Saturday, May 21, 2011

An Inspiring Visit with NYT Bestselling Author, Debbi Mack

"Seaside with the New York Times Bestselling author, Debbi Mack"

Currently these are the bestsellers in Amazon Hard-Boiled Mysteries:

Bestsellers in Hard-Boiled Mystery

The most popular items in Hard-Boiled Mystery. (Learn more)

  1. 1.
    Vincent Zandri (Author)
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  2. 2.
    Vincent Zandri (Author)
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  3. 3.
    Debbi Mack (Author)
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  4. 4.
    Debbi Mack (Author)
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  5. 5.
    Vincent Zandri (Author)
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For the past two months I've been vying for the same positions as Debbi Mack, a writer whom I hadn't heard of until I made the connection one Sunday morning not too long ago when I saw her name appear on the New York Times Bestseller List. Not only was I taken aback since she and I share those top spots, but also because (and astonishingly so), she is a self-published author. A few days later, my former agent and I were speaking on the phone and we got to talking about the stats and she revealed having attended a writing group with Debbi, and what a talented and pretty cool person she was. Finally, like Debbi will attest in her guest blog, we hooked up again on LinkIn over a discussion about indie publishing and what's expected of us now as authors as opposed to a decade ago when I published with Random House imprints. Debbi is not only a committed and talented author, but she literally is forced to write in pain everyday due to a rare condition called Dystonia. Her head is also in the right "Zen" place. She writes because that's what she does and it is who she is. She would be waking up and doing the same thing everyday regardless of her bestselling status. She is a pure artist and frankly, I feel somewhat ashamed of myself for getting caught up with numbers and rankings at times more than I should the writing. If you're a writer, writing should be the most important thing. Just ask Debbi Mack, she has some wonderful words to shed on the subject:

When Vincent invited me to write a post for his blog, it was during a discussion on LinkedIn. (Remember LinkedIn? J Some of us still hang out there.) We were talking about the usual subjects – marketing ebooks, promoting our work online, that sort of thing.

I think Vincent mentioned something about readers expecting us to publish a book every six months or so. I couldn’t resist saying something at that point. You see, I have a problem. I try not to make a big deal about it, but I don’t keep it a secret, either.

I had a stroke in November 1994, due to a post-operative blood clot going through a hole between the atria in my heart (i.e., due to a complete fluke set of circumstances). About five or six months after that, and despite what seemed to be a complete recovery from the stroke, I developed the third most common movement disorder (after Parkinson’s and tremors) called dystonia. As it happens, dystonia has no cure.

This disorder causes constant clenching and contortion of my left hand and foot. (The side affected by the stroke – coincidence? Don’t think so.) And when I say constant, I mean 24/7, day in and day out. Every second of every minute of every hour of every day of every … oh, you get the idea.

And as for treatments, well … the story is not so good. There are some, but they don’t really work completely. They are, at best, hit or miss. The best neurologists do things and say, “Let’s see what happens.” (In other words, “We don’t WTF we’re doing, but this is our best guess.”)

And alternative medicine. Yeah, been there, done that, spent the money. Currently trying acupuncture. Seems to be doing something. Slowly. Very slowly. Patience, grasshopper.

And pain. Like you wouldn’t believe sometimes. Picture your hand being slowly twisted in a medieval torture device that never, ever stops. Lovely, isn’t it? J

Okay. Now, back to what we were talking about. Publishing a story every six months? No, I don’t think so. Sorry.

And then … Vincent said something even funnier! He mentioned that we were vying for position as #1 in some Amazon category! Well …

I won’t lie. Being #1 is awesome and all, but it’s not why I wake up in the morning and write.

And for me, success is measured in way more than mere numbers.

For me, success is being able to force myself out of bed and convince myself to keep going, despite everything.

And I write because I enjoy telling stories, and I want to tell the best stories I possibly can. No matter how long that takes.

Success is also being able to make a living as a writer, despite all the work that entails. This would not only include all the concentration and creative effort that goes into writing the work, but the physical act of using my hands to type the words. Not to mention all the marketing and promotion.

As for speech recognition software, well … have you ever used it? I have. Two words: it sucks.

Writing this post itself takes not only energy, but decision making. I don’t wish to present myself as an object of pity. However, I am interested in raising public awareness of dystonia. So I find myself striking a fine balance between talking about the matter and not talking about it too much.

Success is summoning up the blind faith to keep going in the face of what, at times, has seemed to be insurmountable odds and endless obstacles.

Frankly, achieving bestseller status is (pardon the cliché) just icing on the cake.

Author bio:

Debbi Mack is the author of two hardboiled mystery novels: New York Times ebook bestseller IDENTITY CRISIS and Kindle bestseller LEAST WANTED, both featuring her lawyer protagonist Sam McRae. Her third book in the series ALIEN SHORES should be released by the end of the year. She’s published several short stories, including an ebook anthology called FIVE UNEASY PIECES, and has been nominated for a Derringer Award. A former attorney, Debbi has also worked as a journalist, librarian and freelance writer/researcher. Her Web site is and her blog My Life on the Mid-List is at



  1. Great choice of guests, Vin and Debbi, congratulations on your rise to the top. Strength and fortitude must exist in any writer trying to make it in this business. Your ability to overcome such an enormous obstacle to do it speaks volumes about the kind of person and writer you are. You're an inspiration and we could all take a lesson from your dedication. It's easy to get caught up in sales rankings when you take the simple things for granted. Sending healing vibes your way.

  2. Thanks for the comment Belinda:)