Debra Dixon is a busy woman— novelist, CEO, national speaker, publisher, business consultant, software developer, wife, mother and awesome friend. Thank you for dropping by Writing Sluts today.
Did you always want to be a writer?
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: I wrote a sequel to GONE WITH THE WIND when I was 10. Obviously, to any lover of romance fiction, the ending sucked. My sequel was better than the real sequel. <g> Then I wrote a sequel to BIG RED. And I finally ventured into completely “fresh” territory when I wrote a gothic romance while I was in college.
When did you decide to write GOAL, MOTIVATION & CONFLICT?
About the same time I decide to write everything– When people with sticks begin to beat me. I was actually talked into writing GMC. I didn’t think anyone would buy it.
What movies to you recommend to help demonstrate GMC?
If you went to see a movie more than once at the theater, put it on your list. Usually people have no trouble with strong GMC’s in the suspense and adventure genres. I get requests most often to explain more about GMC in the quiet stories.
BECAUSE I SAID SO
THE FAMILY STONE
DEAR FRANKIE (Gerard Butler, English film and not a tidy resolution but clear GMC)
The list could go on for days, but I’m assuming you guys have a large following of romance writers or writers who include relationships so those movies are good.
Do you have any advice for writers waiting for ‘the call?’
Write. Buy “GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict” (www.GryphonBooksForWriters.com)
Oh, you mean “meaningful” advice? Fine. Whatever.
My best advice is for writers to remember that writing success doesn’t define them. The act of WRITING defines them. A world of people want to write, but very few have the ability to conceive a full story and commit a beginning, middle, and end to paper.
Too often we dismiss the incredibly difficult act of writing. Writers don’t control what is published. Publishers do. But writers control the power of their words. Don’t ignore the writing. Keep writing.
Chill. (while still writing) Don’t let ants-in-your-pants force you to the wrong publishing option for *you.* Don’t let the expectations of others (You mean you haven’t sold yet?) rob you of the joy of creating fiction. Writers have so many more options in 2009 than they did 10 years ago. Everything from publishers with national laydowns to self-publishing a book. But don’t make the wrong publishing decision for *you* just because you’re tired of Great Aunt Hildy asking you why you aren’t published. Sure, Great Aunt Hildy might not know the difference between self-publishing and a national laydown. But you will. (assuming that your particular goals and needs are best served by a publisher with the infrastructure that makes a national laydown possible.)
The world doesn’t end if the call morphs into a letter beginning with “While we appreciate your taking the time to submit your work, . . .” There are other publishers and other publishing models. Spend some time while you’re waiting for the call to plan your next move. What’s the “next best thing” for you and your book? And then get the book right back out there.
As an editor and co-owner of Belle Books, how important is the query letter?
Important. Don’t screw it up with puffery for the book or about me/us. Don’t forget to attach the submission materials. Use the spell checker in your email program. Include your website or blog as part of your signature. If you don’t have those things, are you living in a cave?
Make sure your book blurb isn’t generic. Capture my imagination. If your book is a common plot, then you’d better make sure your blurb drips with your voice while still being a “professional summary.”
What grabs your attention in a submission?
Voice. Wait, let me think. Voice. Wait, let me say that again. . .voice. Sure, clever concepts are great. That makes me zoom to the material, hoping against hope that there is a *voice* on the page. I want world texture, vivid characterization, a great concept, an involving plot and I want all of that supported by a voice that wraps around my imagination and drags me down into the story.
What is the biggest turn off?
Hubris. Coyness. “Will Anathea survive the evil wizard Sorkar’s plot? You’ll have to ask for my book to find out.” Uh. . .no. It’s commercial fiction. I pretty much know Anathea survives.
Melodramatic characters. I see this constantly.
Do you ever read for ‘fun?’
Not nearly as much as I would like, but I do read for fun. You have to. I had favorite authors and loved to read long before I became a writer and then a publisher. However, I always feel so guilty about my to-be-evaluated piles. I’ve worn a lot of hats the last 18 months as we’ve gotten the new imprint established so I’m hoping that 2010 will be less hectic.
What do you do to relax?
Besides reading, I’m a movie junkie and I quilt. Seriously enough to have added a quilt studio to the house during a remodeling project.
And my son and I share an iTunes account. Mostly so he can call me up and tell me about the movie sales so I’ll go buy some and he gets them free. Smart boy, that boy.
What is on your iPod?
I just downloaded (*bought*) K.D.Lang’s Hallelujah this morning. The music I listen to most often is on my computer. As for my iPod. . .um. . .this is sooo embarrassing. My son loaded it. So I don’t actually know everything that’s on it. He got tired of it sitting there because I never found time to load it. So, one day he walks in and hands it to me. “Here. You’re done.” Lots of country. (What was Kanya thinking?? Poor Taylor.)
Do you have any favorite TV shows?
House, Supernatural, Bones, Grey’s Anatomy, So You Think You Can Dance (hey, don’t judge me) I’m expecting to love the new series The Forgotten with Christian Slater. And over the summer I plowed through NCIS, all the seasons, on NetFlix.
What is coming up next at Belle Books?
Gosh, what a great opportunity to plug our new newsletter, THE BELLE RINGER . Here you can view it online or you can click the “Join Our List” button at the bottom of the page.
ks, spring and fall are our big lists. We’ve got a ton of new books out and coming up are two I’m very excited about.
SOUL CATCHER by Leigh Bridger (urban fantasy)
PRIMITIVE by Edgar and Emmy winning author Mark Nykanen (suspense)
Thank you, Debra, for sharing your time and sage wisdom with our readers.