Thursday, February 26, 2015

BETTING ON HOPE and Putting Faith in NEW HORIZONS Along the Road to Becoming a Hybrid Author

Debra Clopton
Hi Seekerville! I’m always thrilled to be here hanging out with all of you! I’m dug in deep right now on a deadline of April 1st so my time is basically non-existent so this is a really a laid back discussion-very loosely created-Basically we’re having a chat with me, Debra Clopton-hey, sounds good to me! I’m praying I don’t ramble J

So this is how it came to this chat-Mary and Ruthy both emailed me moments apart and without knowing the other was doing it and both were asking me basically for the same thing-“Debbie can you come on Seekerville and talk about the changes you’ve made in your writing life this year?” Since yes, there have certainly been major changes in my writing life this year and all by my own careful choice, I said, “Sure, I’d love to chat!”  

Of course once I said that I had to let those two duke it out behind the scenes to see who was going to be my host today-not sure exactly how it went down…I envision a rough fight, left hooks, upper cuts, head locks then Ruthy pulls out the heavy wooden baking spoons and starts swinging hard as Mary runs for the gun closet…as you can see, Mary is my host today! What do y’all think happened?

And now that the dust is settled I’m here to talk. Life, aside from Mary and Ruthy gustily battling over me, has been exciting and full and a sad too…Funny how titles work out to fit this moment. I’m BETTING ON HOPE looking toward NEW HORIZONS and leaving some beautiful SUNRISES behind me.

 Y’all know I’ve always written for Love Inspired and have LOVED the books I’ve created there. My MULE HOLLOW and COWBOYS OF SUNRISE RANCH series have been very good to me in building a loyal readership that sent my LI books to the top of the LI charts and it started with book 1 THE TROUBLE WITH LACY BROWN. THANKS to the amazing readers who have been so very faithful to continue to read them-you blessed me with your faithfulness.

3 years ago I knew I wanted to spread my wings by the year 2015. I wanted to experience the feel of independent (indy) publishing and I wanted to fulfil my dream of writing longer books. However, my writing schedule for Love Inspired tight and demanding so to make a change it meant I had to be strategic and I had to be ready to work harder than I’ve ever worked before (and I am already known for being an over achiever) With my hubby on board I made a plan of action, came up with a new series and with my agent Natasha Kern, we sent it out to a host of CBA and ABA publishers. And low and behold offers came in from both CBA and ABA houses-I was thrilled to choose Thomas Nelson which was transitioning into their new spot under the Harper Collins Christian umbrella. And this month my Feb 17 BETTING ON HOPE, is book 1 in the new Four of Hearts Romance series with them! And it is a dream come true for me as it’s out there looking for some love right now!

It’s my first 80,000 word book and full of my signature fun and laughter, but also mixed with deeper issues, tears and struggles, and packed with a love story that I just had to write. I totally loved creating this book and this series. And praise the Lord, reviews are knocking my socks off. 

Really, I’m just thrilled at the response from reader reviewers and then there’s RT magazine, they actually said, “the writing is moving and masterful”!!!  Okay so that kind of scared me actually. I’ve never been called or thought of myself as masterful so you can only imagine my reaction to those words after being on pins and needles waiting for the first review to come out. I was very grateful and humbled and all I know is that I worked really long, no-sleep laced months to bring my baby into the world and it felt lovely for someone to say such amazing things about my newborn J.  Okay so I may have started rambling.

So, back on track. You get it, this wasn’t an easy journey to get to this spot.

I’ll be truthful, the last 3 years have cost me a lot!

I made the jump to TN/HCC and I also committed to making the jump into Indy Publishing. (on a side note to ensure that dream came true I had to make certain that my contracts left every door open for me to become a Hybrid author. And I had already decided that I would walk away from a contract if it didn’t allow me to self-publish. Thankfully TN/HCC seem to recognize the benefit of me doing both. My indy work will draw attention to my traditional work and visa versa. All ships rise together J

Okay so that being said, I was basically writing for 3 publishers at the same time for 3 years: TN/HCC, Love Inspired/Harlequin and myself-though I was just able to squeeze in only 1 indy novella during 2014 because I was juggling deadlines like a crazy woman, not sleeping, and having to post sticky notes on my computer to keep books straight. I was glued to my computer literally night and day…sleeping maybe 3 maybe 4 hours in spurts for the majority of that time if that much.
When I say glued, you can ask my hubby and my family-if we were in the car going somewhere the computer was in my lap and my fingers were on it! Chuck and I went to California for his work and I holed up in the hotel to finish a deadline then we jumped into the car and drove cross country to Las Vegas for a book signing at the American Library Convention. I typed furiously as he drove through the gorgeous Yosemite National Park among other cool places! (Picture included of me reenacting the “Sound of Music” cover) I kept my fingers on the keyboard except during stops to stretch our legs, get chased by chipmunks and sea gulls at Mono Lake-long story for another time. You get the picture I wrote all the time! Even on our family vacation to the Florida Keys 3 years in a row!

I say this to tell you choosing a new path for yourself does not come without sacrifice and hard work and planning. I had the blessing of many contracts that had to be fulfilled and shifted and it wasn’t for the faint of heart. I could not have done it without planning.  

Any casualties along the way?

Yes, there have been. Thankfully not me but the pace was hard on my health and by the beginning of 2014 I realized I couldn’t do it all. I was exhausted, missed my family time, and play time with my granddaughters! And was making regular visits to the doctor which I had never had to do before. I realized my dreams had to change and had changed!

I wanted my life back-or at least some of it. It wasn’t that I couldn’t have it all, I kind of could if I was willing to kill myself lol and I’m not. I came to understand that for me having it all meant time with my family meant more to me than writing for 3 publishers.

So I had to make some tough decisions and the one I made was to pull back and discontinue writing for Love Inspired. It was a sad decision for a lot of reasons, but it was the right one for me. From here on out the books that I once wrote for Love Inspired will be Indy published by me, utilizing the wonderful editors I’ve been blessed to have come on board with me on the Indy side. I’m looking forward to what’s to come. I’ll be doing both print and ebook forms and audio.

I love the control that I have over these new books and the series I’m working on at the moment is a continuation of Mule Hollow. Book 1 came out last March HER MULE HOLLOW COWBOY, book 2-RAFE: New Horizon Ranch of Mule Hollow is on Pre-order right now and doing great! It goes on sale March 16 and over the next few months the other 3 to 4 books in that series will release CHASE, TY AND DALTON, 1 every 3 months and are connected to my beloved Mule Hollow gang!

And coming in August from Thomas Nelson COUNTING ON A COWBOY book 2 in the Four of Hearts Romance series! You’ll meet the hero of this book in BETTING ON HOPE. Ok I’m rambling and shamelessly self-promoting-which Mary said I could do. lol

Bottom line, y’all this business is tough and can be hard on writer’s minds and health. What I know: we have to protect the muse.

We have to protect the place within us that God blessed us with where the ideas and the desire and drive and passion for our work comes from. And to do that we have to have some rest and a life!

We have to have balance.

All that being said, I am so very excited about the future. 2015 is going to be the year for me to enjoy my life while I’m creating these books I love to create.

Hybrid author-boy do I love the sound of that.

I love the fact that I will have more control of my career. See I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 
Debra's book with
Mary Connealy!
Robin Lee Hatcher
& Margaret Brownley
20 years old and opened my first hair salon. I love business ownership and being an Indy author is very desirable to me and I’m finally diving into the pool to play with ownership and control of one area of my writing career. While at the same time I get the joy and benefit of working with my publisher Thomas Nelson and seeing my work on book shelves across the country and the exposure they are able to give me.     

At the end of the day it’s different for each person what your goals are and your long term plan and only you know what is right for you. Make the plan and don’t be afraid to adapt your goals-each of us have different reasons for choosing what works for our careers so do what is right for you.

My reasons aren’t your reasons.

This is my 10 year anniversary of being a published author!!! Amazing to realize that THE TROUBLE WITH LACY BROWN was released in September 2005! WOW does time fly when you’re having a blast!!!

So it’s about the future now.

Debra, Mary,
Robin and Margaret
Together Again
My joy in writing has always come from creating unique characters and story plots and BETTING ON HOPE filled that joy perfectly. I LOVE creating my new worlds, small towns filled with unique characters who love each other, meddle a lot and sometimes do a little matchmaking and this book has it all. A new ranch and a family of brothers for my readers to fall in love with excites me. I loved digging deeper into the sub-plots in this book that give readers a bigger story to dig into. I hope y’all will grab a copy of BETTING ON HOPE and join me and the town of Wishing Springs as we watch this clutzy advice columnist and this hunky champion cowboy fall in love. As many readers have said, you can’t go wrong betting on hope and that’s exactly what I’m hoping for!

Stepping out and seeking change was hard and exhausting, but I’m completely ready for 2015 and what lies ahead with writing for Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins Christian and Debra Clopton Parks Publishing J.

So, what do you want to chat about? Coming up with your have a plan? Me being chased by a chipmunk? The creating of a new world of characters? The inspiration behind The Four  of Hearts Romance series? Knowing when the time is right to make the move into hybrid? (that is a biggie I think) I’m all yours ask away or let’s just chow down on the gluten free blueberry pancakes I’ve brought and drink pots of hot coffee!

  And Thanks Seekers for having me on Seekerville! Leave a comment to get your name in a drawing for the book of your choice from Debra's back list.
A bet gone wrong. A small town’s meddling. And a cowboy intent on saving his ranch.
Maggie Hope is an advice columnist whose background leaves her with little advice to give . . . and it’s beginning to show. When Maggie fills in at an interview with champion horse trainer Tru Monahan, the on-camera chemistry between them is undeniable. Maggie’s bosses know this is the opportunity she's been looking for to launch her career—and their bank accounts. In order to save her column, Maggie takes Tru up on the bet that he can teach her to ride a quick-stepping cutting horse like any cowgirl, despite the fact that she has never been on a horse. And in the meantime, she can get the scoop on the man under the cowboy hat.
Tru has been on the competition circuit for longer than he’d like, but he knows it's the only way he can afford to keep the Four of Hearts Ranch that means so much to his ailing grandfather. So when his sponsors see the opportunity for Tru’s fans to get to know the star on a more intimate level, he knows he must oblige. To his dismay, Maggie not only invades his small town of Wishing Springs, but she also invades his heart, and that is something he cannot let any woman do—for her own good.
In Wishing Springs, Maggie finds what she has always been looking for: a community and a home. But when her past catches up to her, it threatens everything, even the tender hope that this town holds all of her heart’s desires.


Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome, Debra. Well I personally want to know about how the whole chipmunk thing went down.

Then I am going to order your books!

Great, great, covers!!

Marianne Barkman said...

Look...I love you, Debra. I was honored to read your BETTING ON HOPE. Such an inspiring novel. And I KNOW which novel I want you to send me...her Mule Hollow Cowboy. Loved the post, and like TINA,I want to hear the rest of the chipmunk story!

Mary Preston said...

Congratulations on your 10th anniversary. A wonderful post thank you.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh my stars, this is funny, funny, I totally relate to it, funny!!!!

Because I hear that "I'm my own person" hunger in your voice and I love that. There's nothing wrong with treating our business like a business...

With stepping out, stepping forward...

And setting goals and meeting them.

Deb, you did what you needed to do to get to this point. So many folks are not willing to make that sacrifice and you are a living, breathing, wonderful example of what can be done with hard work, deep faith and a goal.



Ruth Logan Herne said...


Ruth Logan Herne said...

And Mary did pull a gun, and that happened just like Deb said, we wanted dynamic posts for our Speedbo intros and month and as you can see, Deb is DYNAMIC with a capital D.

And Mary owes me lunch at least for letting her host Deb!!!!

Debra Clopton said...

Good Morning SEEKERVILLE!!!!
I'm excited and trilled to be here today! I've been awake most of the night writing, I'm on my own speedbo right now trying to finish book 3 of this series by April 1 so I'm working lots of long days and nights right now. So, I'm hyped up on no sleep and lots of coffee, so lets chat :)

Debra Clopton said...

Tina lol I knew the chipmunk was coming up! That little dude was after me. I posted pictures and details on my website
He was really cute, we'd stopped at the Tioga Pass at the Sierra Nevada area and this cute little fella just climbed up the rocks, looked at me and chased me back to my car! He was really cute doing it, but honestly, he scared me he was so aggressive. Pictures are over there on the website. I do believe people must feed him, because he or she, I actually don't know which, but that it was very used to people. lol

Debra Clopton said...

Marianne! Thank you for reading Betting On Hope!!! So glad you enjoyed it!
OH I'm having a blast creating the new series around Her Mule Hollow Cowboy too. :) And believe me the chipmunk is appearing in one of those stories soon :) Checkout my answer to Tina about my encounter!

Debra Clopton said...

Thank you Mary-I still can't believe its been 10 years time truly does fly!!! thanks for stopping in for the chat!

Debra Clopton said...

Ruth you are so right-this is a business and though it is also my ministry, my passion, my dream, it is a business and we owe it to ourselves to treat it as one. :)

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Debra, Welcome to Seekerville and thanks for sharing your journey with us. Very inspiring. It is important for writers to know how much dedication, sweat and hard work it takes to be successful. Thanks for your insights and encouragement.

Jackie said...

Hi, Debra! Welcome to Seekerville.

Hope is my one word for 2015, and I enjoyed reading your story of hope. I love that your book title is BETTING ON HOPE!

Congratulations on you 10th anniversary! Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

Tracey Hagwood said...

Hi Debra,
I enjoyed your very inspirational post about what it takes,to succeed in work (and in life, too).

I love your quote,
"We have to protect the place within us that God blessed us with where the ideas and the desire and drive and passion for our work comes from.
And to do that we have to have some rest and a life!
We have to have balance."

Powerful truth I will be meditating on and savoring today.

Gina @ Hott Books said...

I'm so glad to meet you! I've read & reviewed your books - including Betting on Hope - and have LOVED them!

Thanks so much!

Debra Clopton said...

Thank you Sandra! I'm still wanting to try some pickleball! It does take hard work and dedication but you showed in your post this week that it also takes time keeping that balance doing things you love! :)

Debra Clopton said...

Jackie Hope is a fantastic word and I'm claiming it too :) Thanks for the congratulations.

Debra Clopton said...

Tracy YES it is so true. I am a true believer in that statement.

GINA thank you for the review! I am always so grateful for any reviews I get and just want to thank everyone who takes the time to do that for me. AMAZING!

Carolyne Aarsen said...

I'm so inspired by you, Deb and pray for continued success for you! Thanks so much for sharing your journey and the decisions you made along the way. I'm sure it wasn't easy for you, but writers have their own 'quirky' ideas of what works for them. Encouraging post and blessings on your work in the future.

Connie Queen said...

Debra I'm exhausted just reading your post. I'm so impressed w/all you've accomplished in such a short time.

But I've got to ask. How do you stay in such good shape w/all that writing?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Helen Gray said...

Good morning, Debra,

I released my first two indies this year, one in January and one in February. They were two of the six books that were with my Heartsong editor when the line closed.

Heading out to a book signing now.

Thanks for sharing.

Here's fresh coffee.

Myra Johnson said...

Welcome, Debra! I just love that Ruthy and Mary were fighting over you. Wooden spoons and frying pans are no match for a Winchester!

Wow, what a wild couple of years you've had! Congratulations on managing it all, on your 10-year publishing anniversary, and on finding your way to a healthier and happier balance!

My question: When you were under such tight deadlines and writing for different publishers at the same time, how did you organize your writing schedule?

Becky Dempsey said...

It made me tired just reading about what your schedule was like! I've read both "Four Weddings and a Kiss" and "A Bride for all Seasons". Would love to win others!

Debra Clopton said...

Thank you for your prayers! One of the hardest things I did was to decide to stop writing for LI. Mostly because I love my LI sisters! But yes, we all have our own ideas and paths. :) I'm excited about April 1 and tuning in the deadline I have right now because Chuck's got to go to Canada and I'm coming with him. I always love driving through the Canadian countryside! Of course I'm hoping its warmed up a little by April! I'm certain where you're at its really cold right now. See, I'd get tons of writing done lol I would never go out during freezing weather!

Vince said...

Hi Debra:

I can remember the day I got my new monthly four book package in the mail from Steeple Hill. Inside was this book that didn't look like it belong with the others. It looked more like a Thelma and Louise type story than Christian fiction. Up until that date I was hooked on Janet Tronstad's “Dry Creek” quirky world. Each month I hoped Janet would have a new book in the subscription package. But new books from authors you love always take way too long to come out. What I needed was a second great series like “Dry Creek”. Did I ever find it that day!

When I started reading, “The Trouble With Lucy Brown”, the opening pages felt like F. Scott Fitzgerald describing the "valley of ashes" in the Great Gatsby. “What's going on here?” I thought. Then the story got really, really, funny. Right away I knew I had found a new voice that I could not hear enough of! From that day I had two authors I looked forward to finding in the mail each month. I'm so happy you and Janet kept adding to your wonderful series. I love a good series.

Your “Mule Hollow” books serve as my example of the middle ground between plot driven/character/driven and pantser/plotter novels. My theory is to first create a great 'situtation' that can generate both many solid story lines (which helps pantsers) and an endles supply of unique and memorable characters. Your “Mule Hollow” setup is such a 'writing-rich' enviornment. My advice is to create a 'writing-rich' situtation first and then see where that situation can take you and your readers. Look for the situtation of your heart! : )

Here's my question: what happens to “Mule Hollow”? Are you going to reisssue the old books with new editing and updates? Will I be able to tell them from the books I have already read? Is “Her Mule Hollow Cowboy: New Horizon Ranch” a reissue or a new series about to start? Your old Steeple Hill fans may have some trouble adapting to all your new changes. Which of your new venture books should I read first?


Debra Clopton said...

Connie! Girl its not easy lol. I try to walk at least 4 times a week and I have an incumbent bike with a desk that I'm actually about to get on and pedal as I make these post. It helps me get in exercise on cold days. I have 10 pound weights I lift to keep my arms in shape and help me keep my upper body strength I also do pushups. But when Im on deadline its hard to stay consistent but I work hard at it. Not just to stay in my clothes, but to keep mentally sharp and my blood flowing smoothly :) I also take a bunch of vitamins! :) I've always loved staying fit. I have longevity in my family so just in case I live to be 107 like my great, great, great grandmother did or even 93 like my grandmother I want to be as healthy as possible :) and I try to eat healthy but crave sweets on deadline :(

Debra Clopton said...

Helen! So glad you jumped into the indy publishing when the door was closed at Heartsong Presents. I LOVE that we live in a time where it is possible to take control of our paths when we need to or if we want to! This is an amazing time to be an author!!!!

Pam Hillman said...

Loved reading this, Debra! I think a lot of us like the sound of hybrid. We are, as you say, entrepreneurs, after all! :)

I have a question that's been batting around in my brain for a few weeks, and today's post is the perfect place to discuss it...

For those of us writing hybrid, especially novellas and 75-85K mss, how do you decide which story ideas are best suited as a novella or as a full-length novel?

Granted, I understand that there's that whole "Is there enough meat to the story for a full?" question, but a working author doesn't always know that ahead of time, and if she's making decisions based on proposals, then it's even harder to make that call.

I'm not even sure this question can be answered. lol

Connie Queen said...

Good grief. 107? That's awesome!

You go girl! Love all you do. It shows.

My husband and I were talking about this lady the other day who is 115 (she's still alive) and that if I only live to be 70, she will have outlived me by 45 years. That' hard for me to comprehend.

Debra Clopton said...

Myra! Great question. It was a circus at times lol. But what I had to do was sit down with a large calendar that could go on my wall and I wrote each deadline down and circled it in red! Then I wrote down every trip, every thing I knew HAD to be done. There were some things that had to be worked in and some that had to be dropped but I eliminated everything that didn't need me.
And then I focused on one deadline at a time. They were tight and I had to write a lot of words each day. I also actually did some speed weeks where I did my own speedbo or like Candice Haverns calls hers Fast Track. Betting ON Hope's first draft was written in a week 60,000 words. I holed up at my timeshare with some food and my computer and did nothing but write.
So Prioritizing and planning is what I had to do. I ate the elephants one day at a time. And I never let up. It was exhausting. But I knew that's what I had to do for 3 years to make it happen.

Debra Clopton said...

Becky! Thanks for commenting and for reading my books! YUP those were part of the 3 year whirlwind of writing! Loved writing those historicals :)

Myra Johnson said...

Thanks, Debra! So I have to ask--pantser or plotter or a combination? I'm about to "eat some elephants" so am trying to figure out my strategy, and since I'm typically more pantser than plotter, I don't always write very fast--and now I need to!

Pam Hillman said...

Betting ON Hope's first draft was written in a week 60,000 words.


Debra Clopton said...

Vince!!! You blessed my heart! The Trouble with Lacy Brown was created by me for exactly what you described! I wanted and fought for it to be what it was. But it was bought because it was different and I believe was used as a test to see how humor like that would do in LI and boy did readers bless me by embracing my voice and my Mule Hollow. I owe you and my readers so much for what you have done for my career!!!
When I create any new series I do exactly what I did when I created Mule Hollow. I did it with my Love Inspired Cowboys of Sunrise Ranch series and now with my new Four of Hearts Romance Series that Betting on Hope is book 1 of-for Thomas Nelson publishers.

NOW-as for MULE HOLLOW :) I am not thinking I will ever get the rights back to my series. It still makes money for Harlequin and at this point because of contract terms they will hold those copyrights and I will have no say in what they do with them. Which is another conversation I can't really get into but was part of my decision to walk away from LI.
But what I can do is write NEW Mule Hollow stories and that is exactly what the NEW HORIZON RANCH of MULE HOLLOW is it is 5 brand new novellas set on a ranch on the outskirts of my little Mule Hollow. The posse is there and all the gang. The books can be bought as ebooks or print. And they will also be in audio as we are able to get them produced. So I'm working hard to make the covers look similar so you'll be able to know they go together at a glance and Mule Hollow will be in the titles. If you sign up for my newsletter you'll get updates on when they are coming out. I know that Love Inspired just rereleased 2 of my books with new titles so I know that gets confusing. On my Book page of my website I have each book listed with the cover to show the order.
I hope my LI readers can find me and I'm working hard to try and find them through doing blogs etc. But I've also been thrilled to find new readers who have found Mule Hollow after reading Her Mule Hollow Cowboy book 1 of the New Horizon Ranch of MH series! Does this help?

Kav said...

Wow -- what a great example of dedication and perseverance and plan old self-discipline. Definitely an inspiring post! Love that you have found your hybrid niche and that means more good books for us to read. Betting on Hope is at the top of my TBR pile. I'm about to start reading. Can't wait..

Debra Clopton said...

Pam!!! My Golden Heart Winning buddy :) Yall may not know this but Pam and I were up for the Golden Heart together and Pam won and that was our first meeting! Now we are traveling this Hybrid world together!
So great question!!! Honestly, I am a working writer~entrepreneur lol so what I have to do is look at the time frame I have and what I need to accomplish and then work from there. So for instance I knew that in this 3 year span I had 3 novellas to write for publishers, 3 80,000 word books and 3 Love Inspired books(I was writing those as I began the journey into this plan) so I knew any indy work I planned to squeeze in had to be a novella so I only let myself work on ideas that were shorter. I LOVE writing short books. So it works for me. I plan ideas around the word length I need.
Does that make sense? It may be just me that does that...Like right now I know that I will be writing proposals for Thomas Nelson after April so I will let my mind work on a longer plot but not until then. Okay rambling here...sorry lol hope that makes sense. You're right that's gonna be a personal thing maybe.

Sherri Shackelford said...

Loved the post, Debra! I get exhausted just thinking about your schedule :) You're amazing and I love your books! Keep going on all your wonderful adventures....

Debra Clopton said...

OHHHHH Myra, I am a pantser by heart by have had to become a combination in order to move faster and I love it. I write a loose draft synopsis like we do for LI and I used to put like general terms in the contract that didn't really tell details of what was happening the editors just knew something was. lol well now I start out with that skeleton then make myself come up with a few things that happen then I go from there. I can deviate if needed but it gives me a place to go. I also force myself to keep moving forward. If I write some gibberish that's ok it keeps me going forward and I go back later and fix it. Speed writing frees your mind up. Put something down even if its wrong...then you go back and fix it. Betting on Hope was forced out like that, and then corralled into the book it is today through edits and some insights from my editor.

I could never do a complete plot because I believe the magic of my words happens when my fingers and my mind connect on the keyboard! I love when I type something unexpected its the juice that drives me. And I know that I could never have plotted the stories I write. lol I don't have it in me to do that. My crazy mind works best on RAmble mode and so I have to give it some room to ramble and run into the good stuff.

Jana Vanderslice said...

*Off Topic Alert*
I got a Seekerville Ruthy Surprise Box yesterday!

You just have no idea. Here’s my last few weeks…
I was in the hospital for 7 days. Home a couple of days. Dad was in the hospital 4 days and got a heart stint. The next day I find my mom unconscious. She’s in the hospital 4 days. Last Thursday she tears up her knee, and we are in the ER all night. Friday, I had unexpected/emergency surgery. And in the next 1-2 weeks, Mom will have knee surgery.
I’m having a very hard time getting over surgery, and I’m literally taking every step for Mom.

And what happened yesterday?!?! I get a box of Love & Happiness in the US mail!! :)
Ladies, never ever doubt that you make a difference in this world! And THANK YOU!!!

Jana Vanderslice said...

And please pray. I’m writing the Bible study/prayer guide for our 40 Day Prayer that starts March 8th. I love doing the leading, speaking, and creating crazy group activities. But I’m feeling A LOT OF PRESSURE about the writing.
I have to get it done, and I want it to be good. REAL LIVE PEOPLE are going to read it! My brain is so tired I can hardly think. But that’s a good thing because it gives God a lot of room to work. He can write much better than me anyway!
Thank You!!

Debra Clopton said...

Kav Thank you!
Yes self discipline is key. Mine is a little ramped up and I'm ready to ramp down a bit :)

LOL at least for a week or two in April! i'm so glad you enjoyed the post.

Wilani Wahl said...

Debra, I loved Betting on Hope. It was the first book I read of yours and I am hooked. I will be looking for and reading your books in the days ahead. I enjoyed reading your post.

Wilani Wahl said...

Jana, I will be praying for your recovery and also for your parents.

Debra Clopton said...

Myra you can do it!!!!!Congrats on the contract with Love Inspired!!!!!

Sherri thanks for the kind words!

Pam, yup, crazy!!! but true lol I used the program Write of Die!!! lol it makes me produce. I'm about to use it here in a minute to write in between posting on Seekerville. I'll do it in 15 minute spurts I think. lol we'll see...I normally use it in 30 minute sessions trying to type 1000 words at a time. It doesn't always work out but I get words down. And my mind has to create rather than contemplate. :)

Debra Clopton said...

Jana WOW praying for you and your family! And wow the box of happiness sounds fantastic what a great concept! :)

You made a so true statement when you said that when your brain is tired God gets to do more of it(not exactly your words but means the same thing) YOU ARE SO RIGHT! I know that when my mind is tired and I'm under major deadlines and feeling like nothing is working that I have to rely on God and what he's going to lead to come out onto the page. At times like that I do a lot of praying and then start typing :)

Debra Clopton said...

Jana the Wow about your parents didn't really come out sounding right. I want to clarify that I'm just stunned at the illness and issues happening all at once! God's Got This! I'm praying for your parents and for you. And I can tell you that God's going to give you the right thing to say in your bible study.

Debra Clopton said...

I am so glad you enjoyed Betting ON Hope!!! I love finding new readers :) thank you so much!

Eileen said...

Your story, like your awesome covers, all intrigue me. Question: How did your husband do during your over-do moments? My husband tries to give me the time, but running my own very consuming business and then squeezing in the writing compete against him leisure time with him. Often, when my whole weekend is spent on the computer,he gives me 'the look'. However he is, after all, working on trust in my ability to publish. Me too. After reading your blog though, I wonder if it isn't time to turn control of my business to my assistant director, but, like you releasing yourself from the success of Harlequin, that is super hard to do. By the way, did I tell you I really really love your covers. Who did those?

Heidi Robbins said...

Congratulations on all your success! I got hooked on your Love Inspired stories and will be sure to read all your new releases, no matter how they are published ;)

Please put my name in the hat for the drawing!

Debby Giusti said...

Thrilled with your success, Deb, but I hate that you had to say goodbye to Love Inspired. We'll miss you!

Thanks for sharing your story here on Seekerville. You inspire me!

Hugs and love!

Pam Hillman said...

Jana, praying for you and your family. You are amazing to do all you're doing for your parents and work! God bless you!

Julie Lessman said...

WOW, DEB ... you've come a long way since I ran into you in the elevator at RWA in 2005, girl, remember?

I am sooooo freakin' proud of all you have accomplished, but am glad you are slowing down a wee bit. Life is way too short and our families are way too important.

I took a spiritual sabbatical last year to slow down, and it was the best thing I ever did. Of course, big diff between my "slowing down" and yours -- uh, about a hundred books difference! ;)


Jennifer Smith said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing your story, Debra. Sounds like the last few years have been a whirlwind. :)

Debra Clopton said...

Hi Eileen
I've walked right where you are with a business and children and a desire in my heart to be a great mother, wife business owner and writer. Its a tough spot to be in. But you have to find a balance and sometimes you just have to stop and enjoy being with your husband. He is supporting your dream so make sure and find time to enjoy each other!
My kids are all grown now and I'm a full time writer and Chuck's schedule has him traveling every other week most of the year so I am in a very unique situation. But still with this schedule I have to take time to slow down for our time together. It's tough with all you have going but really look at your schedule and if you can make an adjustment somewhere to get even just 1 extra day of solid writing for yourself that could free up a little weekend time then you're blessed to have that situation...with the assistant. I owned a busy hair salon when I was trying to get published. I stopped cutting hair on Saturday finally just so I could be home with my kids and have alittle extra writing time that wasn't from 9:30 pm to midnight!
Good luck to you!

Debra Clopton said...

Thank you!!!! So glad you enjoy my books. I think I should share that Krista Stroever edited my first 18 Mule Hollow Books and she also edited my 1st Indy book! She will be on board as my indy editor every time we can work it out! I am so thrilled about this. So my goal is that I bring the same quality to my indy work as I bought to my Traditional published work. :) If Krista can't edit a book I have other marvelous editors lined up to help make the books the best that they can be!

Debra Clopton said...

I still hang out on the LI loop, haven't had time to post or read my digest but I'm still connected-I just love our group so much.

Hugs, :)

Debra Clopton said...

Julie!!! Oh Yes I remember!:) I've been thrilled to know you all this time.

So glad you've had some time off! It will rejuvenate you and there is no telling what special books you'll be creating!!!

Debra Clopton said...

Yes a real whirlwind-Kind of like that old Tanya Tucker song Bird in a Hurricane :)
Or something like that lol

Myra Johnson said...

Ramble mode--LOVE IT!!! Yep, that pretty much describes my "plotting method."


Missy Tippens said...

Debbie, I'm so glad you're with us today! How fun to help you celebrate the new book. Sounds like such a fun premise! I'm glad you're finding some time to live life and enjoy the writing.

Although, now I have the picture of Ruthy waving a wooden spoon at Mary, and Mary taking her out with a shotgun. LOL

DebH said...

Hi Debra
I got exhausted just reading about your three year plan to reach your goal. WOW. I'm not sure how you didn't fry your creative muse with all the constant writing you did.

Your story is very inspirational, especially because you dared to pursue your goal and appears you got there. It is certainly not for the faint of heart. I love your stories - even though I've only been able to read just a few. That pesky book budget and too many wonderful authors presented by Seekerville make it difficult to get to all of them.

Your website is bookmarked though, so I can get to your "world" and pick out a story when I can. I look forward to reading anything by you.

Thanks for sharing - especially the visual of Mary and Ruthy duking it out for host privileges... and the chipmunk.

Never forget about chipmunks. *heh*

Vince said...

Hi Debra:

I just joined your newsletter. I also got both the new “Mule Hollow” books. One I'll have to wait until 16 March to download. The other I can start reading tonight. BTW: my favorite format is the novella. A great HEA feels just as good after 80 pages as does one after 800 pages. And, as for me, I'd rather have ten HEAs during that time period than one after 800 pages! (I think if you are going to write an 800 page romance, you need to have a few 'playoff' HEAs along the way!) : )

I just remembered something I was going to ask you the last time you were here at Seekerville and didn't get to it. Did you provide the idea for the LI “Alaskan Bride Rush” series of books? I thought at the time that “Treasure Creek” and all those brides coming into town to find husbands was suspiciously similiar to “Mule Hollow” -- Yukon branch! That was such a good six book, multi-author series, that LI added three historical books to keep it story going and give their historical writers a chance at the series. I've never seen a publisher do that before in a series.

That series sure has your figure prints all over it. It was such a good idea that LI featured their “A” team of authors.

Again, that is the power of a great situation.


Debra Clopton said...

LOL MYRA I know, I think I just made a quotable quote about my writing style lol. So now we know what's wrong with a good way I think!

Missy! I have that same visual about Ruthy and Mary I couldn't resist putting that in. And this may come as a shocker but I don't think they really did that...hahaha

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Debra! It's always delightful to see you. I remember first meeting you at ACFW after you'd sold The Trouble with Lacy Brown. I have a lot of your books on my shelves. Know these new books will be great too.

A career is important but killing yourself is permanent. :-) Good that you've found a stride that allows you to breathe. And enjoy your family while still writing.

How did you decide upon your indie editors?


Debra Clopton said...

DebH I know that budget thing is a pain!!!! Thanks for marking my website.

Everytime we mention chipmunks I hear Alvin and the chipmunks singing!!!

Debra Clopton said...

Sooooo here is the scoop on the Alaskan Brides. I don't know for certain but I feel strongly that yes it was crafted using Mule Hollow as its mold. No one ever told me that but it was too similar. It is also the only continuity that I've ever been invited to be a part of! And after my story came out I never wanted to write another one anyway! lol My story happened to have 2 plot twist that I had to put into the end of my book to set up the book that would follow mine. Those 2 plot threads were huge!!! It was like my story had gaping wounds left at the end and the doctor had left the building. I got so many letters from irate readers who wondered why I'd done that to them. Many of them thought it was a Mule Hollow book too. It was so similar to my series that readers automatically tuned out Alaskan Brides and inserted Mule Hollow. So it made my life a little hard for the next couple of years as letter after letter was mailed to me :) I learned that readers do not like cliff hangers on the last page. I love my readers but I sure got timed of explaining that ending. I LOVED writing about Alsaska though. One day I'm going to write my own series there.

Debra Clopton said...

Hi Janet! no, balance is the key and I'm getting some of that this year :)

My first choice of editors is always those I've worked with and worked well with and trust from the traditional world. The others I'll be working with are from recommendations from other authors.

Olivia said...

So pleased to meet you through the blog ,Debra! You can do more in a minute than I can do in an hour. I like the 3 year plan idea---eapecially since Tina has me trying to think through the big picture using a mission statement. You spoke to me when you described the magic that comes between you and the keyboard as you write the story. I am going on to your website to get to know you better. Please put my name into the drawing.

Jana Vanderslice said...

OK, here's a Miracle for you! I just found out our 40 Day Prayer is postponed until March 15th! I get another week!!

And I forgot to say earlier, Thank You, Debra! This was a great post!

Rhonda Starnes said...

Hi Debra! Sorry, I'm late getting to the party. We had 9" of beautiful snow in north Alabama this morning, and I had to go out and play for a while. It's starting to get slushy now, so I'm over it and ready for spring.

I enjoyed your post very much. I'm seeking publication with LIS right now. I would eventually like to self-publish, but I know I have a lot to learn before I venture down that road. I don't want to be one of the people who gets wrapped up in the "I want to be published at any cost" attitude. My path will be different than everyone else's, and that's okay.

Thanks for the reminder that we need to treat our writing as a business, because that's what it is.

Natasha Kern said...

If anything, Deb, you understated your passion, commitment and perseverance over the past several years. You set high goals for yourself and then gave it your all to achieve them-- and succeeded! I wanted to comment that several of my clients who have 'broken out' who have hit USA or NYT lists or ECPA did exactly this. Determined to focus on their career and write more books more often -- even back before ebooks. Frequency of publication along with quality has an impact. NO ONE can sustain this pace but doing it for a year or two can make a difference. And then you can take more time off for family and rest. I'm planning to do that myself in 2015!!! :-)

Mary Connealy said...

Hi Debra! Sorry to be slow checking in. Love your blog!

CatMom said...

Welcome sweet Debra!!
Loved this post and I am thrilled that your writing career is going great. I think you summed things up nicely when you wrote: We have to have balance. ~ That is SO true in many aspects of life, and certainly in writing. :)

I hope to see you at ACFW this year! When I met you 2 years ago at RWA in Atlanta (my city!) you were a sweetheart and so kind.

Thanks so much for visiting with us today (I'll admit I was also curious about the chipmunk story, LOL).
Hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo :)

Mary Connealy said...

sounds like you really made some smart choices, Debra and I'm so glad Mule Hollow lives on!!!

CatMom said...

p.s. OOOPS!! Meant to add that I loved your story in A BRIDE FOR ALL SEASONS (and Mary Connealy, loved your story too!). :)
Hugs, PJ

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I love what Natasha said... it's so true. We call it "temporary sacrifice for long-term gain" and it works for life as well as work...

It works for home improvements...

For faith formation.

For building career platforms.

We use the phrase, "You can do anything for (fill in the time... 10 minutes, 2 days, a month, 2 years...) because if you set your goals to do that, you have an end game in sight.

And for me, knowing the end-game is a huge part of staying focused.

Sandy Smith said...

Debra, your schedule sounded exhausting and not surprising that it affected your health. I'm glad you have found a way to scale back and still fulfill your dreams.

Please enter me into the drawing for your book.

Cara Lynn James said...

Wow, Debra, you're a busy, busy lady! Great post.

Debra Clopton said...

Hi Olivia so nice to meet you too! I'm glad you liked the 3 year plan. Thanks for checking out my website!
Keep up your writing we can all make a plan that works for our situation.

Debra Clopton said...

Rhonda! the snow sounds fabulous we had a very slushy weak snow fall for abot 15 minutes yesterday then nothing. But here in central Texas that's normal.
Yes, you set your own course and what works for your dream!!! :) that's exactly what I did.

Thanks Jana! So glad you got a little extra time!

Hey Mary! So glad you made it. Thanks for saying hi and having me here today!!!!! Loving it :)

Pattie Jo!!! HELLLO! I really enjoyed getting to hang out with you some at ACFW. I'm not going to get to go this year :( I have another commitment during that month. So glad to see you again. I had planned to stop in more at Seekerville but was so busy I didn't make it :)

Debra Clopton said...

Natasha is so right y'all. Ruthy too. You have to sometimes kick it into high gear, get those important to you on the same page with you and then go for it.

It might not be a hard 3 year plan like I did. It could be that you need to finish 1 book.

I need some coffee y'all. my late night of writing is starting to show!lol

Debra Clopton said...

Sandy you're entered! So nice for you to stop in! :)

Hi Clara good to see you!!!!

Janet Dean said...

Debra, I'm guessing not many editors in traditional publishing are available, but you're blessed to have someone you've worked with before you indie pubbed.


Mary Connealy said...


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Mary and Deb, I'm in for lunch! Are we ever in the same state together???


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Jana!!! I'm glad it got there, sweet thing! And I'm praying for you and the whole beautiful family. I'm so sorry that everything is raining down on you right now.

You are so delightfully special, Jana... and you probably don't know that or believe it, but we see it. Thank you so much for being a friend of Seekerville and being the amazing woman you are! God bless you!

Chill N said...

Debra, I haven't had time to read the comments yet -- but have to tell you this is a fantastic account of what it took to get where you wanted to be. I'm tired just reading it! I appreciate two sentences in particular:

"We have to have balance"
"My reasons aren't your reasons"

Thanks for such an honest post.

Nancy C

Valri said...

Debra - you know how much I LOVE you! I adore your books and how you write! I love being an influencer for you too! There's only ONE book of yours I haven't read....can't believe it! I could read hundreds of books written by you if you could crank them out that fast!!! My goal someday is to meet you! I told my husband that and his reply to that was ...."ROADTRIP!!!!"

Debra Clopton said...

LUNCH!!!! I'm ready Mary and Ruthy :)

Debra Clopton said...

LUNCH!!!! I'm ready Mary and Ruthy :)

Debra Clopton said...

Thanks Nancy! we all have to do what works for our own life!

Debra Clopton said...

Valri! Roadtrip indeed! You will have to remind me what part of the country you live in. With as many places I travel with Chuck across the country I bet we could meet up for lunch somewhere :)That would be fun! Thank you so much for being an influencer for me!!!!

So which book have you not read? curious mind wants to know lol

Walt Mussell said...

I'm still trying to imagine the Ruthy - Mary battle.

Walt Mussell said...

Do you think having had experience with editors editing your work made you more comfortable when you decided to give up one of two traditional published routes?

CatMom said...

JANA, praying for you, dear lady!
Gentle hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo

Debra Clopton said...

Hi Walt, that is a great question and the answer is yes. At least for me-you see I'm the type who would never have indy published 10 years ago. I needed and wanted an editor to pick me up and want to buy me. I didn't have confidence enough in my work to believe it until that moment. HOWEVER the moment I finished writing The Trouble With Lacy Brown and added in the Christian thread to it I knew that that book was going to get published. It was like 13 years of learning my craft and honing my skill came together and I knew it would happen. And it was bought by the first editor who read it which was my target Editor at Harlequin Love Inspired.
But even then it took me learning to work with an editor to see that there is more to crafting the book structure to draw a reader into the story.
Today, there is so much more info available and amazing blogs like this one to learn things I had no way of knowing 13 years ago.
So I think I would be much more confident in my abilities these days even without having worked with an editor.
That being said, I have come to know my ideas are solid. Im a really tough critic of my work, and police myself readily. I love the editing process and have no problem tossing anything as long as I agree with the editor. But I've learned to trust my instincts and stand up for a section of writing if I believe in it and can now tell and editor no I want it the way I wrote it. So having come to that understanding and respect of myself and my craft I think that gave me the confidence to let a publisher go. I have complete confidence that I can hire a good editor and create a quality book that could compete with the other books I have have written.
Does that answer the question ? I don't want to sound overbearing or anything like that. I'm the first to say I lets tear it down and build it better. I'm humbled when I look at a well edited book of mine and know that a tough relentless edit made it into the book it is. But I also have books out there that I'm proud to say are some of my best works and they had hardly any editing needed-and I know they are some of my best work beccasu they are reader favorites! And have some of the highest reader reviews. So it comes down to this is a business and as we objectively learn to look at our work through critical eyes intent on making it the best that it can be then that is where the freedom comes from.
Hope I am not rambling. Its been a long 23 hours lol :) Of course I'm also never totally satisfied with my work. lol but kids have to leave home at some point and I have to let them go. :)

Tanya Agler said...

Debra, Thank you for sharing some of the highlights of the past ten years of your writing journey. You definitely epitomize the lesson of perseverance.

Thank you for more info about the chipmunks in the comments. That was definitely a hook for the comments.

I started reading everyone's comments and I just have to add a note to Jana. I'm sending up a prayer now.

Thanks for the post, Debra.

Valri said...

Deb, I live in Oregon! I live in a very small town about an hour from Portland towards the coast! If you EVER come to Oregon, you better let me know! I will travel anywhere and have lunch with you! The only book of yours I haven't read is Four Weddings and a Kiss! Don't know how I missed that!

Debra Clopton said...

Thank you for saying hello Tanya!

Valri i'll keep that in mind! We are coming that direction this summer :) lunch is on me :) Ahhh four Weddings :)

Whew the bed is now calling my name I've had a blast here to day. Thanks everyone for commenting! Big hug from me to you and happy writing everyone!!!!

Edwina said...

Thanks for sharing your journey with us. It was inspiring, motivating and all-around fun!

jubileewriter said...

Your words have reminded me to keep balance in my life as I pursue my writing. I know I could never juggle three publishers at once. But you inspire me to be faithful to keep my one ball in the air.
Cindy Huff

Debra Clopton said...

Edwina! Thank you!!! I believe you hit the nail on the head. We love to write or we wouldn't be doing it-because it's hard :) so we have to keep it fun. KEEP THE JOY

Debra Clopton said...

Cindy YOU CAN DO IT :) thanks for stopping by.

Debra Clopton said...

Hey! I just signed up for Speedbo! I have a deadline April 1 and planned to plow through on my own but now I'm doing it with all of you! Fun!!!!!!! I always like speed writing with group support :)
Loved being with everyone. Y'all push yourself, you can achieve more than you think you can!!!! Eat the elephants one bite at a time, just eat them fast :)
Hugs...see you on Speedbo

Christine Lindsay said...

Wow, you're an inspiration, taking that step of faith into the Indie world of publishing. Blessings on that.

Anna Weaver Hurtt said...

Excellent post, Debra! It's so exciting to see where your writing journey is taking you. You're an inspiration to us all. :)

Kelly Blackwell @ Heres My Take On It said...

After a busy work week I am finally able to settle in for a minute and do some extra reading that I missed out on during the week. Debra, thank you for your inspiring and honest post. I loved reading about your journey and your determination! I was also excited about the Mono Lake mention (my husband and I visited there with family when we were taking a much needed mini vacation in September up in Mammouth. We also took a trip to Bodi the same day. So much fun! Thank you for sharing your voice!