Debby Handrich is known to her fans in Seattle as Coach Debby, radio host, podcaster and life coach specializing in helping aspiring writers bring their passion from their hearts to the written page. Her story begins as many writers' stories do, with a lonely childhood brought on by a condition over which she had no control, leading her to create her own world by writing stories. Today, she is a successful writing coach whose clients seek her out for help writing something as simple as a letter to a full-blown book. Her humanity and optimism make her a joy to listen to in this episode. Debby has a weekly radio show on 1150 KKNW, Seattle, and a website filled with inspiration.Buzzsprout - Let's get your podcast launched!
Hello and welcome to The Independent Author podcast. I’m Tom Kranz. What’s the secret to getting what’s inside your heart onto a page? My guest today specializes in just that. Debby Handrich is known to her legions of fans in Seattle as Coach Debby. She has a regular Thursday talk show on Seattle’s 1150 KKNW radio. She also has a podcast and a website, all dedicated to teaching aspiring writers how to transform their feelings, their truth and their passion to the written word.
Music up and under
:45 Tom Kranz
Debbie Hendrich started out in the writing world writing and teaching. And over the years, she became a life coach and somehow was able to merge those two disciplines into a business, in which she, I guess primarily is a writing coach getting what's inside your head in your heart out onto the page on the computer screen. Is that right, Deb?
That's right. That's absolutely right.
And how long have you been doing this coaching? I started full-time only a few years ago, but writing in teaching. I was a college professor starting in the 90s and it was my desire to bring a little more spirit into it. So, I started my own business.
Okay. And at some point you decided or you thought, you felt that being a life coach was a kind of a stepping stone for you or an evolution for you. Tell me how that happened. That, that growth from your interest in writing.
I love your word evolution. I honestly think, Tom I just have always felt born to teach. I love stories. I loved my students, and I can't even express how much I hated grading. I thought it was just a time-suck on my energy because students weren't there to be graded. They were there for a journey of helping them understand how writing was working in their own life story and their life path. And it just really came to a head for me and I felt more of a calling to evaluate where people want to go and what they want to do with their life. I started to see it more holistically and then I fell in love with a man who said I think you want to be a life coach and really, that's where it began.
So, it was all about love. Is that what you're telling me here?
It's all about love, Tom, always.
I got to remember that. And so you were a writer, at one point, or you were involved in writing. What kind of stuff were you writing?
3:00 Debby Handrich
As a teen, I was doing journals just to survive on this planet. And somebody said, have you ever thought about fiction writing? Why don't you take these classes? And I started getting little awards for my fiction chapters and things like that. But honestly, Tom, my writing, so much of it ended up on blogs or places where I knew I wouldn't have to compete. It could just be me and my brand and the other half of it is under my bed just all nice and secure and someday I'll do more publishing of my memoir or fiction writing. I've got a great pen name going on. I've always wanted to be known as the teacher that saw the story and you, and that helped you develop. So it was like publishing it, it has its lovely perks. I've worked in publishing. I published plenty of my blog stuff, but my love is teaching.
I hear you about the publishing world and about kind of the mechanics of that whole publishing thing. I had a brief even counter with that in the mid-80s when I wrote a nonfiction book. I was working at a TV station at the time. I wrote a book about a big story we covered and you know I found an agent and she had it for a year and she hustled it for a year and it never sold and then you know years later I got back into writing when my career settled down a little bit and I decided, you know, I really like writing. I like the exercise of writing. I write nonfiction--I'm sorry--write fiction now. So I write novels but I love coming up with stories. I spent 25 plus years in the news business and you can't make stuff up in the news business. There are rails there for journalists, obviously. And so, you know, writing novels and writing creatively was an outlet for me. It sounds to me, like and I read a little bit about your bio here. That writing may have been a little bit of an escape for you. You, you talked a little bit about some bullying that you had to suffer as a kid in school. What's that all about?
5:19 Debby Handrich
I'm really glad you said you loved writing because that's where it started from me was a love for writing and a need for a friend. I needed a friend because I was being so bullied. I'm I know this is only an audio presentation but if people saw me, they would notice right away that my skin is very pale and my hair is very blonde and that's because I'm albino. But what a lot of people don't know is if you have albinism, you have about 20 to 30% of your eyesight. So I was really trying to find a way to be the kid with the thick glasses that didn't abandon myself the way the other kids on the playground, it seemed, did! You know, they were either really rough with me or they acted like I was invisible. Creating characters and creating stories just allowed me to have a world that I made up that was safe. And it turned out I was pretty good at it. But what really, really grew out of that too was that I was spending so much time on my own doing that I just sort of developed like a friendship with myself and acceptance that maybe this is about the only thing I can do well, who knows? You know, that's kind of how teens think, but I had a love for writing and that grew into this desire to teach people. If you have a love for writing, it has a place in the world.
6:58 Tom Kranz
Yeah, absolutely. I interviewed one of the authors I interviewed last year is a young woman from Texas. I think she grew up with some kind of anxiety disorder and she also was bullied in school and her story sounds so similar to yours. As a teenager, she started writing. She was interested in science fiction and fantasy. And now she does this kind of sci-fan thing and she writes those kinds of books. And, you know, on the one hand, it's like it turns you into the person you are today the creative person. And you're obviously thriving and doing okay. But on the other hand, it's kind of sad that as a kid you have to actually revert to this kind of creative world that exists in your brain in your heart. And, I'm saying that's not a bad thing but wouldn't it have been great if you could have done that and have had some friends who could be with you and not, you know, call names or whatever crappy stuff they did to you. It would have been ideal.
Yeah, it would have been ideal. And the great thing is Tom, I have these journals to look back on and remember all. You know, I got invited to that birthday party when I was 16 and hung out with these people. I forgot all about that because my memory tells me that life back then was so so hard. I really am glad that peppered into all that were a few birthday parties. I'm also really glad Tom that I get to have kind of childhood now you know? I have a lot of joy and free spirit in me at age 56 that a lot of my friends, unfortunately, kind of burned that candle out. I think they could rekindle it, of course, every day.
8:56 Tom Kranz
Yeah, as my wife will tell you, I think there's a 16-year-old in me, still trying to scramble out maybe that's not such a good thing all the time in my case. But my question about what you do in terms of your coaching is what when you're coaching a client or somebody who approaches you and says, I want to write a book. I want to write a memoir. I want to write whatever I want to write, what's the first or the biggest hurdle you have to get over with that individual?
I like to spend a fair amount of time, they call them discovery calls where you're discovering that potential client. I really want to find out what they want from this writing. So some people want to get revenge. They're like, look I was in this marriage and I'm going to tell the whole world. I'm not the coach for that person. Some people, they want to make a million dollars next year for sure. I might be the coach for that person, but if that's the number one priority I'm probably not. I find that the biggest hurdle is to see, are they willing now that they've been through something, they're going to write a memoir or they're really going to dedicate themselves to their fiction. Are they willing to see that the hardest part that journey that they were on is behind them? And now, they are in kind of an easier journey. I hate to use the word easy, but it really is where they're learning to listen to the story that wants to come through.
10:38 Tom Kranz
So you believe that every writer, maybe every person, has a story within that is, like, dying to come out and it's just a matter of tapping into that and figuring out how to make that happen?
You made it sound really simple but in the end, yeah. I really believe that the people that are coming to me have been dreaming about writing something for a long time. They haven't told a lot of people. We get that over and over again. You're the second person I've ever said this to in my whole life, or I haven't told anyone. But there's this incredible pressure that if you write 10 words, you had better see it to the end and publish it and make a lot of money and on and on. But actually, there might be a more personal kind of journey that you're on. Maybe you're like my client Judy. She really wants people to understand that if you had a hard time traveling with family and partners in your life, you can learn how to travel as a solo person and have the time of your life. It's what her whole memoir is about. But there's only a certain number of people that are going to pick up that book and what might happen is along the journey of writing your book, you might go there's a lot in the publishing world that I just don't want to do, but I've got all this content. Now, I want to make a blog. I want to make my book. I want to start a podcast on this and there's nothing wrong with that. I really try to help people understand if you're dreaming of a book, it will take you where you want to go, even if it doesn't end up being a book.
Stay right there, folks. More with Coach Debby in just a moment.
12:36 Promo for Buzzsprout
13:25 Tom Kranz
Do you think that people the people who approach want to write for themselves or do they want to write for an audience?
Don't think they are often aware of their audience. I think deep down inside, they want their life to be just a little bit more meaningful and they've been dreaming about a way that it could. And that's usually where we start. But they have to learn along the way that they do have an audience. A book was just a little bit more personal and some of them go on and publish because they want to go through the steps to get there. But a lot of them I'm going to say about 60, 70% of people that come to me, at some point, they go, you know what? Help me find my voice so I can be a better mom or, you know what? This is helped me realize I've got to redo my curriculum at work and they found the answer they were after, and it ended up in, in some cases, almost two out of three, not being a book, and there's nothing wrong with that.
14:40 Tom Kranz
Well, that's really interesting. I'm a former drummer and I love music and I know quite a few musicians and the whole idea of finding your voice and finding who you are and looking at the mirror and figuring out what music--does that guy or that girl in the mirror want to make, you know? What is it that I want to do? That's such a commonality in art, in general, you know, whether you're painting or writing, What is it that I'm here for? You know? And that's really a great message.
It's time. Now for the shameless self-promotion portion of our podcast. Let's say somebody wants to get in touch with you. What's the best way to do it?
15:20 Debby Handrich
I have a website. It's coachdebby.com and it's spelled D-E-B-B-Y. And you just click on connect and send me a little note. You can browse through things there. Honestly, I don't use my website for big bragging rights. I mean, I have some real big awards,
I just wanted to make sure people knew where you lived doing in the cyber area. And so you're a Seattle person but I'm guessing in the Covid world, you're doing pretty much everything either by Zoom or by phone, so anybody's really fair game geographically. So, do you do your radio show from home as well?
Oh no. No, you have to go there.
Okay. Yeah. Interesting. And so the radio station, give us a little bit of the stats of when your show is on and what station it's on and all that.
16:20 Debby Handrich
Yeah, that's a beautiful hour of my week. It's KKNW 1150 in Seattle, Washington. We have a website which is just 1150KKNW.com and you can listen to any of the shows going on. Mine is live every Thursday, 4 o'clock pacific and then we rerun the show on Friday. And honestly, Tom, I mean, I was one of those kids I thought I was going to be a music major. I was listening to Casey Kasem on the radio as a kid played piano and played classical piano. But I wanted to be like, the female Elton John, you know, and it didn't go that way. But one thing that happens, the same guy that that told me you know, you might want to be a life coach taught me also in the early days of our love, he said I got this little radio show going on and why don't you come with me? And I thought hmm, and that's where it all started was life mastery radio with Todd Allen and Coach Debby.
How many years ago? Did you say 10?
Wow, okay. And you're going. I clicked around your website. All your shows from like three years back or more are on the website. Your podcast is available there. So, anybody who's you know, in for like, you know, a nice free consultation, there's lots of Coach Debby to be had.
It's called You Talk Radio. And just between me and you and the listeners. I haven't put the last year's shows on the website because I really want people to subscribe. They just go to my website
Just forget everything I just said about going to the website for the free stuff! I haven't listened to a full show, but do you do, phone calls? Do you have live guests? Or is it just you? Or is it any all the above are there events?
I take phone calls, I think because it's, it's all about writing and your stories and campfires and that people just tend to write in. But absolutely, I do coaching on the air and you're welcome to go by way of my website or anywhere. But I do hope that people will consider subscribing so they can just listen on their phones.
And the radio station streams its air live, I'm just noticing here. So if you go to 1150KKNW.com you can hear your show live and actually anything else that people want to hear on that station. So Coach Debby, I really appreciate it. Slowly but surely we're coming out of the Covid haze and I hope that's going to be good for you too. Anyway, thanks so much Debby. It was great meeting you and I'll be listening and I hope you keep in touch.
Thank you so much, Tom.
All right. Be well,
Music up and out
19:48 Promo for Tom Kranz Books