Author Debra Parmley believes “Every day we are alive is a beautiful day,” and she likes to give her readers and her story people a story with a happy ending.
A hybrid, multi-genre author, Debra’s first romance, A Desperate Journey, a gritty western historical, was published in 2008 after being selected as one of ten novels to compete in the American Title II contest put on by Dorchester Publishing and Romantic Times Book Lovers magazine. Debra has written three western romances.
An Air Force veteran’s wife, Debra enjoys writing Amazon best selling military romantic suspense. She married her high sweetheart and has lived for the last 20 years near Memphis, TN.
Founder of Shimmy Mob Memphis, a chapter of Shimmy Mob international, which raises funds for local domestic abuse shelters around the world, Debra is a retired belly dancer. Several of her books feature belly dancer heroines.
Debra writes a 1920’s flappers romance series, each book about a different flapper. She writes contemporary and holiday romance, a dystopian romance trilogy; fairy tale romance and poetry.
She is the president of Belo Dia Publishing Incorporated. Belo Dia is Portuguese for Beautiful Day.
Debra is a professional speaker and a world traveler who often brings home folk tales and music from countries she has visited.
Her five favorite things are shooting primitive archery with her Mongolian horse bow, shooting long guns, shooting pool, walking on the beach, and hearing from her readers. Each card and letter is a joyful treasure, like finding that perfect shell on the beach.
Debra, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Traveling through thirteen different countries has likely given you great material to include in your novels. Can you give us an example of something specific you have included from your travels in your books?
Thank you for inviting me, Joshua. Yes, traveling has given me many things to pull from and travel enriches our minds and our lives. I wish everyone could do it. I’ll give you two examples of my travels showing up in my books. In Trapping the Butterfly, book one of my 1920’s series about flappers, Bethany and her aunt visit the baths in Hot Springs, Arkansas. I’ve been to Hot Springs and taken the baths both at the Arlington hotel and at the bathhouse, which is a part of the national park system there. It truly is like stepping back in time and each step involved in taking one of those baths matches the details of 1926 in the book. Along with experiencing the baths myself, I talked to one of the park rangers who knew the history. In Aboard the Wishing Star, which is a contemporary romance set on a cruise ship, the details of cruising, from the first life boat drill, to dining in the formal dining room matches my experiences cruising. Though writing a contemporary is much different than writing a historical, getting those details correct is just as important.
New writers often ask established authors about the pros and cons of writing in multiple genres. What advice would you give them?
Advice. I believe that writing in more than one genre is like exercising in track and field events. Let’s say short stories are a sprint, epic fantasy novels are a marathon, poetry is a high jump, and nonfiction is a long jump. Exercising your writing muscles in one area can improve your skills in others whether you later publish those pieces or not. Some writers excel in one and some excel in many. There is no right or wrong to that, there is only what works for you and what you are called to.
If you write what calls to you and listen to your story and to your story people, or to the voice of your piece if it were nonfiction or poetry, then the writing becomes organic. Eventually, you will find that even if you write across very different genres, a theme will emerge in your work, perhaps more than one. Voice will emerge as well. Readers who follow you across genres are readers who enjoy your voice. It is okay to write your way and that is preferable. Can you imagine someone telling Neil Gaiman to write a certain way or to write a certain kind of story and stick to that kind of story? Yet that is what agents and editors did for years when I was starting out back in 2007 with my first publisher. It took me a while to learn not to listen to others but to step back and listen to what was within.
When you write organically, writing what calls to you, the writing comes out stronger. Then when you see what you have as a body of work and what themes you have, you can figure out how to market a range of work. This is more of a marathon career than a sprint career as it involves longer range everything. Longer to finish a series, longer to have a body of work in each genre, longer to market each one, and we have limited time in the day. I know that every time I sit down to work on story A, that means story B must wait. It’s the same with marketing. There is no road map for this career; we are travelers making our own path. And that means anything is possible.
Not only are you the owner of a press, Belo Dia Publishing Incorporated, but you are also a hybrid author who has been traditionally and indie published. From what I have read, being a hybrid author is the best option for any serious writer. Would you agree or disagree? How does being a hybrid author help you expand your distribution and your readership? Any downfalls?
I would say the Indie author can learn from the traditionally published author and the traditionally published author can learn from the Indie author. One of the best things about being a hybrid author is what we learn from being in both worlds. It broadens the knowledge base, which can be one of your strengths if you can examine things and say this works for me or this doesn’t work for me. I’ve been with five publishers, one agent, and two PR firms. Some publishers closed, others I negotiated rights back from and I’ve fired one agent and two PR firms. You have to learn to say this doesn’t work for me and to get out when it’s not working. Clearing out the old things, which were not working, made room for the things that do.
Before I would sign with another traditional press I would want to know what is their distribution, what is their plan to market the book, what is the price of the book, is the royalty on net sales or gross sales (I’ve had both types of contracts), how often do they pay, will they issue a sales report and a royalty statement, how do rights revert to me if I decide it’s no longer working for me.
The two new presses I’m now with were formed after Kindle Worlds closed. We were able to republish the books and keep our readers happy by going on to publish new books in the worlds. Several of my books hit Amazon bestseller lists when they were in Kindle Worlds and as it was an Amazon company, the distribution and marketing was handled by Amazon so we had visibility which we wouldn’t have had otherwise. This is what comes with the traditional presses. They have a reach that an Indie doesn’t. You just have to be careful what kind of contract you sign but that’s true of any contract. Know exactly what you’re getting into and how to get out of it if it no longer works for you. Downfalls can be found on either path and sometimes it’s more about what is right for this particular book, not what is right for this author. I always keep in mind that it’s the books that matter. The story is king in either world.
Your most recent release was the Marine Protectors Box Set: Brotherhood Protectors World, falling into the category of military romance suspense. At first glance, this seems to be a very niche genre among romance books. Tell us a bit about the story and what inspired you to write these stories.
Of the three stories in this box set, one was previously published in Elle James Brotherhood Protectors Kindle World. The other two were published after Kindle Worlds closed and Elle opened Twisted Pages Press to republish the released books. They asked me if I’d be interested in releasing them as a boxed set and I said yes. Box sets are popular with readers. Military romantic suspense is a very popular niche sub-genre of romance. This series is about Special Forces heroes who hire on as bodyguards to work as Brotherhood Protectors, in Montana. Montana Marine was the first book I wrote in the series and the hero is a Marine veteran protecting a self-centered actress from a stalker. He’s attracted to her shy assistant. Defensive Instructor is the second book and it’s set at 3 C’s Ranch in Elle James world. A world within the Protectors world, 3 C’s is the Courage and Confidence Center where women who’ve experienced violence go to learn self-defense and other skills to empower them to get back on their feet again. This is a book of my heart because of the work I’ve done with Shimmy Mob. I’m the founder of Shimmy Mob Memphis, which raises funds for our local domestic abuse shelter. 3 C’s is a place I wish existed and I wish I could send women all over the world to the ranch to learn to defend themselves and to be strong moving beyond surviving to thriving. Marine Protector is about one of the woman at the center who has a dangerous ex and her Marine hero. With eight women at a time at the shelter there’s room for more stories in this world within a world so my readers will be seeing more of those.
From Traping the Butterfly, Dangerous Ties, A Desperate Journey, and so many more, you have rocked the world of military romance suspense, dystopian romance, holiday romance, and historical romance. Do you have a favorite genre to write in? A favorite book?
Thank you Joshua. Oh wow it’s hard to choose just one book. Choosing just one of anything is tough for me because I’m a Gemini. I used to do right hand cookie, left hand cookie as a kid. LOL How about I pick two? My favorite two genres to write in are military romantic suspense and fairy tale romance, which I’ve written less often but it feels magical while writing. I’ll pick two favorite books as well. For my right hand, Defensive Instructor, for the reasons just mentioned as it is a book of my heart and for my left hand, Trapping the Butterfly, which is book one in my flapper’s series.
What can we expect from you in 2019? Anything else you would like to add?
Lots more in 2019. Right now I’m working on a third western and will release a box set of three soon. Then another Brotherhood Protectors World book is scheduled for June release and one Special Forces World book is scheduled for summer release. A hybrid author’s life is one of juggling books for other publishers and then our own. My creepy elf story is a military romantic suspense with a Christmas shelf elf that got put on hold and I may release it in July even though it’s also a Christmas story. (You do not want that elf in your house and this story has a serial killer, my first time to write one of those villains.) I also need to finish Down a Back Road, which is book two in my dystopian romance trilogy in a world where big pharma has taken over the government and herbalists are on a government terrorist list. The heroine is a belly dancer and an herbalist and she’s on the run with her SEAL hero on a motorcycle. I’m having fun writing that trilogy.
In 2019 I’m at Capitol City Author Event in Montgomery, AL in May
And I’m teaching at Write Like a Pro in Peoria, IL on June 7th to the 9th.
It has been a pleasure, Debra! Please tell us where fans can find you online.
Thank you Joshua! This has been fun!
Reader fans can find me online at: www.debraparmleycon
And I’m on plenty of social media sites: