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Debra Salonen
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Debra Salonen wrote her first screenplay at age 11 for the television series Flipper. The plot involved the older brother's romantic interest in a young girl, presumably Debra. The story, like Debra's show biz career, never evolved past the "What if?" stage, but Debra's addiction to writing has never faltered.

"I've always found a way to incorporate writing into any job I happened to hold at the time … well, except for my stint as a flax seed counter in college. Don't ask, it wasn't pretty. But, even while working in a preschool, I took a part-time aid's position - milk, cookies and naps - and turned it into a full-time Community Services liaison position, complete with monthly newsletter and grant applications," Salonen said.

She turned a job as a stringer with a Central Valley newspaper into a full-time position as a feature writer and assistant editor. The award-winning journalist said, "Newspaper writing helped me learn the value of editing. Fortunately, I was blessed with a caring, insightful editor who taught me the truth of the adage: less is more." The exposure to human-interest stories also fed Salonen's writer's soul, conjuring up a wealth of imaginary characters and situations.

"Modern fiction provides the modem to touch people's lives. If your characters are real, in the sense they face real problems and possess real hopes, wants, needs and flaws, people can identify with them. My stories are about imperfect people who must learn life's lesson, heal old wounds and find inner forgiveness before they can truly love another person. I think these are universal themes most people, men and women, can relate to."

Salonen, who lives in a small rural community near Yosemite, credits the support of her family, husband Paul and children Kelly and Jon Paul, with a hand in her success. "I need my own space and quiet time to work. The actual writing process requires habit and self-discipline, but it helps if the people around you respect your needs."

Salonen, who is a member of WIN/WIN in Fresno, also knows the value of networking and associating with fellow writers. "The first hurdle you face as a writer is admitting you are one - like any other addiction," she said. "I was fortunate to meet a very talented group of writers and teachers in Fresno in 1987. Joyce Brandon and Lesley Kellas-Payne became my mentors, and they gave me the courage to admit aloud that 'I am a writer.' Eventually, I became a published writer and journalist, and now, at long last, I am an author."

Harlequin, the world's largest publisher of series romance fiction, purchased Salonen's first novel, That Cowboy's Kids (Harlequin Superromance/Mass Market Original/April, 2000/ $4.25) last summer. Her second Superromance selection, His Daddy's Eyes, will be released in August, and two spin-offs from that book - Claudie's Quest and The Truth About Eve -- are due out in Spring 2001.

"I'm thrilled by the validation these sales have provided, but I also feel a sense of accomplishment for all those people who have helped me learn my craft and encouraged me to believe in myself. Writing is a team effort directed by life experience, associations, imagination and spiritual connectedness," Salonen said.

When not busy writing, Salonen spends time reading, surfing the Web and gardening. Her Flipper screenplay is on the shelf collecting dust - right where it belongs.

Debra would love to hear from you. You can write to her at P.O. Box 322, Cathey's Valley, California 95306, or via e-mail at DebraSalonen@superauthors.com. Also visit her web site at http://www.debrasalonen.com.

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Photo: Debra Salonen
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Sisters of the Silver Dollar
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