Best Selling Author Debora Coty shares her success story and a Giveaway

Today I am so honored to have a best-selling author on my blog. I hope her story inspires you to keep pressing in as a writer. And for those of you who are looking for something to help with stress you might try one of her devotionals. I’m getting ahead of myself. Debora Coty, welcome. Share a bit about your writing journey with us.

I was late to the writing party. I started writing professionally at age 45 when my youngest chick was about to fly the coop. At the time, I was a career occupational therapist (36 years) and piano teacher (25+ years) but felt like something was missing. I was supposed to be doing something else. Just couldn’t put my finger on it …

 

As I sat in a dentist’s office one day in 2002, praying about what that could possibly be, I reached down and picked up a magazine, then randomly opened it to a writing contest. A light bulb went on inside my head and I heard a still, small voice whisper to my heart: “It’s time.” I knew exactly what it meant. It’s time to chase the dream Papa God put in my heart as a kid: to write for His glory.

 

One enormous caveat: at the time I hadn’t written anything more than Christmas newsletters and medical charts for 25 years. So I took crash courses in grammar, punctuation, and creative writing, then found a mentor – a friend of a friend who had some experience in magazine publication.

 

My original goal was to have three magazine articles published during my lifetime. Largely due to my mentor’s input in helping me not look amateurish, I had ten published that first year.

 

Then I progressed to a newspaper column (which I still write today – kind of a Christian Erma Bombeck slice of life column). Then … books!

 

My first two books were YA historical fiction, and the third was a combination how-to/devotional for aspiring writers  – all three were published with a small press in South Carolina (Descriptions and titles of all my books can be found at my website www.DeboraCoty.com).

 

I was then able to land an agent, who opened the door to bigger traditional presses and better contracts, where I switched genres to women’s inspirational humor.

 

Now, 15-ish years later (don’t do the math), I’ve been incredibly blessed with over 200 published articles and 40 books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series, which has sold over 1.3 million books (and counting) in multiple languages worldwide.

 

I love how God grabs our attention in unexpected ways to show us His will. It is inspiring. So Debora, what is your latest published project?

 

The final two books in the Too Blessed to be Stressed series will come out within the next six months. Too Blessed to be Stressed: 3-Minute Devotional Journal for Women will release this December; Too Blessed to be Stressed: Devotions for Morning and Evening will release in February, 2021. And the original Too Blessed to be Stressed chapter book (which I call the “Mama book” because it birthed all the other “Baby Blessings” in the series) will be released in a lovely new slim-line edition this November.

 

What inspired you to write your Too Blessed books?

 

As with all successful nonfiction books, a societal “felt need” was first recognized: stress management. In this case I realized that women were seeking simple, doable tools to help them handle the massive stress they’re under these days, and practical encouragement to live their faith out loud through the fray.

 

My Too Blessed to be Stressed books are tailored to the needs of crazy-busy women – short chapters, applicable take-aways, pertinent scripture, lots of LOLs, and relevant (and often entertaining) real life stores to make memorable points.

 

I learned to specialize in sharing biblical truth gift-wrapped in humor.

 

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

 

Two, actually. My longtime favorite go-to scripture has been Phil. 4:6-7 NASB: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, through supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

 

Much of my Too Blessed to be Stressed material has come from my intensive study and life-application of this scripture.

 

As for my writing journey, my heart-sung praise passage in recent years has become Eph. 3:20-21 (NASB): “To Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, beyond all that we ask or think, according to His power that works within us, to Him be the glory … forever and ever. Amen,” (emphasis mine).

 

I certainly never saw the label, “bestseller” coming, or the lovely writing awards with which I’ve been blessed. But I’ve always been a firm believer that if He wills it, He fulfills it … against all odds. And Papa God definitely has – exceedingly, abundantly, beyond all that I could ever ask or think, all through HIS power that works within me.

 

And if He can do that for me – an almost-over-the-hill, nonwriting hick from the sticks – He can surely do it for you, too.

 

My next question is one of my favorites If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing, what would that be?

Stop! Stop limiting your potential by fear, low expectations, or lack of energy.

 

  • Go ahead, boldly submit that piece! You won’t hit any baskets you never shoot.
  • If Papa God gave you the assignment to write, He’ll use your gifts and abilities. Now give Him something to work with.
  • “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak,” (Isaiah 40:29). That means you.

 

All writers are encouraged to read. What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

My enjoyment of reading women’s inspirational humor is what prompted me to start writing it in the first place. I was then working two jobs, mothering, wifing (that really should be a word), and was heavily involved in ministry at my church. I asked Papa God for more hours in the day to get everything done. He sent me menopause. Then I had half the stinkin’ night to write too. I found that thanks to menopausal insomnia, I waxed most hilarious around 2 a.m.

 

I also enjoy becoming immersed in a good faith-based suspense novel or cozy mystery.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

I’ve tried coffeehouses, as many of my writer buds prefer, but honestly, I’m far too distractible to make it work for me. [Squirrel??? Squirrrreeel?!!!]

 

I do better holed up in my writing cave (fam’s term for my home office), with a single sunny window capturing an inspiring view of my Creator’s beautiful handiwork, surrounded by happy memories via family photos and mementos galore, and motivational scriptures and quotes taped all over my computer desk. (Example from Corrie ten Boom: “Attempt something so BIG that unless God intervenes, it is sure to fail” – this was pretty much the only reason I finally tackled my 365-day devo, Too Blessed to be Stressed: Inspiration for Every Day, after I had fearfully turned down the project for two years).

 

Upbeat. Yep, I need upbeat vibes … and quiet. And chocolate. HEAPS of chocolate. My secret desk drawer stash currently holds three gigantic Cadbury bars (with almonds – breakfast of champs) and a bag of Dove mini’s (dark chocolate and mint swirl). There might be half a Snickers bar tucked behind the lamp too.

 

I call myself a choco-athlete, the step beyond chocoholic. I exercise just so I can eat more chocolate.

 

How can readers connect with you?

I love to have new friends join our fun-loving community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) via my free e-newsletter and Too Blessed to be Stressed blog. Subscribe to both at my website www.DeboraCoty.com. Hugs!

More about Debora:

Debora M. Coty is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of over 200 articles and 40 books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series, with more than 1.3 books sold in multiple languages worldwide. Debora was an orthopedic occupational therapist for 36 years and has been teaching piano for 30 years and counting. She adores swatting a tennis ball around a court, mountain hiking and beach biking. She lives, loves and laughs in central Florida with her longsuffering husband of 40+ years and 5 precocious grandpals who live nearby. Join Deb and her fun-loving community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com.

Other links to engage with Debora:

Facebook: @authorDeboraCoty

Twitter: @deboracoty

Pinterest: DeboraCoty

We have a giveaway of her latest book Too Blessed to Be Stressed: a 3-minute devotions for Women. Just comment on this post and your name will be put in a drawing. Debora will contact the winner for contact information.

 

Martin Wiles on Writing Devotionals

If you enjoy devotionals, you’ll enjoy this interview with Martin Wiles devotional writer extraordinaire. I enjoyed picking his creative brain about devotionals and his creative process.

Martin, welcome. I enjoy devotionals and there are some classics that have been around for decades. Tell me why another devotional?

Although authors have been writing devotions and devotional books for many years, I think a need always exists for new devotional books by authors of each new generation. Each writer is a unique individual created in God’s image and also has distinctive experiences, which often means giving a different twist than another writer who might have written on the same subject or verse. While there is nothing new under the sun, writers choose to pen their thoughts in different ways with unique insights.

 

Explain to my readers how you come up with each idea and how you construct it.

My ideas normally come from life experiences—both past and present. I carry a pad of some sort with me at all times. When an idea comes, I write it down. I even have one by my bed and one by my recliner. I find that if I do not write an idea down as soon as it hits me, I will normally forget it. If by chance I don’t have a pad, I use the Note app on my iPhone. I have even used a napkin at a restaurant. Anything to get the idea on paper.

Knowing the Scripture well helps with constructing the idea. For me, the experience usually leads me to Scripture. I use the same format we use for the website for which I am Managing Editor: Hook, Book, Look, and Took. I use an illustration—personal or otherwise—at the beginning to draw the reader in. Then I explain the Scripture. Following that, I give practical application, and then conclude by giving the reader a challenge…a task to complete or at least think about.

 

Tell my readers why devotionals are something they should read.

I dearly love the new forms of technology—especially since I grew up in an era before it appeared—but one consequence of instant information is that it has shortened our attention span. Most of my devotions are 400 words or less, which is rather lengthy in the world of devotional writing. I think people are looking for spiritual truth in short bites. Well-written devotions provide this. Although devotions won’t give a reader all the information about a particular topic or subject or answer all the questions they might have, the devotion should provide enough to goad the reader to explore the topic further. And devotions may well provide enough substance that will lead to life transformation if a person needs that.

 

Why should Christian writers consider writing devotionals or devotional books?

Writing individual devotions or publishing devotional books won’t make you rich, but for the average person who writes other genres, getting wealthy from their sales won’t happen either. While devotional writers are numerous, a person will have more opportunities to get a single devotion published than they probably will to have a book on any other genre published. Devotion writing also teaches a writer to write tight. Most of the places which publish devotions from freelance writers require devotions that are less than 250 words. This challenges the writer to say what they have to say in the fewest words possible, which hones skills and makes better writing. Additionally, many publishers—even Christian publishers—want writers to eliminate overt references to Christianity and rather get messages across in a more subtle way. With devotional venues, this is not normally a requirement.

Thanks so much for sharing your expertise and encouragement with my readers.

Here is the back cover copy of Martin’s current release.

A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapes in a Noisy World takes the reader out of the noise that often accompanies living in this world and into the quiet escapades of wooded areas where the voice of God is more clearly heard. A Whisper in the Woods was birthed from the author’s numerous treks with his two children and his middle brother in mountainous areas on the eastern coast of the United States. Through these hiking and camping experiences, God taught the author valuable lessons that have seen him through many difficult life experiences. As you walk with him through the mountain valleys and over the high summits, you too will hear God whisper words of comfort to you.

Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Whisper-Woods-Quiet-Escapes-Noisy/dp/1620208652

 

About Martin:

Martin Wiles lives in Greenwood, South Carolina and is the founder of Love Lines from God. He is a freelance editor, English teacher, minister, and author who serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions and as a proof-editor for Courier Publishing. He is the author of six books and has been published in numerous publications. His most recent book, A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapes in a Busy World, released in December 2019.

Connect with Martin:

Website: www.lovelinesfromgod.com

Social media links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/martinwilesgreenwoodsc

Twitter: https://twitter.com/linesfromgod

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lovelinesfromgod

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/martin-wiles-5a55b14a

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/martinwiles

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/27658029-martin-wiles

 

What are some of your favorite devotionals or inspirational readings?

 

Returned Rights and Navigating the Writing Journey

By Dr. Martin Wiles

Martinheadshot

 

My rights have been returned!

Wait a minute. The rights for two books I signed over to the publishing company. The rights they accepted. Now, they were returning them. What exactly did that mean? That my two books would no longer be available? The separate year-long journeys I had made of edits and re-edits. The waiting game I had played—on design, on production—to finally hold a copy of my very own book and know I had written what lay inside the covers. All over.

I emailed my executive editor, a successful novelist, editor, and devotional writer. I needed comfort … reassurance. Was I finished as a writer?

“What they’ve done is typical,” she emailed back. “About two years is the life span for a devotional book. If it’s any comfort, they returned my rights too.” Mine had exceeded the norm. I guess something could be said for that.

 

Wait a minute. Did she say they had returned her rights? It shouldn’t have, but her statement made me feel better. If she—as a moderately successful writer—could have rights returned, then maybe … just maybe … I wasn’t finished as a writer after all.

A few months before receiving this news, I had learned about the fate of my first three books—published with another company. Perhaps I should have examined that entity more carefully, but I was a newbie to the publishing world. I hadn’t heard anything about royalties in a long time. When I googled my three books on Amazon, I noticed their prices scaled the roof.

I typed the publisher’s url address in my search bar. Nothing. So I asked god … the little god—Google. The company had been bought out by another company which declared bankruptcy shortly thereafter. The problem was, they had not returned the book rights of any author. Lawsuits ensued. Now my first three books are unavailable, and so are my last two.

 

Is there any saving grace in this dog-eat-dog world of publishing? Sure. Try another publishing company. I did, and I have another book in the works.

Grits Grace and God

I display a copy of each of my five books behind my desk in my classroom. Sometimes students remark, “You have written five books?” As if they wonder why I’m still teaching since I’m such a successful author. They’re too young to understand the writing world completely. The world where most writers—and other artists—starve if they quit their day jobs and try to do full-time what they love most in life.

So, what’s my advice to writers?

  • Dream of and work toward becoming a full-time writer, but in the meantime keep your day job. According to the Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Author Survey taken in 2014, “Just over 77% of self-published writers make $1,000 a year…with a startlingly high 53.9% of traditionally-published authors, and 43.6% of hybrid authors, reporting their earnings are below the same threshold.”

 

  • Accept the fits and starts of the writing life. Continual writing assignments or book contracts might not come. I must make efforts to make them happen at all. But I’ve learned that about the time my spirits are low and I’m saying to my wife, “I’ve haven’t had anything accepted lately,” that I’ll get an email offering a writing assignment or wanting to accept a devotion I’ve sent.

 

  • Let rejection feed your determination. Even successful writers receive more rejections than acceptances. What makes the difference is their determination to keep writing and to keep sending their writing somewhere.

 

  • Release jealousy. Jealousy is perhaps the biggest temptation writers face. Each journey is unique. And if I’m a believer, God designs my journey, and I must be satisfied with my journey, while rejoicing over the journeys He sends others on. As writers, we’re not in competition. Enough room exists for us all.

So, put your pen (or pencil or keyboard) to paper, and get busy writing what presses heavily upon your heart.

About Dr.  Martin Wiles

Martin lives in Greenwood, SC, and is the founder of Love Lines from God. He is a freelance editor, English teacher, and author. He also serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions and as web content editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He is the author of five books and has been published in numerous publications. His next book, A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapades in a Busy World, in under contract with Ambassador International.

Check out his website:

www.lovelinesfromgod.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/martinwilesgreenwoodsc

Twitter: https://twitter.com/linesfromgod

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lovelinesfromgod

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/martin-wiles-5a55b14a

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/martinwiles

 

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A Visit with Devotional Author Martin Wiles

Devotional writing takes a special gift. Martin Wiles has it. I’m happy to have him as my guest today. Welcome Martin. As always, my interviews start off with my guest sharing their writing journey. martinwilesheadshot1

I played around with writing a little during college when my English professor forced the class to keep a journal. Initially, I hated writing in it every day, but as time progressed, I enjoyed it more and more. For some reason, my first genre of writing entailed poetry. Poetry wasn’t a genre of literature I had read earlier in my life, so I’m not sure why I was pulled in this direction. When my father died in 2009, I became serious about writing. How or why the two connected, I’m not sure. My father never wrote anything except the sermons he preached and the Bible studies he taught. Nor did he ever have anything published. I began writing devotions, and, eventually, began to think about having a number of those devotions put together in a book.

Devotions are not easy to write, and people don’t realize just how long it takes to write an entire book of devotionals. You’ve done more than one. Tell us about your latest published project?

Although I’ve had several articles and devotions published in a variety of publications, my latest published book is Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). This was a follow up to Grits, Grace, and God (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). Since I’ve lived in the South my entire life, these titles were an attempt to put a Southern flare on the devotions. The titles are eye-catching.

MartinWilesGritsGumboGoingtoChurch

What kind of research goes into writing a devotional?

Since my books are devotional in nature, research normally isn’t required unless I choose to use an opening illustration that isn’t personal. Google is my best friend as I search for facts relating to the illustration.

What inspired you to write your book, and when did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?

As mentioned earlier, my father’s death, for me, was the beginning point of my writing journey. My father was always there for me, but then again, he wasn’t there for me. Church consumed his life (He was a preacher.), and my brothers and I felt a little second class to his parishioners. When I lost him, I realized how much I missed the connection I wished we would have had. I suppose writing became cathartic, but then later became an endeavor to comfort those who were also going through difficult times of whatever nature. Eventually, the devotions became so numerous that I began pursuing putting them together in a book. As readers commented on how the words helped them, I became even more determined to pursue the gift of writing that God gave me. I think your experience resonates with readers. Thanks for your honesty.

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Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

Actually, two. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT). During a very difficult time in my life, when life virtually fell apart, I experienced that peace. I couldn’t explain it, but I bathed in it every day.

I love these verses too.

Now, I’m going to ask one of my favorite questions. If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

No matter how young you are, when you know God has gifted you in an area, pursue the gift. I waited until the last quarter of my life to do so. I often think how much further along I might be with my writing skills and career if I had started earlier.

I can say amen to that.

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

First and foremost, my wife. She continually supports my efforts and tells me how proud she is of me, even when the rejection letters pour in. Of course, my mom is my biggest fan and brags on me to everyone—even when she sometimes gets the facts wrong. And then one special editor friend who encouraged me and helped me with the first devotion I submitted for publication. Because of her support, I’m now the Managing Editor of that same website.

What a blessing for you.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

Though not one of the most popular, Historical Fiction is my favorite genre. I love history and fiction, and this combines the two and makes for a relaxing read for me.

Obviously, it’s one of mine too.

Where is your favorite place to write?

My favorite place to write is a place I don’t often get to write from: any place that overlooks a beautiful mountain view. I feel closer to God while in the mountains, and the ideas for devotions seem to flow freely there. In lieu of that, I rise at 5 each morning and retire to my chair or the kitchen table.

Martin, thanks for sharing bits of your life and your writing journey. You are also doing a give-away that works a little different than we usually do on Jubilee Writer. Can you please give us the details?

Yes, a Kindle version. The winner will receive a code     with which they can download the Kindle version of Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church.

As always, the winner will be chosen on Friday. I’ll send the winner’s name to Martin and he will contact you. If you are not a regular subscriber but want to enter please leave a comment with your email as myemail(at)my server(dot)com. I’ll pass a long the winners name and email to Martin. And as in all my drawing please leave a comment here on the blog not on other social media. So, if you are reading this on Facebook click to come to the blog and enter. Thanks.

More About Martin:

Martin Wiles is an author, English teacher, and freelance editor currently residing in Greenwood, South Carolina. He is the founder and editor of Love Lines from God (www.lovelinesfromgod.com). Wiles also serves as the Managing Editor for Christian Devotions and as an assistant editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolina. Wiles has authored Grits & Grace & God and Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas), Morning By Morning, Morning Serenity, Grace Greater Than Sin (America Star Books), Authentic Christianity (Smashwords) and is a contributing author in Penned from the Heart (Son-Rise Publications), and Rise (Chaplain Publishing). He has served as Regional Correspondent and Sunday school lesson writer for the Baptist Courier and also written for LifeWay’s Bible Studies for Life curriculum. He has also been published in Christian Living in the Mature Years, Mature Living, Open Windows, Proclaim, The Secret Place, The Word in Season, Upper Room, Light from the Word, Reach Out Columbia, Mustard Seed Ministries, Journey Christian Newspaper, Common Ground Herald, The Quiet Hour, Power for Living, Halo Magazine, Joyful Living Magazine, Christian Broadcasting Network, Sharing, Today’s Christian Living, and Plum Tree Tavern. He is a regular contributor to Christian Devotions, PCC Daily Devotions, Theology Mix, Inspire a Fire, and is a regular columnist for the Dorchester County Eagle Record, the Orangeburg County Times and Democrat, and the Greenwood County Index Journal.

Buy links:

https://www.amazon.com/Grits-Gumbo-Going-Church-Martin/dp/1941103847

https://www.shoplpc.com/product/grits-gumbo-and-going-to-church

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/grits-gumbo-and-going-to-church-martin-w-w-wiles/1124477466

Visit Martin:

Website: http://www.lovelinesfromgod.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/martinwilesgreenwoodsc

Twitter: https://twitter.com/linesfromgod

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lovelinesfromgod

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/martin-wiles-5a55b14a

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/martinwiles

Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/103365483951277333062

Don’t forget to leave a comment here to enter the give-away.

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