Name Debra Shiveley Welch
Where are you from
I was born in Columbus, Ohio and have lived in Westerville, Ohio for 30 years.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc.
I hold a degree in Business Management, but retired in 1990 to adopt. That adoption fell through, but two years later, my beautiful boy, Christopher, came home. He turns 25 May 1, “Gotcha Day” is May 7 and Mother’s Day is May 14 this year. How lucky am I?
Chris was born with cleft lip and palate, so I was doubly glad that I had retired as there were a lot of doctor’s visits and a lot of surgeries. Later it was determined that Chris had learning disabilities and learning differences, so I was able to devote all of my time to him. It paid off; last semester Chris made the Dean’s list!
Chris is majoring in photography, and he truly is very gifted. At one showing where he was the only student, the attending photographers gave him a standing ovation for one of his photos. Chris specializes in nature, landscape and wild life photography.
My husband Mark is retired. He attended OSU majoring in Political Science and graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio with a degree in Labor Law. We will be married 30 years July 18, and he has been a wonderful father and husband.
He plays golf and tennis, is a board member of our neighbourhood association, and he is a prominent actor in the play Not On Our Watch about the rescuing of a slave from slave catchers in Oberlin, Ohio. It’s a riveting play.
We live on a beautiful lake in an amazing neighbourhood. I love Westerville and have adopted it as my home town.
My son and I love to cook and are now writing a cook book, and Chris is also an author. His first book Christopher Bullfrog Catcher was traditionally published when he was 11 and Just Chris, a companion book to Son of My Soul – The Adoption of Christopher at age 14. He has now published two books of his photography: Black and White in Grey Scale, and my favourite, Bird is the Word.
Most of my time is taken up with my writing. I am now working on my tenth book – a sequel to Spirit Woman and the third in the Cedar Woman Saga series titled Brave Heart Woman. My completed works are A Very Special Child, a children’s book about adoption, Jesus Gandhi Oma Mae Adams, a murder mystery co-authored with my cousin Linda Lee Greene, Son of My Soul – The Adoption of Christopher, my first memoir, Cedar Woman, the story of a woman of the Lakota Sioux who saves her family and creates a restaurant dynasty, Spirit Woman, a book which addressed domestic abuse, Swinging Bridge, an anthology and my second memoir, Christopher Meets Buddy, a children’s book about buying your first parrot, also available in Spanish, and Circle of Time a time travel novel to Tudor England.
I am also working on the outline and characters for Walking Lisa Home, Time to Love, a sequel to Circle of Time, and Memories of an Old Farmhouse. After that is another crime novel titled Heads Are Gonna Roll.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Most of my books have won multiple awards and Spirit Woman and Circle of Time are up for four more this year. I have already won a very special award – The Golden Rogue Award, Author of the Year, for Circle of Time, from mvpondemand.com. I will receive the award in August. Don’t tell anyone, but I already have a space on my book shelf for it. It’s crystal, and this lady does love crystals.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I have been writing since age nine. A multi-generational poet, I have always enjoyed the beauty and flow, the cadence and flavor of words.
I remember lying upstairs in the old farmhouse, snuggled down in a feather bed, buried beneath layers of homemade quilts. Fully awake, I would listen to my mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, aunts and uncles talking, their voices drifting up to me through the heat vent in the floor. I enjoyed the music of their speech, the meter: the up and down patterns and the various inflections and tones of each individual.
Many of the patterns were the same. They were from the same family, after all. But some had moved away, as my mother had, to the “big city” and her speech had changed – evolved. I found this fascinating!
Mawmaw says “Well, I’ll red up the table then.” Her voice is deep in her throat, resonant and rich. Mom answers “Okay, Mother. I’ll help you clean up,” this said much lighter and higher in the throat. Aunt Louise replies “Fetch them dishes on over here then, Mam-maw.” Like Mawmaw, she speaks deep within the larynx, emitting the same sonorous sound. Beautiful! Exhilarating! It was difficult to drift off in spite of the caressing feathers and quilts. Who could sleep with this verbal lullaby just one floor below?
With this wealth of dialect and poetry surrounding me throughout my childhood, it was no wonder I became a writer. What else could I do but scribe the music of my family’s voice?
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I knew that I wanted to be a writer at a very early age. I wrote short stories, poetry, and later worked on the school newspaper. At age 26, I had my own newspaper column and at age 30 I created, wrote and edited a newsletter for the League Against Child Abuse titled “The Parent Connection.” I’ve also contributed to several other newsletters.
About this same time I also began writing scripts for safety films, articles on various safety issues and graduated from Franklin University.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I was looking for a children’s book about adoption to read to my son, but I couldn’t find anything that applied, so one day, while waiting to pick him up from preschool, I took out a note book and wrote A Very Special Child. It was different from the others; it wasn’t a story about a four-year-old who is adopted, or a child coming from overseas. I used two entities in the story who are often left out: God and the birth mother, or first mother.
It’s non-denominational and God is represented by various forms of light. The birth mother is treated with empathy and respect.
I caught the bug and have been writing ever since. I am what is called a hybrid author. That is, my printed books are traditionally published and my publisher allows me to publish my eBooks myself.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I just write from my heart. I get involved with my characters, make sure my facts are straight, and just let it flow. I do use a loose outline and character sheets, but mainly I just let it pour out. It’s almost like automatic writing. Sometimes I don’t know where what I’ve written comes from.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I believe that a book names itself. When naming Circle of Time, I didn’t know what I wanted to call it. It’s a time travel book in which the main character ends up in Tudor England. So, I read the book and this passage named it:
“Bridge felt guilty about what she knew would be her future happiness. She knew through her genealogical research in the twenty-first century that she and John would have nine children, one of them named Elizabeth, after Johnny’s mother, and Henry and Anne’s daughter. Elizabeth would inherit the ring from Bridge, and it would pass down the generations until Bridge once again inherited it from her mother. Bridge would be her own ancestress. She was the bridge, the connection between the past and what was to be, in an endless circle of time.”
I read that and exclaimed to my son, “That’s it!” He agreed.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Each novel has a different message.
A Very Special Child promotes adoption, but also brings in the element of God’s hand in the creation of a very special child. He also comforts the birth mother, and I believe that, by reading this story to your child, he or she will be very comfortable, and even honored to be adopted. I know that my son loved the story.
Son of My Soul, my first memoir, is a self-help book for parents who were abused as a child. I talk about how I broke the cycle of abuse.
It is also about adoption, of course, hence the rest of the title: The Adoption of Christopher, and I’m pleased to say that I still get letters from readers who say that, not only have they finally decided to adopt, but to adopt a special needs child as well.
My love for my son pours out on every page. He is the light of my life, and it’s apparent in the book that a veteran of abuse can have a happy and fulfilling adulthood.
Cedar Woman was written to show that our American Indian brothers and sisters are no different from the rest of us. I also indulged myself in the love for cooking by putting the main story within the walls of Cedar Woman’s restaurant. There are recipes at the end of the book. I still get mail from people telling me that, if they come to Westerville, they’re going to go to Cedar Woman’s to eat.
The sequel to Cedar Woman, Spirit Woman shines a very revealing light on domestic abuse, both childhood and adulthood. It’s the combined true stories of three women, me being one. I want the reader to be educated in the signs to be able to spot if a friend or family member is suffering from abuse, and hopefully, with all of my heart, that a victim of abuse will spot the signs themselves and get out alive and whole.
Brave Heart Woman is the sequel to Spirit Woman. There will be a message in this book as well, but we have to keep that secret for now.
Swinging Bridge brings my memoir up to date and is an anthology of excerpts from Son of My Soul, essays, short stories and poems. The message is stated in an excerpt from the foreword:
“Life reminds me of a swinging bridge. We begin on firm ground, and as our life progresses, we experience the sometimes thrilling, sometimes terrifying and sometimes tranquil passage to the other side – our future.
As we traverse the fragile path that is our own, personal swinging bridge, we find that some of the boards along our journey are strong and firm, while others are weak and fragile; still others may be broken or even missing.
The ropes that we grasp to steady our passage are sometimes strong, and at other times they are frayed, causing us to be more cautious in our journey and at times to walk alone.
On bright, sunny days, the journey is pleasant as we revel in the surrounding beauty in which our bridge is set, while on stormy days, the boards can be wet and slippery and our path precarious as the bridge swings to and fro, seeming to want to throw us from its fragile deck to raging waters and rocky cliffs below. We hang on with all of our might to the ropes and cables which suspend our bridge, and strive to keep our footing and reach our destination: the end of the bridge, a beacon which calls us forward to safety.”
Christopher Meets Buddy stresses the knowledge you need to obtain before buying a pet bird. There are many misconceptions about these beautiful creatures, and knowing how to care for them properly can only add joy to your and your pet’s life, and help them to live much longer than if they are not cared for properly.
Circle of Time was written for fun. I’d been through a lot with many cousins and friends passing. I needed to occupy my mind with something that I’ve enjoyed for almost 50 years: the study of Tudor history.
I’ve read several fictional books on Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, and I decided that a fresh look was needed. Not only that, I wanted true facts, and not trumped up TV series falsehoods in the story. I decided to make it a time travel story, because I’ve always wished I could visit the court and see it for myself.
The message to this book is basically, don’t believe all of the bad press – these people were not necessarily the monsters that history has made them.
Henry and Anne Boleyn, and all of his wives actually, are still celebrities today. Why? So I decided to “go back” and see for myself. I also have an essay “Vixen or Victim – Who was the Real Anne Boleyn” on my blog.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
All of my books have some truth in them. The characters are based on people I know, even down to hair and eye color. When writing my portion of Jesus Gandhi Oma Mae Adams, I interviewed people who had been to the Galapagos Islands and the owner of the ship that takes you on the tour. I wanted to know how they smell, what they look like, the “feel” of the islands.
I name actual streets, sometimes businesses in my stories, and of course weave my own into each one.
In Spirit Woman, I use the real anglicized name for a woman of the Comanche tribe. The book is based a lot on her and on another woman and myself, but Spirit Woman exists; she is real, though the book is fictional, or what they are now calling faction: fiction based on fact.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? A mentor?
I have mentored quite a few authors in the 11 years that I have been published, because when I was starting out, no one would help me. As far as books, The Source and And Ladies of the Club along with A Woman of Substance and The Glory and the Lightning have influenced me a great deal.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
James E. Michener is one of my favorites because of his attention to detail and the ability to write a riveting story. Taylor Caldwell taught me how to make my readers see what I see, feel what I feel, and even smell what I smell. Barbara Taylor Bradford taught me how to bring a scene to life by placing the reader into the very pages of the book.
Stephen King is the master of the short, exquisitely visual sentence. His character development is amazing, and his story lines are so full of realism mixed up with the crazy stories he manages to pull from his brain onto the page.
I can’t name a favorite. I love books too much to pick.
A very new author, Cissy Hunt, has written a beautiful story titled A Rose Blooms Among the Thorns. Very well written and a real page turner. Also, Julie Spotted Eagle Horse Martineau’s Peregrine. A great read!
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My publisher. She is amazing and has become a dear friend.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Oh yes. It already is.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I think any author, after publishing, sees things they wish they had presented differently – a scene not included, for instance. So, yes, it has happened.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
It’s always been there. I believe, no I know, that I inherited the tendency. I am a fifth generation poet and many of my relatives wrote: some articles for medical journals, some books on history, particularly Ohio history, and some were story tellers like me.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Gladly. Brave Heart Woman begins where Spirit Woman ended. The main character in this novel is Shelagh, a young girl of 18, and it will be, basically, a crime novel. I can’t say much more, as it will give away the ending to Spirit Woman.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
As a wife and mother, my biggest challenge is interruptions. I can’t seem to get my family to understand that it takes concentration, a sort of out of body, but it’s the mind, so out of mind experience. I’m sure they really do understand, but it’s so tempting to say, “Honey, where’s the relish?” instead of looking in the fridge and finding it yourself, there, on the middle shelf, in the front. Oh well, it’s good to feel needed.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Most of my books take place in my home town. I am going to try to travel to England next year for the sequel to Circle of Time, which includes my ancestors, the Littleton’s, in it as well. So I want to visit their graves, the family mansion which is still in the family since 1566, and the streets, in many ways unchanged, where they walked.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Either I or my publisher design and create them. If we have not, credit is given to the person who did. One example is Brave Heart Woman, which was created by a wonderful woman named Molly. My graphics “company” is Stands With Wings Graphics.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Again, interruptions! Life always interferes, but a lot of the times it is well and good.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I always learn something. It’s part of the fun! I’ve learned about the Galapagos Islands, traumatic brain injury, and a lot about the Lakota language, customs and ceremonies.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead?
It depends on the book, but if it were Cedar Woman I would want all American Indian parts played by American Indians. Spirit Woman, Irene Bedard with Meryl Streep playing Rosie.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Oh, boy, do I, but it would take four pages. To try to be succinct:
Write an outline. It can be loose, but it keeps you on track.
Create character sheets complete with birth date, hair and eye color.
Just write. Don’t worry about spelling and grammar while you’re writing, just let it flow.
After you are finished writing, edit, edit and then edit. If you hire an editor, make them audition by editing a few pages first. If you get your manuscript back, and there are no editing marks, you’ve been had – don’t pay them! Get referrals and take a peek on Amazon into the first couple of pages, then read the reviews. Do they mention poor editing?
Promote, no one else is going to do it for you. If you don’t promote, you won’t see sales.
Finally, write to be read, not to be paid. Most authors, like most actors, don’t make a lot of money from their craft, so you have to do it for the love of it, the need of it, the compulsion to write.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I am truly honored when you read my books. It warms my heart and I pray, every day, that I have “taken you away” from your troubles and concerns for a while. I love books, and the fact that people are willing to pick up one of mine and read it truly moves and humbles me. Thank you.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I have had a very trying month. I’ve lost a first cousin whom I loved dearly, one of my best friends of over 30 years and another good friend, all in three weeks. Also, another cousin, the dearest, sweetest woman, has been diagnosed with pancreatic and kidney cancer. So, I’m reading Building Bridges to Tomorrow – When a Loved One Dies, a Journey Through the Octaves of Grief by David Beeler with Gabriel Beeler. It’s helping.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Oh, yes! It was a beautiful hard back. The cover was pink, and it was a collection of fairy tales.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Usually life makes me laugh. They say that God has a sense of humor, and I truly believe it. It can be any, little thing: the look of surprise on the face of a fox when he realizes I’m watching, my son joking and acting silly in an attempt to make me laugh, Robin Williams – always Robin Williams.
I don’t cry often, but this month has been a record breaker. I cry when someone I love is hurt or, of course, when they die. I cry when I see someone else cry, and I cry when I hear bagpipes. I’ve got to figure that one out.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
Carol Burnett! How I would love to meet her, and Dolly Parton. One the Queen of Comedy and the other an incredibly gifted singer and poet.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
I’ve already chosen it. It’s the last stanza of a poem I wrote when I finally broke free of the pain of child abuse. The poem is titled “The Promised Land.”
My journey’s done,
Now I may rest,
And lay me down
Where I love it best.
When I was 24, I had a near death experience. I bled out from ulcers caused by taking aspirin and going straight to bed, instead of sitting up for 30 minutes. It changed me. I went to a place so full of love and acceptance, a place of teaching and hope, that I was changed from a damaged young woman to pretty much who I am today: happy, confident, loving and loved.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Cooking! I love to cook, especially when Chris is with me. We like to invent recipes for our cookbook. One of them, Cedar Woman’s Aztec Chocolate Cheese Cake, which is included in the recipe section of Cedar Woman, receives fan mail!
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love old movies and many of the classics. I watch a lot of documentaries and films on the Tudors (except Showtime – absolutely no adherence to history), but I adore Bones. My favorite of all time. Next to that, I love reruns of The Waltons.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Food: chicken and dumplings, you know, the soft pillowy ones, steak au poivre (now there’s a contrast), sushi, corn bread and fried green tomatoes.
Colors: the jewel tones like azure, plum, ruby, but my favorite color is emerald green, which just happens to be my son’s birthstone.
Music: Classical, pop, contemporary and some country western – oh, I can’t forget Christmas music!
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I’ve truly never wanted to do anything else. I got a degree in Business Management because I wanted to be practical, and it did help me rise financially while I was working, but sometimes I wonder, “What was I thinking?” I did minor in literature, but I should have majored in it.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Amazon author page:
Goodreads author page: