Welcome to Author Spotlight! Each week will feature a different author. We’ll get the scoop behind their writing life and dish a little. The authors will also be giving away a copy of their latest book. FUN.
The winner from last week’s Author Spotlight with Shelley Shepard Gray is Katya! Please email my assistant Amy with your mailing address. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This week is Debbie Coty is in the Spotlight! To win a copy of Debby’s book, Everyday Hope, leave a comment on this post!
Share a little bit about yourself. Married with kids? Empty nester? Do you work full-time and write when you can squeeze it in?
Married 32 years with a grown son and daughter and first grandbaby on the way. I work part-time and do write at odd times (I wax hilarious at 2 am), but generally follow a set writing schedule. I asked the good Lord for more time in the day to get everything done and he sent me menopause. Now I have the nights too.
And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest?
A literary smorgasbord, really: two historical novels, two children’s non-fiction books, four devotionals, two women’s humorous self-help books, and a how-to for writers (which I co-authored with the divine Ms. Suzanne Fisher!). All inspirational.
How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
I consider myself the poster child for “It’s never too late to chase your dreams!” I started writing eight years ago at the age of 45.
A rabid reader as a child, writing a life-changing inspirational novel like Christy by Catherine Marshall was my backburner goal since age 15. But instead I found myself a wife, mother, occupational therapist and piano teacher. Fast forward 30 years; my youngest chick was about to fly the coop and I felt a widening gap in my life. As I sat in a dentist’s office praying about what to do next, I flipped open a magazine to a writing contest and heard God’s still, small voice whisper, “Deb, it’s time!”
After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published?
By the grace of God – and a mentor who was a friend of a friend with publishing experience – I was blessed with ten published magazine articles within the first year. That led to a monthly newspaper column the second year and then my first book was published the following year. For me it was like climbing a ladder, rung by rung.
Aside from a cup of good, strong coffee, what helps you get all of your “brain cylinders” firing so you can write well? Do you have any favorite places and routines when you write? How many hours a day do you spend writing?
I’m a morning person, so on the days I’m not working as a hand therapist or playing tennis, I’m usually out of bed by 5:30, on my first prayer walk of the day by 6, and by 7 I’m writing in my cave. At least that’s what my daughter calls my little home think tank.
I try to do administrative work (answering e-mails, posting blogs, setting up speaking engagements, etc.) first and then focus on writing until around 2 or 3 pm, when it’s naptime. Hey, when I miss my nappy, ain’t nobody happy. I’m a firm believer in the power of rejuvenating power naps, as attested by my BOOP Theory, one of the many Coty near-facts-of-science sprinkled throughout Mom NEEDS Chocolate and Too Blessed to Stay Stressed.
My BOOP theory (Boiling Oatmeal Overflow Phenomenon) postulates that women are like pots of oatmeal. At the beginning of the day we simmer; little manageable bubbles of stress rise to the surface and dissipate as they harmlessly pop. But as the day progresses, the heat escalates and the oatmeal boils higher and wilder and meaner until it overflows and spoils its surroundings with a sticky, ugly, nasty mess. That would be me about 4 p.m.
Napping prevents BOOP by turning off the burner to allow the oatmeal to calm down to a pleasant, servable consistency. Sprinkle on a dab of brown sugar and voila – everybody’s happy.
What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader?
The first three for sure, the latter, not so much. When I teach at writing conferences or workshops, I strongly advise subscribing to a trade journal such as Writers Journal or Writers Digest – the best way to get cutting edge industry news, marketing info, and how-to tips delivered right to your doorstep.
Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?
Not at all. Does anybody really know what to expect? I think that may be a very good thing because it ends up being different things to different people. My theme verse has become Ephesians 3:20: To Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory … forever and ever. Amen.
What are your biggest distractions?
Godiva (I keep a chocolate stash in my desk drawer). Family interruptions. Howling dogs. Baby Ruths. ADD tendencies. Ringing phones. Cadbury almond bars. Sunny days. Tennis. Did I mention chocolate?
What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?
Best: That first article acceptance because it confirmed that I really had heard the Lord’s calling to write.
Worst: The ninth rejection of my first book manuscript. But it turned out to be the last.
What is the role and importance of an agent?
I believe agents are the key to progressing as a writer, but you have to have some experience before they’ll consider representing you. I had over 50 articles and 3 books (by small presses that dealt directly with authors) under my belt before I could interest an agent. He, in turn, (the adorable and phenomenal Greg Johnson of WordServe Literary Agency) was able to get my manuscripts in the door of larger and more lucrative publishers that only deal with agents.
What advice would you give to new writers?
Stop! Stop right now! Stop limiting your potential by fear (Go on! Submit that piece!), low expectations (If God wills it, He fulfills it!) or lack of energy (“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak,” Isaiah 40:29).
Learn to view rejection simply as an occupational hazard. Persevere through all those rejection slips like jockeys deal with horse-poo. Step over the piles, wipe the nasty off your boots, and keep moving forward.
What’s on the book horizon for you?
365 Chick-isms: Witty Musings on Life, Love, and Laughter will be released next fall and I’m currently working on a series for Barbour Books; the first, Too Blessed to Stay Stressed: Inspirations for Climbing Out of Life’s Stress-Pools will debut 9/11.
I also enjoy a busy speaking schedule and am affiliated with Carol Kent’s Speak Up! Speaker Services. I love sharing my offbeat blend of humor and hope, wit and near-wisdom with my sisters all over the country.
Last question, how can readers find you and your books?
Please visit my website www.DeboraCoty.com where you can enter contests for amazing prizes, sign up for my free newsletter, or enjoy some great encouragement and entertainment. And I adore new friends on Facebook and Twitter!