighborhood or a medieval village.

What part of your writing makes you particularly proud?
It’s important for a writer to know both her strengths and her weaknesses. As I mature (ahem, as a writer, I mean), I feel that I can be more objective.

What does your favorite main character have in common with you?
Sass. Definitely sass.

Do you do a lot of research for your projects or do you only write about what you already know?

How do you use the internet for your writing?
I’m not sure how we all got along before the internet. It seems so long ago, but really, it was just a few years. I am definitely a connected writer. I use the internet in all stages of writing: for research, to connect with my critique group for revisions and for marketing through my website, book video previews and online chats.

If you’ve won any awards for your writing, what impact do you think that has had? 
I won an EPPIE in 2009. It was quite a thrill. The trophy looks great at book signings. Also, my hometown paper did a full page write up on me after the award. That alone made it worthwhile.

What marketing tools have you had good success with?
Though I don’t have much time for it anymore, I did some article marketing for a while and had good success with it. Article marketing is when you write nonfiction articles for magazines and blogs that relate to your book. Bloggers are often looking for good content and you benefit from the traffic. Also, book video previews (trailers) have been a success with me. I founded Blazing Trailers, a site dedicated to books with trailers, to showcase these. I’ve had people contact me out of the blue after seeing my trailer, looking for more info on my books.

What good writing habits have you developed that you think would be helpful to someone starting out?
Discipline is really the key. Without it, nothing else matters. Even if you can only write an hour a day, do it. The only way to better yourself in this craft is to write.

Do you have any bad writing habits that you’d advise writers to avoid?
Don’t get too caught up in revisions, especially if your writing time is limited. My first novel took me 12 years to write because I kept going back to the beginning every time I’d been away from it for a few days. I was working full time and only had a few hours a week to write. This was before I had learned good outlining techniques. If I’d had a proper outline, I wouldn’t have worried about forgetting my ideas.

Do you have any strange writing habits?
What’s strange for one person is normal for another, probably. I like to write with a cat on my lap and a dog at my feet. And a bloody big pot of coffee at my side.

When you’re not writing, do you read, and if so, what?
I’m a voracious reader. I love anything paranormal. I also like historical fiction, particularly retellings of folk tales and myths. Recently, I’ve started reading a lot of YA and love the depth of this genre. And I still love a good picture book even though my daughter is now eleven.

What are you trying to accomplish with/through your writing?
I would like to make a comfortable living at writing. I don’t aspire to the New York Times Best Seller list, but I’d like to be able to write and not have to worry about making money another way. For me, the freedom to write everyday, all day would be heaven.

What words of wisdom do you have for young writers?
Write, write, write. Read, read, read. It’s the only way to find your voice and improve your craft.

What advice do you have for someone looking to get published?
I get this question all the time at dinner parties. The publishing world is its own little microcosm. I spent years immersing myself in it. Going to conferences (both online and conventions), chatting with other writers, joining critique groups. All these connections not only strengthen you as a writer, they help publishers find you. It’s so important for a new writer to learn the etiquette of submitting a manuscript before rushing in blind. Websites like Writers Digest and 1st Turning Point are wonderful sources of information for new writers looking to get their feet wet.

Any thoughts on what this author writes?  How many books published?  Here's a little more information about the author...
How many published books are to your credit?   10

Do you have an agent?  No. I am looking. Agents seem like the Holy Grail of the publishing world to me. I'd love to find one and part of me thinks they're a myth.

Are you self-published?  Not generally.

How many different companies have you published with?  3

How long have you been writing?
Since I was 8 years old. I still have my first book of poetry I wrote. "Cats have fur/They often purr" It gets worse from there. I think my family thought I was a little weird. While other girls were playing with Barbies, I was cataloguing my library and writing poetry.

In 2002, I moved from Canada to the US, and I didn’t yet have a green card, so I told myself I had five years to get published. I did.

Do you write full-time? If not, what is your other job? And how do you balance work/writing?
I create video previews (trailers) for authors. In 2010, this business took off like a rocket and I’ve made over 200 trailers since. It’s another creative outlet, so I really enjoy it. Also, I get to connect with authors, publishers and publicists. The trailer business (like any) has its cycles. When I’m at a peak, I have little time for writing. So when trailers are slow, I take advantage to write as much as possible. In June I booked into a hotel for a weekend to have 3 days of uninterrupted writing. What a wonderful indulgence!

During busy seasons, I still try to write 1-2 hours a day. This doesn’t always happen. There are so many other demands on my time: family, house upkeep, bookkeeping, book marketing, etc. Never a dull moment.

So, any thoughts?  Here's the full scoop:

In Kim McDougall’s words:  I'm an author, fiber artist and photographer. I write children's and YA fiction under my married name, Kim Chatel. My evil twin, Kim McDougall, writes dark fantasy fiction. I have two separate websites so that I don't mix these genres up. That would be bad. I recently took up a third pen name, Eliza Crowe for my romance fiction. I am also the founder of Blazing Trailers. A site designed to showcase book trailers.

Kim is responsible for the following genres and titles:

Children’s Fiction/Nonfiction (Writing as Kim Chatel)
Rainbow Sheep, A Talent for Quiet, The Stone Beach, Burgher and the Woebegone, Clip-clop, Tippity-Tap: French Vocabulary on the Farm, and Horse Camp.

Adult Fantasy Fiction (Writing as Kim McDougall)
Between the Cracks Fiction, Caul, Shroud and Veil, Angel Venom, and Twisted Tails Anthologies (Volumes 2-6)

Romance (Writing as Eliza Crowe):  The Golden Hour

What are you working on now?
I just finished a manuscript for a paranormal romance. I put it away for a few months to ferment. I can hear it calling to me. I think it’s ripe now and ready for revising.

Anything else about being a writer that you’d like to share?
I have two mottos that I feel can get you through any writing or life trial:
  1. Don't do anything halfway.
  2. There's an app for that.

You can learn more about author, photographer and fiber artist, Kim McDougall and her books at:
Between the Cracks  Fiction at
Children's and YA Fiction at
Romance Fiction at
Authors can view samples of her trailers at

Is there anything else you'd like to know about this author, or any questions you'd like added to future interviews?  Let us know...drop us a comment below.


  1. Kim, number one obstacle is discipline, eh? I can relate ... that's my number 1 thru 27.

  2. Great interview. Loved learning more about this talented and creative writer!


  3. Christopher, are you making fun of my accent, eh?
    Yes discipline. It's a tough master.

  4. A very nice interview. I enjoyed learning more about you, Kim.

  5. That's an impressive body of work! And great tips!

  6. Fun interview, Kim! I could have gone all day without hearing about discipline, though. There's an ap for that???