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Interview with Debby Lee

After reading a Danielle Steel book in the seventh grade, Debby Lee became hooked on romance, so it’s no wonder she loves to write in this genre. Her writing has also been published in numerous newsletters, magazines, college journals, and a book of devotions. Debby’s most recent work, A Cascades Christmas, is a holiday anthology she coauthored with Mildred Colvin, Mary Davis and Gina Wellborn.

It’s a pleasure to have you with us today, Debby. (By the way, great name.) I’ve often heard others talk about coauthoring projects together. Usually, the cons. Can you tell us the pros of collaborating with other authors?

I think there are a lot of advantages to working with other authors. For one, I learn how to write better from Mildred, Mary and Gina as they critique my work. They gave me pointers on what worked and what didn’t, such as when my heroine became a little too harsh. They already wrote for Barbour so I kind of rode into that particular publishing house on their coattails.

Another advantage is name recognition. Mary, Gina and Mildred’s readers pick up the book and they are exposed to my work. So my story is getting into the hands of many more people, it’s like additional promotion that I don’t have to take the time to do or pay for.

With the holidays coming up, would you care to share with us about A Cascades Christmas?
There is an interesting story behind this book. It’s loosely based on the occupations of four of my classmates who worked in the logging industry. Before we got the proposal put together, while we were still brainstorming, the logging museum in my hometown burned to the ground, on Christmas Day! This drove me harder and made me more determined to get this book published.

I’ve read that you studied with renowned author Jerry Jenkins. Reflecting back, how do you see this as most significant to your publication journey?
Well, I never got to study one on one with Mr. Jenkins, but I attended the Writing for the Soul conference in 2008 and 2009 and went to his workshops. He’s a wonderful speaker and teacher, very engaging with fresh ideas on writing fiction, such as certain clichés to watch out for in the romance genre.

Most significant, I would say was how God got me to the 2008 conference without me having to spend a dime. God opened door after door to cover expenses such as airfare, hotel cost, and He even provided me with extra spending money. I also qualified for a free writing class just prior to the conference. This was a pivotal moment for me, it was like the Lord spoke to me, loud and clear. Writing was my calling. Since then I’ve tried very hard to make the most of the opportunity He provided for me.

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time between your husband, five children, traveling and rooting for the Seattle Seahawks?
Wow, this one is tough. I think finding time to write is the hardest thing to do. With all my responsibilities, it’s just easiest to lug my computer around in my purse and write whenever I’ve got a few minutes. I write and edit pages while on my lunch breaks at work, while the kids are being seen by the dentist. I’ve even written pages in the passenger seat while hubby is driving. I can critique a few pages during commercials when I’m watching the Seahawks, but I haven’t quite figured out how to edit, cook dinner and do laundry all at the same time. Maybe someday ☺

And how do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
I tend to grow spiritually with each manuscript I write. Sometimes it’s like an epiphany that opens my eyes to God’s wonder and makes my skin tingle. Things I didn’t understand suddenly click into place and make sense. I love moments like that.

Then there are times that bring me to my knees and have me reaching for tissue. I pray, I cry, I forgive, and extend forgiveness, and somehow force myself to keep typing. These moments are harder to get through, but I’ve noticed the writing that comes from this is deeper and more poignant than my writing done on the usual, ordinary days.

What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career?
I’ve been so blessed in my writing career, and there have been many wonderful milestones, but I think one of the greatest would have to be my first book signing. It took place in my hometown of Toledo, Washington, the place where I drew inspiration for this book, the town that suffered from the fire on Christmas Day.

A small band from my church made a special trip down to play music. One of the songs they sang was “Voice of Truth.” If ever there were song lyrics that described my life, my faith, and my writing journey, it would be those penned by Third Day.

The day was filled with fellowship, friends and family, some of whom drove more than 50 miles for the event, lots of pictures with my husband and kids, and an interview with the local newspaper. These are wonderful memories I’ll tuck into my heart and cherish forever.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
I tend to write dramatic and poetic prose sprinkled with grains of humor. I don’t know if that makes me unique or not.

And are you a plotter or a pantster?
I’m a total pantster, but I’m learning to plot more and more. There are fewer revisions and fewer holes to fill that way. I like simple visual plot methods. I use one called The W Plot by Karen Doctor. I tend to change the plot points I’ve penciled in earlier. I guess I’m just fickle when it comes to plotting.

Do you have any parting words for our viewers?
If the Lord has called you to write, don’t give up. Be prayerful, and seek council. Keep learning and keep seeking His will for the gift He’s given you.

Thanks for sharing with us, Debby!

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