Debbie Martin – Book Journeys Author Interview Transcript – May 2, 2013

Book Journeys Author Interview – May 2, 2013

Dr. Angela Lauria with Debbie Martin, author of Flowers Whisper what Words Can’t Say

 

“Take it one day, one page, one word at a time, and that’s how the book got written.” – Debbie Martin

 

Angela:

Well, hello everybody, and welcome to Book Journeys Radio! I am your host, Dr. Angela Lauria, I am the founder of the Author Incubator and creator of the Difference Process for writing a book that matters. Each week on Book Journeys Radio, we talk to an author who is making a difference with their words, with their book, with their message, and this week is absolutely no exception. I am honored to have with us today, Debbie Martin, who is the author of Flowers Whisper what Words Can’t Say. I think we’ve all had that experience of being touched by nature in some way.

 

Debbie is a florist, a breast cancer survivor, an inspirational speaker, and she is the co-founder of a non-profit, Breast Friends Cancer Support Group Foundation. Her book, if you want to check it out, you can go to flowerswhisperbook.com, and you can see an image of that, which is absolutely—what a gorgeous cover that is, Debbie.

 

Debbie:

Thank you, thank you.

 

Angela:

So tell us a little bit—thanks for being with us today. Tell us a little bit about your book, what’s it about, and how did you come to write it?

 

Debbie:

Thank you so much. It’s truly an honor to be here.

 

My husband, I would come home and I would tell him some amazing stories, and he’d go “Oh my gosh, honey, someday, you need to write a book.” Then, I ended up and come down with breast cancer, and I always see the tears and joy what flowers do for people, when I deliver them, or in any of those stories. Then, when I needed to receive them, when I was a breast cancer…and I was fighting for my life, they were so much more powerful; those tears and the joy came from the heart, and I became more passionate that people had no idea what the gift of a flower does for someone.

 

Angela:

Were you already a florist [Debbie: yes. ] when you were diagnosed with cancer? You were. [Debbie: Yup. I was.] Interesting.

 

Debbie:

So I loved flowers, but I had never been the receiver, you know? Had, but I had delivered so many, and so many phenomenal stories that my husband said, “You know, someday Honey, you still need to write that book.”

 

Then, when I didn’t know how much longer I had to live, and I’ll tell you, I’m ten years out today from my cancer, so it’s just a miracle. It had spread all over– it was in my kidneys, it was on my lymph nodes, I mean, it was—I’m a miracle to be here today. Knowing that, I decided, if I don’t write some of those stories down, this book is never gonna get written. These stories will be left behind and no one’s gonna know about them.

 

Angela:

So the book wasn’t strictly about your experience with cancer?

 

Debbie:

Oh, no. Oh, no. Not at all, yeah.

 

In fact, one story, if you don’t mind, I’ll just share real quick, I’ll take you with me on a delivery.

 

A man lost his wife, and I go deliver the funeral arrangement. I walk into the room, and the room is filled with roses, and roses of every color. So, imagine. The husband happened to be there, but the mortician had asked me—we’re all like family, morticians and florists are, he says, I’m really busy, I’m shorthanded, I’m with another family, can you go ahead and set that up, because it was during viewing time. I said sure, I’ll be glad to.

I go in, and I’m taken away. I cannot even—the room is filled. You don’t see that very often.

 

The husband notices me, and he comes over and talks to me. He says, “are you the florist?” and I said, “I am.” And he says, “well, let me tell you something. My wife loved roses. She loved all colors.” And he says, “and you need to tell people that they need to buy their wife a rose.”

 

I knew, just a little bit, that she was taken in a car accident, so very suddenly, and he continued to say, “because I never did.” Oh. My Gosh. That then, this stranger just completely dumped his heart on me, and he just begged and pleaded with me, and I’m like, “sir, your story could sell a thousand roses, but for me, they’re just gonna think, I’m a florist. I’m just saying the story.” He says,” no, you don’t understand. I am too embarrassed and too ashamed; I could never tell anyone.”

 

That story has been in my heart, and just like, for some reason, I have to write that story someday, somehow. That man’s story has _____ down in the book.

So, anyway, many more stories like that, that are very impactful—how often do we go every day, and do we take time to just remember the loved ones in our lives? How important life is, and how simple it would be to just give—yeah.

 

My husband kept encouraging me, Honey, you need to write a book someday. I kept saying, well, Honey, I don’t know the first thing about writing a book. I’m a florist. And then, my aunt happened to give me a ticket, and she says, do you know anybody who wants to write a book, I have a ticket to a publishing out in Las Vegas, how to write a book? I said, sure, if you don’t mind, I would love to go. And she’s like, okay.

 

I go out there, I’m sitting there in this room, it’s a big publishing company out in New York, and the man in inundated.  I said, is there any way I could talk to you sometime? He said sure. Meet me afterwards. So I met him afterwards, and he says, “what did you need to talk to me about?” I said,” I’m thinking about writing  a book, but have no clue how to write a book.” He says, “well, what’s it about,” and I told him a couple of stories, and he says, “you know what, just come find me tomorrow morning.”

 

So the next morning, we’re all waiting for him to come in, and he comes to the door, and he’s like scanning the room. He’s like, you know how someone’s looking for somebody? You know, you can see them just scanning? He spots me, walks over to my table, and says, “Ma’am, we’ll publish your book,” I said, you’ll publish…[Angela: What book?] You don’t even know if I can write, I don’t even know if I can write…I said, I don’t know the first thing…   he said, “Now, don’t you worry about a thing,” he says, we’ll help you with everything, he says, I want you to talk with so-and-so, and we’ll get you a mentor, we’ll help coach you through it, we’ll help you with the marketing, blah-blah-blah. Great!

 

Okay, I come home, and I tell my husband. Remember, I’m a breast cancer survivor, our funds are very low, going through medical bills. I’m a florist, my husband’s in farming, impossible. Go to the bank, and the banker says, no, that’s a scam, don’t you dare do it, I don’t want you to do it. But then, he says, why don’t you just go home and pray about it? I said, well that’s exactly what I’m gonna go do.  I said, Lord, I need an audible voice. I said, if you want me to do this, I need a voice. And you won’t believe—the next day, I’m working on a wedding appointment, the gal I was doing this with said, I can’t get this sermon out of my head. I always wanna hear what’s going on, you gotta tell me. And she said, do we make decisions today out of faith or fear? Oh my gosh.

 

So I go back, Kevin, we gotta do the book. I’m telling you, it was so audible, she had no idea I was making that kind of decision, that has to be—go back and said, we gotta do it. So, we got the loan, borrowed it, furnace goes out in the home, we had to get a second mortgage, this all happens as I’m trying to write a book. And if you only know, I’m writing in a notebook. I’m not a guru that knows Internet, and so, I’d copy my notebook pages, fax them down, mortgage goes out, our second mortgage, the tractor breaks down so bad we gotta get another loan, my daughter’s planning to get married, oh my gosh, it was just one thing after another. And here I am, trying to write this book.

 

The book is in edit, and it’s not coming out. And I’m getting irritated, and the next thing I know, my coach, which was hired outside the company, I said, you need to call and see why my book’s not coming out of edit.

 

The first publisher went bankrupt, and I could not believe it, I could not believe it. We were devastated. We were about to lose everything. We were about to lose our home, we were about to lose absolutely—and plus, we were about to lose the book that I had just been passionate—

 

Angela:

I was gonna say, did that make you doubt your book? Did that make you doubt…?

 

Debbie:

Yeah, yeah, oh it did, it did.

 

So then, I said, is there any way—I don’t know much about the publishing world, can I get ___ copyright that? She says, I really doubt it. They’re trying to file Chapter 11, they’re trying to reorganize. Somebody can buy it, they’ll try to buy the books that are on deck, and so, she said, let me go see.

 

She goes in like, the back side, but on the front side, I’m getting kind of a run-around, ’cause they’re, “you know what , we’re  just lined up with a whole bunch of books, we can’t get your book out of edit. It’s such a busy time of year. We’re doing it as fast as we can.” So there’s a cover-up.

 

She finally finds out, and she says, you know what? We’re gonna release those copyrights. That was a miracle, and she goes, “that is a miracle,” I said, oh my gosh. I can’t believe it. I said, now what? I said, okay, now I have this. Well. They released the copyright, I had a book, I had—remember, I have no money. I cannot put one more opinion to this book.

 

Two women out of Texas decided to take a step of faith and they said, you know what? We’ll finish your book, on contingent that when we put it up on Amazon, which is a whole new world to me, that we’ll keep all the first royalties until we’re paid, but they would finish my book, go through the layout, go through everything else. Yeah. I don’t hear that either. And she goes, “Deb, that is a miracle. Publishing companies don’t just do that, or if you self-publish, you still have to come up with some money, right? [Angela: Right.] These women finished my book, and now. It’s ready to go up on Amazon.  I’m like, great. This is awesome. How am I gonna buy my first book for people who are wanting to buy the book, so she says okay, let me think about this. She says, you know a lot of people, and your stories are phenomenal. I think, if you just put it out in your community, and just say, ‘hey, can you help?’ this awesome book was gonna go on Amazon. Can you help send email blasts out and let anybody you know? I am telling you, I am from a small town, in Windsor, Colorado. We have a small group of Breast Friends Cancer Support  Group. It is amazing—it went number one in Inspiration and Spiritual on Amazon that day.

 

It went number 1 in Self-Help. It went number one in Motivational, and that day, it also got number one on Movers and Shakers in Amazon. [Angela: wow!]

 

There is no way possible I could be moving and shaking that much, and it is so…so now, my book gets a sticker, and I am just so grateful. This book is just like a little miracle, and it just is full of little short stories.

 

So it is a unique–

 

Angela:

At this point, you have paid back the publishing company that you ended up working with? You paid them back and are you beginning to get your own royalties on the book?

 

Debbie:

Not yet; we’re still working on our very first loan actually, believe it or not, plus everything else—the second mortgage, but that’s beside the point. But my second publishing company is now all paid, so now, I should be able to start getting royalties from that, [Angela: nice!] so I’m excited about that, so yes, it’s just um, getting the message out, but again, I’m so excited—it’s spring, it’s starting to blossom again. It’s starting to become more of a buzz. I just spoke to a women’s group last weekend, and I mean, again, they were like, I gotta call so and so, she’s gotta order this book.

 

It’s very exciting; it seems like it sells itself through stories.

 

Angela:

I always ask people, and you had a—in your pre-interview, you had an interesting answer to this question that I wanted to delve into with you.

 

I always ask people what they wish they knew before they wrote their book. Do you remember what you said to my producer?

 

Debbie:

You know, I said I really didn’t wanna know nothing.

 

Angela:

Yeah, you basically said, if I knew what I knew now, it might have seemed too big of a challenge. [Debbie: yeah.]

I think it’s very interesting, what I tell people is that every book has its own journey. As the author, there are only some parts of that journey that you can control. Obviously, you can’t control companies going out of business that you decide to work with, and things like that.

 

It’s interesting—if you knew it was hard, do you think you would have done it again?

 

Debbie:

You know, the journey has made me stronger. It’s even more—you know, they say it’s like giving birth to a baby. This book, this baby is so precious. It has gone through so much-I just know it’s supposed to be here. It’s just a blessing.

 

The blessings that are coming from it, the stories I’m getting back now– ’cause after they read it, at the back of the book, I encourage them to share a story if you’ve been touched. It is amazing—they sent flowers and the stories that are coming back now—I’ll be writing a second book.

 

But I don’t know if I would’ve done it, knowing, yeah, knowing all the life—if I would have, I had no clue. But you know, I just had to go back, and just like life, take it one day, one page, one word at a time, and that’s how the pages of the book got written.

 

Angela:

And is that what you would recommend if you were giving advice to an author? I always ask people like what do you wish you knew before you wrote your book, because I want to be able to give that advice. I think it’s important advice to have as an author in transformation.

 

Debbie:

You know, I do think that it can be overwhelming , like, oh my gosh, I won’t know the first thing how to market the book. I won’t know the first thing about, you know, putting chapters  or doing a layout, or editing it. You’re absolutely right, you won’t know, but you just start writing; in a book, in the computer. Wherever.  Just start writing one story at a time, and they will just come together.

 

One day at a time—doesn’t have to all be done in one day, there’s no way.

 

Angela:

How long from when you went to that first conference until…until you finish your manuscript, I guess?

 

Debbie:

It actually was two years. Two years of writing. ‘course, I just told you all the drama that went in, in those two years, even my mentor that was coaching me was like, “I do not know how you are writing this book, because of all the stuff that’s going on around you,” and I said, you know, I can’t sleep anyway. And  I said, so, I can write that book at two, four o’clock at the morning when I can’t sleep, so I might as well be doing something. [Angela: Right. Right.]

 

But it was peace and quiet then. I mean, the noise of the world was quiet, and you know, flowers whisper, and I guess it came in whispers.

 

Angela:

Yeah, how did you come up with that title?

 

Debbie:

You know, I do think that flowers will say a whole different meaning than what people try to say. They speak at a silent language that we might think we know what we’re saying, but they’re saying exactly what that person needs to hear. Maybe it’s like, “you’re really appreciated,” and they only say “I love you.” Or maybe they say the words, “I really appreciate everything you do for me,” but they really say, “I love you.” See what I’m saying?

 

So, and someone who’s just wanting to say, “I’m so sorry,” you know, for the loss of your loved one, what can I say, and those flowers say all the right words, and they don’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing at the wrong time or anything.

 

Angela:

Which is such a big…I think it’s such a big fear for so many of us.  [Debbie: Exactly.]Whether it’s flowers at a funeral, or even flowers at your first Valentine’s day. It’s, how do I know I’m not gonna say the wrong thing. [Debbie: Yup, yup.]

 

Debbie:

And when you’re trying to propose, oh my gosh, when you’re trying to propose. You don’t wanna say the wrong thing.

 

Angela:

No, I guess not.

 

So, let’s talk about when you were writing your book, you said it took you about two years, and during those two years, did you—first, let’s start with this. What was your process for writing? When did you write, how often did you write, and then, just talk a little bit about if you bumped into writer’s block, or if you would run into periods where you weren’t feeling productive, and what you would do.

 

Debbie:

You  know, a lot of times, I would try to do it when I wasn’t in chaos, or—I didn’t write every day, but I just wrote a little—I tried to write something at least once a week. I tried to take little steps at a time, and then, sometimes, I would just get in, like have a really long time, or write a good amount of time, and I could just write. I mean, it just, like happened.

 

But then, when I had writer’s block, it was like I had to get either away, maybe go to some quiet place, or go to the mountains, or go in my own room, and just be in a quiet place, and it was like then, I could get my thoughts together. I can’t have all of these distractions of the world noise around us, because I think we have too much noise in our life today. Between TV, radio, everything, that we have to get in our quiet space, and when we [audio is garbled at this point.] quiet space, that’s when our own thoughts start writing. Calm down our minds to calm down on paper. At least it works for me.

 

Angela:

Right. So, tell me how that happened for you. Did you write every day? Did you have a regular practice?

 

Debbie:

I would try to write, like I said, once a week, and my husband, he was so good. If I’d sit down, and want to watch TV, “Honey, do you think you oughta go write?” “Honey, I just want to relax.” “No Honey, I really think you oughta go write.” You’re absolutely right; I need to go write. So I would push away from just relaxing and sitting in front of the TV, which again, is noise, and then I’d go into my room. It was the support of him, too, saying…

 

Angela:

It’s funny, I did a—I was at a conference last week called “Mom Gets A Business”, and I was speaking on a panel of authors, and one of the things that came up at the panel which I hadn’t thought of before was one of the authors on having a champion, and it turned out that all the authors on the panel had somebody—their husbands;  for one person, it was her sister, for another person, it was her best friend. Somebody who was kind of the book champion, who would keep on pushing you.

 

Debbie:

Yes, if it wouldn’t [have] been for him, you’re absolutely– if it wouldn’t have been for him encouraging me over the years, saying “Honey, someday, I think you need to write a book,” I would have never probably ever thought about writing a book. He is a champion; I love what you said. That is awesome.

 

Angela:

Yeah, I know, I hadn’t thought about that. I think I’m gonna incorporate that into when I coach people in finding a champion, because I do think that makes a difference. It’s a long process, and having somebody as a witness I think makes a difference.

 

Here’s a question for you: for many people, when they think they’re gonna write a book, they think their writing is gonna be most of it. You know, most of the effort is gonna be the writing, and then, the book will come out, and then…that kind of challenge. But as you learned, even just through the publishing process, just finishing writing the book wasn’t enough. You still have a lot of mothering to do to get your baby into the world. And then, once the book is out, usually, authors are surprised to learn at how much work there is to do in terms of marketing and promotion and things like that.

 

What is your experience then, with the marketing and promotion side?

 

Debbie:

Well, like I said, the first publishing company was gonna include the marketing with it, and this, I have learned all on my own. The second publishing basically was the publishing—they were just going to publish the book, and of course, do the online.

 

You know, I have been amazed at how much the book industry has changed over the years, even just in the last few years, that people are shopping books online, so having a very valuable website is key. The key to a good website is being transparent, because people wanna go to a website, they don’t wanna just know about the book, but they wanna know about you. They wanna know about your story. And then, it kind of intrigues them, you know, they’ll pause, but unless they hear it on the radio, and they hear it on the radio interview, and go home “I’m gonna order that book.” They’ll go home and order that book. Maybe just go to Amazon.

 

But if they wanna know, and they’re just a little bit money-conscious, because money seems to be—you know, conscious people are buying more e-books now, you know, reading on Kindle, but there are a lot of people that still like to hold that book in their hands. [But] They’re getting very picky about the books they read, so now, they want to know the author, I think, a little bit more. They want to know where their thoughts are—what kind of…they don’t even—they wanna know the value of what they’re about to read. Is it valuable? I think that’s what I’ve learned.

 

Angela:

Has anything surprised you about marketing your book? Was it what you thought it would be, or have you learned some things that might be helpful to people?

 

Debbie:

Well, for me…

 

Angela:

I guess, you said about getting a website. Did you do your own website?

 

Debbie:

No, I did not. For me, it’s time to get technical-savvy. But again, you don’t have to be, there are great people that are great in the IT world that can do that, and again, it’s truly living your life truly, and hopefully, by word of mouth, my speaking engagements are just by word-of-mouth, you know, “hey, I’ve heard so-and-so speak,” that has been—I don’t really advertise for speaking; it has just been by word-of-mouth, or somebody that’s read the book. “Hey, would you come speak?” you know, “I love the book, would you come and speak?”

 

Angela:

That’s a great Before and After story. Without the book, it’s very unlikely you would have been asked to speak.

 

Debbie:

Absolutely. Yeah, I would have never. Uh-uh.

 

Angela:

What are some of the opportunities that have come up because of having the book?

 

Debbie:

Um, you know, it’s caused a lot more buzz with… even my business.  For instance, my business now has grown. They want me to do the flowers, and I’m like, well, I can’t do ’em all, you know, I’m gonna be called, I’m gotta go speak so and so, but so and so does a great job. Don’t worry.

 

For me, my personal business has really grown, just because of the stories that’s sent in, and—

 

Angela:

–I mean, that’s huge, right? [Debbie: It is huge.] I mean, was that your vision, is that the reason you did the book?

 

Debbie:

No. Absolutely, I did not wanna grow my business, but I don’t mind helping other florists grow, and other businesses grow, because there is no way I can possibly in the world handle everybody’s flower order.

 

But that is, if you are a plumber, or if you’ve got secrets to whatever apprentice you’re in, it can definitely help your business.

 

Angela:

Wow! That is some great—that’s quite a surprise. I always say, is there something that came out of your book that was a surprise to you?

 

Debbie:

Oh, that would be a surprise, yeah.

 

Angela:

Yeah, so you weren’t even doing it for that reason at all, and your husband, when he was saying you should write a book, he wasn’t thinking “hey, that’s gonna bring us more cash to the florist business.” [Debbie: No, yeah.]

 

And so, if you had to do it all over again, what might you do differently about it?

 

Debbie:

You know, if I had to do it over again, I think I would cause—I would do a workbook with it, because now, people are like, is there any way we could do a study with it? And so now, that is something I’m gonna need to work on, is the workbook with it, because the stories are so impactful, but I also bring in life and I make them ponder different perspectives of their own life, as they’re living life. ’cause you see, as I was writing the book, it turned out that it wasn’t just short stories, it turned about how do we deal with life, and the importance of living life fully, because the flowers are a messenger, and what is so cool is you could put this in Homes and Gardens, you could’ve put this in all the categories in Amazon, and where it went number one is Inspiration and Spiritual, and the number one where it went was Self-Help. So a lot of things they could as a workbook to self-help, self-talk themselves and give them like a journal so that they could write where they’re at right now at this story, where does it relate to them.

 

Angela:

Let’s just talk for a minute about why…why would you have…why would you have the workbook? What would it give to you? How do you think it would improve your experience either getting more speaking engagements, or making a difference, or impacting more people. Why would you want that? Why do you think it would make it better?

 

Debbie:

You know, I think it would make—well, it would be like a double fail, but it would be a great—like, say, if it’s a group or a book club, or if it is a Bible study group, or all kinds of different groups that maybe do book reads, and they wanna do like a work study, they’ll read a chapter, but then, there’s a place that they can discuss it. Or maybe, it’s just for them, ‘cause everybody’s self-learning and just—it just helps them interact more with their own feelings, and I think it would just help, not just on a one-on-one basis, but more on a group level, and more on discussion.

 

Because you know what is so cool? I have been with a group, they start opening up and sharing their stories with one another. And they share a floral experience with one another. All this happened to me, and oh, my gosh…tears and laughter and oh my gosh, it’s so much fun. I think it just causes more interaction.

 


Angela:

Ultimately, I think, what it comes down to, is that we, as authors, we’re in this to make a difference. We’re in this to change people’s lives, we’re in this to get that feedback, you know, get that email that says, wow, your book really made a difference to me. I think that’s just one more way that you’ll be able to do that.

 

Is that the sort of feedback that you’ve gotten about your book? Have you gotten comments and things?

 

Debbie:

Yeah, it is. I mean, I’ve had cancer patients, and different people that have been given this book as a gift, and I even had one that is going through cancer treatments, said “your book just spoke to my soul.” I knew the depth when he wrote that.

 

Another one, from a master gardener’s group that I spoke at, and here I go, speak at a master gardener’s group, and she said, “Deb, So I read your book, and I was intrigued by your speech first of all, but then I read your book, and I thought, you know what—her neighbors should love gardening, but she’d never really given flowers away. So she gave a peony to her neighbor. She just left it on the porch, didn’t have no card, no note, and she called me, and she said Deb—I mean, I don’t usually hear from them, I usually get note cards, but she personally called me, and she says—I just have to tell you, the card I got is the most beautiful card for the thank you that I’ve ever sent—I mean received.

 

Angela:

Well, that is what it’s all about, so I should thank you so much for giving your message into the world. Flowerswhisperbook.com is where you can go, and thank you for being our guest today, Debbie.

 

Debbie:

Oh, thank you, Angela, I appreciate it so much.

 

Angela:

We’ll be back next week. Together, we change the world, one book at a time.

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