Meet Novelist Debra Key Newhouse

Debra Key Newhouse, who writes under the name Debra McGill, creates paranormal romantic suspense stories with psychic elements. She’s a member of the Washington Romance Writers chapter of Romance Writers of America® and serves the group as their newsletter editor.

Debra lives in South Central Pennsylvania with her loving, supportive husband of 35 years, a ten-year-old Lhasa Apsa who is the eternal puppy, and a white Persian cat who knows her own mind. Her daughter, Charu, and son-in-law, Abed, had such an enthralling and public romance, that it was featured in a documentary called Goodbye Hungaria. The couple has blessed Debra and her husband with two beautiful granddaughters, five-year-old Lelia, Queen of Knock-Knock Jokes, and two-year-old Yasmine, Princess of Singing and Dancing.

Before embarking on her new venture as a romance novelist, Debra worked as an administrative assistant to a senator, was a flight attendant, attended Penn State for Mechanical Engineering, and finally settled into her dream job of Property Management. Along the way, she had some interesting temp jobs as well, working at a deli/bakery that put her off lunchmeat and cakes for three years, an explosive factory where the smokers sat in a corral and worried about being blown up, and a casket factory.

Debra has a keen interest in metaphysical, which works its way into her stories. She loves gardening, crafts, cooking, genealogy, and most types of needlework. She and her husband love to travel, their favorite place in the world being the Lake District of Chile.

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Debra has a “GREAT” recipe for Sangria, so you can grab a glass of her cyber punch to enjoy as you learn more about her writing journey. If you prefer not to imbibe, I’ve added some flavored lemonades of the non-alcoholic variety: raspberry, strawberry, cherry, and peach. Feel free to help yourself to the virtual beverage of your choice and prepare to enjoy yourself as you learn more about Debra and her writing journey.

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Debra’s Journey Begins

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•When did you get serious about writing?

Although I have loved writing stories since I was a child, it was only in the past year that I became serious about writing. I’ve become much more disciplined and focused on what I was writing, learning about my craft and becoming familiar with the publishing process.

In the past, I felt a need to express myself, and joined a local group of writers called Writers Night Out, under the leadership of Silver RavenWolf. I began writing short stories and self help articles. Some are published on Silver RavenWolf’s website. http://www.silverravenwolf.com/

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•How long did it take you to complete your first manuscript? Did it fly from your fingertips, or did the story emerge slowly?

I would say both happened. I knew the first story I wanted to write and it basically flew from my mind to my laptop. It was going back and editing and revising the manuscript that took longer. I was never satisfied, and sometimes I would read the same paragraphs over so much that I didn’t feel they were good. If I set it aside for a bit and came back to it, I liked it again.

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•You joined Romance Writers of America® and made some great connections. How did this come about? In what ways has your involvement in RWA® helped you grow as a writer?

I was at a book signing at Turn the Page in Boonsboro, Maryland and met several members of the Washington Romance Writers who graciously asked me if I would like to join their group. I joined about three months after meeting them and have met some of my favorite authors and made some wonderful friends.

We have an annual Writers Retreat and have some top notch authors who speak and teach workshops. This past April we had Charlaine Harris and Roxanne St. Clair as speakers. I also take online courses through other RWA chapters. I’m the editor of the WRW newsletter and it has also been a wonderful way to get to know other writers.

I’ll be attending the RWA Conference in Disney World in a couple of weeks. I am so excited as this is my first conference I’ve been able to attend.

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Debra’s Milestones

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•Pitching our projects to agents and editors can be a bit unnerving, but you’ve taken that step. When and where did you pitch, and what was it like?

I did my first presentation this past April to agents and editors at the WRW Writers Retreat. What a thrill it was! I had a couple of agents who were interested in a synopsis and the first three chapters of my manuscript.

I had a lady who wasn’t interested in my manuscript, but gave me so much critique on what I was writing that I think I learned more from her than anyone. I immediately changed some directions I had taken the story and feel like it’s much better thanks to her.

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•You’ve chosen to write under a pen name. Finding one that feels right can be a challenge, but you settled on a name you really like. What is the story behind your alter ego?

Debra is my real first name, but I wanted to honor my mother’s maiden name, McGill.

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Debra’s Dream Put on Hold

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•Sometimes, despite our dream of being a published author, our determination, and our dedication, life intervenes. You faced a number of major hurdles that sidetracked your plans of pursuing publication. What happened, and how did you handle the challenges that came your way and keep your dream alive?

My dream was put on hold when we found my father had lung cancer in May of 2006. It took my entire family in a different direction. Dad passed away on April 30th, 2009, and the journey continued with working with my mother and her loss and needs.

I also had health issues that took about a year of my life, but I now refuse to let it get in my way. I use humor a lot, sometimes irreverent, to get through bad times. So even though I write paranormal and romantic suspense, that irreverent humor shows up also.

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Partners on Debra’s Journey

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•A writer may spend hours alone with her fingers flying over the keyboard, but many people are behind the scenes supporting her in numerous ways. Who are some of your staunchest supporters?

I have always been blessed with strong friendships, and my friends have been extremely supportive, along with my family. My local friends are great for long lunches or dinners that take my mind off of whatever I’m trying to get away from at the moment. My online friends do the same thing, but without the calories.

My husband, Tony, is my biggest supporter in everything I do. He thinks I’m brilliant, so his opinion doesn’t always count. Except in marriage.

One thing I really wish I had was a writing partner or a small group of critique partners. I really need some honest critique. Friends and family aren’t always the best to turn to as they are less likely to tell you if your writing lacks something, plus they don’t always know the correct way to critique.

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Envisioning Success

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•Let’s take a journey into the future. The phone rings. It’s your agent telling you about your First Sale to your dream publishing company. Which house would be offering the contract? Which of your stories would they be buying?

The story I’m shopping right now is the story I hope they will be interested in as there are three more stories after it that are already partially written.

I can tell you that after screaming for my husband, I would immediately call my daughter and my mother. And I would probably do the first cartwheel I’ve done in twenty-five years.

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Debra’s Journey Continues

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•What captivating new ideas are swirling in your creative mind? Have new characters begun chattering away?

I have a four-part series that I would like to continue into a regular series. It’s a young woman with psychic abilities who has to find her way, and once she does, she opens a psychic detective agency. She will find various people along the way who will become part of her agency or her close friends. For example, there are three sisters who are triplets, who find out their mother is not their mother, and the three are not related.

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How Debra Fuels Her Creativity

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As much as I love to watch TV and movies, and read books and magazines, I find that observing others when I’m out and about, thinking of situations I’ve been in the past, staring at my garden and thinking, writing pretend scenes whether they have meaning or not and daydreaming are the things that fuel my creativity. I often have my best daydreams before I go to sleep. My mind is relaxed and can move outside the boundaries of everyday life.

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Debra’s Question for You

How do you get your creative juices flowing?

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Debra’s Drawing

Debra has generously offered to give away a $50 gift card for Amazon.com.

To enter the drawing, just leave a comment for Debra by midnight July 13 (Pacific time) and enter your email address when prompted during the comment process. (You don’t have to leave it in the body of your comment this way.)

On July 14, I will hold the drawing and post the winner’s name here as well and will contact her/him via email to get a mailing address. (I don’t share your information with anyone, other than sending your mailing address to my guest, and I don’t add your name to any mailing lists.)

Congratulations to Catrina Brewer, winner of the Amazon gift card.

Note: Offer void where prohibited.
Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.

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Learn More About Debra

Visit her website ~ www.debramcgill.com

Visit her personal blog ~ A Fool’s Journey

Friend her on Facebook ~ Debra Key Newhouse

Follow her on Twitter ~ Debra_McGill

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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
This entry was posted in Romance Writers of America, RWA Nationals, writer interview, writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

127 Responses to Meet Novelist Debra Key Newhouse

  1. Sue McC says:

    I’m so proud of you for all you’ve been able to do! And I can’t wait until the day that book comes out. I’ll be first in line at the store, and I will raise my glass of DJJ to you! As long as I can say I knew you “when”!! 🙂

  2. Greg Harry says:

    Congratulations Debbie! That’s awesome, Danielle Steele, step aside! Love you and wish you happiness and success, is Fabio posing for the cover?

    Greg

  3. Awww Sue! You’ve been the best thing to happen to me in a long time, and I thank you for coming on this whacky journey with me. Your text messages keep me sane…I think. LOL A glass of djj to you!

  4. Hey Greg! So good to see you here! You are part of my happiness and success, so how about you posing for the cover handsome? Love you lots and glad you’re doing well. You know you’re my hero don’t you? xoxox

  5. Kyla says:

    Debra,

    You are truly an inspirational woman with much insight and determination. Many people dream, but few manifest those dreams. Your choice of topic is wonderful and one of my favorite. It was wonderful to read about your background to learn more about you. I wish you every success and thank you for sharing a part of your life with me.

    Blessings to you and yours.

  6. Brianne says:

    What a wonderful article. Congrats.

  7. Kyla, that is such a wonderful thing to say. It’s been a journey of many ups and downs, but that’s just life. It’s not always easy to focus when there are other things going on…but sometimes it saves what little sanity I have lol. Thank you for being part of this special day!

  8. Janice says:

    Love the article.
    Thank you for telling me about it. I do read my post in Fairyland

  9. Brianne, thank you so much for stopping by! And Janice, good to see you again lol So glad you enjoyed the article. Keli did a super good job of making me sound interesting 🙂

  10. Keli Gwyn says:

    Debra, I’m usually the first person to comment on an interview, but my college daughter was home for a visit, and I was offline the past couple of days. Sorry to be a latecomer to your awesome party.

    I’m delighted to have you as my guest and am blown away by the number of comments on your post. (Yours is the first to top 100!) You are obviously an awesome person well loved by many. That’s sooo cool.

    I was so sad to hear of your father’s battle with cancer. My beloved mother-in-law lost hers back in 1997, and I still miss her greatly. I’m sure your dad would be happy to know you’re embracing life and pursuing your dream in spite of the setbacks that are an inevitable part of our journeys.

    I look forward to the day I have you back for one of my Saturday Special: She Sold! stories. I wanna hear all about that cartwheel experience. 🙂

  11. Keli, this has been such an exciting day for me. I appreciate everything you have done. And I’m so glad you got to enjoy having your daughter home for a visit.

    My strongest support system has always been my friends, my family, and friends who happen to be family (and family who happen to be friends). I am truly blessed. And so glad they broke the record! They, and you, ROCK!

    I miss my in-laws, especially my mother-in-law. And of course I miss my dad. He fought the cancer as long as he could, and if he could still be here for my mom, he would be. He is greatly missed by his grandkids and great-grandkids.

    I really hope I can return some day for that Saturday Special! I’m counting on it! And if I do a cartwheel, I’m having my husband take a picture. So he can explain to our insurance company how I broke both of my arms at the same time 🙂

    Blessings to you Keli! And to all of my friends who were here today!

  12. Shivonne says:

    Hi Debra – thanks so much for visiting my garden in Fairyland and leaving a message for me to come and read this interview. I am truly envious (in a good way) of your writing ability and the wonderful life you have with your friends and family.

    I wish you every success!!

    oh and thanks for the virtual sangria -very nice.

    cheers

  13. Pat and Rachel Dumas says:

    Hi Deb!

    We are blessed to have you in our lives! Both as Mom’s editor 😉 and as our dear friend. You are a gifted woman. Thank you for sharing your gifts with us. Also, Connor says “Hi Lovey”

    Rachel and Pat

  14. Shivonne – thank you so much for taking the time to stop by. I am truly blessed with friends and family….and fairies! Thanks for the good wishes and have another glass of sangria!

  15. Rachel, Pat and wee Connor – It means so much that you stopped by! Your family has added so much richness to my life. Pat is going to be one of the best writers ever because her writing absolutely blows me away. Goose bumps because it’s so good! Love and kisses to the entire Dumas family.

  16. Hi Debra! What a great interview. I really enjoyed hearing about your writing journey. It always blows my mind (in a nice way) how different everyone’s story is. Good luck with your writing!!!!!!

  17. Anna, it means so much to me that you stopped by! Thank you for your extremely kind words – you cannot possibly know how much it means to me since you are one of my favorite authors! Can’t wait to meet you for realz in Orlando!

  18. Great blog, Debra! I get my creative juices flowing by hanging around terrific writers like you! Can’t wait to see you in Orlando!
    xoxo
    Rocki

  19. Awww Rocki me darlin’!! So great of you to stop by. You’re my sheroe and bff, and quite the inspiration. I do love me some Bullet Catchers, and am looking forward to the Guardian Angelino series!! Orlando, look out. We’re going to have a great time! xoxox

  20. Christi – I just now saw your comment. Please do join RWA! And consider the WRW chapter if you can. It’s not unusual to join several of the chapters. I belong to WRW and the New Jersey chapter and am thinking about joining an online chapter. Please stay in touch as I love to meet other writers who are on their own journey. Thank you so much for stopping by. This has been an incredible experience for me!

  21. Keli Gwyn says:

    Thanks to the many who stopped by to spend time with an awesome lady. Debra is obviously well loved. I can’t wait to meet her in Orlando.

    I held the drawing for the Amazon gift card Debra so generously offered as a drawing prize, and the winner is Catrina Brewer.

    Congratulations, Catrina! I’ll be in touch.

  22. Yay Catrina! I’m so happy for you! I’ll wait to hear from Keli, even though I already know the info thanks to you sending me a recipe. Talk to you soon.

    Keli, this has been awesome for me. Absolutely unbelievable! Thank you so much for all you did, and putting up with me lol Orlando, here we come!

  23. Just wanted everyone to know how excited I am. Just for letting my friend know I couldn’t wait to read her books, I have won the Amazon gift card. I am so happy I could dance! Thank You Debra & Keli

  24. I want to thank everyone who stopped by, whether they left a comment or not. This was one of the most exciting times ever, and an inspiration to keep writing with all of you believing in me.

    Catrina seems to be enjoying her gift certificate from Amazon.com, and I’m so happy for her! In the time I’ve known her, she’s become very special to me.

    Please stay in touch. If you want to talk about writing, I would love to hear from you.

    And I know I’m going to see some of you, including our wonderful hostess Keli, in Orlando. I can’t wait!

    Peace, love and blessings to all!

    Debra

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