Welcome to the Winner’s Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL students. Today we are celebrating published author Debbie Brown!
What are the names of your books? Who is the publisher?
Emma, to Begin Again
My publisher is Ravenswood Publishing.
Tell us a bit about your path to publishing, from idea to submission to published book.
I was taking the writing course with you when I started writing Amethyst Eyes alongside my assignments. When I completed the course, I continued on to the advanced writing course, and wrote one novel (Rebirth)and had a first draft on another. Before I had even completed Rebirth (edited and polished) I had managed to get a publishing contract.
How long have you been writing?
I have only been novel writing for about 6 years now, although I have been creating stories and adventures in my head for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I just couldn’t fall asleep at night, so I was either reading or making up my own stories.
What’s your favorite genre to write and why?
I enjoy sci-fi, and YA, but it’s the story that gets me. I don’t plot out mysteries in advance. A scene pops into my head and I go from there, trying to type fast enough to keep up with the scene playing out in my mind.
What ICL courses have your taken?
I have taken short story writing and advanced novel writing courses with ICL. I am looking forward to doing the editing course as well.
I absolutely love ICL and wish there was more…I guess I love to learn.
How has taking our course helped your writing and/or career?
For most of my life, people would make comments about me ‘writing that book.’ I would always stare blankly and ask -what book…write about what? I turned to ICL, looking something to take my mind off the loss of my daughter. I needed to create a world where people cared about one another. And I needed to know HOW. Learning about writing, structuring, polishing, and submissions, while working one on one with my instructor was perfect. I think every author needs to learn the rules. Self-publishing has taken away the filter that once existed, and we come across books with head hopping in a single paragraph. Writing rules, it would seem, are now overrated. For me, I prefer following the rules. I like knowing I am doing it right, (must be my military side).
A course on building an author platform and marketing should be offered by ICL as the next logical step in author growth.
Have any of your class assignments been published? If so, where and when?
I never bothered submitting my short stories because I was already working on a novel. However, The novel I was writing while taking the short story course, as well as the two novels I wrote during the Novel writing course, have all been published. Amethyst Eyes and Rebirth have also won awards.
Do you have a favorite writing tip you’d like to share?
EDIT! I email my doc to my kindle fire and have it read my story back to me. It helps me get an idea of the flow of the story and I catch mistakes I miss when rereading it myself. (And you can choose from British, Aussie or US accents, lol).
I have a few beta readers, and I enjoy their feedback, however, as the author, you have to remember that YOU are writing the book, and YOU have the last say. You’re not there to please them, it’s your story, so learn to weight eh words, and go with your gut.
If you could travel back in time and give yourself one piece of writing advice, how far back would you go, and what would you tell yourself?
How about two…
I would go back far enough to maybe get started on writing my books before. Amethyst Eyes was a short story written more than 10 years before the book was finally put down on paper. And the 2nd piece of advice would be to accept the offer to make that book into a movie.
Please tell us the best or most valuable thing you learned from your experience with ICL.
It got me off on the right foot. I did not have to ‘unlearn’ bad habits and change the way I had been doing things. As for novel writing, I won’t admit to being a ‘panster,’ but I do not plot out my novels in advance. In fact, I feel like a reporter, feverishly writing down the scene that is playing out before me. However, I keep files on my characters, and story info that I can reference in a flash. This is essential to staying true to details. Sadly I have come across books in a series where all sorts of details come in conflict.(Siblings aging at different rates, eye color changing, you name it.) I have been a judge for the RONE awards for several years now, and I can safely refer to all that I have learned when rating the novels. So, THANKS, ICL!
How important is it for your writing to be accurate?
I personally believe that accuracy is non-negotiable. I prefer to find a real town rather than make one up. But then again, I also write sci-fi…so let me share how I can be accurate there. In my sci-fi stories, every piece of technology has some basis in reality. If our present day scientists have managed to produce the schematics of it, I’ll use it. They’ve managed to transport a molecule from point A to point B…so bring on the transporter. I want my non-sci-fi-loving fans to read it and not feel overwhelmed, but to embrace it and unknowingly accept it as reality.
I have spent hours and sometimes days researching story elements on geography, gun shots, compost potties, hot springs, solar systems, and even gift shops to see what kinds of snacks could be found in Montana for Rebirth…
I suppose I could have made it all up…but accuracy is just too important to me. I read somewhere (in a story) where the bad guy used scales from a trout to clog a septic system…must have been a Fukushima trout….a really, really big one.
Tell us about your favorite place to write and what time of day you are most productive in your writing.
I have an awesome library with floor to ceiling books…but because of the little ones, I end up writing amidst the chaos. I have a wall desk hanging in the middle of the hallway, between strategic places, to always be able to keep an eye on the girls. As for when…whenever I can squeeze in the time. All too often it’s after everyone has gone to bed and a sense of peace befalls my home.
All her life, Debbie Brown has spun stories in her mind, watching the characters come to life. After working as a nurse, teacher, martial arts instructor, artist, and CIC officer in the Canadian Forces, her life reads like a story itself. Since graduating from the Institute of Children’s Literature, she is finally devoting herself to writing these stories down and taking us all on a ride we won’t quickly forget.