News Flash, August 31st

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 News:

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.

Deb Friends:

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!


The Debs Take Utopia by Deb Danielle Younge-Ullman

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.

Deb Danielle


A Tale of Two Schedules by Deb Jess

I have two daily schedules, depending on the time of year. Between late May and early October, my daily routine is free, open, and limited only by my own tendency to flake out and flit from one task to the next. I get up around 8:30, pour myself a giant mug of coffee, check on the caterpillars in my monarch ranching project, make sure the dog is fed and watered, and sit down at the computer to begin procrastinating immediately. I don’t like to waste any time on that.

Book promotion and the writing of book number two are actually twisted together in a strange kind of braid—I’ll be wrapping up emails or visiting blogs when the perfect phrase will hit me, so I have around seven windows open on my toolbar at a given time (I have six going right now): email accounts, Word files, blogs I mean to visit, and so on. I flip back and forth between them all in a crazy kind of dance, sometimes actually investing a few hours in my work-in-progress, and yes, it is as unorganized as it sounds.

Around eleven I take a break to walk the dog and water my flowers. I’ll get the mail, and lose an hour reading an article in the latest Writer’s Digest or Mother Jones magazine, do a load of laundry or start a sinkful of dishes, and maybe somewhere in there I’ll shower, then run to the post office, stop at Target or Festival Foods, read a novel in the backyard, meander about. Later, hey! Time to meet D & Nic for happy hour at Peabodies.

I will finish the final six chapters of my novel in progress starting next week. I swear!

I’m very fortunate to have this schedule in summer, because my employer is generous and flexible and all-around awesome. However, when I return to work in October, this is the schedule I will shift into on weekdays:

7:30—up, shower, iron outfit, walk dog as quickly as possible, coffee poured in travel mug, lunch briskly packed
9:00—leave for work commute
9:20—experience minor road rage at idiot drivers befuddled by construction
9:40—enter parking ramp, park, and walk two blocks to the office
9:50—check work email, phone messages, make daily To-Do list
1-1:30—eat at desk and check email again
1:30-2—visit with coworkers in hallway. There is always something new to gripe about.
2-5:30—work some more. If it is our ‘busy grant season,’ this will extend to 8 or 9 pm.
5:40 (or 9 pm, depending)—leave for commute home. Sing loudly along with Journey.
Later, dinner…a work-out, perhaps…a new blog entry…more emails…phone…and bed.

Rinse, lather, and repeat from October 1 – May 20. Notice there is no fiction writing in there.

As it is now mid-August and I still have sixty pages to crank out by the end of the month, it’s time to get serious. If we sell my next novel, I will need to figure out how to complete revisions while grant writing full-time (and cooking and shopping and cleaning and paying bills and caring for the dog and maintaining friendships and a marriage and participating in family events and blogging and working out and and and…).

So tomorrow I’ll take a deep breath and do a little more meandering while the meandering days are still here.

Have a great, meandering kind of weekend!

Jess Riley


Toronto, San Francisco, Toronto, New York, Toronto…whew! by Deb Danielle Younge-Ullman

Hello lovely friends, readers and fellow debs,

I am in New York, having just turned around from my trip to San Francisco. I’m tired already but having a blast! And I hugely appreciate all the wonderful words from you all about Falling Under.

I’m short on time and writing genius, so I hope you’ll forgive me for posting some pictures! (Figured out how to work the alternate uploader doo-hicky–with much laughter from/with The Oppressor.)

First is me with my books in Toronto’s Eaton Centre:

Next is Deb Eileen, Deb Jess, Deb friend Maureen McGowan and me, on the floor of a taxi in San Francisco last week:

And Debs Jess and Lisa with two very fun party crashers we met in San Fran, one of who has Ward and Gardiner in his name!!!!

And, if I can get it uploaded, this is from tonight–Deb Gail, Deb Friend Joanne, Deb Danielle and Deb Jenny at The Algonquin!

Have I mentioned that I adore my fellow debs?

And all of you?

I do. Thanks for being with me on my launch week.

Deb Danielle


Wild Kingdom in Miniature by Deb Jess

I grew up two dunes from the beach in Kohler Andrae State Park, along the western shore of Lake Michigan. My mom and I lived with my grandparents until I was five, and lucky for me, my Grandfather was the Superintendent of that state park. He and my Grandma had a house tucked right into the woods just beyond the dunes, and I couldn’t imagine a more idyllic place to spend your childhood: exploring the dunes during the day, falling asleep to the sounds of whippoorwills calling to one another at dusk, the smells of white pine, wild raspberry, and campfire mingling in the cool night air. If the wind blew the right way, you could sometimes hear the waves washing onto shore, distant and soft—better than any white noise machine ever made.

Even after my mother married and we moved an hour from the lake, I still returned summer after summer to log countless hours reading and sunning myself on that beach. Two of the books I know I read on the dunes include Stephen King’s The Stand and Judy Blume’s Summer Sisters. Of all my books, these are the two that I’ve read and reread more than any other.

Now, I do most of my reading in my own backyard. I’ve seen placemats larger than our lawn and I’ve swapped a lake for a birdbath, but it’s all I need. Over the last three years I’ve stuffed every nook and cranny back there with shrubs and flowers carefully selected to attract all of the critters large and small that usually end up distracting me from whatever I’m reading: butterflies, monarch caterpillars, bumblebees, chickadees, goldfinches, and now a family of house wrens in the nestbox mounted to the garage. (The baby birds are just days away from fledging, and I hope I catch their first flight.)

Despite the distractions, I do lose myself in a good book back there, including most recently:

The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum
Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster
Leave the Building Quickly by Cynthia Kaplan
I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley
When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of my Father by Augusten Burroughs
Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
And currently, an advance review copy of time of my life by Allison Winn Scotch (which you’re going to love this October, if you haven’t gotten your hands on an ARC already).

When I return from San Francisco in early August, I’m going back to the beach to recharge and, of course, do some reading. My Read Me Next pile has begun actually growling at me whenever I walk past—clearly a sign that I need to whittle it down book by book. Next up? Throw Like a Girl by Jean Thompson and Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore.

And if you have any of the Deb books still on your Read Me Now pile, throw ’em in your beach bag and head for the shore! (Or pre-order Cancer is a Bitch and Falling Under, which is out on Tuesday.)

Have a great weekend!

Deb Jess


Best Beach Reads by Deb Gail

I haven’t been to the beach yet this summer but I am going to Madeline Island next week (yay!) and the book I’m bringing is Barry Eisler’s Requiem for an Assassin which I bought after our hottest authors week and I figured if I was going to drool over his picture on his website I had to do the honorable thing and buy his book. Much to my surprise, I’m finding my first thriller… thrilling. So that’s what I’m reading at the beach next week.

But for all of you out there in the blogosphere I can’t help but recommend my fellow Deb’s books for the best beach reads this summer. Just to refresh your memory… that would include Jenny Gardiner’s Sleeping With Ward Cleaver one the best, most honest novels about midlife marriage (and very funny!) and Eileen Cook’s Unpredictable that will have you cracking up so hard people on the beach might move away (giving you more room to lounge and read!) and Lisa Daily’s Fifteen Minutes of Shame hilarious and true (make sure you have a pitcher of margaritas and some good friends nearby) and Jess Riley’s Driving Sideways another laugh out loud funny book that’ll make you want to put on your flip-flops and take your own road trip (if gasoline prices weren’t so outrageous… so stay home and read the book instead). And last but not least Danielle Younge-Ullman’s Falling Under an absolutely original new voice in fiction with an edgy narrator you can’t help but root for. That should keep you busy for the rest of the summer!


Two more INCREDIBLE beach reads: Kristy Kiernan’s already critically acclaimed second novel MATTERS OF FAITH about families and faith and so masterfully written you’d think it ws her 10th novel. And Amy MacKinnon’s TETHERED a dark edgy tale that will not let you go until the last page. Also brilliantly rendered!

Deb Gail

Health update: I had my 2 and a half year check-up on Tuesday and while I don’t like getting MRI’s, not only is it freaky to lie face down and get sucked into that narrow tube and feel ice-cold potentially poisonous contrast coursing through my veins and listen to that loud erratic avant-garde tap tap tapping but I also don’t really like my insides so scrutinized because it scares me, worries me, makes me feel invaded… and yet… as soon as the doctor told me (after 6 looong hours of waiting) that I was okay, I was giddy with joy. I leapt out of my chair and hugged her and the two med students trailing her and I whipped open my gown to show them my boobs (when they asked me to!) without an ounce of self-consciousness or shame that one was less than perfect. (I’d worn a new fun and funky bra with a pink and brown polka-dotted pattern that day and for a second my magical thinking mind thought that was the reason I was okay).


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.


Step into the Beauty Confessional Booth by Deb Jess

When you think of the things women (and many men) do to maintain beauty, it’s fairly easy to get grossed out. Slathering mud on our faces, smearing Vaseline on our teeth, painful strategic hair removal, bleaching mustaches, waxing brows, picking, taping, dying, scribbling on our lips, brows, and eyelids with food grade crayons…I heard last weekend that people have been using Preparation H to diminish dark circles and bags beneath their eyes. On Wednesday, Lisa mentioned a woman who applied spermicide to her face. And now I shall confess some of the sordid, off-putting science experiments I have tried in my personal quest for a smooth, dewy complexion, bouncy, lustrous hair, and that Cover Girl smile:

Not-so-bad: I have dabbed dissolved Knox gelatin beneath my eyes to eliminate dark circles. I can’t recall where I read about this, but the Vitamin K in the gelatin is supposed to fight dark coloration. BAD: When the gelatin dried, it pulled my eyelids down until I was quite uncomfortable and teary and looked like Alex in A Clockwork Orange, in the ‘violence aversion therapy’ scene.

Not-so-bad: I have made my own face mask of eggs, oatmeal, honey, and milk. BAD: I fed it to the cats after I scraped it off my cheeks and forehead. (I know, I know–I can hear the “Eeewwwws!” from here…but hey, waste not, want not!)

Not-so-bad: I have applied straight Vitamin E beneath my eyes. BAD: It was incredibly sticky, made me look like I was crying, and stained my pillowcases.

Not-so-bad: I once dyed my hair a spunky deep red. BAD: It actually came out purple, and the bartenders I worked with subjected me to more Purple People Eater-related jokes than any human being should ever have to abide.

Not-so-bad: I never fail to use sunscreen before spending lots of time in the sun. BAD: In 8th grade, I once strategically applied sunscreen only on the more wrinkle-prone areas of my face (my laugh line zones in particular) and ended up with white parentheses around a sunburned mouth.

Not-so-bad: I have a very high forehead, which was considered such an attractive feature in Elizabethan times that people actually shaved their hairlines up. BAD: I have a very high forehead and I’m not living in Elizabethan times, so in grade school I sat in class with my eyebrows perpetually raised so it would look smaller.* (It also helped me look very interested in whatever was being discussed.) Guess who’s got a nice little ladder of lines on her forehead now?

Not-so-bad: Due to an unfortunate poodle perm (also in 8th grade—a very bad year for beauty with me), I cut my own hair for years. BAD: I cut my own hair for years.

Now, in all seriousness, in keeping with the true intention of this week’s topic, I’m going to tell you about a product that has revolutionized my nightly beauty routine. And that is DHC’s Deep Cleansing Oil. I’m fickle about moisturizers, because I veer back and forth between “natural but of dubious outcome” and “man the chemical torpedoes and SINK those wrinkles!” But DHC Deep Cleansing Oil? You keep me coming back for more.

If you’re feeling brave, I’d love to hear the quirky, embarrassing, or just plain bizarre things you’ve done for beauty.

*I should add that I did this with the teacher who actually laughed out loud, right in front of me, at my class pictures when they returned from the photographer. That kind of makes it worse, right?

Have a beautiful weekend, everyone!

Deb Jess


Get that Post up STAT! by Deb Jess

Okay, here’s what’s going on: the city in which I live has received EIGHT inches of rain since last weekend (3 inches alone in the last few hours), and 30 city streets and major county and Interstate highways are now closed. There are COUCHES and CARS floating in flooded roads, four tornadoes have touched down in neighboring counties in the last few hours, and while my Internet connection is still viable, I am BOUND AND DETERMINED to get a post up! I have my priorities.

I am known among my friends for having ‘quirky’ taste when it comes to a person’s physical attractiveness. Generally, it boils down to sense of humor. You can have the body and face of a Greek god, but if you can’t make me laugh (which is my personal key to accessing all the other emotions), get back in the corral with the rest of the paste eaters. Which is why I find the following writers/authors … HOT:

Steve Martin. Sensitive, thoughtful, wry, witty…and he shares my maiden surname. Love him!
Paul Feig. If you haven’t read Superstud or Kick Me, you need to BUY THOSE BOOKS NOW. Especially if you were a fan of the sadly short-lived Freaks and Geeks.
Laurie Notaro. Hilarious self-deprecation? Yes, please!
Stefanie Wilder-Taylor. Not only is she capable of making me spew wine onto the keyboard or page, she is also very attractive in the conventional sense.
Erika Schickel. Another essayist I have a major girl crush on.
David Sedaris. SWOON!
Amy Sedaris. Double SWOON!
Jennifer Belle. Sultry good-looks coupled with exceptional, bizarro wit. She’s on my auto-buy list.
Shannon Olson. The girl next door can WRITE. And make me LAUGH.
Garrison Keillor. Yes, you heard it here folks–I think he’s hot in that special, weird way of mine that leaves me slightly sweaty.
Eric Schlosser. Muckraking hottie (met him once at a signing–smart is so delicious!)
Suzanne Finnamore. Writer of brilliant, heartbreaking prose.
Jill A. Davis. Funny, pretty, witty, and wise.
Haven Kimmel. If they made the writer-equivalent of Teen Beat and BOP fold-out posters, she’d be the centerfold every other month, plastered all over my office walls.

Oh, and it must be said that I’ve had a huge, HUGE crush on Sherman Alexie for YEARS. I’ve heard that women send him nude photos and underwear.

And I must wrap my post by saying the other writers with whom I share time on this blog are all simply gorgeous, inside and out: Eileen Cook, Gail Konop-Baker, Lisa Daily, Jenny Gardiner, and Danielle Younge-Ullman.They have made me laugh, they have made me think, they have even made me cry with some of their posts, and that makes them hot in my book.

And now I’m off to see if the window is still leaking…

Deb Jess


My Hot 20 by Deb Danielle Younge-Ullman

For me, talent is one of the biggest factors in making someone ‘hot’ and so is generosity. These are the two factors I used for this list, with slightly more weight given for talent–ie everyone on the list is talented and some are also people I know to be very generous. (Please note that many of these authors are also physically hot and a few of them also create work that is hot, in the steamy sense.)

In no particular order…
1. Ann-Marie MacDonald
2. John Irving
3. A.M. Homes
4. Jodi Picoult
5. Meg Tilly
6. Anne Michaels
7. Barbara Kingsolver
8. Augusten Burroughs
9. Wally Lamb
10. Marian Keyes
11. Ellen Sussman
12. Elizabeth Gilbert
13. Diana Gabaldon
14. Guy Gavriel Kay
15. Jon Clinch
16. Tish Cohen
17. Kristy Kiernan
18. Lolly Winston
19. Jeffery Deaver
20. My fellow debs, Jenny Gardiner, Eileen Cook, Lisa Daily, Jess Riley & Gail Konop Baker–I hope they don’t mind sharing the spot since my list was quite long!

Anyone want to agree or contest? Want to add to the list?

Deb Danielle