Debra Lynne Katz is author of three nonfiction books, You Are Psychic: The Art of Clairvoyant Reading & Healing; Extraordinary Psychic: Proven Techniques to Master Your Natural Abilities
; and Freeing the Genie Within: Manifesting Abundance, Creativity and Success in Your Life
. She is the Director of the International School of Clairvoyance
and offers workshops around the globe as well as distant training courses in psychic development. She holds a Masters degree in Social Work, and is a former Federal Probation officer and TV show host. She resides in Southern California.
WEBSITE: www.debrakatz.com or www.urpsychic.com. These will both take you to the same website.
When and why did you begin writing? People find it surprising when I tell them I didn’t consider myself a writer until years after I wrote and published my first book. In fact, my book had been out for a couple years and I was well on my way into my second one, before I could even bring myself to say the words, “I am a writer” when someone would ask me what my profession was.
I think that is because I wasn’t writing because I was a writer or wanted to be one, but rather because I felt I had something very important, even urgent, to share with the world regarding a topic I was more not just passionate about, but obsessed with.
I started writing in 1998 when my son was six months old, at which time I was a single mom, with very little money or family around. We lived in one-room trailer at a trout farm and not only was I working, but I also was attending film/screenwriting school. I mention this because a lot of aspiring writers have a lot of excuses for why they can’t begin, or continue, or finish their writing projects and I say if I could do it, anyone can.
It really is a matter of what is a priority. I used to set my alarm for 2 a.m. every morning. I’d make some coffee, write for two to three hours, then go back to sleep for a couple more before my son woke up. So my priority was not getting sleep, or feeling rested, or watching TV, or socializing, but instead getting my book done. I make this point because when people make excuses, it makes them feel powerless. When they can more honestly state, “yes, I’d like to write a book, but it’s actually more important right now that I get enough sleep in my life, or that I work a lot so I can make my car payments or live in a beautiful, roomy, house instead of a less expensive place.” They then understand it’s a choice and they get their power back.
What prompted you to write your first book? I was working as a psychic in a bookstore in Sedona, Arizona. At the end of a session, clients often asked me questions like, “how can you do what you do?” at which point I’d tell them how I developed my intuitive skills by going through training and that they could do the same thing. At this point they’d have so many other questions that it was a challenge to answer them all in just a few minutes. I knew from ongoing searches there were no other books on the market that taught the techniques I had learned through an oral teaching tradition or that addressed some of the topics that were so important to so many of the people I was meeting. So essentially, my first book, You Are Psychic, was born out of a necessity: to save myself the time and energy it took to answer my clients' individual questions, and the desire to share with the world techniques and information that had such an enormous and positive impact on my life which were not easily accessible to most of people in the U.S. or the rest of the world. To be honest, I’ve always been a bit obsessed with doing what I can, not just to aid in the evolution of specific individuals but of humanity itself, and I felt my book might be a helpful tool for that as well.
What is your writing process? I can say with absolutely certainty if the computer and MS Word hadn’t been invented, my books would never have been written. These incredible tools not only provided a means by which to get the words down on paper, but helped me to be able to organize and edit my writing in ways I could never do by writing by hand or typewriter. They have changed the way I think and write, and very much for the better. And I say this as a person who had never touched a computer until she was 25.
I feel I have really evolved alongside the technology that’s been revolutionizing our world over the past decade at a dizzying speed. I am absolutely certain if I hadn’t kept up, I wouldn’t be in business for myself, as this technology is just so essential for writers and those who teach what they write about. These developments range from everything internet-related--from computers and writing software--to teleseminar/webinar platforms, to software/webdesign hosting programs, etc.
I mention this because I feel that today, more than any other point in history, as aspiring anything--writers, artists, teachers, whatever--we cannot have success without diving head-first into what I envision as a raging river that will carry us to our destination only if we are willing to to submit ourselves to the learning curves laden with frustrations, fears and feelings of ineptitude inherent in learning new systems and software and ever-improving devices. Had I not learned how to navigate my ways through these chilling learning curves, I’d most likely still be working 9 to 5 jobs under the supervision of small-minded control freaks who care nothing about me, instead of setting my own schedule and having the pleasure of visiting my three books at any bookstores I happen to find myself at.
Of course, now I quite often end up working as many as 20 hours a day between seeing clients, teaching, learning and working on way too many writing and research projects all at once, but everything I do in my life now is because it serves my own goals and fullfills my own dreams, rather then merely someone else’s.
Did you follow a regular routine when writing? As mentioned above, for a long time I got up in the middle of the night for two to three hours, with the help of some strong coffee, to write when it was quiet and I had no other demands on me. But with each book, there was a time when I had to take a month or two off from work and all other activities, send my son to the babysitters a lot, and write almost around the clock in order to complete it, either because I was just sick and tired of it taking so long, or because I had deadlines to meet.
I might mention it was a lot easier to write before I had a cell phone or an internet connection at home. Since I’ve had these, writing my next book has been a lot more challenging as I waste far too much time and energy responding to emails, to blog posts, to facebook, etc. That’s the downside of all this technology for writers or anyone trying to achieve anything these days. Most of us have contracted ADD to some degree now.
How much time do you spend on research? What type of research do you do? I can say with all honesty, that even through my first book was 450 pages long (then cut down to 300 at the insistence of my publisher), I only referred two or three times at most to a source outside my own memory, thoughts and heart. In fact, I barely did any research for any of my books, with the exception of a chapter I wrote in Extraordinary Psychic in which I outlined the history of the U.S. military’s use of remote viewers. Other then that, everything I wrote about was based on what I had previously learned or experienced on a personal basis.
I’m not much of a notetaker and the few scraps of notes I do take every once in a while tend to get swallowed up by my washing machine or in the depths of my bottomless purse. I’ve had the perspective that if something is important enough to write about and share with others, then it should be something that made such an impression on me or had such a great impact that I still remember it. If I forgot it, then it wasn’t that important and therefore doesn’t need to go into my books. But that’s just me.
How did you find time to write and publish three books over the course of six years? Since my publisher demanded I cut 150 pages from my first manuscript before they would agree to publish, I took out the chapters that weren’t absolutely necessary for a beginner learning these skills to focus on. This deleted material became the backbone of my second book on more advanced techniques. Then, for that book, I was told I had to cut 100 pages. I realized I had written several chapters on a subject related to but outside the score of psychic matters. So I took those chapters on creativity and those became the foundation for my third book.
How do you deal with rejection? I didn’t deal with very much rejection for my books as my first manuscript was accepted by the third publisher I sent it to. The second publisher I sent it to, Frank DeMarco, former CEO of Hampton Roads Publishing, responded to me by email less then 48 hours after I sent the book to him. I didn’t even think it was humanly possible for him to have received it yet. He stated he had stacks of other manuscripts collecting dust on his desk, but had felt compelled to read mine and he very much liked what he had read so far. So all of this was very encouraging and actually gave me the incentive I needed to finish it, since I had only completed a few sample chapters prior to submitting it to publishers. I should also mention, I never even attempted to get an agent, but rather decided I would submit to publishers that did accept unsolicited manuscripts, which did drastically lower my pool of possible publishers.
How do you deal with negative reviews? Not very well. I only have a few negative reviews on Amazon, but they are very upsetting, particularly when it’s clear to me that the reviewer did not read the book, or the whole book, or they are coming from a competitive perspective. So I tend to not let myself read them too often as it’s so easy to get upset about one review when just about all of the rest couldn’t be more complimentary.
How did you find your publisher? My former screenwriting mentor, and the guy who optioned my first and only screenplay, Dan Gordon (wrote “The Hurricane”; “Passenger 57”, “Murder in the First”; “The Assignment”), insists that when it comes to writing anything, from a book, to a screenplay, to an article, the very first thing you should do is research what else is out there to what is similar to what you want to write about or create. Then find out who published it (or who was that author’s agent), and look up their website and submission guidelines. Then swallow your pride and your wants and needs and fears and ego, and mold your creation into the exact form they are requesting. This advice has never failed me.
Llewellyn Worldwide offers guidelines that will get any book-length manuscript in excellent shape to submit to just about any publisher, so I do suggest checking out their site for this purpose.
Do you use critique partners or beta readers? Why or why not? I never had a single person read my first manuscripts until I submitted them to my publisher. I’m not sure why, I just really didn’t want to show them to anyone. That being said, it would have been much, much, much more prudent to have an editor go through them as I had a lot of typo’s, but I think I just got lucky that it got into the hands of people who didn’t care so much about that.
I have so many people who give me their own manuscripts to read and a lot of these (usually fiction) are just in terrible shape in terms of structure, or are so excruciatingly boring that it’s hard to get past the first few pages. For this reason, I do highly suggest that any works of fiction be shared with at least a couple people before submitting to an agent or publisher or anyone who might not give you a second chance. It’s very difficult for a writer to know if the story line or plot or dialog makes sense or flows for readers who haven’t been living day to day with the characters or plot points, as the authors have, sometimes for years. Fiction and screenwriters often just get too close to their stories to be able to look at them objectively. That’s why it also might help to put the book aside (this is also true for nonfiction) for a period of even a few months and then pick it back up. What you may have thought was absolute brilliance at one time may seem like utter jibberish at another, or vica versa!
What advice would you give to aspiring authors? The problem I find with many writers is their manuscripts are too focused on themselves. There is a fine and delicate and subtle line between isolating yourself from your reader by focusing too much on the intricate details of your own life experiences vs. sharing lessons learned in the course of having your own experiences that are universal and therefore ultimately enlightening and stimulating to your readers.
As a rule of thumb, or what ever finger you type with, I’d say you always have to be putting yourself in the shoes or minds or hearts of your potential readers and asking yourself, how do they benefit from this information? How is this stimulating or entertaining or moving or educating? Is this creating a yawn or an ah ha! moment. If your books, particularly a non fiction book, isn’t creating several ah ha! moments, then why are you writing it in the first place?
Along these same lines, especially when it comes to nonfiction, it’s helpful to research and determine how much of what you are just discovering and therefore so enthused about sharing is new to everyone else? Before an agent or publisher will accept your book, you will have to or should answer the question “what other books have been written on the subject and how is your book unique?” It’s actually not a problem if there are other books, many others, on the same topic, but you must have a unique angle, because it’s the Ah Ha! moments that sell.
That’s where my final advice comes in: If you want to write a book because it sounds like a cool thing to do and you’d love to see your name or mug on the cover, I suggest finding something else to do. There are easier and surer ways to find glory.
If you want to write a book because you think it would be therapeutic, a path to processing your emotions and unleash your until now very blocked creativity, then by all means write but do so knowing you are most likely just going to be writing for yourself and initially, let that be enough. That could always change down the road, and it may be because you wrote it for yourself and was not edited for the sensibilities of an audience, that it’s so bursting with passion, lust and poetic agony that it will turn out to be the greatest literary masterpiece of this century. Maybe, but probably not.
If you want to write a nonfiction book because you are so bursting with information that you are quite certain is needed and desired by the public, even just a specific strata of people, perhaps even because it’s written for a specific strata of people, then you probably should start writing it sooner then later and I hope you do.
Any last words for aspiring writers? Doing is a lot more productive than thinking. I have had quite a few classmates or fellow psychics or healers over the years who have followed a similar path as me in terms of training/education. They have said to me, with a hint of disappointment in their voice, “For years, I was thinking about writing a book very similar to yours.” My response (at least to myself), “Oh that’s nice. But while you were thinking, I was writing.”
A lot of what is true in life is true in writing. The next turn or step often won’t be revealed until you have already taken the first few, or even several steps. If you have already spent a decent amount of time thinking about something and don’t have an answer, more thinking isn’t going to make a difference because the answer isn’t in your head, it’s waiting for you in your future life experiences. You can’t get to the top of the stairs without climbing up the lower ones first, anymore then you can get to the end of the book by skipping the pages that come before it.
Many people don’t want to write until they know exactly which way they are going to go with the story or outline or until they have the end worked out or even the middle. However, what I’ve found is that until you’ve got the words on the page, you just won’t often know which way to go with a manuscript.
So the key to progress is in writing at first draft, unloading all ideas onto the page and not caring how good or coherent it sounds. Keep writing until every single potential idea has been deposited onto the page. Then go back and edit a few days later.
If you are stuck on a direction or way to go, consult with your friends. Don’t make them read your book yet, but instead just give them a verbal synopsis and ask them what they think your character should do next. Don’t make or ask anyone to read your book until you feel like it’s a masterpiece. Most likely, it will need another rewrite or two before it becomes that anyway.
YOU ARE PSYCHIC: THE ART OF CLAIRVOYANT READING & HEALING: This first work has sold hundreds of thousand copies in the United States and worldwide, mostly through word of mouth. It has been translated into several different languages and continues to be a favorite choice as an invaluable guide offering clear and engaging instruction on developing your natural intuitive gifts of clairvoyance, clairaudience, and telepathy.
Debra’s print books can be found at any bookstore in the United States. Her ebooks can be purchased via Amazon
or Barnes & Noble
or through her own website
You are Psychic is one of the only books out there that focuses on clairvoyance, the specific psychic ability that allows you to see, experience and manipulate energy via images, pictures, and colors. It’s one of the only psychic development books that discusses, “The business of spirituality”, psychic ethics, dealing with the stressors of being psychic in the mainstream world, how to do relationship readings.
EXTRAORDINARY PSYCHIC: PROVEN TECHNIQUES TO MASTER YOUR NATURAL ABILITIES: Released in 2008 by Llewellyn Publishing, this book is Debra's brilliant follow-up to You Are Psychic. This second book successfully details actual techniques, meditations and exercises that will allow beginners to explore their psychic abilities. It also serves by creating a framework and practice for professional psychics to fine-tune their intuitive skills.
FREEING THE GENIE WITHIN: MANIFESTING ABUNDANCE, CREATIVITY AND SUCCESS IN YOUR LIFE: Freeing the Genie is not just an innovative book, but a traveling companion to help you overcome obstacles on your spiritual path. It offers numerous techniques and meditations to help you raise your frequency, get unstuck, and move forward with your goals. It helps empower readers to not only understand how powerful they really are, but to experience it. Freeing the Genie Within teaches readers how to transform energy and matter into a higher form for the purposes of personal growth and abundance. This isn't just another "lets think positive, say a few affirmations and everything will come to you" book. Rather, this helps to answer the difficult question that many who have been on the path for years have been struggling with, which is: "Why does positive thinking work sometimes, but not others?"
This is T.W. Fendley. Thanks for reading and commenting on The Writers' Lens! You can find out more about me at www,twfendley.com.