I welcome Debbie Fuller Thomas to my Authors-Helping-Writers Interview segment this week. Debbie writes Women’s/General fiction and her debut novel which just released this month is Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon. Debbie will be giving away a copy of Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon next week to one lucky person who leaves a comment in this posting.
Debbie, what hobbies do you have?
Debbie Fuller Thomas: I work full-time, so writing is my other life. I don’t really have time for hobbies at this point.
Makes perfect sense to me. Tell us about the “acceptance call”, please.
Debbie Fuller Thomas: I received the call from my agent, Wendy Lawton, five minutes after saying ‘goodbye’ to our youngest son at the Marine recruiting station as he prepared to leave for 13 weeks of boot camp. God’s timing is perfect – I was at my lowest point, and needed major uplifting.
How many books have you published and over what period of time?
Debbie Fuller Thomas: This is my debut novel, although I’ve contributed to Chicken Soup for the Bride’s Soul and Lord, I Was Happy Shallow, in addition to publishing some magazine articles
How do you keep in touch with your readers?
Debbie Fuller Thomas: I have a blog through my website at http://www.debbiefullerthomas.com/ and I am just exploring opportunities for speaking engagements. My blog address is http://www.blog.debbiefullerthomas.com/.
Tell us, Debbie, how long did you concentrate on learning the craft of fiction writing before you received your initial offer?
Debbie Fuller Thomas: I believe my story is unusual because I sold the first article I ever sent to a publisher and didn’t sell another thing for 19 years! Shortly after that first sale, I changed from writing articles to fiction, and fiction can be a long apprenticeship. I tried writing historicals, then juvenile fiction, and ended up writing contemporary women’s fiction. I was also employed full-time, so I wrote in stolen moments, read lots of fiction and books on writing, and went to writer’s conferences. I also gathered a circle of friends who were writers, both published and unpublished.
How do handle rejections?
Debbie Fuller Thomas: Rejection doesn’t always mean your writing is poor or your ideas are bad. It can simply be a matter of unfortunate timing. I pitched my first (unpublished) book, a prairie romance, at a conference just as editors were saying they had no slots left for prairie romances. I pitched Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon as juvenile fiction at a time when editors weren’t buying juvenile fiction. The market had been open when I began working on it, but since I was working full-time, it was slow-going, and the market had changed by the time it was ready. An agent then suggested that I give it a more adult viewpoint. Of course, I didn’t really want to completely rewrite it, but I ended up with a mother-daughter dual viewpoint story that I think works. I’ve had many ‘discussions’ with God over the years about getting published, and I’ve realized that I really love writing contemporary women’s fiction, and I may have ended up writing in a different genre than the one He intended if I’d gotten published earlier.
Wow, that’s great insight, Debbie. Tell us about your “practice” novels.
Debbie Fuller Thomas: My practice novel was a prairie romance which sits in a drawer. I love the characters and their story, and through it I learned how to plot a novel and develop characters and dialogue, but I don’t think it will ever be published.
Will you tell us how you write?
Debbie Fuller Thomas: I plot with a loose outline and some vivid scenes that present themselves. I don’t like to have a brainstorm ¾ of the way through and have to go back and adjust everything to suit it. Of course, that still happens.
What is a typical writing day for you?
Debbie Fuller Thomas: I get up at 6:00 and write until about 8:00 when I have to get ready for work. Then I begin again in the evening at about 7:00. Sometimes I fall asleep at my laptop. I’ve learned that when my head starts dipping, it’s time to quit. Nothing I type after that point makes any sense, and it’s more productive to get some sleep. I keep my notebook with me at all times, in case an idea comes to me at a stoplight, or at the doctor’s office, etc.
Oh, I know what you mean. I have a little black flip pad in my purse that often gets pulled out at the stoplight.
How important do you feel agent representation is in this industry for first sales?
Debbie Fuller Thomas: I owe my first book sale to my agent. She knows her business and looks out for me. The business changes too fast to try to stay on top of it, and she has relationships with editors that I could never have as a newbie.
How important is a platform to you?
Debbie Fuller Thomas: I didn’t have a platform to begin with, so it didn’t get me a sale. I think the platform will come out of my books, since it looks like there may be a common thread in the next one.
Regarding publishing, can you give us an idea of what time is involved in seeing your book on the shelf?
Debbie Fuller Thomas: I signed in October (the book was completed) and the book debuts June 1st. I think it is a rather quick turnaround, though. I did one rewrite with a wonderful, insightful editor. I don’t honestly know if that will be my experience the next time.
What does your publishing house expect of you with regard to self-promoting your novel?
Debbie Fuller Thomas: Travel to book signings, postcards & bookmarks (with book cover), book giveaways, blog tours, a website, book clubs, radio or TV interviews – to name a few.
You’re one busy woman. Thanks for sharing all this, Debbie, and I wish you much success in your writing. Do you have any final thoughts for weary authors-in-training?
Debbie Fuller Thomas: If you ever get to the point where you consider giving up, remember the times when someone who knows the business has told you that you have talent or a good idea. Keep a file of “warm fuzzies” for positive critique comments, inspiring quotes from your favorite authors (they struggled, too), or anything that reminds you that God has given you some talent. God sees the whole span of our lives and we only see short-term. He’s working, we just can’t see it.
Oh, I needed that. Thanks, Debbie! Please tell us a little about your new book, Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon.
Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon
Release date: June 1, 2008
Moody Publishers, Women’s Fiction
Release date: June 1, 2008
Moody Publishers, Women’s Fiction
A mother discovers the child she lost was switched at birth.A daughter discovers the family she lost was never hers.
I got the idea for this story from an article in People magazine about two toddlers switched at birth. It was the day of my last radiation treatment for breast cancer, and my family was waiting in the loaded car to drive to Disneyland. Along the way, I got inspired and started writing in the car. When we arrived, my family badgered me until I set it aside, but the story kept going in my head.
Debbie, thanks for sharing and I pray for continued health and many more books from you. I look forward to getting my hands on a copy of Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon.
Remember to leave a comment in this posting with an augmented e-mail address to be entered into the drawing to win a copy of Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon by Debbie Fuller Thomas. The draw will take place Wednesday, June 11, 2008 at 9:00 pm Eastern time.
June 12 Update: Congratulations to ChristyJan. You won! Thanks to all who entered and I wish you all the best of luck next time.
Blessings and Good luck to everyone!