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: Blurbs, Book Festivals, and Edgar Allan Poe!

Congrats to Kelly, who won a copy of SOY SAUCE FOR BEGINNERS by guest author Kirstin Chen! From the 2014 Debs… Susan Gloss will be speaking at the Fox Valley Book Festival on April 12 at 3:15 with fellow women’s fiction authors Kelly Harms (a 2013 Deb!), Ann Garvin, and Erin Celello. Lori Rader-Day got asked…
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News Flash: Research Trips, Trade Shows, and New Cover Designs!

Congrats to Cheryl, who won a copy of Anna Lee Huber’s Mortal Arts! From the 2014 Debs… Susan Gloss is in Spain doing research for her next novel. Hint: she’s visiting a lot of wineries. Heather Webb did cartwheels when she was made a monthly contributor at the popular writing blog Writer Unboxed. She’s also dying of jealousy…
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News Flash: Secrets, ARCs, and a First Good Review

Congrats to Thew Swihart, who won the copy of Dave Jackson’s TATTOO RAMPAGE last week! From the 2014 Debs… Lisa Alber received her advance reader copies (ARCs) of KILMOON (yay!), and she’s in love with them. She can’t wait to take a few to Bouchercon, the world mystery convention, next week. In fact, now that…
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The Debutante Ball Welcomes Back Deb Eve Brown-Waite

Well hello there Debutante Ball readers!  It has been a long time since I danced on this stage as a Debutante back in 2009. Not that long since I danced mind you. In fact I did that just recently, after imbibing far too many drinks in celebration of mine & St. John’s 21st wedding anniversary. (I figure if your marriage is THAT OLD, you are allowed to take it out and get it drunk!)

Ah but anyway, I didn’t pop back in after all this time to tell you, shamefacedly and a bit hung over, about my anniversary debauchery. Although that was a rollicking good time. After downing my fifth drink, I am told I was heard shouting, “Let me get out there and show the white people how to dance!” No, what I came to talk about was life after THE BOOK and more importantly for you dear readers and book lovers – the proper care and feeding of your favorite authors.  

The three years since FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MALARIA was published have been a roller coaster ride of ups and downs – enough to make even me, of pregnant-with-malaria-and-dysentery-but-still-not-vomiting fame want to throw up.  And while there is nothing that feels quite as good as having your first book published (with the possible exception of when the police finally let you out of the handcuffs), there are some pretty sobering realities to it as well. The worst part may be that everyone thinks you’ve got it made when in reality… your future may be as unmade as your teenager’s bed. People just assume that your fate as a rich and famous author is sealed, the books will keep rolling out, and the royalties and advances will keep rolling in. All casual conversation in social settings is now replaced by the single question, “So when is your next book coming out?” (I kid you not. I am regularly asked this question at parties, funerals, while hiking in the woods, and in one supremely awkward moment, on my gynecologist’s examining table.) 

Mind you, all the interest in my book and its sequel is very flattering. Just not so much when my next book is not forthcoming, nor even a glimmer in my editor’s eye. It’s not that I haven’t written another book. But the sad truth is that my publisher – as well as several others that bid for the rights to my first book – all passed on the opportunity to publish the sequel. “The Lights Are Listening: My life as a “spy” in the former Soviet Union,” is every bit as funny as my foray into the developing world, but wackier because everyone in Uzbekistan after the fall of communism was certifiably crazy!

But unfortunately for my career, my first book came out – in hardcover (read: EXPENSIVE) just as the economy was falling off a cliff. The publishing industry tanked soon after, taking my publicist and marketing team with them. My publishing house took a loss on my book, my imprint got swallowed up by another, and I haven’t heard from my editor in years. (She may be off on her own adventure by now, housebreaking hyenas in Ethiopia for all I know. This might be a smart career move, what with the downturn in the publishing industry and all.) 

None of this is to imply boo hoo, poor me. My book was published, it’s out there, and it’s well loved. And THAT alone is all that any writer can hope for. So even when I’m feeling sorry for myself, I remember how lucky I really am.  But what I’d like the rest of the world to remember – especially the book-loving public – is that the book business is a business just like any other. That means, at the end of the day, authors fail if you don’t BUY their books. (I know … BUY it’s a dirty little three-letter word, isn’t it?) People who love books share them, lend them, and pass them around. But believe it or not, that hurts authors.

If you love a restaurant, a store, or a farmer’s market, and you want to see them stay in business, you support them by buying their products. It’s no different with authors. We don’t stay in business if we don’t sell enough of our books. Authors need to sell books – LOTS OF THEM – in order to secure a contract to publish more. People who love authors, buy the authors’ books, then buy another to give to their sister as a birthday gift, and one for their mother on Mothers’ Day, too. They give them as Christmas gifts to everyone on their lists and in the case of my BFF – order them by the case and hand them out like candy. (Alright, she’s IN the book. But I bet she’d do that even if she weren’t.)

Sharing books gets them out there and gets people reading, so I don’t mean to belittle people who do that. But please understand why I force a smile when someone tells me, gushingly, how she loved my book so much that she lent it to six friends. Or why I seem less than thrilled when I come to a book club where everyone borrowed my book from the library. Don’t get me wrong: I am truly flattered that readers enjoy my book so much they want to share it. But now you might understand why I sputter and then cry when a declaration of love for my book (which was borrowed from a neighbor who lent it to her sister who shared it with her daughter who heard about it from her best friend who took it out of the library) is followed by the question, “So when is your next book coming out?”  

Deb Eve 

Deb Eve Brown-Waite is the author of FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MALARIA. In 2009, she danced at the Debutante Ball each Friday. She now works as the Executive Director of ACT NOW! Inc. a non-profit organization that builds self-esteem and confidence in adolescent girls. She is also completing her Masters Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. She is not presently writing another book and she doesn’t dance (or get drunk) nearly enough anymore!


The Deb Ball Welcomes Back Deb Tiffany Baker!

We here at the Ball are so excited to welcome back Deb Tiffany Baker to the dance floor in honor of her recent release of The Gilly Salt Sisters!

Here’s a little bit about the book…

Jo and Claire Gilly are sisters bound together by the mysteries of their family salt marsh and also by a history with the same man. While Jo, a fierce loner, chooses the marsh over marriage, Claire escapes the curse of the land by marrying her sister’s childhood love. It isn’t until years later, when Claire finds herself thrust back in the marsh with the last person she would have chosen—her husband’s pregnant teenaged mistress—that the Gilly sisters learn that while blood is thicker than water, salt is the strongest substance of all.

So without further ado…

 Tiffany Baker Takes the Deb Ball Interview!

Talk about one book that made an impact on you:

I first read Jane Eyre when I was nine years old, and at various points in my life, I’ve gone back to read it again. When I was kid, I was mesmerized by Jane’s tragic childhood. As a teenager, I was smitten with Mr. Rochester, and now, as a novelist, I appreciate the narrative arc and Jane’s voice.

I have a doctorate in Victorian literature, and I’ve come to believe that one is either Team Jane Eyre or Team Wuthering Heights. Generally, most scholars are pro-Wuthering Heights, and although I love both books, I have to say that my heart belongs to Jane Eyre. I think it’s more of a reader’s and a woman’s book. For one thing, there’s no prissy Mr. Lockhart telling the story, just Jane, herself. Also, Heathcliff is sexy, but he’s too much of a brute in the end. Mr. Rochester does have his awful side (the fact of the mad wife in the attic is emphatically Not Good), but he’s not quite as savage as Heathcliff. And the end is happy. I love a happy, if imperfect, ending. Finally, is there any better sentence than, “Reader, I married him?”

Where do you love to be?

Home, in widening circles. Let me explain. The first circle of home for me is my kitchen. There is no better feeling than cooking on a lazy, rainy Sunday in early spring, the kids and husband doing puzzles or playing a game at the table, classical music on, friends and family due in a few hours, and a lovely glass of wine waiting.

I live in the town I grew up in, and this is the second level of “home” for me. I love the hills around my house, the bay when it’s murky and green, all the different bike routes I have mapped out through back neighborhoods, the way the air smells of both the earth and the sea. I love running into family and friends, and knowing the history of the buildings and plants around me.

And, finally, I would say that “home” for me is the San Francisco Bay Area itself. I love that there are parts of the city where it’s still always 1976, that we’re at the forefront of techno-geek innovation, that our food rivals almost anyone’s, that you can go to the opera and kayak in the same day, that we are a weird mix of cultures and climates, and that, somehow, it all really works.

What are the hardest and easiest things about your job?

The hardest thing about writing is doing it. I find writing a first draft to be as terrifying as sky-diving. I don’t know why it’s like that, but there is real, throat-clenching fear involved in a first draft for me. I even sometimes get short of breath and sweaty hands when I sit down to work. Also, it’s really difficult to manage three kids and writing. There are days when I just want to be totally immersed in the world of my book, but I have to stop and drive to ballet and soccer, and days when I want to be at my kid’s basketball game, but I can’t because I’m on a deadline. I think every working mom deals with this constant push-me/pull-you dynamic, though. So I operate on the 2 out of 3 system. If I can do 2 out of the 3 things I should do, then I give myself a pass, and say it’s good enough, damn it.

Once I get the first draft done, I LOVE revising. All the fear (well, most of it) goes away. This is when I start to realize not just what happens in the book, but what it’s really about. I get to go deeper into my characters and emphasize themes and reoccurring motifs. It’s really satisfying to have a book start to come together over the course of many drafts. Also, it’s so fun when you see your cover, and when you receive your galleys and then the finished book. It’s sort of like when you see your baby’s face for the first time. You can’t stop looking at it and you want to show everyone.

What is the best perk of your job?

For me, it’s hearing from readers. I’m always so touched when people take time to email me with their thoughts after they’ve read one of my books.  And I adore doing book club visits and calls. I’ve learned so much from my readers. Each person brings a unique perspective, and I’m always really surprised by the things I learn. I think stories should bring us together and make us question how and why we are like each other, or maybe totally unlike each other. Stories not only tell us who we are, they also point out the enduring mysteries of the world. They make us pay attention to the magic we overlook in our day to day lives. I feel so lucky that I get to use my voice to highlight those moments.

What’s your next big thing?

My third book is called Mercy Snow, and will be released in January 2014. It’s about a bus crash that happens in a New Hampshire paper mill town and about the ensuing cover up. When the secret of what really happens begins to leak out, the lives of three very different women are not only linked, but also irrevocably changed. The book is set against the declining fortune of a mill town as the Clean Water Act begins to come into force, and is loosely based on the Antigone myth. I can’t wait for it to hit the shelves! Thank you so much for taking time to read!

* * * *

Tiffany Baker is the New York Times bestselling author of The Little Giant of Aberdeen County and The Gilly Salt Sisters, out now. She has a PhD in Victorian Literature and an MFA from UC-Irvine. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her three children, mostly lovely husband, and tiny, hyperactive dog. For more information on Tiffany and her writing, you can check out her website, or follow her on Twitter or Facebook!

And because she is such a sweetheart, Tiffany is giving away one signed copy of The Gilly Salt Sisters to anyone in the US or Canada! Just leave a comment to be entered to win!


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 Alum Kristina Riggle on the Love of Debs!

We’re excited to welcome back Deb extraordinaire Kristina Riggle to the Ball today! Kristina’s new book, Things We Didn’t Say, is out next week, and we hope you’ve pre-ordered your copy! Take it away, Kristina:

You know what my writer fuel is? Other writers. Publishing is a subjective, sometimes arbitrary, thoroughly weird business. And though my husband does his level best to understand my life, it’s not the same as being around someone who has been in the foxhole with you. That’s why I’m so grateful for the whole Debutante Ball experience. I’m writing to you as a Graduate Deb, class of ’09. The 2009 Debs are to this day helping each other through the submission, writing and promotion of subsequent books. We soothe each other about the inevitable negative reviews, and even laugh about them. (Eventually).

Better yet than commiserating over email is getting to meet real, live Debs. I’ve met ’09 Debs Meredith Cole (POSED FOR MURDER and DEAD IN THE WATER) and Gail Konop Baker (CANCER IS A BITCH). I’ve met two members of the original Debs, Anna David (BOUGHT and PARTY GIRL) and Eileen Cook (UNPREDICTABLE and THE EDUCATION OF HAILEY KENDRICK) . I’ve met I-don’t-know-how-many guests of the Deb Ball, such as hilarious memoirist Wade Rouse and Kelly O’Connor McNees, whose LOST SUMMER OF LOUISA MAY ALCOTT just came out in paperback.

When I introduce myself as one of the Debutantes, it’s like meeting an old friend. Every time. I was lucky enough to meet current Deb Eleanor Brown at the Printers Row Lit Fest this month in Chicago.

I went to her panel discussion, had a fabulous time, and she went to mine. We had dinner, we had drinks, we had fun conversation and shared war stories. We’d been in the same foxhole after all. I came back to earth on Monday with my agents’ revision notes on Book Four. I could be exhausted and overwhelmed; I’m on a tight deadline. Yet I feel refueled and recharged by my experience meeting Debs, and loads of other excellent writers, not to mention the readers flooding Chicago all for the love of books. How can that be anything but exciting?

As I launch my third book (wow, third? Where did the last two years go?) I may be sitting alone on my couch trying to resist checking my online sales rankings and obsessing about whether my book is selling or neglected on the shelf… but I’m not alone, not really. Because of my writer friends and my Debs.

Yours in pearls and a tiara, Deb Kristina


News Flash: June 19, 2011

Congrats to Jennifer who won Camille Noe Pagan’s The Art of Forgetting.

From the 2011 Debs…

Deb Eleanor is so excited to be visiting The Bookworm in Edwards, CO this Thursday the 23rd! I’ve been hearing about The Bookworm since I moved to Colorado, and I can’t wait to see it in person. Mountains, here I come!

Deb Elise spent Friday night at the Emmys!  She was nominated for her writing on Dinosaur Train, and though The Penguins of Madagascar snagged the trophy (they are after all a crack paramilitary operation, so it should come as no surprise), she had an amazing time… and even got one-on-one time with OSCAR THE GROUCH!!!

Deb Kim Had a very fun chance meeting yesterday. I’m a big fan of music of the 30s, 40s – big band, jazz, swing – and I met Cab Calloway’s daughter at a local BBQ joint. She was with a gent and wearing a Cab Calloway T-shirt. I commented, “Oh I love his music! I saw his grandson a few years ago in Cleveland.” “He was my Dad.”  Tears sprung into my eyes. What a piece of history, both musical and political. And my girls love the Cab Calloumouse character on Sesame Street. I cried when I met Bob McGrath from Sesame Street too.  Such a softie!

Past Deb News

Deb Mia King (Good Things) is giving away a Kindle! If you’ve read her latest book, FRIENDSHIP BREAD (written as Darien Gee), or want to, then you could win! Visit her on her website for more details. The Miami Herald calls it “an engrossing read,” and Ladies’ Home Journal says it’s “charming.” Ends 6/30/11. Good luck!

In case you missed it, Deb Katie Alender‘s sequel to Bad Girls Don’t Die is out! From Bad to Cursed is available now, and get your popcorn ready, because the trailer is (ahem) to die for!

Friends of the Debs

Congrats to Deb guest Liane Moriarty, whose What Alice Forgot is in this week’s People magazine’s list of Great Summer Reads!

Deb Dish — The Debs Most Memorable Moment with Dad/Father Figure

Deb Elise

You know the grandmother I’m always writing about?  She and her husband, my Pop-Pop Irv, used to go to Atlantic City all the time.  They even had a condo there for awhile.  I remember him taking me — I’m sure it was my sister too, but I just remember him with me — out beyond the breakers, so we could jump the ocean swells together.  I can still see him laughing as each wave bobbed us upwards.  He’s been gone for thirteen years now, but every time I think about it I miss him more.

Deb Eleanor

My father used to be a music teacher, and I remember being on a road trip with him, where he explained to me how he used to use the Beach Boys’ “Help Me, Rhonda” to teach symphonic form. It was hilarious, and I still think of that moment every time I hear that song.

Deb Kim

My Dad sent me a dozen roses for my 13th birthday – perhaps it was 13 roses. Red. I’ve never forgotten how special and loved that made me feel.

Deb Sarah

Too many stories to recount. But my dad was (and is) an amazing storyteller—so good, we’d prefer his made-up stories at bedtime to real books. He’d also take us on walks to a local cemetery. I know, this sounds very morbid (and my dad is not morbid), but we were so fascinated by the stories of the dead (we loved checking the dates and were so amazed to find that little kids like us actually DIED!

Deb Tawna

When I was 3, my dad saved my life. We were at a wedding reception at someone’s home, and I wandered off into the backyard where there was a swimming pool with a cover over the top. I just assumed the cover was solid and tried to walk on it. Bad move. Lucky for me, my grandmother turned around just in time to see me slip under. My dad took off running and dove in after me wearing his suit, tie, shoes, and watch. I probably still owe him a new watch.


The Debutante Ball Welcomes Katie Alender (giveaway!)

Katie Alender is a 2009 graduate of the Debutante Ball and the author of Disney-Hyperion’s thriller series for teens, Bad Girls Don’t Die. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found reading, sewing, or hanging out with her dog and husband!

She can be found online at, Twitter, and Facebook.

Katie talks about her summer beach reads!

(First things first: Wow! It’s so amazing to be back at the Ball! Not only are my Deb memories wonderful ones, but the friendships I made while I danced here are still some of the most supportive and rewarding relationships in my authorly life.)

This week’s topic is “beach reads.” I’m sorry… “beach”? What is this word?

Okay, I confess: I grew up in sunny South Florida, about a four minute drive from the beach, and in my childhood, I spent more than my fair share of time digging holes, being knocked over by waves, and collecting shells. But in my adult life, blistering sun, foot-burning sand, withering heat, stinging salt water, and crowds of skinny-minnies in teeny-weeny bikinis are pretty much off my radar.

My idea of a perfect summer day? Well, right now is a pretty good example. It’s about 62 degrees outside and delightfully cloudy. It even whispered rain this morning. In LA, we call it “June Gloom,” meaning the marine layer that rolls in every night and doesn’t burn off until mid-afternoon. Now that’s what I call a tropical paradise!

So it follows that my idea of beach reads is as warped as my appreciation for sunburns and jellyfish. Not for me the vision of being stretched out on a lawn chair by the pool—I’ll take bundled up under quilts with a fire in the fireplace, please! Preferably while rain falls just outside the window.

Or at the very least I’ll need a comfy chair with the air conditioner blasting.

And here are the books I’ll be indulging in this summer:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
An eternal classic and one of my ultimate favorite books ever. I re-read this every year or two, and also cycle through every film adaptation and the audiobook. Reading about chilly, rainy England is the best antidote to a sunny day.

Under the Dome by Stephen King
I’ve owned this forever and never gotten to sit down and read it. That’s a lot of shelf space for a book I’m not sure if I love. So it’s time to crack it open and give it a read.

Across the Universe by Beth Revis
One of the big YA titles from this spring. It has a ton of great buzz and I’m dying to know what happens. How cool is it that sci-fi oriented stuff is hitting the young adult mainstream?

Lit by Mary Carr
I read The Liars’ Club last year and loved it. Then I waited about a year for Cherry to come up on my library’s holds list (and realized the reason it took so long was that I’d ordered the large-print edition… d’oh!) and never read it. I think I’ll go ahead and read this newest one since it’s close at hand!

Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann
I bought this book on Kindle the day it came out, and then I got swept away in revisions for my third book. I’m determined to read it–after all, what says “summer read” more than a spooky ghost mystery?

Populazzi by Elise Allen
If I have a “little sister” Deb, it’s Deb Elise! So naturally I’m dying to check out her book when it pubs in August!

And I’m sure I’ll pick up more books along the way. My to-read stack is getting perilously tall, but that’s just how I like it!

Thank you so much for having me back!

The Bad Girls Don’t Die series is the story of Alexis, a pink-haired loner, and how her life–and her relationships with her family and friends–are changed by the evil ghosts she encounters.

MTV’s Hollywood Crush says, “Katie Alender’s ‘Bad Girls Don’t Die’ series might just be the most intriguing YA series you haven’t been reading.”

From Bad to Cursed is the second book in the series, and it’s available wherever books are sold!

To win a copy of From Bad to Cursed (US only!), leave a comment below! We’ll announce the winner next week!

And check out the book trailer!