News Flash: Updates from the Debs, past and present

We send our thanks to Lori Rader-Day for being our guest yesterday on The Debutante Ball. If you haven’t already, pick up a copy of THE DAY I DIED this Tuesday or enter to win a copy by sharing our post on Facebook and/or retweeting the following tweet: RT to Enter! Interview w/ @LoriRaderDay + #DebBallGiveaway of…
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News Flash–Writing and Reviewing Edition

  Congratulations to Letty Blanchard, winner of ISLAND OF WORTHY BOYS by Connie Mayo! Check back next week, where we will announce the winner of this weeks giveaway– From the 2016 Debs: Louise Miller received her first Goodreads review! She is thrilled (and terrified) that her book is taking baby steps into the wider world in the form…
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News Flash! Exciting Alumni News Edition

From the 2016 Debs Louise Miller is thrilled to announce that she will be representing the Novel Incubator at Grub Street’s annual gala LIT UP on November 5th. She will be reading from THE CITY BAKER’S GUIDE TO COUNTRY LIVING in the 10×2 program–10 writers reading for 2 minutes. She hopes to see some of you there!…
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News Flash: Giveaways, Spines, and Signature Drinks

Congrats to Linda, who won a copy of WAKEWORLD by guest author Kerry Schafer! From the 2014 Debs… Susan Gloss is pleased to announce that her publisher is giving away 20 copies of VINTAGE on Goodreads! Enter here. Lori Rader-Day started receiving copy edits from her publisher this week, and made plans for her visit…
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For Deb Joanne, It’s Not (just) About The Kugel

My very favorite picture of me and my mom. Look at the mischief in her eyes.

This week’s theme is Mothers, and as I’m writing this, I should be cleaning my house and prepping food for my annual Mother’s Day BBQ—also known in these parts as The May Festival of Moms and Meat.

Unless this is your first Monday here at The Debutante Ball since last summer, you’ve met my mom, Marcia, down in the comments. She’s here pretty much every week, cheering me on.

And because she’s my head cheerleader (I should say co-head cheerleader, because my husband is a pretty excellent cheerleader, too, but his cheering is more of the quiet variety, albeit no less supportive) she’s not just here, commenting on my posts, but she’s out in the community, giving out my business cards and bookmarks and telling EVERYONE SHE KNOWS (and believe me, that’s a lot of people) and people she doesn’t know, about my book and my launch party. She’s the best publicist money didn’t buy and I really appreciate her efforts in getting the word out there*.

That Ms. Cook sure is tall.

But she’s not just a publicist, she’s a generous soul through and through; when I told her Eileen Cook (who neither of us have met in person before) would be in town, touring for Canada Book Week and  would be spending the week living out of a suitcase and off of fast food, she immediately jumped at the opportunity to open her home and welcome Eileen in. She wanted to cook for Eileen so she could have at least one home-cooked meal during her tour. THAT is what great Moms do. Moms open their homes and hearts to you AND your friends because what is important to you, is important to them. And hey, if everyone pigs out eats, even better. So please join me in raising a glass to Marcia Levy, baker of kugel, Joanne Levy Street Team co-captain, Mom extraordinaire and, now that we don’t live together, wonderful friend that I’m so honored to call Mom. Happy Mother’s Day and Birthday (both one day later)! And by the way, if my house wasn’t clean enough for you yesterday, I hope this post makes up for it, because it’s the reason I didn’t clean as much as I probably should have.

Love you, Mom. XOXO



*My dad is an excellent cheerleader, too, but his efforts are more subdued, like my husband’s, and hey we’re talking about Mothers, here. Dads get their turn in June.


The Debutante Ball Welcomes Back 2007 Deb Eileen Cook

Eileen Cook is a multi-published author with her novels appearing in six different languages. She spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer.  Her latest release, Unraveling Isobel, came out earlier this month (Jan. 2012).

You can read more about Eileen, her books, and the things that strike her as funny at  Eileen lives in Vancouver with her husband and two dogs and no longer wishes to be anyone or anywhere else.

Unraveling Isobel is a darkly comic novel that blends paranormal mystery and romance with humor, from the author of The Eductation of Hailey Kendrick and Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood. Isobel’s life is falling apart. Her mom just married some guy she met on the internet only three months before, and is moving them to his sprawling, gothic mansion off the coast of nowhere. Goodbye, best friend. Goodbye, social life. Hello, icky new stepfather, crunchy granola town, and unbelievably good-looking, officially off-limits stepbrother.

But on her first night in her new home, Isobel starts to fear that it isn’t only her life that’s unraveling—her sanity might be giving way too. Because either Isobel is losing her mind, just like her artist father did before her, or she’s seeing ghosts. Either way, Isobel’s fast on her way to being the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons.

The topic at the Debutante Ball this week has been “Advice.” Here’s what Eileen has to say about it:

There’s a lot of great writing advice out there. Read a lot.  A novel happens by putting word by word on the page. Be willing to kill your darlings.  However the best advice I ever received made the difference for me between being published or not.

I’ve always written, but I didn’t always believe it would be possible to be a “real writer.”  It seemed to me that wishing to be a published author was on par with wishing to be a princess or discovering that you were secretly a wizard and would be going off to Hogwarts.  A nice idea, but a fantasy.

Then I took a writing class.  The class was taught by Canadian writer icon, Ivan Coyote.  (  Ivan awed me, not only because she’s a great teacher, but because she was a full time writer.  I wasn’t sure I’d ever met one before. One day Ivan asked me to stay after class. She told me that my writing was good. Really good.  She thought I was ready to start sending my work out.  I was equally pleased and freaked out.  I told her that I didn’t know if I could send my stuff out.  What if people hated it? What if was rejected?

Ivan sat me down and said: “Eileen, I hate to tell you this. You’re already not published. The worst thing that’s going to happen is that you still won’t be published.”

That was my light bulb moment. I realized that I might never be published, but there was zero chance unless I was willing to take the chance.  If I was willing to dream big and put in the effort, then there it was possible I just might reach those dreams.  Now every time I find myself staring at a blank page and blinking curser I remind myself that I already havea blank page. The worst thing that will happen is that I’ll have a not very well written page.  Then I go for it.

My advice to you is to make sure fear doesn’t stand in your way. Whatever you dream for-  you already don’t have it. But if you try, if you work really hard and take some chances….. you never know.

Fantastic advice, Eileeen! Thank you for coming back to your old stomping grounds and sharing your great news with us.

You can find Eileen on the web at her website, on Facebook, and as @EileenWriter on Twitter.

Oh, and the best part: Eileen will be giving away a copy of Unraveling Isobel to a lucky Deb Ball reader, and it’s open to everyone. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment. Easy-peasy, right?



Deb Elise Sings Pomp and Circumstance

Tiara PopulazziIs it just that I’m the YA author here, or does everyone else also think each Group Goodbye is high school graduation all over again?

Group Goodbye.  You know what I mean, not like saying goodbye to far-flung relatives after a vacation.  Those people stay tethered to you, and you know you’ll all get together in the same way sometime in the future.

I’m talking about saying goodbye to a group of people who become such a part of your daily life that they’re like limbs… until suddenly they’re not.

Working in TV, I have this experience a lot.  Shows end.  Friends and acquaintances that were a second family for days, weeks, months, or even years poof out of your orbit.  Oh sure, you stay close with some, and Facebook-friends with others, but it’s never the same as when you were a fixture in one another’s days.

Just like high school.

And just like now.

So in the spirit of high school graduation, some Senior Superlatives:

Most Likely to Bibbity Bobbity Boo: Former Deb Katie Alender, whose mother saw me at a computer on the set of The Muppets’ Kitchen with Cat Cora, said, “You’re a writer?  My daughter here is a writer!” and sparked a conversation in which Katie told me how much the Deb Ball had meant to her, and that I should totally apply.  Katie, you’re my Fairy Godmother, and I thank you.

Most Likely to Live in Dagobah: Friend of the Debs Matthew Quick, and his wonderful wife, Former Deb Alicia Bessette.  Q has been my Yoda.  Not only did he blurb Populazzi, but in the madness of debut week, when I was insane as a menopausal banshee, he and Alicia patiently talked me down off the ledge.  I am forever grateful to them both.

Most Likely to Wear Greek Letters: Former Debs Sarah Pekkanen and Eileen Cook.  I was never the sorority type in college, but when it comes to Delta Epsilon Beta (D.E.B.!), Sarah and Eileen have been my big sisters, giving me their friendship and excellent career advice every step of the way.  Eileen also did me the honor of blurbing Populazzi, appeared on, and has been a major cheerleader for the book.  Huge thanks to both of them.

Most Likely to be Saddled With Me For Life: Eleanor, Kim, Sarah, and Tawna, if you think you’re getting rid of me after this, you’re crazy!  You’ve been there for everything this year, both personal and professional.  You are my confidantes, my support group, and my friends… plus you’re all ridiculously talented!  It has been such a joy to see each of your books launched into the world so successfully, and I know this is just the beginning of huge careers for all of you.

As for what’s next… I don’t know exactly, which is pretty exciting.  Some very cool things are bubbling for Populazzi, plus I’m working on a new manuscript, and some TV projects I love.  Devoted, the second novel in the series I co-write with Hilary Duff, comes out in October.  In the meantime, I’ll keep blogging at my website,, and posting all kinds of cool lifestyle tidbits on  I’ll also be a regular visitor here — I’ve only begun to get to know the wonderful 2012 Debs; I look forward to discovering more about each of them, and reading all their books.

Finally, I want to thank everyone who visited the Ball this year and joined the conversation with your comments.  Your insight, humor, and support have been invaluable, and I’ve enjoyed sharing this time with you more than I can say.

Nothing to do now except turn the tassel on my tiara from right to left and say so long…

Happy Graduation, Class of 2011!  Class of 2012, Welcome to the Deb Ball!


Deb Mia is Still Dancing … and a Giveaway!

In 2006, I was invited by Kristy Kiernan to join a brand new blog for debut authors. Back then we lovingly referred to it as a “grog” (group blog) and there were six of us in all (Deb Kristy, Deb Eileen Cook, Deb Jennifer McMahon, Deb Tish Cohen, Deb Anna David, and me, Deb Mia). All of us had first novels coming out in 2007, our literary “debuts,” so to speak. The Debutante Ball was born.

One of these women is not Deb Mia nor Darien. Can you guess which one?

My first novel was called Good Things. It was published in trade paperback by Berkley Books (Penguin USA) under the name Mia King—an alias. The Debs knew I was Darien Gee, and they knew I had chosen to write as Mia because my husband, Darrin, and I had very similar names and he coincidentally had a non-fiction book being released a month after mine. I had originally written Good Things as a romance, and having a nom de plume was a norm for that genre. When Berkley decided to mainstream the novel, a few elements ended up staying—some of the more, ah, mature scenes in the book, as well as the name Mia.

Click on any of the covers to view their book pages at Amazon
(browser will open in another window)

After Good Things, Sweet Life was published in 2008 and then Table Manners, the sequel to Good Things, was published in 2009. It was my intention to write a fourth title for publication in 2010, but my plans were waylaid when my then 8 year old daughter, Maya (“Mia” is a play off of her name), brought home a bag of Amish Bread starter. As I ate a slice of the bread, I saw the image of a woman in my mind, holding up a bag of starter with a frown. I didn’t know who had given her the starter or what she was planning to do with it, but I could tell she was carrying around an unspeakable grief. I started writing a new story that night, a story that became a hefty novel called Friendship Bread.

I filled every available moment, day or night, with writing. My husband recognized that look in my eye so he re-arranged our schedules to give me as much time as possible to write. The woman I had seen was Julia Evarts, and as I wrote, her story quickly began to unfold. I saw her sister, Livvy, next and liked her instantly—her optimism, her bubbly personality. But I sensed that something had happened between her and Julia, that they were no longer talking though they had once been very, very close. I continued to write, and more central characters started to show up, all with stories of their own—Madeline, a lonely widow who opens a tea salon on a whim; Hannah, a former cello prodigy whose marriage is ending; and Edie, an ambitious journalist who is desperate to make her mark. I started to see all the connections, saw how the bread was linking people together in ways that surprised me. Then the rest of the town of Avalon, Illinois, started to show up, and before I knew it, the bread and its starter had made its way into everyone’s home, and hearts.

Can a loaf of Amish Friendship Bread heal broken hearts and unite an entire community?
Read an excerpt of Friendship Bread now!

Friendship Bread releases today, April 5th, as a hardcover from Ballantine Books (Random House). It sold at auction last March along with foreign, e-book, audio, large type, and book club rights, and will be published under my own name, Darien Gee, in large part because the writing and scope of the book is so different from my Mia King titles (plus my husband doesn’t have a title coming out next month, LOL!). It’s been an amazing experience, one that I hadn’t foreseen when I first started dancing at the Ball, and I’m filled with gratitude to still be dancing!

And now for the giveaway … a copy of Friendship Bread (hardcover or Kindle/Nook, winner’s choice) to one random winner! All you have to do is visit the Recipe Box at the Friendship Bread Kitchen website and choose a recipe you’d like to try (or eat)! Then come back here and leave a comment, telling us which one it is. We’ll draw a winner on Friday, April 8, and announce it in our Sunday Newsflash on April 10. Thank you all for being a friend of the Ball!

PS. And a special thanks to Deb Eleanor for so generously offering me her Tuesday spot to post my news!


News Flash: April 3, 2011

Congrats to Joan O’Toole who won Kristan Higgins’ book My One and Only.

From the 2011 Debs…

Deb Eleanor will be at the Arkansas Literary Festival with Kyran Pittman next Saturday, and then in St. Louis and Orlando. Check out the Events page and come visit!  You can also now buy The Weird Sisters at Target!

Deb Sarah is freaking out. This is the month that The Violets of March debuts!

Deb Kim went to a wedding yesteday. My high school roommate (boarding school)  is celebrating her first marriage. Isn’t that romantic? (Don’t tell her I said so, but we aren’t exactly Spring chickens! Our 30th reunion is next month!)

Deb Elise had an amazing time appearing at the Burbank Library with fellow Los Angeles Young Adult authors Jessica Brody, Amy Goldman Koss, Gretchen McNeil, Margaret Stohl, Lauren Strasnick, Carol Tanzman, Alexa Young, and Allen Zadoff.  Crazy-talented roster of writers, and I was thrilled to be sharing airspace with them.

Deb Elise again — I have some non-writing news to share too.  My Dad’s girlfriend (whom I adore)  just gave birth to a baby girl!  Her name’s Natalie, but we call her Baby Aunt… since she’s six-and-a-half years younger than my daughter… who’s her niece!  Bizarre, yes, but fabulous.

Past Deb News…

Eileen Cook says “I am happy to announce I’ve agreed to a new two book contract with Simon Pulse for YAs that will be out in 2012 and 2013.”  Congratulations, Eileen!  We can’t wait to read the new books!

Deb Dish — Best April Fools’ Joke the Debs Have Ever Pulled Off

Deb Elise

I’m as up for foolishness as the next person, but I never got into April Fools’ Day, so I have no good stories to share on this one!  I’ll have to glom onto the other Debs’ tales of hilarity.  🙂

Deb Eleanor

I spent many years teaching middle school, so I grew to hate April Fools’ Day. Nothing spells delight to a thirteen year-old like being able to shout, “APRIL FOOLS!”

That said, you should go read the Wikipedia entry on April Fools’ Day. Fascinating!

Deb Kim

Well I must be the Princess of loserville – as much I love humor, I stink at practical jokes. I did fool a few folks on FB yesterday with a snarky posting I won’t go into here….

Deb Sarah

My four-year-old son, Carson, and I put a bag full of ice cubes in my husband’s shoe last year. We laughed our heads off.

Deb Tawna

I honestly can’t remember any April Fools jokes I’ve pulled (it always seemed a little mean-spirited). However, for Halloween one year, four co-workers and I decided to dress up as the boss. Picture four women dressed in suits wearing fake beards and gray hair. Now picture us all waiting in his office with our feet propped on his desk when he arrived in the morning. The look on his face was priceless.


Deb Eileen Cook on New Beginnings

In honor of today’s release of Deb Eileen’s The Education of Hailey Kendrick, Deb Eleanor is taking a break from all this dancing and letting one of our favorite Debs take a turn around the dance floor.  Deb Eileen, we’re so glad to have you come by for a visit!

Deb Eileen Cook on New Beginnings

The Education of Hailey Kendrick is my fourth book.  In theory I should know what I’m doing by now. I’m often asked what I’ve learned about publishing that I didn’t know when I started.  After my first book release I remember being quite shocked by the following:

1) Oprah did not call to beg me to be on her show. Nor did Ellen, The Today Show, Larry King, or NPR.

2) My hometown did not throw a parade in my honour complete with those giant inflatable cartoon character balloons and marching bands.

3) When I entered a bookstore there was no red carpet leading to a giant floor display of my books and a blare of trumpets to announce my arrival.

4) Everyday life continued. The grocery clerk didn’t know (or care) who I was, fans and paparazzi did not cluster outside my house, there was still laundry that needed to be done, and someone really needed to clean out the fridge, especially that scary zone under the vegetable crisper.

I’d seen publication as some sort of finish line. A chance to say that I had “arrived.” What I’ve learned is that publishing isn’t a destination, it’s a journey. Every book (heck-every chapter)- is a chance to start again. Another new beginning.  We can write this book better. We can introduce our readers to new characters, to feel new things, and to raise new questions.

Every writer I know (no matter how many books they’ve written) still have a moment where they sit down and look at the blank page and wonder if they can do it.  Do they have another story that needs to be told? Do they have the strength and talent to take this new book from start to finish? I don’t know- but I know I can’t wait to start the next book.

Thanks for having me back at the ball, Debs! I love an excuse to break out my tiara!

And we love having you back, Eileen!  Deb readers – if you love Eileen as much as we do, you can visit her site, or her blog, or hang out with her on Facebook and Twitter.

P.S. One of the Debs’ favorite book bloggers, Larramie of The Divining Wand, is hosting a giveaway of The Education of Hailey KendrickCheck it out!