Debra E. Marvin tries not to run too far from real life but the imagination born out of being an only child has a powerful draw. Besides, the voices in her head tend to agree with all the sensible things she says. She’d like to live just a wee bit closer to her grandchildren, but is thankful that God is in control, that He chooses to bless us despite ourselves and that He has a sense of humor.
Other than writing light-hearted romances and gritty gothics, she has pretty normal obsessions: fabric, peanut butter, vacations, British dramas and whatever mystery series she’s currently reading. (Visit me at debraemarvin.com, the Inkwell Inspirations Blog, @debraemarvin on twitter and Debra E Marvin on Facebook and Pinterest, but not my house because I usually have dirty dishes.)
Connect with Debra...
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B018QCI2AS
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/Debra-E-Marvin-433266640199533
Website and personal blog: http://debraemarvin.com/
Group Blog- Inkwell Inspirations: http://www.inkwellinspirations.com/
Purchase: Austen in Austin
Get to know Debra E. Marvin
You and Writing
Tell us a little bit about yourself and writing...
How did you start writing?
Back when my kids were in high school, I took a creative writing course at a local university (Adult Ed.), and entered a short story contest for a local literary magazine. I won. What? So, I took another creative writing course, this time run by a romance author at a local writers’ center. There I learned about writers groups like RWA, and eventually, I became a contest coordinator, putting a lot of time into learning “the craft”. But my heart wasn’t in 100% romance—I longed for mystery or a meaty historical plot, and I preferred to keep the bedroom stuff behind closed doors. I prayed about my writing and carried on. Eventually, I put writing aside while pursuing a degree and working full time. I was one of those darned adult learners! But the urge to write never left, and I found out about ACFW, and ‘writing’ blogs. The biggest boost to my writing was becoming part of my group blog, Inkwell Inspirations.
Emilie here: I think it's so great that you were (and I assume are) committed to learning. I know that has played into your writing now and will continue to! And hey--I know I'm glad you joined ACFW because that meant I got to meet you there! ;-)
Tell us a little bit about your book...
Like many writers, I have a box full of old manuscripts, workshop notes and gems I printed off the internet, and research. About four or five years ago, my Inkwell sisters and I discussed a novella anthology. Austen? Western? We combined the two! Ahh, but how might it find a home, given the whims of the publishing world? In 2015, I’d taken a leave of absence from writing to enjoy life like a normal person (as in not like a compulsive writer). It was great! Of course, that’s when IT happened. Austen in Austin found a home!
I’d chosen Northanger Abbey as my ‘plot/character’ theme, and for those of you who know the book, Catherine Moreland is a bit of a silly girl. Austen wrote Northanger Abbey as a parody of gothic literature (the ultimate too stupid to live heroines of the time). Now, don’t get me wrong, I love romantic suspense and gothics. (I have a series waiting for day light). But…how to make a Catherine Moreland/gothic tale fit for today’s audience? It was a bit of a struggle until my heroine Kathryn Morton came to life. She’s a complete bookworm and wallflower who never gave herself credit, and has been overprotected all her life. To make it work, I had to have some quirky fun with her. For anyone who’s felt like a geek around a cute guy (cue the hunky cowboy!), I think you’ll “get this”. With excellent critiques and begrudging rewrites, I now adore Kathryn and Harmon’s story!
The best part of this ‘publishing story’ is the time the Inkies spent brainstorming and working together to bring overlapping characters in one main setting together over two decades of storylines and Austin history. Susie Dietze and I loved this effort so much, we wore Regency dresses to the costume dinner at conference. Susie won the Genesis for “One Word From You”, her Austen novella, and we also went to see Austenland at the theater in Indianapolis with our Inky sisters Suzie Johnson and Barb Early.
Emilie here: Ok, readers, here's a fun bit of background info. I met Susie at the first ACFW Conference I went to. We actually met up on the plane ride there (talk about awesome "coincidence") and then I met Deb through Susie!
Let's talk about your writing life...
Advice for aspiring authors:
We’re all told to find someone who really believes in your writing, but it’s just as important to find someone else who’s not afraid to cover your manuscript with red ink. Take the hard lessons and battle onward. I’d lost the balance between life outside of writing and the immense effort it takes to eek a story out of every stolen moment. I’d lost the joy of writing. (We got a legal separation—writing and I.) It’s important, it takes a lot of focus, but it’s not more important than family and giving yourself some time to unwind. Finding the balance is critical, and it’s just as important a lesson as a sword-wielding critique partner.
It’s a truth universally acknowledged: anyone can write a book and get it published these days. A dream come true, right? Not really. Because 1) storytelling 2) tenacity. These will always matter most. A ‘badly’ written novel can do well if the story captivates the reader, but no book will ever be published if you don’t finish it. (Unless you’re Jane Austen?) (tweet this)
Are you a Panster or Plotter? What does your writing process look like?
No pantsing here. I’m an obsessive plotter, but it becomes signposts along the way as my characters take over the story. That’s key. For me, plotting means I can sit down and know what ‘should’ happen in a scene and write a really crummy first draft of it. From there, I see what I need to tweak, but plotting reduces pointless and episodic bunny trails. Then I sprinkle in secrets, emotions, doubts. Details to the setting. Subtext to the plot. Before I worry about prettying up the prose, this is the time I get a second opinion. Does the story make sense? Are the characters interesting? That second draft is the hardest part. I have to face really ugly stuff and start shaping it. My favorite part come later, when I add the real depth of emotion and setting details.
My first draft is generally 75% dialogue and 25%...‘He walks to the door. She thinks…something…and then she follows him. I call it the Dick and Jane method of writing.
Whatever works for you, do it. Just keep at it and know it’s going to stink and be painful and exhilarating and fun. And then one day you get to visit Emilie’s blog and talk about a new release!
Emilie here: Great advice here! I know the difficulties of finding balance for the writing life. I love your approach though! Hey, every novel starts somewhere, right? It's where it ends that's important. And yes - I'd love to have more guests!!!
So, Emilie asks: flowers, or chocolate, or books?
Well, for me the best gift is time with family and friends, or Amazon gift certificates (then I can justify buying DVDs). And I love promises of vacations! I’m so not a Valentine’s Day girl. But nowadays a handmade card from a grandchild is the Best. Thing. Ever.
What are you currently reading?
Austen in Austin Vol 2 novellas! I’ll switch over to non-fiction research for two novellas I’m working on for Forget Me Not publishing. And I’ve just started judging in a great contest I’ve been involved with since finaling in it years ago.
Thanks so much for hosting me, Emilie. You’re a real sweetheart and a favorite with the Inkwell girls since we met you in Indianapolis. I wish you the best with your writing career, photography and that personal life I get glimpses of on Facebook!
Emilie here: Thank you for being my guest Deb! And you are too sweet (*insert grinning face here*). I am so excited for you ladies and the introduction of Austen in Austin to the world! Readers, if you don't win it - GO BUY IT! :D
Comment below about your favorite Jane Austen novel or let us know what you're reading right now.
I had Laura VanArendonk Baugh on the blog last week and she offered up two books! Our winner is:
Congrats Rebecca :)