It’s Saturday, which means it’s time to open up the dance floor to a Guest Deb! Today we welcome Alison Heller, author of THE LOVE WARS. Currently a divorce lawyer, Alison lives in New York with her husband and two young daughters. THE LOVE WARS is her first novel. Here is a little about the book:
Breaking up is hard to do. At least the first few times.
Even though Molly Grant has only a handful of relationships behind her, she’s already been through more divorces than she can count.
At the premier Manhattan law firm where she’s a matrimonial attorney, the hours are long, the bosses tyrannical, and the bonuses stratospheric. Her clients are rich, famous, and used to getting their way. Molly’s job—and primary concern in life—is to work as hard as possible to make sure they do. Until she meets the client who changes everything….
Fern Walker is the desperate former wife of a ruthless media mogul. Her powerful ex is slowly pushing her out of her young children’s lives, and she fears losing them forever. Molly—haunted by an incident from her own past—finds herself unable to walk away from Fern and sets out to help her. She just needs to do it without her bosses finding out.
Now, as complications both professional and personal stack up, Molly can only hope that her own wits, heart, and instincts are enough—both in and out of court.
Alison has offered to do a little Q&A with us this morning, so pull up a chair, curl up with your coffee, and join us in welcoming Alison to the Ball!
As an author have you ever been star struck by meeting one of your favorite authors? If so who was it?
I met Susan Isaacs once briefly in upstate New York. I’m a huge fan of hers, but out of respect for the fact that she was on vacation with her family, I tried to play it cool. (Not really a strength of mine, playing it cool, but I think it went alright.)
Do you prefer to write during the day or during the night?
In an ideal world, I would wake up, have a lovely fortifying breakfast and, clean and alert, sit at the computer with a perfect music playlist. (All other noise would be obliterated through a cone of silence.) In reality, I write whenever I can, except late at night. I generally shut down at eight p.m., and to accomplish anything after that—writing or otherwise—I have to be pushed beyond my normal level of motivation (i.e., scared of missing a deadline or completely in the throes of the story.)
When becoming an author, did you have any speed bumps along the way? If so, how did you overcome them?
Yes, for sure – perhaps the biggest speed bump to becoming an author was those thirteen years I focused solely on getting a law degree and being a lawyer. (What was a I thinking?) I’m kidding, of course (a little bit). I still enjoy lawyering, but there’s something very satisfying about the creative outlet of writing.
Even after clearing away the space and time to write, there have been bumps along the way – rejections and self-doubt and frustrations with everything from the writing process to some industry practices. Overcoming them, thus far, has been pretty simple. I just listen to that little voice that wants to keep writing and continue, however slowly, over the speed bumps.
What 5 things do you have to have with you when you are writing?
Very pertinent question! I live in New York City where space is at a premium. My writing desk is the size of a postage stamp and in my bedroom, so I take to the streets a lot and before today might have answered this question by saying, just my computer. After today, when I sat at a coffee shop completely surrounded on all sides by vocal and enthusiastic Italian tourists (seriously, about 12 of them, all with shiny hair and lovely scarves), I revise. I need:
1. Background noise not to exceed 110 passionate decibels
2. My computer
3. My phone, to rest my fears that nothing is happening to one of my children while I’m absorbed writing
4. The Internet for quick research and breaks
5. Pants. I think I would be distracted otherwise.
What is next on your plate?
I have a book coming out through Penguin/NAL next year and I’m really excited about it. And I’ve started drafting the next one after that.
Thanks so much for joining us, Alison!
Alison has offered to give away a copy of THE LOVE WARS to one lucky reader (US only)! Just tell us in the comments — have *you* ever had a tyrannical boss?
Visit Alison’s web site Find Alison on Facebook Follow Alison on Twitter
The Debutante Ball wishes each and every mother a very happy Mother’s Day!
From the 2013 Debs…
Deb Kerry is very excited about Amy’s release of THE GLASS WIVES!!! Also, she will be signing books at the Barnes & Noble in Spokane Valley on Sunday, May 18th.
Deb Susan received a splendid review from Kirkus, who called CLAWS OF THE CAT “an absorbing look at Japanese culture, along with a sharp mystery.” Yes, I did the happy dance!
Deb Dana cannot wait to celebrate Deb Amy’s launch of THE GLASS WIVES this week!
Deb Amy AAK! THE GLASS WIVES goes on sale TUESDAY!
Past Deb News
Kirkus reviews called Deb Erika Marks’s THE GUEST HOUSE “A satisfying read that evokes the leisurely warmth of long summer days and true connection.” Congratulations, Deb Erika!
Deb Tawna Fenske’s next romantic comedy has an official title – in 2014, look for Deb Tawna to tell us exactly why SIZE MATTERS
Congratulations to Deb Friend Erika Robuck, whose new novel, CALL ME ZELDA, released last week!
Deb Dish – How has your mom – or being a mom – helped you on your writing journey?
Deb Amy: I thought, no I knew, that for my kids to see me doing something important to me, that I enjoyed, that had nothing to do with them, was really important. It wasn’t the motivation to start writing again, more of a benefit. We always want our kids to pursue their passions and I believe my kids often enjoyed seeing me pursue mine, especially as they got older!
Deb Kerry: My mom read to me, every day, from as far back as I can remember right up until the day I informed her I would be reading my own books from now on. Besides teaching me a great love for books, she also taught me that I could do or be anything if I put my mind to it. I’ve tried to pass these things on to my own kids.
Deb Susan: Like Deb Kerry, I had a mom who read to me every single day – often for far more minutes than grown-up me can believe. When I wrote my first (horrific) manuscript in high school, she supported me every step of the way. She paid for me to attend my first writer’s conference (shortly after I graduated from college) because I couldn’t afford it on my own. Most of all, she believed in me every step of the way – which is why I dedicated Claws of the Cat to her. No one could deserve it more.
Deb Dana: From the time I was a little girl, my mom has always been supportive of my dreams and passions, whether it’s been writing or cooking or playing the flute. In middle and high school — and even occasionally in college — I would ask her to read my papers or stories, and she would always oblige, even when she had a zillion things of her own to do. What I most appreciated was her honesty. If what I’d written was fabulous she’d say so, but if it wasn’t my best work, she’d tell me that, too (though kindly). That way, if she raved about something, I knew she meant it — and that what I’d written was actually good and not just good in a mother’s eyes. As a new mother (9 weeks and counting!), I hope I can give my son that same gift of supportive honesty.
Your Turn!! We’d love to hear about your mom, or your experience being one!
Please join us in welcoming author Caroline Leavitt to the Ball this weekend! Caroline is the New York Times bestselling author of PICTURES OF YOU, which was one of the best Books of 2011 from the San Francisco Chronicle, The Providence Journal, Bookmarks and Kirkus. Her new novel IS THIS TOMORROW is a May Indie Next Pick, that Vanity Fair has called “riveting.” You can find more about her at carolineleavitt.com.
Since we’ve been talking covers all week, Caroline decided to give us her take on cover art. Take it away, Caroline!
Can you tell a book by its cover?
Covers count. That’s the truth. But the other truth is that often they are out of your hands. Covers are actually a marketing decision and sometimes what the author wants is not what the publisher has in mind. The sales force weighs in, the top honchos. Everyone wants your book to sell as much as you do. I had even heard rumors that the head book buyer at Barnes and Noble would weigh in on a cover, as well.
I’ve been lucky with most of my covers, though no one has ever asked my advice until I got to Algonquin. For my novel Coming Back to Me, the hardcover was this dark beauty. It looked like an Edward Hopper painting of a young father feeding a bottle to baby late at night in a diner. Behind him, the night sky was spangled with stars. Perfect, right? But for the paperback, they went in a softer direction. The cover was pink and green, with a bathrobe hanging on a hook and in an inset of a GQ looking smiling guy carrying flowers. Now, in this particular book, the main male character was taking care of his newborn child because his wife was mysteriously ill. There was no way on earth he’d be smiling! I called my agent upset. She called the publisher but they refused to change anything except to make the guy’s smile a little less bright. Ever since then, when people ask about that book, I show them only the hardcover. That terrible paperback still haunts me.
You want a cover that will make people curious. You want a cover that has something to do with the novel itself. I loved the cover of my novel Girls in Trouble about open adoption, which showed a pair of young legs walking on a fence, but I would have loved it more if the legs were so disembodied, if there had been a whole figure.
When I got to Algonquin, I told them how I worried about my covers and they assured me that I would never have to have a cover I hated. And they asked my input. They showed me sketches and gave me choices.
For Is This Tomorrow, my editor and I knew we wanted something eerie, haunting and literary. I kept seeing an image of a boy running across a lawn, maybe in shadow. Andra, my editor, thought that might not be unique enough. And then I found a photograph, black and white, 1950s looking, of a mother and three kids looking up at the eclipse with special glasses! It even had the right sexes of the kids to fit in with my novel! Even better, Andra happened to know the photographer. I thought everything was all set, but then Andra called a few weeks later to tell me they were going in another direction and would I take a look.
Of course I was panicked.
But then I saw the cover. An eerie, unsettling image of two hands holding a box, and inside the box–right there–is the running boy I wanted. The whole cover, too, was this strange suburban green. Like grass on a hot summer day. I loved it. In fact, the truth is, I loved it so much, I bought a spring coat to match it, and I’m now wearing it on tour.
From the 2013 Debs…
Deb Kerry has been having an absolute blast at both C2E2 in Chicago, and the Romantic Times convention in Kansas City. For your viewing pleasure, a glimpse of the C2E2 insanity, courtesy of author Alex Bledsoe.
Deb Dana has some exciting news to share soon…but can’t tell you quite yet…
Deb Kelly is excited about her Kirkus review that goes live today. Hint: They liked it, they really liked it!
Deb Susan is delighted to announce another signing for CLAWS OF THE CAT – July 18, 2013 at 6:30pm at Face in a Book bookstore, El Dorado Hills, California! You can find all Deb Susan’s signings here!
Past Deb News
Deb Joanne Levy has opened JL Author Services, a full-service virtual assistant service specializing in author marketing, scheduling, and other ways to help authors operate the business side of a writing career. Click the link for details!
Deb Sara Jio’s first novel, THE VIOLETS OF MARCH, made the USA Today Bestseller list this week. Congratulations, Deb Sarah!
Deb Dish – Happy Release Week, Deb Amy! Tell us: what did you like best about THE GLASS WIVES?
Deb Amy: Oh dear! What I like best is getting to share it with everyone!
Deb Dana: I loved so much about this book, but I particularly connected with the references to Jewish culture and the way Amy reflected that culture in everything from the grieving process to the concept and role of family.
Deb Kelly: I love the friendships, in all their nuance.
Deb Kerry: I especially loved Amy’s depiction of the grieving process – so very real and from the heart – but with hope and healing in sight.
Deb Susan: I loved the complexity of Amy’s story and the way her protagonist struggles with realistic emotional challenges – it seemed like reading about real people instead of fictitious characters.
Your Turn!! Have you read THE GLASS WIVES? We’d love to hear your thoughts!
We are excited to be sharing the blog with Marci Nault today. Marci is the author of THE LAKE HOUSE, available next week everywhere books are sold. She’s also the creator of 101dreamscometrue.com, an inspiring site that will have you dreaming of life lists and wondering what you might be capable of reaching for–not someday but today. Today, Marci shares a very inspiring reflection on her debut process and the powerful connection between risk-takers.
I’m honored to guest blog today on the Debutante Ball. I’m a Deb this year, and I’ve come to this site many times to read the Deb’s blogs.
In my debut novel, The Lake House, the main character, Victoria Rose, leaves behind the man she loves and her close community of friends for a bigger life at the age of nineteen. Afraid her family will never accept her choice of becoming an actress in Hollywood, she stays away until at seventy-four she comes home with tremendous regret and the desperate need to make amends.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about what happens to a woman when she chooses a different path. With all our advancement in the world women still expect certain behavior from other women.
Five years ago, my life turned upside down and instead of fighting for the man I’d planned on marrying I chose to pursue my own dreams. I made a life-list of 101 Dreams Come True that I wanted to experience; to live in Tuscany; raft the Futaleufu in Chile; go to private parties in Napa; travel the world solo; become a published author; and many more. I wanted to experience the adventures that characters had shown me through many wonderful novels.
When I chose this path many women supported me when they thought I was in my early twenties, but when I told them that I was in my mid-thirties they were confrontational. “You know no man will want you after a certain age. You’re eggs are getting older, don’t you want children? You’re going to regret this decision someday.”
My close friends and family made jokes about me never marrying and no matter how much I loved my life it always came down to the question, “So do you even have a boyfriend? You better choose a man fast or you’ll be alone forever.” These words plagued my decision to follow my journey, but they didn’t stop me.
I write this here, because it’s rather appropriate when talking about Debs. There was a time when women were presented to society in the hopes of finding a suitable husband to take care of them and their placement in life was who they married. Now, we present each other to society as artists, writers, businesswomen, and those simply taking chances.
For me, the most exciting part of being a debut novelist has been the support of other writers. Instead of clamoring for position and pushing each other down, we support one another with blogs like this one, tweets and Facebook posts, buying our writing friends’ books, and giving encouragement when needed. Everyday I picture the other female writers I’ve met all standing at the edge of a cliff wearing parachutes and holding hands. We run together towards the edge with the attitude – I jump, you jump, but no one has to jump alone.
I wonder how Victoria’s story would’ve changed if her friends had accepted her decision, known that she loved them even though she had to do her own thing. There’s a moment between Victoria and the man she left behind, Joseph, when he explains why her friends are so angry with her:
“You’ve suffered so deeply and lived fuller than anyone I know. Not one of us ever left the safety of this place. When someone lives as brightly as you, it’s hard for all of us in the shadows, because it reminds us of the dreams and chances we didn’t take. That’s where the real anger lies.”
I know other women are concerned about my happiness but do their comments also come from their own fear about what they haven’t done?
I believe that the reason female writers are so comfortable holding hands and helping one another is because we know what it means to take that risk, put ourselves out there standing a little naked before the world, and to try to live as brightly as we can.
Preorder THE LAKE HOUSE at your favorite bookseller, and don’t miss a visit to Marci’s terrific website here: http://101dreamscometrue.com/wordpress/
From the 2013 Debs…
Deb Dana had a blast with former Deb Sarah Pekkanen at One More Page last week! Here are a few photos from the event. So much fun!
Deb Kelly‘s launch party has been set for July 12th in Madison, WI! Save the date!
Deb Susan now has a third scheduled reading and signing for Claws of the Cat! She’ll be at Face in a Book bookstore in El Dorado Hills, California (just outside Sacramento) on July 18, 2010 at 6:30 pm- hope to see you there!
Deb Kerry is at the C2E2 con in Chicago, along with Superman, various storm troopers, furry creatures, and a group of wonderful writers. This afternoon she’ll be on a panel with Amber Benson, Christina Henry, and Anne Bishop.
Past Deb News
Deb Joanne Levy‘s SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE has been chosen as a 2013 Sydney Taylor Notable Book – and is also a nominee for the 2014 Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award – congratulations Deb Joanne!
Deb Kristina Riggle’s upcoming novel, THE WHOLE GOLDEN WORLD, is now available for pre-order … more details here.
Deb Dish – Tell us something about yourself most people might not know!
Deb Dana: I sang and played the flute in high school (not at the same time…) and competed in all sorts of music competitions. I made all-region choir and band, which was exactly as dorky as it sounds. But I totally loved it.
Deb Kelly: I can play the ukulele! Badly, but with great enthusiasm.
Deb Susan: I am allergic to fish … but not to shellfish. Which means, not only do I have the inverted (and far less common) form of the allergy, but most of the inhabitants of my reef could actually kill me, if I was silly enough to eat them.
Deb Kerry: Following along with the musical trend (since fish and I have a normal relationship), I played the tuba in high school and my first year of college. Which, as Dana says, may be dorky but was a ton of fun and allowed me to go on band trips to far and interesting places.
Your Turn!! We’d love to hear something interesting, and unusual, about you!
From the 2013 Debs…
Deb Dana is super excited for her event this Thursday with former Deb Sarah Pekkanen at One More Page in Arlington, VA! The event begins at 7:00 — come one, come all!
Deb Susan will be speaking at the Auburn Book Affair in Auburn, California next Saturday, April 27. Hope to see you there!
Deb Kerry will be at C2E2 in Chicago next weekend, and on Sunday she will be on a panel called FOES, FANGS, and FURY with Anne Bishop, Amber Benson, and Christina Henry.
Deb Dish – What part of your writing have you struggled the hardest to improve?
Deb Amy: I am sometimes pronoun challenged and often punctuation possessed. Meaning, I screw up the mechanics of things on early drafts, which makes for a lot more work on the revision front. Trying to temper my comma-love, keep track of he’s and she’s, and keep my em-dashes to a minimum. Maybe.
Deb Dana: Raising the stakes. I’m better at that now, but I often want to protect my protagonist, and that’s the wrong impulse for a good plot!
Deb Kerry: Plot. Oh, and apparently world building. I’m learning that if you’re going to write a trilogy in a complicated new world it would probably be smart to develop the world before you write the first book.
Deb Susan: I struggle with passive constructions, especially in early drafts. I have to stay on my toes to keep things active!
Your Turn!! Tell us what you struggle to improve – writing-related or otherwise!