35

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!

1

News Flash, May 3

Deb Meredith is at the Malice Domestic Conference this weekend and on the panel “Get a Clue” on Sunday. On Monday, she will be at the Festival of Mystery in Pittsburgh, PA (the Greek Orthodox Church in Oakmont, at 12 Washington Avenue) starting at 4 PM.

Deb Eve will be at the CARE Conference and Celebration in Washington, DC, May 5 & 6. She will be speaking on a panel about connecting the world’s women in the fight against global poverty. CARE will also be actively promoting FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MALARIA, and ten percent of Eve’s royalties are being donated to CARE for their malaria prevention work in Africa.

FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MALARIA was recently given a glowing review at Founding Deb Kristy Kiernan’s blog. And it got a nice mention in What We’re Reading Now in the latest online issue of Fodor’s Travel Guides. Eve will also be a guest on The John Carney Show on KMOX-AM in St. Louis MO, on Tuesday, May 5 at 11 PM EST.

Debs past and present have donated items to the Brenda Novak online auction to benefit diabetes research. It’s just like eBay, but for charity! Hundreds of items of interest to readers, writers and anyone else will be available for bidding the entire month of May. The auction includes a signed advance copy of REAL LIFE & LIARS from Deb Kristina, from Graduate Deb Jenny Gardiner a signed copy of SLEEPING WITH WARD CLEAVER plus a critique of a partial by Jenny, plus two signed copies of DRIVING SIDEWAYS by Graduate Deb Jess Riley.

1

News Flash, March 22

Deb Katie Alender is excited to present the book trailer for BAD GIRLS DON’T DIE. Click here to watch it at YouTube! She is also excited to finally have her hands on a “real” copy of BGDD, and to report that the book cover is even more gorgeous than she ever imagined.

Deb Meredith is off to Boston on Tuesday for an event with Kate’s Mystery Books at Redbones BBQ called Murder Underbones (55 Chester St., Sommerville, MA) from 5:30-7 PM.

Then, on her way back to NYC, Meredith will stop by the New Canaan, CT Library for a mystery panel with Jane Cleland and Rosemary Harris at noon (151 Main Street).

Deb Eve invites everyone to visit her beautiful new website! While there, you can read the first chapter as well as early reviews of FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MALARIA. You can also learn about the causes she’s supporting and by clicking on the Events tab, you can see a photo gallery of her life in Ecuador, Uganda and beyond.

Review News

Of Deb Katie Alender’s BAD GIRLS DON’T DIE, Kirkus Reviews says, “Strong characterization will draw readers in. Despite their realistic shortcomings, both primary and secondary characters are unique and satisfyingly complex.”

Graduate Deb News

Congratulations to founding Debutante Kristy Kiernan on the sale of her new novel to Berkley! This novel is about the emotional complications of in-vitro fertilization, in which a woman must grapple with the moral implications of learning she has an inheritable disease after her donated eggs have resulted in a child for her best friend.

Also congrats to founding Debutante Tish Cohen on the sale of her third novel, THE SATURDAY DAUGHTER, in which a sister and brother discover that the mother they thought abandoned them as children has actually been searching for them, and that their father, whose memory is decaying from Alzheimer’s, had kidnapped them away years ago, to Harper Perennial and Harper Canada.

Friends of the Debs

Kudos to friend of the Debs/Backspace.org founder (and therefore friend to authors everywhere!) Karen Dionne on the sale of her second novel, BOILING POINT, to Berkley, for publication in Fall 2010!

What We’re Reading

Deb Katie is reading Meg Cabot’s HOW TO BE POPULAR and Kathleen Norris’s ACEDIA AND ME.

13

In Which Founder Kristy Gets All Mushy

twit-pic-21

What a delight to be invited back to The Debutante Ball. Nice place you got here, filled with interesting, brilliant, and gorgeous women. Thanks for having me, I shall try to recall some of my own dancing skills for my visit so I don’t embarrass anyone.

When the 2009 Debs asked if I’d like to do a guest blog they said I should tell you all about my new book, Matters of Faith, but I always did have a tough time sticking to the topics, didn’t I? I also wasn’t sure what I would tell you that you couldn’t already get at my website, or on Amazon, or at any of the hundreds of book sites that have sprung up like chantrelles in the forest.
1452

I could copy over the reviews (they were good), copy over the information on the back jacket (it’s about a Florida family dealing with a daughter with severe food allergies, and a son whose religious quest wreaks havoc when he brings home a girlfriend who doesn’t believe in medical intervention), and list a couple of great things that happened for the book (like being an IndieBound Notable Title and having Jacqulyn Mitchard give an endorsement), but it all seemed pretty dry.

So last night I logged onto the Ball, just to sort of immerse myself in it again, to maybe take a quick look at a few of my old posts, remember my blogging voice. But I wound up sitting on my sofa until almost midnight with my laptop on my…well, on my lap, and reading all of the Founders posts.

What fun we had! Wow, was that only a couple of years ago? I laughed (remember the week we had to write about bald men and everyone detested the topic and it wound up being our largest trafficked week ever?), and I cried (my iRobot – A Love Story features Niko The Beloved Troll, who we had to put to sleep in December, which I am still quite devastated over), and I shook my head in amusement at our collective nerves over our debuts coming out, oh, and I’d completely forgotten about Butter Daoe MacPherson! Watch for that debut in the future.

And then I read the posts in which we turned to Ball over to the Class of 2008, Danielle Younge-Ullman, Gail Konop No Hyphen Baker, Jenny Gardiner, Jess Riley, Lisa Daily, and, well, Eileen Cook, and was filled with pride at what we’d accomplished and handed over, and then was amazed at all the things that class accomplished!

I got so nostalgic that I e-mailed the founders– Tish Cohen, Anna David, Mia King, Eileen Cook, and Jennifer McMahon– and told them how delightful that time was for me.

So, yeah, do me a favor, go buy Matters of Faith, that’d be great. Because if you don’t buy the book I don’t get to write another one. You know that. Right? But you don’t need a pithy blog entry to convince you to buy the book. You already know if you want to read it or not. So, go do your thing.

No, I decided what I really wanted to say, and it’s to the class of 2009: Most of you don’t know me that well, and hey, why should you care what I think about you? But… I AM SO PROUD OF YOU. Your bravery inspires me all over again.

I know what it took to get here. I know how hard it was. I know how hard it is. I know how hard it continues to be. I know how things might change, how you will lose some friends, gain others, worry over sales and marketing and publicity, and over learning it all. I know how you will struggle to be heard, and, even more important, to be understood. I know you will develop facial tics over reviews, not just from the critics, but from the readers, the one-star, the two-star, even the three-star heart stoppers. And I know the joy coming from the four and five-stars, the fan mail, the signing requests.

I am filled with excitement and happiness for you all, Kris, Eve, Tiffany, Meredith, and Katie. And I am filled with certainty that if you are good to each other and embrace this year with gratitude that you will look back on this time as one of the most fulfilling of your life. Don’t be afraid to stop for a minute and be emotional over it. Nobody who doesn’t understand will know what a goofball you are, and those who do understand will feel all goofbally for you.

Hang in there, it’s worth it, and I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.

My very best wishes to you, Debutantes of 2009.

Dance pretty.

And thanks for having me.

 

 

10

Beyond The Ball

I have so enjoyed catching up with my fellow founders this week! How lucky we were to have found such talented women, and how amazing that they’ve all gone on to be so successful. I’ve also had a great time following the 2008 Debutantes, the second class, the one the future of The Ball hinged on. And what a wonderful job they’ve done, not only growing the original concept to include fabulous guests, but also increasing readership and managing to get together in “real life” the way the Founders always wanted to but didn’t seem to be able to manage!

Perhaps one day we’ll do a big Debutante Reunion and ALL the classes can attend?

Ah, future plans. I love thinking about the future. And I’m looking forward to the 2009 Debs taking over, finding their dancing legs, and bringing new ideas and energy to The Ball. Congratulations to Debs past, present, and future. I think we’ve built a lovely dance here.

As for what I’ve been doing over the past year, well, I’ve mostly been wrestling with my e-mail in-box. Why will it NEVER empty?

I, like the other Founders, initially felt a relief at not being responsible for a weekly blog post, but as time went on I also found myself missing the opportunity to cast off some extra words and ideas clogging up my creativity. Does it fit in my book? Will it fit in a future book? No? Then get out of my head! Be gone, word demons!

Ahhh, I thought, perhaps I should blog again?

So, yes, I’ve continued to blog. I blog for “A Good Blog Is Hard To Find,” which is a blog made up of something like 32 Southern authors, so I only pop up there once every six weeks or so. I also blog over at Red Room, where I can blog as little or as much as I want and there are hundreds of authors there, also blogging whenever they feel like it. I tend to be slightly more “out there” at Red Room for some reason.

And then I started my own personal blog, mostly as a way of keeping people updated on my books, and that blog rolls over to my Amazon pages. Aside from all this blogging, I’ve also been Facebooking, Twittering, and SlingPaging. Yeesh, I’m everywhere!

I’ve also written another book, Matters of Faith, which came out a couple of weeks ago. It has received lots of exciting reviews, but you can see all that stuff on my website (and blog!). I’ve done things a little differently with Matters of Faith than I did with Catching Genius.

With a first book I think you just have to throw everything against the wall and see what sticks. Later on, after everything has calmed down, you check out the wall, sweep up what fell, and toss it away. So with Matters of Faith I am not doing nearly as much travel, which turned out to be absurdly expensive once totaled up.

I also learned that not all events (that you likely paid to go to) are created equal, and I think I’ve learned how to separate the wheat from the chaff so that I can make better decisions. There are some events at which you are simply an entertainer. I could have stood up there and juggled, told jokes, or simply made funny faces and it wouldn’t have mattered. But I didn’t get into this industry to entertain people with ME, I want to entertain them with my BOOKS. If I wanted to be a personal entertainer I would have been on Last Comic Standing.

So, you learn your lessons, and you make changes. And now I’m entering that part of the whole process again, and I’ve learned to politely decline (*gasp* I know, “decline” was NOT in my vocabulary as a debutante) some things, and to go after others. I’ll keep you posted on how all that works out for me!

In September Matters of Faith will be an IndieBound Notable Title, which, considering my unnatural love for indie bookstores is especially exciting for me.

I’m also writing a new book. I’ve been stuck at about 80,000 words for a month, mostly because I found it very difficult to work as the Matters of Faith publication date neared, and now that it’s out, I’m finding it just as hard! However, this is the nature of the career when you get past that debut year. You’re promoting one, editing one, writing one. And, oddly, that first thing never goes away. Just because a new one comes out doesn’t mean the first one disappears. So, to make this career work, you just keep adding on, so now I’m promoting two books, writing one, outlining one.

It’s an interesting transition to make, and I think I’m slowly getting a handle on it.

Home life hasn’t changed much. The husband is as adorable as ever and still incredibly supportive of the whole writing thing. The troll is still around, though going distressingly white on her muzzle, and shedding just as much as she ever did. We added a second Roomba to our family, and now we have dueling Roombas trying to keep up with the dog fur.

All of my orchids have officially come out of their pots and are thriving with zero help from me in trees around our home. Oh!! I do have some exciting news! I’m a brunette again! That’s right, I got tired of futzing with it and am back to my natural color. Well, as close as I remember it anyway. I still get it colored in order to cover up the white (not gray, startling white) hair. I’m not a savage after all.

Wow, the past year, distilled down to 900 words. Huh. Seems like it should take at least 1,200.

So, bring on the new Debs! I wish you all great luck, be kind to each other, you’ll be amazed at how your paths will continue to cross through the years.

Founder Kristy, continuing to work the dream, signing off…

52

Newsflash, July 13 2008

Announcing the Debutante Ball Class of 2009

We are most excited to announce the 2009 Debs, who will take over the Debutante Ball on September 1, 2008. We had so many extremely talented authors from which to choose, all with exciting books debuting next year, and narrowing it down to five was no easy task.

Without further ado, our 2009 Debutantes are:

Eve Brown-Waite, author of the memoir First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria: How a Peace Corps Poster Boy Won My Heart and a Third World Adventure Changed My Life (Broadway Books/April 2009).

about the book: With wit and candor, First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria chronicles Eve’s misadventures as an aspiring do-gooder in the developing world. From intestinal parasites to being held hostage, from eating termites to cultural misunderstandings, here is an honest – and hysterical – look at the search for love and purpose – from a woman who finds both in the last place she expected.

Tiffany Baker, author of the literary novel The Little Giant of Aberdeen County (Grand Central Publishing, January 2009).

about the book: The Little Giant of Aberdeen County is about how Truly, a woman born a giant, overcomes her small town’s prejudices, uncovers decades of family secrets, and learns that love doesn’t always come ordered to size.

Katie Alender, author of the YA thriller Bad Girls Don’t Die (Disney/Hyperion, April 2009).

about the book:When 15-year-old Alexis Warren suspects that her younger sister Kasey’s strange behavior is more than just angst, she thinks she can handle it on her own. But creepy parlor tricks are just the beginning, and it soon seems that Kasey may actually be living out the violent legacy of the Warrens’ gothic home. Alexis is forced to seek out the help of her arch-rival, cheerleader queen, Megan Wiley. Only by working together can they try to save Kasey. But what if the green-eyed girl isn’t even Kasey anymore?

Kristina Riggle, author of the women’s fiction book All Happy Families (Avon/HarperCollins, May 2009).

about the book: Faded flower child Mira Zielinski isn’t about to have surgery for her newly diagnosed breast cancer, which will no doubt upset her grown children — when she gets around to telling them. They’re coming home with their own lives falling apart over spousal secrets, an elopement, and withered dreams. As this all comes to light on one pivotal weekend, will it shake Mira’s resolve?

Meredith Cole, author of the mystery novel Posed for Murder (St. Martin’s Press, February 2009).

about the book: Lydia McKenzie, an edgy art photographer who recreates murder scenes in a film noir style, finally achieves her dream of putting her art in a gallery. But when someone starts killing her models just like they were posed in her photographs, she has to catch the killer before she becomes the next victim.

Deb News:

This week, Deb Jess will be on tour at the following locations…join the fun if you’re in the area!

Wednesday, July 16, 7 pm at The Book Cellar
4736-38 North Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL

Thursday, July 17, 6 pm at the Portage County Public Library
1001 Main Street
Stevens Point, WI
(Enter to win a beach bag full of goodies!)

Saturday, July 19, 11 am – 1 pm at Conkey’s Bookstore
226 East College Avenue
Appleton, WI

Jess is also thrilled to share Swapna Krishna’s glowing review of Driving Sideways for Curled Up With a Good Book. Five out of five stars! From the review: “The novel has a lot of heart and emotion, but it is never cheesy or sappy, demonstrative of Riley’s talent as a writer. She manages to touch her readers and evoke the emotions she wants them to feel without telling them to do so. It is a mark of her ability to write sympathetic and believable characters that the reader really does care about.”

Get an online goodie bag worth $500
when you purchase Fifteen Minutes of Shame at Amazon on Monday, July 14.

Fifteen Minutes of Shame, by Lisa Daily, is a romantic comedy about what happens when America’s favorite TV love guru finds out her husband is cheating – live, on national television.

To get the free $500 online goody bag, purchase Fifteen Minutes of Shame before 12 midnight PST on Monday, July 14 at Amazon.com (where it’s currently bargain-priced around $10) and email your receipt to swagbag (at) lisadaily.com.

For a details and a complete listing of all the swag, which includes one week free at Bag Borrow or Steal, a two-month subscription to Cupid.com, a free lip-plumping serum, an exclusive T-Tapp exercise video download, free mineral makeup, free cellulite firming cream, sneak peek chapters of books and not-yet-released books from debs Eileen Cook, Jenny Gardiner and Danielle Younge-Ullman and former debs Mia King and Kristy Kiernan, (plus Jane Porter, Mary Castillo, Mike Robbins and Lisa McLeod and others) plus lots of other goodies, check out www.lisadaily.com/swagbag on Monday 7/14.

Deb Gail has a cover for her book!!

Deb Jenny’s novel Sleeping with Ward Cleaver got a fabulous review from Book Room Reviews: “If you want to laugh until you pee your pants, then pick up this book. If you want to gain some insight into what goes into a marriage, then pick up this book. I loved the character of Claire. She is someone that every woman can relate to, young or old. Jenny Gardiner has a gift for finding humor and at the same time tackling tough issues. This is a great mom lit book to read by yourself, or giggle about with your book club.”
I might suggest you go to the bathroom before you start reading my book 😉 .
Book Room Reviews is raffling off their copy of Sleeping with Ward Cleaver here.

Founder News: Founder Kristy Kiernan’s new novel Matters of Faith (Aug.5) continues to garner great reviews! The newest from Bookpage:

Everyone believes in something. Whether our beliefs are rooted in religion, experience or just intuition, faith is one of life’s strongest arguments. Many believe that life’s trials are there to test faith. However, the true question just might be where we should place our trust—can we even trust ourselves when a crisis is at hand? Kristy Kiernan, the author of last year’s Catching Genius, has centered her new book on a South Florida family with more than a few trust issues. Matters of Faith is a tense but touching novel that forces its characters and readers to re-examine their beliefs.

Chloe Tobias, a free-spirited mother, is constantly at odds with her pessimistic husband Cal. Along with her contentious marriage, her preteen daughter Meghan’s severe food allergies are a constant reminder that all is not as carefree as she would like. When their oldest child Marshall arrives home from college with a new girlfriend, Ada, an uncomfortable tension develops. Ada is from a religious Nebraska community. She looks down on Meghan’s strict diet and strongly pushes her beliefs on the unprepared family. Unfortunately, Marshall seems to agree.

Chloe struggles with her manners until Ada’s faith in prayer over medicine results in a disastrous fate for Meghan. Suddenly the couple must simultaneously deal with Marshall’s betrayal, Meghan’s condition and their deteriorating marriage. The story has the suspense of a blockbuster film with the internal examinations of a breakthrough therapy session. Kiernan draws exquisite parallels between different forms of faith, protection and abandonment. Ultimately, however, the book is about choices: which of their children will Cal and Chloe choose to protect? Will Marshall choose his love for Ada or his family? Should faith be put aside in favor of modern medicine, or can the two work together?

The story gives plenty of perspective on both sides. Matters of Faith begins as a recognizable family story and transforms into a view of human nature under pressure. How open will minds be when lives are interrupted? Will we believe the same things when loss tests our faith? How do we choose between the two things most precious to us? Kiernan’s portrait of the Tobias family is a study in emotional turmoil that will stay with any reader when their beliefs are, inevitably, called into question.

2

Newsflash, Sunday June 29

Deb News:

Deb Jess is thrilled to announce that Driving Sideways is going back to press for a second printing!

Also, Jess would like to thank Julie Peterson at Booking Mama for a terrific review and interview this week.

Deb Danielle received three stars for her upcoming August debut of FALLING UNDER from Romantic Times.

Deb Jenny would like to thank Kim Alexander for the fun interview on Fiction Nation on XM Radio. Unfortunately Deb Jen was out of the country when it aired so didn’t get a chance to give heads-up on it! It might air again—we’ll see!

Founders News:
Founder Kristy Kiernan has received two fabulous early reviews for her August release, MATTERS OF FAITH. Publishers Weekly says:

“In this tense, well-paced novel about belief, Kiernan explores what happens when faith and love test the limits of family fealty. In southwest Florida, college student Marshall Tobias is in search of something to believe in. He thinks he’s found God and the woman he’s always dreamed of when he falls in love with fundamentalist believer Ada Sparks. But Ada’s against medical intervention for illness, and tragedy results when she sets out to “help” Marshall’s 12-year-old sister, Meghan, overcome her life-threatening allergies.

Switching points-of-view between Marshall and his mother, Chloe, Kiernan (Catching Genius) movingly portrays a 20-year-old marriage gone flat and torn apart by crisis, a troubled son, a daughter hovering between life and death, and the hard-to-discern boundaries between true faith and unhealthy fanaticism. She handles her difficult material respectfully.

Most interesting is her portrayal of the well-meaning traps parents fall into when encouraging open-ended exploration of faith without context, or choosing to remain silent. The thoughtful themes, interesting characters and page-turning drama of this novel will likely make it a book club favorite.”

And Romantic Times gave MATTERS OF FAITH 4-1/2 stars:

“The fluent prose and authentic characters will leave the reader wanting more from Kiernan.”

Deb Friends:

Deb friend Kristy Barrett has just launched a new book-review blog! Welcome to the blogosphere, Kristy!

Debs are Reading (and listening to):

Deb Jenny is just back from vacation and can’t rave enough about Anthony Capella’s THE WEDDING OFFICER. If you don’t come armed with an appetite, expect an unnatural need to get to your nearest Italian restaurant 😉 .
She also thoroughly enjoyed Joanna Bourne’s much-buzzed about debut novel, THE SPYMASTER’S LADY–the author has a true gift for dialogue, characterization, and an uncanny ability to write in french-accented English.

Fun beach read: Julia London’s AMERICAN DIVA.

And lastly, while on vacation with a few families of very dear friends, Deb Jenny was thoroughly impressed with the talented Low Hendley’s music, which was playing on someone’s iPod. Low, who’d come along on the trip with our friend’s son, Bryce Johnson, played a few songs for which he not only wrote the music and lyrics, but also performed all instruments and sang. All done on his Mac. Here’s a link if you want to hear (some songs include Bryce on guitar), and a couple of the songs are available for purchase on iTunes listed under his real name, Owen Hendley. Low’s heading off to college and I hope we’ll all get a chance to hear more music from him in the future.

15

20 Hottest Authors by Deb Gail

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot since it was first proposed and thinking how much I like it but that makes me wonder if that means I’m superficial since I immediately interpreted “hot” as meaning sexy or attractive or does that mean that I’m just caught up in this whole list thing that seems to be a trend or that I’m over-thinking the whole thing or…

… okay, 20, huh?

1-5. My fellow debutantes. So in the order of their “hot” mugs appearing on the site… Danielle Younge-Ullman, Eileen Cook, Jenny Gardiner, Jess Riley and Lisa Daily.
6. Lolly Winston
7. Kristy Kiernan
8. Amy MacKinnon
9. Tasha Alexander
10. Amy Guth
11. Nicole Krauss
12. Marisha Pessl
13. Sara Gruen
14. Jhumpa Lahiri
15. Zadie Smith

At this point I’m looking at my list and thinking that’s all females which I’m thinking that might lead you to believe I’m not attracted to men. But that isn’t true. I just think there are more attractive female authors than male authors. But in the spirit of fairness and equality and all that jazz, I’ll give it a shot…

16-18. For the hot nerdy brainy look, I’ll go with the three Jonathans… Jonathan Lethem, Jonathan Safran Foer, Jonathan Franzen.
19. Ethan Canin
20. Dave Eggers

That’s 20. That’s it.

Should we have a vote at the end of the week? Or, better yet, how about all of you, readers, share your list and then we can make a master list that we can… I don’t know, do something with?

Deb Gail

15

Dirt on the Debs by Deb Danielle Younge-Ullman

Okay, I don’t actually have dirt, but I like alliteration, needed a title and figured it might catch your attention. And I do have some behind the scenes tidbits to share that are interesting, if not particularly dirty.

We started as strangers back in July and had to divvy up jobs, learn how to use the site, post our blogs etc. About 200 emails later, with a huge amount of help and advice from Kristy and the other Founding Debs, we went “live” in the second week of August.

I was totally freaked. I feared the site would implode when I hit the word “publish.” I remember getting instructions from Kristy about how to do a link and I was so overwhelmed I thought, Well, I just won’t ever link anything. What do I need to link for?! I will be link-free. And I couldn’t imagine how I’d write something each week for an entire year. It took me about 25 hours to write and edit my first post (I know this because I have 20 hours of daycare weekly for my toddler and I used all of it, plus) and I spent the entire first day glued to the site waiting for comments, responding to them, rereading my post, rereading the comments, etc. This went on for weeks. I was an obsessive lunatic who would clearly never turn in my edits for Falling Under, much less write another book.

Well, we all got the hang of it and you’ve probably noticed we’re having a great time getting to know each other and many of you. But behind the scenes…

There have been 5353 emails between us on our closed Yahoo loop and hundreds more individual and group emails between us plus fan mail, letters from authors, pitches from publicists, applications to various conferences and festivals and a surprising number of people asking if we’ll help them plan a real debutante ball for them in their hometown, at their high school, etc.

We have brainstormed about publicity, title changes and cover art. (We are part of the reason the toenails got painted on the cover of Driving Sideways, for example.) We’ve shared stories about signings, talked about interviews, pitching, getting blurbs (thank you ladies for telling me to get them early and get them myself—my editor was very pleased and so were my publicists) and helped each other through the inevitable emergencies and freak-outs we all have as our release dates loom.

And somewhere along the line these wonderful women, who I’ve never met in person, became my friends–good friends!–and that has made this experience incredibly rich.

A couple of favorite memories:

The day Lisa found out Fifteen Minutes of Shame was going to be optioned (before she could announce it because the details were still being worked out) she emailed the news and we all sent whoops and cheers (via email) and proceeded to celebrate with our food or beverage of choice. (For me I believe it was Port.) The emails flew back and forth that night as we got the details from Lisa and then I believe we went on a wild and funny tangent about hidden talents which inspired Jess & Eileen to give that as our topic a few weeks later.

On Super Tuesday I emailed to let my fellow debs know that, like every good Canadian, I was watching American Politics on CNN. One email turned into 70 as we sat with our laptops in front of our televisions and watched. Jenny had stories from her days working for a Senator, Gail had thoughts about the Democratic candidates and we discussed everything from Obama vs Hillary to Mormon underwear. Another night of thought-provoking conversation mixed with snort-worthy hilarity.

On the site and off, my fellow debs have encouraged me and egged me on, drawn out hidden parts of my personality, challenged me and gained my respect and admiration. And as each book has come out I’ve felt, just a little bit, like it was my book too. And so this year, I get six debuts instead of one, and five new talented, smart, funny, generous friends.

Cheers to you, ladies.

And to all of you, of course

Deb Danielle
(Hey, did you notice the all the links I put in?! And BTW, I’m still quite obsessive on Thursdays.)
fallingunder-1.jpg

12

Confessions of a Reluctant Debutante by Deb Gail

I have to be perfectly honest, I was a Reluctant Debutante.

Not that I didn’t see the beauty and the brilliance of The Debutante Ball site that Kristy Kiernan master-minded, not that I didn’t read it that first year regularly and love the variety of voices and topics. It was that I was POSITIVE I was not debutante material. I had never even been to a prom (having gone to college at 16), never been in a sorority (having attended a small and VERY liberal, liberal arts college that didn’t have or believe in sororities OR proms), had never joined the Mommy Club no matter where we lived. I didn’t “get” or “do” group things. Group things intimidated me. I was sure I would say or laugh at the wrong things. And debutantes? I was a Yankee. Never wore a ball gown. Had no gloves. No pearls.

So when Kristy called I was flattered but thought there is no way I can do this but what I said was, Yes…

And I’m here to tell you that joining The Debutante Ball has been one of the most valuable experiences of my publishing life. As all of you readers know, my fellow debs are all funny, smart, talented writers, as well as generous and kind-hearted. And while what we have going on ON the site is amazing, what goes on behind the scenes is more than special.

I don’t want to give away all the behind the scenes secrets (I might get thrown out for that!) but I will share that when one of us is worried or frustrated, excited or celebratory we band together like sisters. In between the savvy exchange of publishing knowledge and the “I got your back” support we all offer, we’ve shared red wine and brownie toasts and one red wine night we discussed blow jobs (is it okay I said that, girls??).

That’s it! I won’t share any more except to say that while I still don’t own any pearls or gloves, or a ball gown, joining the debs taught me that sometimes the things I’m most reluctant to do turn out to be the absolute best.

Deb Gail