Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, a little baby girl was born. As she grew, Debey Sklenar dreamed of writing fairy tales. But an Evil Queen called Life saw what Debey was doing and wanted to stop her from writing any fairy tales of her own. Hence, the Evil Queen put a curse on Debey so that she would be distracted from writing fairy tales. And so, for most of her life, Debey was distracted with other things, such as reading and dancing and playing hockey, not to mention the fact that she eventually had to get a “real” job and start paying the bills. But deep down, she never forgot her dreams.
When she got to college, she took English classes in the hopes that someday her dreams of becoming a published author would come true. Then, one day, that dream came true when Dance Teacher Now Magazine published an article Debey wrote in 1993 called “How Copyright Protects Your Choreography.” But this success only made the Evil Queen all the more jealous, and she placed another curse upon Debey so that she became even more distracted with everyday life. As she worked harder and harder to keep up and pay the bills, she began writing less and less and less. She went through jobs as a Direct Care Aide and a Master Control Operator. On the side she became more and more distracted with dancing and choreographing. The Evil Queen called Life looked on from afar and was very well pleased with the results of her curse for quite some time.
Until one day when Prince Charming came along. He told her that the Evil Queen could only win if Debey let her and inspired her to keep pressing onward and to follow her dreams. So Debey fought life back and wrote a fairy tale of her own. Thus the curse was broken!
Or so she thought. Little did Debey realize that the Evil Queen could also foil her plans by enlisting the help of King Time to take away what little time she found to write. She had to fight the curses with all her strength as she battled to continue writing fairy tales of her own. Finally she found a way to complete a trilogy of three intertwining fairy tales. (She also writes middle grade fiction. With a little luck, those books may someday be found in your local book store.)
Dragons, wizards, knights, princesses, love, chivalry and all sorts of courageous characters can be found in Debey’s fairy tale writing. Myth has it that a pair of enchanted rings can be found in her fairy tales. Another legend has it that Love was removed from the heart of the heart of the forest.
Still to this day, the Evil Queen continues to interfere by casting her curses. In response, Debey fights back by writing with what time she can find. And that happily ever after ending continues to get closer and closer and closer.
What inspires you to write?
The stories. It’s always exciting to describe what happens, what comes next, what motivates a character. It’s just so much fun to get lost in a story, whether it’s writing the one in your head or reading someone else’s.
Tell us about your writing process.
Some writers do not outline, but I have to. I can imagine the basics of a story, but at some point when it starts to get going, I have to stop and outline the entire thing. Then I can go back and fill in the gaps.
For me, the outlining process doesn’t actually start until I’ve written maybe a chapter. I think at that point, I just need to know where the whole story is going, so I sit down with a blank piece of tablet paper and pen and just in big, broad terms state what happens. Just like if I were to describe to you an entire novel at a cocktail party. Of course I couldn’t tell you EVERYTHING, just the major points. That’s what my outline turns out like.
The characters become fleshed out as I write the story. And sometimes that actually means I have to change the outline. Because all of a sudden I’ll find that the character will not do what I wanted in the outline. For the last middle grade novel, I think I ended up going through 4 or 5 outlines. This is no big deal. To me, the outline is fluid. I just need a sort of framework.
Characters are a little bit more tricky for me. I tend to write them as I go along, but I’m finding more and more that I probably should flesh them out more at the beginning so that I don’t end up going back and reworking certain scenes later on quite as much as I currently do.
Also, where I am now–still having to work a “real” job–I don’t necessarily get a lot of uninterrupted time to write, so I have to do it in small bursts. I yearn for a day to be able to sit down and spend all day writing. I think the flow would probably work out much better that way.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
By the end of the story, I’m listening to my characters and talking to them much more than at the beginning. I think this is because as the story goes on, I get to know them better. For example, if I start to write something that a certain character just wouldn’t do, they let me know, refusing to make it easy to write that scene. They just don’t seem to respond the way I want them to. Then I start to realize, that, no, this character would not do this. That is why they aren’t talking to me…
What advice would you give other writers?
Just do it. Just write. Write a blog. Write a novel. Keep on writing until you get out what you want to get out. Also, sit on your novel for at least 3 months before doing ANYTHING with it. Give it and you some space. Then go back and re-read. It will give you a totally new perspective on your work.
Also, don’t get discouraged. Everyone goes through a learning process. It just all takes time.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I decided to self-publish a trilogy of fairy tales written several years ago to e-book format for a variety of reasons. First, at the time I wrote them, I was writing from the heart without thinking or considering genre or target audience or word count. Then, when I thought about trying to publish them, they just really did not fit in anywhere. Plus fairy tales weren’t popular at the time. But I kept at it and wrote a middle grade novel. My writing improved, but then when I started thinking about publishing again, I found the world had changed. Even if I wanted to go a more traditional route for publishing, I found I needed to have a bit of a presence in social media and online. Since I already had the fairy tales that didn’t fit any genre, I figured they would be perfect to self-publish with a low-to-no budget. Even if they don’t do well, hopefully, they will at least give me a little bit of credibility online.
I hope! 🙂
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I’m not sure. At the time I decided to revise and self-publish the fairy tale trilogy, I thought it would continue to grow and take over. That the big traditional publishers were on the way down. But now, things seem to be changing again. The traditional publishers are not going down without a fight. Their books and their authors are promoted to the top of the lists. And if you look on Amazon now, it is flooded with self-published books and your book just gets put at the bottom of the pile, and honestly, the ONLY way for people to know it’s there, even, is if you can find a way to literally show it to them personally. Because it will NOT appear on the top of any list without heavy promotion. I’m still working on seeing if I can get ANYONE to notice my books.
So the future? I think it will just take some time to see. Time for the little self-published authors to see if they can find a way to get readers to take a look at their work. Maybe the time might be ripe for some sort of middle man to come in and bring the good self-published books to the masses? But right now, many reviewers and even book promotion sites won’t even consider a book that doesn’t already have reviews. But how are you supposed to get reviews if no one will even read your book?
I guess we will just have to wait and see.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Fairy Tales, Middle Grade Fiction
What formats are your books in?
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