As a young girl Debra Engle would put together newspaper and magazine articles with her neighbor.
The duo would go on to be the editors of the Des Moines Hoover High School yearbook.
Engle would eventually find herself working for The Des Moines Register and Meredith Corp. in the marketing department and as an editor or writer.
Now she has three books published, her first novel is set to be released in 2018 and she’s constantly traveling to work with writers locally and around the world on their book, screenplay or manuscript.
“There’s always so much going on,” Engle says laughing.
Her home is her office
Engle lives with her husband on a spacious property just outside of Winterset and as hectic as her schedule is, her property is anything but hectic.
Just as Engle likes it.
“I spend a lot of time communicating with my own inner guidance,” Engle explains. “And people will call that a lot of different things but what’s great is being in this quiet atmosphere where I can hear it and pay attention to it, then try to follow it.”
Engle describes herself as an author, then as a speaker and then a workshop facilitator.
“My office really is the whole property, sometimes I’m on the porch, deck, I’ll take a walk. Whatever it takes to get some inspiration and a flow going.”
A writing whisperer
Engle attends writing retreats across the world and hosts writers at her home in Winterset.
In October she will travel to France and Chicago, Ill. and will host a writer from Rhode Island in November.
“I get to work with people in a very creative environment, people who have great ideas,” Engle says. “But also here locally, I work with small writing groups. So wherever it is I just feel really fortunate to use both my interest in writing and personal development that way.”
She doesn’t consider herself a book doctor, rather a teacher who personalizes her curriculum for each student.
Engle uses skill builders to help aspiring authors understand how to write a scene, dialogue between characters, character development and organization.
She says writers can try to say too much in their books.
“Work on getting at the core message and who is the one person that you are writing this for,” Engle explains. “Think of that one person you are writing this for and believe you are having a conversation with them across the table. The writing becomes so much more personal, it becomes a conversation, it will be you instead of you trying to perform or say what other people want you to say.”
Engle has done some adjunct work as a college professor but called it frustrating because she loves working one-on-one with writers.
“Then to customize the help that they need, that’s what I truly love,” Engle said. “It was frustrating in front of the classroom, because I didn’t feel like I could do it in as complete a way.”