AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Debbie Williamson, author of STAND

Born in Salt Lake City, Debbie Williamson grew up in Southern California and now lives in Utah with her family and four miniature schnauzers. She and her husband are the parents of 9 children and 11 grandchildren. Family is her number one priority and when not working with university and church groups, she can be found golfing and sailing with her children and husband, Gary.

You can visit her blog at www.myspace.com/williamsondebbie/.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Debbie! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

I have writing most of my life, mostly poetry when I was a child. I started keeping my writings in journals at the age of seven. I have written children’s stories for about twelve years and started “Stand” nine years ago.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

When I started writing this book it was intended to be more of a journal to make sure my children understood the family history and who I was. I wanted them to know because I have always believed that the truth can heal you.

Putting my life in print for the world to read came after three years of journaling my experiences into pages that were meant to be for my children.

When I made the decision to publish it I had reached the four year mark journaling. It was after relentless visions and one very special message from my grandmother during an illness that I made my decision to write a book and leave my mark on this world. I struggled with the question: why would anyone care about my life and my experiences? I also struggled with knowing on some level my family was not going to be thrilled for the world to have an insight into their personal life.

I had a belief and a message from the other side that my story might not only help my children but maybe it could help other people lost in their own pain. I thought if I could get people to understand that you can heal from abuse instead of being a survivor that it would change the fight against abuse. I have always known it starts with yourself and healing you first is the only way you can protect it from spreading to your children. I stayed focused on this belief. It was something I knew I had to do.

I also was not overjoyed with walking through my past once again, to relive moments that will always be very painful let alone try to put them on paper. The beautiful part about healing is that every time you walk through your past and the pain it gets easier and the healing grows.

One of the more difficult parts of sharing my personal life was that it was not just my life I was sharing. It was also my children’s lives and their father’s life as well. I had been through so much with my children that I often wondered if sharing my life and my feelings about their father would destroy the love they had for me. I could not bear to think about life without them so I stayed focused on the message and trusted that they would understand why I had to write my story. The message I had to bring was bigger than me and my fears.

The most difficult part of the journey was struggling with my mother’s fears of shame and disgrace. She had never come to terms with her life and was in no way ready to share it with the world. It took a lot of explaining to get her to understand that I had good reasons to write the book and I had to make my mark on this world in the fight against abuse. She fought abuse in her way and this was mine. My mother’s change of heart came when I told her grandma had come to see me. She said she had been waiting for her mother to send a message letting her know she was ok. She agreed to do the book with me and offered her journals for her family’s history and hers. When I was to the point of adding mom’s story to the book she passed away and all I had were her writings and things she had shared with me in counseling. It took me months to read through her journals and I almost gave up during the research process on my family’s history, it was not an easy task and the emotional part of it was almost overwhelming.

Mom’s passing was so very difficult for me; I had wanted her to heal her broken heart before she left this world but it wasn’t meant to be. The last time I spoke with her she made me promise that I would not give up that I would finish the book and share our story with the world. She said she had prayed about my reasons for wanting to write the book and the answers she received were the same as mine: just do it. Not having her there by my side made it even more challenging; I questioned my motives and everything that I believed from that moment on. I kept my focus close to my heart right along with the promise I made to my mother and somehow I finished.

I have never felt such a strong presence from the other side as I did in the last five months of writing. I knew that my grandmother and my father were with me the entire time. I hired a ghostwriter to help me interview my aunt for the information on my grandfather. She told me several times during the interview process that my father’s presence was so powerful she was having a difficult time concentrating. I was taken aback for a moment when she described his looks to me; she had never seen a picture of my dad, but her description was right on. It was comforting to know that she was a witness to my miracle.

The first time I held an actual printed copy of my book was very emotional. I sat in my office for hours and cried. I felt like I did after the life training program I had gone through, only it was much more powerful. I knew that somehow I would leave a mark on my generation that would be felt generations after I am gone. I knew that my message would be heard. I had followed the burning desire in my heart to make a difference and change the future for my children with the hopes of changing the future of someone else’s children as well.

I am grateful that I stayed on course and kept my focus.

I believe with all my heart that my message will find its own path. Sharing my life was the only way I could use the wrong that had been done in a positive way. My life has been a series of miracles, its how I chose to use these miracles that matters.

I was told when my journey to heal started that forgiveness would heal my life and along with it my family. I had never understood forgiveness until I found the courage in me to try it.

Forgiveness is not about your abuser. It is about you giving the pain that owns you back to the person who hurt you.

What kind of research was involved in writing “STAND”?

The research for “Stand” included counseling sessions with my mother, recorded interviews with my aunt who is my mother’s older sister, and months of reading through journals of family history and my mother’s personal journals as well.

How much input did you have into the design of your book cover?

I had signed on with The Cadence Group to get my book in the market place which left me in control of my book. So the cover design was series of brain storming with Amy Collins from Cadence, Gwen Snider who is the artist and I. The cover photo is a picture of me at the age of nine and after trying several other ideas this one just seemed to work the best. The look and the back cover was the work of Amy and Gwen together.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

Well my answer would be it was and still is a bumpy ride, but what I have heard is the book has made incredible timing getting out and into book store.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

I signed on with The Cadence Group in late November 2007, the book was published in January 2008 and placed on Amazon immediately. It was then submitted to Baker Taylor, Barnes & Noble and Borders and accepted into Baker Taylor in February 2008 and Barnes & Noble and Borders in March of 2008.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

No, I do not have an agent. I have considered this but need more information on what having an agent can do for my writing and getting published. I am exploring this option and wonder if this is a better way to go.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Yes, I am working on two more at the moment and I have a children’s book series very close to being ready to submit.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

Whenever inspiration hits is when I write; for the most part it is in the late night hours when life settles to a quiet roar. If ideas stir during the day I take notes so I don’t lose the inspiration and elaborate on them later in the night.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

I would hire an agent, and try to get accepted by a publisher. For this book I would have still chosen to work with The Cadence Group. Amy Collins is very knowledgeable in the book industry, and I don’t believe that this particular book would have made it onto book store shelves without her. Money well spent, signing on with The Cadence Group.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

I think self promotion is a must for promoting your book. You need to be out there so people can see you and know you. I spend my day’s blogging on web sites for the abused, answering questions when I can and trying to help. I also write my own blogs on the internet and visit shelters in my area speaking to people there. I visit church groups and talk with foster kids when I am asked to.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

Never give up, if you are told no keep going. Writing is a passion so don’t let go of your dreams to being an author. It is hard when you get that discouraging no they aren’t interested and the book world can be mean so you have to keep going. Do your best not to take it personal even though it is personal.

Thank you for coming, Debbie! Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

Stand is in Barnes & Noble, Borders and on Amazon.com it is also on several internet book stores.

ATTENTION: This book spotlight is being brought to you by Pump Up Your Book Promotion. As a special promotion for Debbie Williamson's book, STAND, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour or $25 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky person who comments on our authors’ blog stops. Leave a comment below to have a chance to win one of these prizes! For more stops on Debbie's virtual book tour, visit www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com.

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