We have said it in many ways an with many words over the past few days, but the 2008 Debutantes (Gail Konop Baker, Jenny Gardiner, Lisa Daily, Danielle Younge-Ullman, Jess Riley and Eileen Cook!) would like to thank you, our readers and community here, for a wonderful year. We have experienced untold support and generosity from so many of you and had a wonderful time sharing our debut year(s) with you. Thank you for being a part of it.
We are also thrilled and excited about the 2009 Debutantes, Eve Brown-Waite, Tiffany Baker, Katie Alender, Kristina Riggle and Meredith Cole. We leave The Ball in your capable (gloved) hands and look forward to getting to know you and watching you launch your careers. You’re in for a wild and crazy dance…
Deb Danielle (about to be Founder Danielle!) has received some great reviews for Falling Under in the past few weeks.
Cheryl, at Cheryl’s Book Nook, says: “Danielle Younge-Ullman definitely did not hold back. She came out swinging to produce a wonderful and amazing book in Falling Under.” See the entire review here.
And from Book Chic: “This debut is absolutely phenomenal and barely reads like a debut novel. It’s an emotional tour de force and very realistic in Younge-Ullman’s portrayal of main character Mara and her life.” Check out the site for both the review and a Q&A.
The inimitable Andrea Frazer at GoodHousekeeping.com wrote a fascinating review/article (“Bad Boy Sex-Why Does Wrong Feel So Right?”) around some of the issues raised in Falling Under, and also called Falling Under “hard hitting and explosive, with a raw energy that left me breathless.”
And in case you missed it a few weeks ago, Writer Unboxed posted a great two-part interview plus excerpt from Falling Under. Check it out, here.
You can also now find Danielle (sort of, and very casually) at her own blog where she has an archive (with links!) to many of her favorite Debutante Ball posts and will be writing about…well…we’ll see.
Deb Lisa Daily adopted a new dog last week: Meet Zeus.
Deb Founders News:
Founder Debutante Mia King is celebrating the release of her second novel, SWEET LIFE, this Tuesday, September 2nd! It’s a featured alternate for the Doubleday, Literary Guild, and Book of the Month Club book clubs. Founder Mia has an amazing give-away going on and is giving away extra entries for people who buy her book on Sept 2nd. Visit her website at www.miaking.com for more details.
Some exciting news for Deb Friend and Co-founder of www.writersunboxed.com–she has sold her novel! (BTW, this was happening in the midst of Therese doing her interview with Deb Danielle) Here is the announcement: “Therese Walsh’s UNBOUNDED, about an accomplished professor of languages whose grief over the loss of her twin has isolated her from her friends and family; when she impulsively purchases a keris — a Javanese weapon imbued with legendary powers — she embarks on a mesmerizing journey from New York to Rome, following the mysterious provenance of the dagger, which will ultimately lead her to the truth about her sister’s tragic past, to Sarah Knight at Shaye Areheart Books, in a major deal, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, for publication in fall 2009, by Elisabeth Weed.” Woo hoo! Congrats Therese!
It is with great pleasure that I introduce the 2008 Debutante season’s final guest author, Kate Veitch. Kate and I met recently at Books Inc in San Francisco where I read from Falling Under, she read from Without A Backward Glance, we held a Q&A and then hung out afterward with some friends and fellow debs. I loved Without A Backward Glance–it is deep and powerful with vivid, complex characters and beautifully nuanced writing. In addition, Kate is a great reader, a lovely, intelligent woman and Serious Fun. (she’d better come to the Deb Utopia of my Thursday post!)
I am posting her official bio below the post, but let’s get to Kate herself…
Let me begin with a grateful curtsey, for I’m honored to be Guest Deb-in-the-Middle at this wonderful Ball, at such a significant moment. Liminal Deb, that’s how I think of myself, standing in the doorway watching one lot of lovelies leave the dance floor, nursing blisters and a wealth of stories, as a new group sashays forth, tiaras sparkling. “What a year you’ve had!” I murmur to the debs departing, “And what a year you’re about to have!” to those just stepping forward.
I should know. I’ve been a deb myself — twice! My recent deb experience in North America has been so very different to that in my native Australia as to be like a first time. (And I thought you could never be a virgin again!) At home, everything that is not meant to happen with a debut novel, happened — the manuscript scooped promptly from an agent’s slush pile, snapped up by a big publisher, featured book in Australia’s biggest women’s magazine, reviews and interviews up the wahzoo. It was unbelievable. The day I opened the weekend paper in my hometown of Melbourne and saw my book, LISTEN, on the bestseller list, I was so startled I literally fell off the sofa. Then, that thrilling news: an American publisher. Oh boy oh boy!
And now, ladies and gentlemen, having debuted for the second time — same book, different title: WITHOUT A BACKWARD GLANCE — I know what the more usual first-time author experience is like. Here, I’m just a teeny little fish in a very, very big pond. Australia’s population is one-fifteenth that of America’s, and the flood of new books released in the US is relentless. I went into the Barnes and Noble store on Union Square in New York City, rode the escalators up through floor after floor of books to find my little offering tucked away in the deepest recesses of the fiction maze, and felt discouraged almost to the point of tears. Why in the world would anyone choose to buy and read my book, I asked myself, when it had received no media attention, and another couple of thousand titles are pouring onto the shelves each week?
In late July I went on tour, feeling like a hatchling turtle scuttling down the beach toward an unimaginably vast and unknown ocean. My lowest point: the reading at an out-of-the-way bookstore in Austin Texas attended by just one person, a gal I’d met at a bar the night before. (Donna, my lone star — thank you!) The high: sharing a reading in San Francisco with Deb Danielle, with Debs Jess, Lisa and Jenny and a goodly show of other folks there too, cheering us on. You could truly say we had a ball! And over after-drinks we moaned luxuriantly about publishers, publicists, book covers, media, and anything else that came to mind. Just like new mothers; it was so good to talk honestly to other women, all going through the same exhilarating, anxiety-inducing, often painful experience.
My epiphany came a few days later, after a reading at the fabled Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver. A couple attended whom I’d met for ten minutes in Bali, months before, and as we talked (yes, again over drinks: reading from your novel is thirsty work!) they told me why they’d hired a babysitter for the evening, even though their son is sixteen: he has severe cerebral palsy. As they told me, with love and calm dignity, about how their son’s condition has changed their lives, I felt all my anxiety about my foundering literary debut just melt away. So my book wasn’t going to be the hit in the US that it had been in Australia — so what? Look at how lucky I am, to have achieved something once only dreamed of. Enjoy! Smell the roses!
For the rest of the tour I felt touched by grace. I met wonderful people, and had a marvelous time. In Portland, Ann Patchett, whose droll and incredibly timely article about the trials of book tour in August’s Atlantic Monthly had given me heart, read the night before me at the great Powells bookstore and — imagine this! — I got to sign their Visiting Authors book on the page opposite her. Then, just before I got on the train to Seattle, I received an email from my agent in New York. She’d just had a call from my publisher to say how thrilled they were with the sales of WITHOUT A BACKWARD GLANCE. 30,000 copies shipped! 3,000 in the previous week alone! In its third printing! My jaw fell open and stayed that way. I had to read that email 47 times before I believed it. And then I started to get reviews — good reviews! Here, you can read them for yourself, on the MEDIA page: www.kateveitch.com
So, what have I learned from my North American debut? That, like that little turtle scuttling for the ocean, we owe it to our creativity, our art, our writing, our lives, to give it everything we possibly can. Why be half-hearted? There’s a lot of hungry fish out there: swim like mad! And what advice might I give all you dear and beautiful and talented Debs, both those passing their tiaras on and those about to step onto the floor? Simply, to remember always how lucky we are to be at this wonderful Ball. A curtsey to the orchestra, to the chaperones, to our fellow dancers and to those who are so kind as to applaud our efforts, for we’re all in this together.
Thank you for inviting me. And may your dance card always be full!
Kate Veitch was born in Adelaide in the mid-1950s and left home and school early, eager for color and movement. Her work over the years includes writing articles and reviews for the Sydney Morning Herald and Vogue, collaborating with other mothers on Feeling Our Way, a book about becoming parents, and producing a series on women writers, Their Brilliant Careers, for Radio National. She lives part-time in Manhattan and part-time in Melbourne, while she and her partner build a home for themselves in northern New South Wales. Without a Backward Glance is her first novel. To read more about Kate, go to www.kateveitch.com.
Thanks for stopping by my archive page. As of now, there’s not much here (besides this!), but I’d love for you to drop by my website. See you on Fridays. And thanks for having me.
When I read Danielle’s post yesterday, I just shook my head. How on earth was I going to follow that? And this was only a fitting reaction, because I had the same one after reading her FIRST post last fall.
Lately I’ve been describing Driving Sideways as a twisted update on The Wizard of Oz, so forgive me if the next few paragraphs are all “Dorothy saying good-bye to the Tin Man and Company before she gets on the hot air balloon.”
To Gail, the first Deb that I met face-to-face: Without knowing me more than a month, you graciously invited me to attend the Wisconsin Book Festival and stay at your house. You introduced me to your friends, put an organic chocolate on my pillow, and your thoughtful son made me a veggie omelet for breakfast the next morning. I so enjoyed getting to know you; you are funny, lovely and kind, and I feel incredibly lucky that we only live about an hour from one another. I don’t mean that in a stalking way, either. But don’t worry, you’re totally stalker-worthy. I mean, if I were a stalker … not that I’d want you to have one … I think I should just move on here.
Jenny, I first saw you in your trademark hot pink chatting with a group of friends in the lobby of our hotel for RWA. I wasn’t sure it was you right away, so I circled a few times, and when I met you, you were so warm and outgoing, and has anyone ever told you what a beautiful voice you have? Thank you for your hospitality that first night (when my luggage had yet to arrive and I was all disheveled and ill-humored), and thank you for your friendship, your honest advice, and for cracking me up regularly over the past year. You really did. And you really do have such a smooth, radio-friendly voice! Can you podcast some things for me? Maybe do my voicemail message? I hate my own voice.
Danielle, I had such fun visiting bookstores with you in San Francisco! I’m honored to have spent your launch week with you, and you can bet I’ll be attending more of your readings in the future. Because you know how to BRING IT! In print, voice, and dance. Also, I will always think you look like Julianne Moore, even if people say you look like Drew Barrymore. And I’m really glad I don’t have to blog the day after you anymore.
Lisa, how much fun did I have rooming with you at RWA? I haven’t stayed up ‘til 2 a.m. talking and laughing with someone in years. You are one of the most savvy writers I know, and you so generously share what you’ve learned. Your tireless dedication to your family and your work inspire me. Heck, just YOU inspire me! Thank you for the laughs and friendship; you are an absolute blast, and if we were in second grade, I’d totally fight the other kids to sit next to you on the bus.
Eileen, my posting buddy, I was thrilled to meet you in Chicago last February during the Midwest leg of your book tour. I had a giddy feeling before we first spoke, because we’d emailed back and forth and I was (and still am) such a starstruck fan. You have taught me so much about both the craft of writing and the business of publishing, and you kept me laughing all the way. You have the best anecdotes ever, and you tell them with aplomb. Do you do parties? Can I adopt you as my big sister? And can you bring your little dogs, too? Daisy would dig them.
You are all talented women of such grace, wit, and heart, and I am honored to know you. Your support and friendship over the past year has elevated an already amazing experience to something so much more meaningful for me. (The sap! It is flowing freely now!)
And to all the readers and guest authors who have made our time as Debs so memorable (and to Kristy for starting it all): thank you, thank you, a thousand thank yous.
I wish the Debs Class of 2009 loads of luck, fun, and love. Any time you feel lost during the sometimes crazy ride that is publishing your first book, just click your mouse three times and remember: there’s no place like home, and sharing the yellow brick road all the way to Oz and back is a wonderful thing.
(After today, you can find me regularly at my own blog here: http://jessriley.blogspot.com. Where I make fun of all kinds of things. Mostly myself.)
PS: Danielle, I am too from a farm.
One of my biggest dreams came true this year with the publication of Falling Under.
Of course, it didn’t all happen the way I imagined it, which means it was both more and less than I expected. I didn’t realize it would be so stressful. I didn’t realize how little control I would have over the process. But I also never dreamed of the friendship and generosity that could be found in the reading and writing community, starting right here at The Debutante Ball.
It pains me to have it end, though of course it is time and I’m certain the community will continue and grow though us and the fabulous 2009 Debs, who you will meet next week.
And now, in our last days here, I’ve got another dream; a daydream of sorts…
In this dream, the 2008 debs all move into houses on the same block, in the same city. All of you readers and friends, plus past and future debs would be there too (only if you wanted to), plus many of our guest authors and writer friends and whatever family members we deem desirable.
Our neighborhood would have artists and musicians and writers, readers of all kinds, a B&N where we would go with our laptops, drink lattes and pretend to write, plus a funky independent bookstore, ideally run by Kathy Patrick (a deb guest author who runs the only bookstore/beauty salon in North America). She would run her wild, wonderful book clubs and we would all go there to get beautified, hang out in our tiaras and talk about books and writing and family and marriage and kids and pets and exercise and chocolate and politics and the state of the world.
On brave mornings, I would meet Jenny and Gail for a crack-of-dawn yoga class. Other mornings I might sleep in, then wander over to grab a cup of coffee with Jess who would be in her backyard tending the garden and watching butterflies hatch, ready with her wicked wit, quirky perspective and penchant for party-crashing. There would be cheese, and I mean that in a good way, since she is from Wisconsin and occasionally even makes false claims of being “from a farm.”
Eileen would see us from her window and make her way over. Even on the grimmest day, (not that we’d have many grim days) Eileen would give us a worldly-wise look and say something that makes us snort and possibly spit out our coffee. Only upon later reflection would we realize how her humor put the day in perspective and made us feel good and normal and human…in the moment we are too busy laughing.
We’d mosey to the front yard just in time to see Lisa peel by in her awesome Mom vehicle on her way to drop her kids off, give 10 interviews, teleport to 14 different cities, write a couple of books, save some relationships and be back to join us for dinner, at which time she would kick back with a lovely glass of champagne and share some of her hysterical, no-nonsense wisdom and trade-secrets with us.
If we were procrastinating (and we would be) we might hop the fence and find ourselves in Gail’s backyard, tiptoeing around her writer’s hut, giggling and peeping in the windows, trying to lure her out with promises of dark chocolate and hot gossip.
Gail would come out, of course. She would be glowing with good health, full of interesting contradictions and complete self-awareness and ready to laugh, listen and ask intuitive questions. And she’d have freshly baked…something…healthy yet delicious…a kind of baked, sweet version of a celery stick, full of antioxidants and such, that we would gobble gratefully, along with our coffee. We would all vow to start running marathons with her and some of us might even do it. (uh, not me, alas)
About that time Jenny’s dogs would escape and she would arrive, post yoga and still retaining some Zen (though Jenny’s Zen might include some wry observations and smart-assed remarks as opposed to “one with the universe” stuff) despite the marauding dogs and crazy parrot, and wearing her signature hot pink. Jenny might have half the neighborhood with her, since she knows everyone, and she’d have told each and every person about all of our books, pushing as hard for us as she does for herself and whipping us into shape to do the same.
We might fly to Florence to lunch, or join Lisa on television for a weekly deb segment, and then all retire to our homes for a late afternoon siesta, some family time, perhaps some self-googling, and finally a bit of writing, since we are all NYT Bestselling authors and our fans, not to mention Oprah, are clamoring for our next books.
In my dream deb neighborhood, we would convene in one another’s kitchens and back yards and never stop talking—offering celebration, commiseration, inspiration and advice, egging each other on, and laughing until there were tears rolling down our faces. We would wear whatever we wanted to, (gloves, tiaras, tutus, sweatpants) speak the truth, dance on the coffee table (okay, that might just be me) and take the world by storm.
(We would also all have house-elves for laundry, house-cleaning and such, and there would be a clubhouse for the deb spouses, complete with ice-fishing, ping pong, poker tables and a beer fridge, in case you’re feeling sorry for the poor men.)
So…dear friends, if you start missing us, imagine us there…and feel free to join us. (BYOB)
Okay…finally and seriously…to Kristy and the founding debs, to our wonderful readers and friends, and to my fellow debs of 2008, I thank you from the bottom of my heart and depths of my soul for this wonderful, crazy, year-long dance. You were magnificent.
You know how at the beginning of a night out dancing, you head out onto the dance floor and do that subdued side-to-side move because you don’t want to look like a dork?
And then, by the end of the night, fortified with a few tequila shooters or a bottle of Veuve, you’ve kicked off your shoes, begged the DJ to play Oh, What a Night or Dancing Queen or Hit Me Baby, One More Time. You’re popping and locking, shimmying up to partners half (or twice) your age, doing the most current rendition of the Electric Slide/Hustle/Macarena/Achy-Breaky Heart, and finishing out the evening with your super spectacular version of The Funky Chicken.
And then, twenty minutes after Last Call, as you hail a cab in your bare feet, you don’t care if you looked cool or not. You had one hell of a night.
To me, my year with the Debs has been a lot like that.
We all started off a bit unsure of ourselves and each other, and what the experience might be like. But by the end of our year here, we’ve let our hair down and kicked off our shoes. We soothed each other through disappointments and cheered each other on through triumphs: Movie Deals! Target Breakout Book! New Book Deals! Kick Ass Blurbs!
And then, the most amazing things began to happen. Larramie debuted us all on her blog. John Grisham, Jodi Picoult, Meg Cabot, Meg Tilly and Jane Green joined us as honorary Debs. We had a perfectly valid excuse to wear tiaras on special occasions. Readers came (and linked!) from all around, and the grog took on a life of its own.
I think all of us will tell you that the most unexpected, and by far the best experience of the Deb Ball has been the friendship we found with each other, at this, the most exciting, terrifying and lonely time of our lives.
The one thing no one ever tells you about publishing is how stranded you feel through the process. (Tom Hanks-talking-to-a-volleyball-stranded.) How you find yourself searching out writer blogs for somebody, anybody, who knows how you feel. You’ve sold this book, something you spent months or years of your life creating, and it seems like an engraved invitation to be a member of a really cool club, but what you really feel is how you don’t have any idea what’s going on, how you’re terrified that no one will buy it, how so much of your career is out of your hands, and how sometimes it seems as though the publishing house might just be plotting against you. Or like no one in the whole world understands (or gives a crap about) what you’re going through.
Except here, there were six of us. And we all knew what the other was going through, because we were all in the same place.
I am so thankful to the brilliant and talented Kristy Kiernan for creating this wonderful grog, and so happy to be a part of this amazing group. It’s been my honor and delight to know all of you.
Congratulations to our 2009 Debs, I hope this experience is as wonderful for all of you as it was for us.
And last, The Debutante Ball would not be The Debutante Ball without all of you, our readers. Thank you so much for cheering us on, reading our blog posts and our books, weighing in on everything from publishing to pets to Shaun Cassidy. You’ve helped to make the debut of Fifteen Minutes of Shame, and all of our books, a thrilling experience.
So, before the bouncers have to drag me out, I’ll say goodbye. (Or maybe I’ll stay. It wouldn’t be the first time the bouncers have had to drag me out…I think this might be the part where I start slurring, But wait, I jusssss gotta tell you ….I REALLY love you guys! )
And I really do.
If you’d like to hear about what I’m up to next, I’d be completely thrilled to tell you all about it.
(Just once a month or so. You will not find yourself pelted with unnecessary emails every afternoon to update you on my new laundry detergent preferences, the shoes I got on sale at Nordstroms, or my dog’s psychic predictions. Well, unless he tells us who Jennifer Aniston is going to date next. )
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Cue the Chicken.
“Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, That I shall say good night till it be morrow.”
It’s true, parting is such sweet sorrow. To have been a part of this magical group has been a high point of an exciting year in which I realized what seemed at times to be an unattainable dream: to have my novel published. That in and of itself was such a thrill—I couldn’t imagine anything making the experience that much sweeter. But being a part of the Debutante Ball did so. And then some. Not only did I befriend a wonderful group of talented authors, but I did so at a point in time in which it was enormously beneficial to be on the same “page” (excuse the pun) with them. Much as one would bond with a LaMaze group, other pre-school moms, or fellow POWs (hey, at least in Hogan’s Heroes they did!), I have bonded with these wonderful Debs. We’ve been there for each other through the many, many (did I say many?) trials and tribulations of publishing. Between the six of us (and the experiences, by extension, of our other friends) we’ve either experienced, or know someone else who has dealt with, pretty much all of the highs and lows of publishing, and we’ve learned from it. But beyond that, we became bonded in other ways: from late-night discussions about everything from relationships, children, family history, pets and vacations, to debates about who could tie a maraschino cherry stem with their tongue the fastest (and darn it, Danielle, we never did have that contest!) and other such party tricks.
It was a nice way to wrap up the year when most of us (sorry Gail!) got to get together in San Francisco at the RWA National meeting in late July. And a few more of us got together in Manhattan a week later at the Backspace conference. We entertain grandiose plans of continuing our get-togethers, little “Deb reunions” of sorts, and hope to re-group in the blogosphere in a month or two, once we’ve all had a little R&R on our mental beaches…Which would be the sweet part of the parting. I think we’ll all enjoy a teensy break from the “yikes! I’m about to head to bed and just remembered my post has to be on the grog at dawn!” moments. Though we’ll miss the camaraderie, the continued support, and of course the friends/readers who kindly come to the Debutante Ball every day to read and/or comment.
It’s been an emotional week or two for me, having sent my oldest off to college a few days ago, and now bidding farewell to my “sisters of the Deb.” But I know change happens, and change is often for the good, so I won’t wallow in sadness over it. Rather I will reflect upon what a great run we had. And extend a huge thank-you to Kristy Kiernan, without whom the Debutante Ball would never have existed, our readers, and to the generous guest authors who graced us with their presence this year. I can’t wait to watch our 2009 Deb class move into gear here on the Ball. They’re a great group of women with some really phenomenal books, so get ready for an exciting year for them.
Over the past year I have regaled you with tales of my crazy parrot.
(the ever-charming Graycie: After climbing off the cage, she snuck into a cabinet, pulled out a package of chalk, and scattered it across the floor, chewing it along the way)
One of the (few) things she loves is for me to sing the refrain from the song So Long, Farewell
, from the Sound of Music
. I don’t know if she just likes the cadence of that song, but each time I sing it to her she gets her feathers all ruffled up, starts to bob her head, and sings along with me, especially to the do-doodle-do-do-do-do-do part. If only she could do the cute twirl and curtsey just like little Gretl
! So now, picture me, belting out a rousing round of So Long, Farewell
, nose-to beak (at a safe distance, of course), alongside my nutty bird:
So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, goodnight. I hate to go and leave this pretty sight…
Thank you all so much!
..· ´¨¨)) -:¦:-
¸.·´ .·´¨¨)).· ´¨¨)) -:¦:- ·´
((¸¸. ·´ .. ·´Deb Jenny-:¦:-
:¦:- ((¸¸.·´* -:¦:- ´* -:¦:- ´*
p.s. You can find me on Thursdays blogging with a group of really fun writers, all moms of teens, in Erma Bombeck-esque fashion at: http://channeling-erma.blogspot.com/