Moving Forward: Debbie Black’s Magic Carpet Ride

Written by Judy Salamacha

February 9, 2023

When Debbie Noble Black officially closed her successful Cayucos-based Landscape Architecture practice, her fulltime focus was to become a published author. It has taken years of dedicated writing, research, networking and practicing all the steps recommended by the publishing industry, but then that’s how Debbie has found success at everything she tackles.  

As of February 2, 2023, her debut middle grade novel ‘Deetjen’s Closet’ can be purchased at Morro Bay’s Coalesce Book Store and Volumes of Pleasure Book Shoppe in Los Osos. A Kindle copy will be available on Amazon, but I believe you’ll want your children and grandchildren to have the original printed copy of the first of several books in her Sara and the Ghost Clothes series. Magic buttons inspired her protagonist, Sara, to have the courage to become her best self as she meets fascinating figures, who earned their place in American history. Ever make fortune cookies? Debbie shares their beginnings and the recipe!  

Sunday, March 19, 1-3 p.m., the public is invited to meet the author in the garden chapel of Coalesce Book Store hosted by EBN’s columnists for Out & About with the Bookshelf Writers. Debbie will offer a reading, so children are encouraged to attend. Indeed, Debbie can officially celebrate, “Writing is my exciting new chapter.”

Debbie’s transition to full-time writer came after thirty years working in and owning her own landscape architecture practice. She’s created and installed the landscape plan for Pony Express Plaza in Old Sacramento and Bonita Homes in Arroyo Grande as well as designed and marketed for developers John and Chuck French, including operating their start-up retail nursery business. From its start she annually plotted the footprint for the annual Cayucos Sea Glass Festival, and as a charter member, her landscape work can be seen at the Morro Bay Maritime Museum.

She and her architect husband, Garth Kornreich, were always busy, except when they went camping. “It was our time to relax. I would write and he surfed,” Debbie said. Her first novel “Bridges,” as yet unpublished, and “Deetjen’s Closet” along with the second book in the series were drafted while camping.    

And once a writer is confident their book is close to final, industry protocol suggests the author invite readers’ commentary. Often friends are invited to read, but Debbie sought out local professionals who would candidly offer suggestions to enhance her project. Five years ago, she started with the toughest critics of all, Morro Bay’s Del Mar Elementary School’s fourth-grade students. Teachers Asher Weitzen and Haley Kennedy read Debbie’s story then invited her into their classrooms to be grilled and encouraged to continue writing Sara’s magical story.

Next Debbie met with Dan and Liz Kreiger. Liz was a teacher, then SLO Librarian for 33 years. Dan is a retired Cal Poly Professor of history emeritus and wrote Times Past, a long-time published column on California history. Debbie was thrilled and amazed by their assessment and decided to share it on the back cover: “We all need to follow Alice’s white rabbit if we are seeking the joy of discovery. Sara does just that. There has never been a trip up California’s Highway 1 filled with such adventure. An overnight stop at the real Deetjen’s Inn (Big Sur) uncovers a cast of supernatural encounters with an amazing cast of (ten) historical characters – and in the end, it all seems quite natural. What a way to learn history!”

Debbie studied writing techniques and publishing protocol at several of Cuesta College’s Central Coast Writers Conferences and San Francisco Writers Conferences. She queried numerous agents receiving positive feedback, including comments suggesting her book was too regional for agents to sell nationally. However, Debbie’s purpose was not for national fame. She wanted California’s school children to learn to love studying history as much as she enjoyed writing about it. She hoped she would find a local press that felt the same way.   

“I’ve always had a soft spot for that middle grade age when we start learning history,” Debbie said. “I also recalled being the third daughter in my family. I would be excited learning something new at school and want to share it with my parents and sisters, but I was always frustrated because they had already learned it.” 

Sara faces similar frustrations until she meets her new friends in “Deetjen’s Closet.”

Once Debbie settled on her publishing plan, she became more strategic to get the book out. She selected generative artist, Kelly Black to design the cover and contracted with Brian Schwartz’s professional author support business, Wise Owl Media Group. He’s guided her progress formatting the book for print and digital publication and recommended future marketing opportunities to secure readership and sales. On her own Debbie researched and selected a New York City-based content editor, Sangeeta Mehta.

“That was money very well spent,” Debbie said. She became a vital, energetic member of my team showing me where I could broaden the plot line, add complexity and color, and bring the entire story up to its highest level.”

And then, suddenly just like magic something, awesome happened for Debbie and “Deetjen’s Closet.” She met with Linna Thomas, the owner of Coalesce Book Store, who, on rare occasions in the past, has helped to publish local books under her imprint, Coalesce Press. Linna offered to read the manuscript. She not only loved the book, but also enthusiastically offered to publish it.  

“It was my dream come true,” said Debbie. “I am so honored to have Coalesce Press recognized on the cover and inside as the publisher of my book.”

And, full disclosure, early on, “Deetjen’s Closet” was reviewed chapter after chapter as Debbie wrote them. She is one of the four columnists that writes EBN’s Out & About with the Bookshelf Writers. Kiki Kornreich, Susan Vasquez, Brian Schwartz and I have lived and loved witnessing Debbie’s journey writing and birthing her first published book.

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