Donna Marie's Peace & Poetry

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Winning Millions! Author Debbie T. Kilday

Debbie Tosun Kilday is the author of several books ranging from poetry to gambling. What a variety!

Debbie, writers often work in a number of genres, but a nonfiction book about how you made millions at casinos and books of poetry seem like they require two different mindsets. How does your approach or writing process differ depending on the genre?
I am a very intense and passionate person, meaning that I don’t take anything I do lightly. Life is short. This mindset is reflected in my work. When I write it doesn’t matter what the genre may be. I try to put my whole being into everything I do. I also try to put myself in the other person’s shoes. To me, writing is all about how the reader will feel after reading it. If I am able to touch a part of people that helps them know they are not alone or different, and that there are others struggling just as they are, I have done a good job of writing.

Even your poetry books are different. Farmington River Reflections focuses on the beauty of nature, pairing poems with photographs, while Tantric Love Suicide is more about intense personal emotions. What prompted you to write each?
My first book, Farmington River Reflections: My Photographic Journey & Meditations, came about while walking along the Farmington River taking pictures with my camera. As I walked, I would see different animals and people and think about all kinds of things that were happening in my life or had happened in my past. At the same time, I also joined two groups, Free Poets Collective and the OLLI Poetry group. After going to events and listening to others reciting their poetry, I started to write my own poems.

Can you give us a sample of your favorite poem from each of those books and the story behind them?
From Farmington River Reflections, “Our Two Eyes Met” (© 2009) is a poem about how sometimes when you meet someone for the first time you feel like you have known that person all your life or you want to get to know him or her. You feel an instant connection that you cannot explain or make sense of.

“Our Two Eyes Met”
by Debbie Tosun Kilday

Our two eyes met
I saw a soul
I recognize from long ago.

We are not strangers though we just met
Lost from worlds’ past
We now connect.

What connected us, meeting for the first time?
Was it a look or a feeling?

How do you recognize a familiar soul?
I would have to say
I felt it, but saw it in your eyes.

I do not want to lose you again
But how do I claim you?

I don’t even know your name
Do you feel the same?

How many lifetimes did we spend together?
I do not know.

Our two eyes met
I saw a soul
I recognize from long ago.

You seem to recognize me too.
You smiled and are approaching.

Maybe the connection is never broken, just delayed.
All I know is a feeling.

Whether it’s cosmic or earthly,
I will explore you, my new and old friend.

And from Tantric Love Suicide, this is a poem (© 2013) about longing to return. It doesn’t matter whether it is a longing to return to a place, a feeling, or a person. It is that place in your heart called home.

“Your Heart, My Home”
by Debbie Tosun Kilday

I long to return
To my home, your heart

There doesn’t seem to be
Any place I’d rather be

Without my home
I’m a drifter

No place
To rest my weary soul

There doesn’t seem to be
Any place I’d rather be

Let me return
To where I belong

Your heart, my home

Yes, I think those poems describe how we sometimes sense an instant connection with someone and also our own personal definitions of “home.” Wooden Branches, however, appears to be told entirely through photographs, no text. Is this correct?
In Wooden Branches: Leaf Tree Friends, I chose to just include my photographs of some of my favorite trees in different seasons. There are no words, just the photographs showing the beauty of trees.




Moving away from poetry, No Limits: How I Beat the Slots is about your years playing the slots in both Connecticut and Las Vegas casinos, in which you also offer readers practical tips on winning. That in itself is interesting enough, but then you gave your millions away! What prompted you to do that and what organizations or people have benefited from your generosity?
I never stepped into a casino until the age of 50. I was brought up to believe that gambling and gamblers were no good. My best friend of 25 years was dying of brain cancer and asked me to take her to her favorite place, Mohegan Sun Casino. In the twenty-five years I had known her, I never knew she went to a casino. When I asked her about it, her response was, “You will understand once you go there and the stigma that is attached to gambling and gamblers.” In my first five months, I won $400,000, which I gave to my best friend to help her with her medical treatments. It wasn’t a lump sum. It was a bunch of little wins given to her as I won each. I only played slot machines, not table games or video poker. It was after those first five months of playing that my friend passed away. During that time I did not know why I was winning so much money. My friend called me her angel for helping her. Before she died I made a promise to her and myself. I promised that if I continued to win, I would also continue to help others in need. I kept that promise. I mostly work anonymously helping those in greater need than me. I also give to the different charitable events that take place at Mohegan Sun. It is something I feel driven to do, not talk about. I actually feel uncomfortable talking about it.

What a wonderful promise to keep! Would you ever consider playing the slots again to pay off some of your own debts or use your winnings to start your own charity?
As far as paying off my own debt by using my gift, a gift I consider only to use to help others, I do not believe in doing that. I took two years off from going to any casino during the writing of the book No Limits. After the book came out, I kept away for another year. The reason I started going back was because I was invited to a big charitable event at Mohegan Sun. As far as creating my own charity, I don’t feel the need at this time. Giving and being charitable is something I feel everyone should be doing every day. It doesn’t have to be only about money. You can also give your time, show kindness, compassion, or anything else you may have to offer.

I agree. What a different world it would be if we could all help someone every day! In order for people to hear about No Limits and your other books, though, you need to do your own promotion, something that is a considerable challenge for many authors. How do you get the word out?
I promote myself by just being myself. I am a regular person. I never really try to promote my work or brag about my accomplishments. I may mention it if asked, but I feel it is more important to listen, communicate, work, build friendships, and try to help others.

Communication and building friendships are definitely key aspects of marketing and an important part of life in general. Turning from the business end back to the writing, what is the hardest part about writing for you?
The hardest part of writing is feeling inspired to continue when faced with other responsibilities in life.

Your favorite part about writing?
Sharing a part of myself and my life with the world. Others should not be afraid to share themselves and their stories. Everyone has problems but they shouldn’t have to feel they must hide their experiences for fear of rejection by others.

In addition to writing, you are the president of CAPA (CT Authors and Publishers Association). What are you hoping to accomplish in this new role?
My goal is to make CAPA and its members grow, thrive, and succeed by creating opportunities that will make that happen.

Having a strong network is vital. How can CT authors find out more about joining CAPA?
Go to our website at or come to one of our four different meeting locations held each month. Additional info is on our website.

Share one surprising fact about Debbie T. Kilday.
As much as I find myself in the public eye, I am really a shy person and don’t like being in the limelight that much.


Anything you’d like to add?
Strive to be beyond what others perceive you to be, by striving beyond the limits of yourself.

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! Readers who are interested in learning more or in purchasing one of Debbie’s books can go to

2 comments on “Winning Millions! Author Debbie T. Kilday

  1. Kathy O.
    October 27, 2014

    Great post. We at love this: “Our two eyes met … I saw a soul … I recognize from long ago.”

  2. Joanna
    October 27, 2014

    I love this poem! And what an interesting and inspirational life!

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