12

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!

15

It Ain’t Over ‘Til the Jellyfish Stings by Deb Eve

evebrown49What? My LAST post as a Debutante? It can’t possibly be. My book is not a bestseller yet, hasn’t been optioned for a movie, I’m not nearly where I should be on my next effort, I haven’t even figured out if I’m a writer (as in, this is my career) or just a person who wrote a book (as in, go out and get a job now, dear)!

No! There’s still too much I haven’t yet figured out about this business. Like, how the heck are you supposed to promote one book AND write another at the same time (all while keeping the laundry and dirty dishes from taking over the whole house)? And how do you not let all the rejection and criticism wear you down? And what, exactly, is the correct placement of punctuation with quotation marks?

And most importantly, how much does it really hurt to get a tattoo? You see, I had wanted to mark the end of this era by doing something bold, something permanent, something daring … and maybe just a teensy bit out of the ordinary. I had decided to get a tattoo! Oh nothing big and glaring. And nowhere with imminent risk of sagging (hey, I am 47). I had decided on a delicate little jellyfish on my ankle. Those of you who have read FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MALARIA will understand the significance of a jellyfish on my ankle. (Those of you who haven’t read the book, I’m begging you one last time – please, please, please read the book!)

Well, last week, I almost got the tattoo, but chickened out at the last minute. (Hey, the ankle is all bone and that hurts! Plus, what if I hate it? What if I’m the first old lady in history with saggy ankles?) Maybe I’m just not ready to get a tattoo. Like, maybe I’m just not ready to leave The Ball. Maybe I’m just not ready to move on, write the next book, embrace my life as a writer. Maybe I’m just not ready to leave behind FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MALARIA and all it has meant to me.

Maybe what I’m really not ready to leave behind is the camaraderie and support of my sister Debutantes – Kristina, Katie, Meredith and Tiffany – all such incredibly fun and talented women. And I’m not ready to give up the counsel of the women I’ve come to think of as my “Big Sisters” – the wise and generous Graduate Debs. And I am definitely not ready to give up this audience: the readers who have cheered us on, promoted us, loved us. Without you all, this craziest of years would have been unbearable.

Ah, but all good things must come to an end. If not, we’d all still be fingerpainting, taking naps every afternoon and waking up to cookies and milk. (And that would be bad, why?) So, I too, take my final twirl around this glorious dance floor and exit stage left. I now join the ranks of the Big Sisters, proudly cheering on the newest group of Debutantes and hoping to add to their well of wisdom and support.

I leave you now with my tiara, my pearls, my gloves, these damned high heels and a question: How much, really, does it hurt to get a tattoo on your ankle?

~Deb Eve

P.S. You can continue to follow my adventures – and keep in touch – at www.EveBrownWaite.com where I will be resuscitating my long-neglected blog, I’ll Keep You Posted. And for anyone in New York City, I’ll be speaking tomorrow (Sat. Aug. 29) at the St. George Library on Staten Island at 3 PM!

5

Step in to Rev. Eve’s Confessional, by Deb Eve

brownwaite_smallHmmm … my bad habits? I’ve got plenty of them. C’mon, who doesn’t. Procrastinating is definitely high on my list. As in, I procrastinated on this week’s blog post and now that I’m on vacation with no internet connection, it’s rather difficult to come up with something pithy and/or deep to write seeing as how I’m on the spot, the kids are hungry, I’ve borrowed my daughter’s computer and pilfered the neighbor’s wi-fi.

But fear not, faithful readers Here is your chance to confess your sins, come clean and purge your souls. Tell us – what are your bad habits? Being an ordained minister, I believe I can absolve you all. (Well, in most states, anyway!)

~Deb Eve

8

What were we talking about? By Deb Eve

brownwaite_smallWell, I almost made it through the entire Debutante Ball year without the embarrassment of having absolutely NOTHING to say about the topic at hand. Almost that is. Until today. Because I’ve got very few thoughts on what books I’d want to have with me if I were stuck on a deserted island. I don’t usually re-read books – no matter how much I love them. It probably has something to do with the fact that I’m an ENFP – which makes me the kind of person who’s usually onto the next thing before I’m even done with the … wow, would you look at that pretty bird outside my window. I wish I could fly. If I could fly I’d probably never hit traffic going down to visit my mom in Delaware. Did you know Delaware was the first state, except I don’t think it was really the FIRST, just the first to ratify the … wait, what were we talking about?

Oh, yeah, books that I’d want to re-read. I did get to the end of Amy Tan’s The Hundred Secret Senses and – for the one and only time in my life – go immediately back to the beginning to re-read it to see exactly how she did that! Because I really loved that book. It takes place in China and oh, man I love Chinese food. I especially love Dim Sum at those funky restaurants in Chinatown where you don’t actually know what they’re serving you. I once ate guinea pig. My brother had a pet guinea pig when we were kids. He lives in Taiwan now. My brother, not the guinea pig. The guinea pig is long gone. It’s really true that guinea pigs can’t swim. Taiwan just got slammed by a huge typhoon. And Japan just had another earthquake. Damn, I love sushi!

Oh, wait, we were talking about books that I’d want to have on a desert island. If I were on a desert island, I would definitely want to have a bandana and dental floss. A bandana can save your life if you plunge down the side of a mountain in a fiery bus crash and survive, but need a tourniquet to stem the bleeding. Plus, you can use it for toilet paper in a pinch. The dental floss? That’d be good for getting the lobster out from between your teeth. (They will be having lobster on this desert island, won’t they?)

Oh, yeah … books I’d want to have with me on a desert island? Clearly, I have no idea. You tell me. Give me your suggestions of all the classics that a well-read author should have read. (If I was supposed to have read them in high school or college, it’s a pretty safe bet that I didn’t.) I’ll go out and buy them and pack them away in my DESERT ISLAND EMERGENCY KIT – right next to my bandana and dental floss.

~Deb Eve

3

News Flash, August 9

Did you see our Special Edition News Flash last week? We’ve announced the 2010 Debutantes! Check it out! The new Debs will be taking the reins the week of August 31, so be sure to drop by and show your support!

Also, the Debutante Ball is now on Twitter! Click here to follow us and receive daily updates with links to our posts, as well as breaking deal and pub day news!

Deb Katie Alender unveiled a new section of her website filled with fun stuff and downloads related to Bad Girls Don’t Die. Check it out here: Alexis’s Darkroom and enter the contest here!

School Library Journal reviewed Bad Girls Don’t Die, and had this to say: “Alexis’s story is compelling, and her voice is funny and authentic.”

WORLDVIEW Magazine’s Summer issue has a lovely two-page excerpt from Deb Eve’sFIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MALARIA.

Past Deb News
2007 Deb Mia King’s third novel, TABLE MANNERS, was released Tuesday 8/4/2009! Friend of the Debs Larramie of the Divining Wand did a great write-up about it.

What We’re Reading
Deb Katie is listening to the audiobook of Farm City by Novella Carpenter.

Deb Kristina is reading THE EMBERS by Hyatt Bass, a gorgeous and engaging novel of family.

Deb Eve is reading Naseem Rakha’s THE CRYING TREE.

10

Yes, I SHOULD be on Oprah, by Deb Eve

brownwaite_smallYes, yes, yes …. I SHOULD be on Oprah. I know that because EVERYONE tells me that. And I know that because FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MALARIA is true and riveting, uplifting, motivating and ever-so-slightly spiritual – all things Americans need right now. Plus, it takes place in Africa, touches on themes of racism, sexual abuse and overcoming hardships – all things that Oprah loves. Yes, of course! My book would be perfect for Oprah.

Well, guess what? Every other author in America (possibly in the entire world) thinks their book should be on Oprah. And, if they’re any kind of writer at all, they have a list as compelling as mine as to why it ought to be.

Hey, besides world peace and a guarantee of lasting health and happiness for my family, there is nothing I’d like more than to get that phone call from Oprah. (I hear the phone call from Oprah comes with a guarantee of lasting health and happiness.) There are probably few things my publishing house would like more. And there are few things less likely to happen. Let’s face it, getting your book chosen for Oprah is about as likely to happen as winning the lottery or getting hit by lightening. And there’s not much that most of us ordinary Jane and Joe writers can do to increase those odds.

Recently someone told me they were “disappointed” in me because I hadn’t gotten my book to Oprah yet! Like was I supposed to excuse myself the last time I was having dinner at Oprah’s house, sneak off and tuck a copy of FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MALARIA under her pillow with a little love note???? Someone else suggested I send Oprah a copy of my book – along with a stuffed penguin! (No, I don’t get the whole Oprah/penguin thing, either.) What do people think? I’m sure my publicist – like every other publicist in America – has or will pitch my book to Oprah’s people at some point. And yes, I’ll probably send her a copy and a lovely, endearing note myself. (Hey, a girl’s gotta try, right?) But c’mon … let’s all be real here.

While getting your book chosen by Oprah can certainly guarantee a HUGE readership for your book, we have got to let go of it as the ultimate measure of success. Because if getting to Oprah is the yardstick, then there’s an awful lot of great writers out there (most, by the way) who might just as well pack it in right now. We all can’t sit on Oprah’s couch (we wouldn’t fit). But there are a lot of other readers out there – millions, actually – who we can get to. And while their endorsement might not guarantee us riches and continued publishing success, it certainly can be affirming and encourage us to continue to do what we do. And if we write because we love to write or because we have a story that we just MUST tell, then we can be grateful for affirmation and encouragement wherever we can find it.

~Deb Eve

P.S. Of course, if you happen to know Oprah’s address, do send it along. Also, know where I can get the perfect stuffed penguin?

5

Once An Outie, Now An Innie, By Deb Eve

brownwaite_smallI am about as Extroverted as one can get. Or at least I used to be. Most people fall somewhere in between, having more extroverted or introverted tendencies, but having some of both. But not Eve! Nope, whenever tested, I’m always a total extrovert.

Or at least I should say, I was a total extrovert. Then a funny thing happened on the way to my first book tour. At just about the time that the publishing industry was hailing my “literary voice”, I began losing my actual voice. Two years later, it’s only gotten worse. And earlier this summer I was finally diagnosed with a rare condition called Muscle Tension Dysphonia which basically causes chronic laryngitis.

Let’s face it, there are far worse things you can lose than your voice (your mind, loved ones, livelihood, last functioning kidney all come to mind). But you’ve got to think the Universe has some sort of odd sense of humor when a person who needs to talk as much as I do loses her voice. And here’s something I never would have known: The change in my ability to talk has caused a change in my personality. This erstwhile social butterfly, who thrived in the spotlight, who once loved to be surrounded by people and talking up a storm, now hates all of that. I avoid bars, restaurants, crowds of people – because I can’t be heard above the din. And while I still love going to parties, more often I now find myself fading into the background hoping no one will come talk to me.

It’s been, and remains, quite a challenge to me. Especially while trying to promote FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MALARIA. While writing a book is pretty quiet, introverted stuff, promoting a book is ALL about being out there and talking about it. The very sort of thing that – mind you – up until two years ago would have been my very favorite thing to do, but now I dread! Does the Universe have a sense of irony or what?

But in true optimistic fashion (for I am an optimist as much as an extrovert), I’ve been able to see the positive in what’s happened to me. First of all, I haven’t yelled at my kids – or my husband – in more than two years. And, for them at least, that has got to be a very good thing. Second, I’ve become a better listener and far more compassionate and aware of other people who are struggling with some sort of ailment or disability of their own. I think I’ve mellowed in my quest for perfection (well, a bit anyway), as I’ve come to recognize that I – and just about everyone else out there – is doing the best they can with whatever they’ve got going on.

And I’ve come to think that this whole strange an unexpected journey that I find myself on now might be worth writing about. Why not? I can hardly talk about it!

~Deb Eve

P.S. Want to hear what I mean? Okay, here’s a link to a public radio commentary I did a few years ago. Yes, that’s my voice as it was! Now, here’s a link to a recent radio interview I did on the John Carney Show at KMOX. Yup, that’s my voice as it is now!

7

The Monkey Gunking Up The Whole Works, by Deb Eve

brownwaite_smallI’m not really sure what myths I believed about publishing before I published my book. No doubt, I thought pretty much what I have always thought about most of the hard things I’ve ever had to tackle in life. If you do your absolute best, put your heart and soul into it, persevere, think positively and be nice – then things will probably turn out pretty well.

I still believe that … about most things in life anyway. But what I’m learning is that when it comes to book publishing, all bets are off. See, I’m beginning to figure out that there’s a piece of the equation that I never accounted for and it’s a piece that can throw a monkey wrench – heck a whole monkey – into the works. Because you CAN write the very best book you are capable of. And you CAN obsess over it for years refusing to let it out into the world until you feel it’s just perfect. And you can get a great deal with an excellent publishing house AND hire a fabulous independent publicist just to give you that extra push and you CAN work your tail off saying yes to every event and taking advantage of every opportunity to promote your book that comes your way. And you can say please and thank you to everyone you meet along the way. (I do believe in the importance of being nice. I do!)

But you just can’t control what you can’t control. And when you’ve published a book, there’s an awful lot of things you just can’t control. Things like the economy (stupid). And what – and who – you have to compete with for your piece of the media pie. You just cannot control whether or not people are going to plunk down their scarce dollars to buy your book.

Maybe that’s the myth that’s being debunked for me now. The myth that I’m in control of anything that happens once I finish writing my book. Come to think of it, I’m not even in control of what I write most of the time. With memoir, you really have to stick to at least some version of the facts. Maybe that’s why I’m trying my hand at novels now. Finally, something I can be in control of! Yeah, I’ll write a novel. I’ll show ’em who’s boss!

And if that works, I’ll try bossing around my kids next!

It’s frustrating (being an author AND being a mother), but they’re still the best jobs I’ve ever had.

~Deb Eve

P.S. Anyone going to be in Rhode Island this weekend? Join me at Other Tiger in Westerly from 4 to 6 today. And at Book and Tackle in Watch Hill from 1 to 3 tomorrow. It’ll be fun!

1

News Flash, July 19

brownwaite_small New Englanders and those enjoying a New England vacation can catch Deb Eve at various lovely locations this week! She’ll be at Boswell’s Books (just off the Bridge of Flowers) in Shelburne Falls, MA on Monday, July 20 at 7 PM; at Other Tiger Bookstore in Westerly, RI on Friday, July 24 from 4-6 PM; and The Book and Tackle Shop (next to the famous carousel!) in Watch Hill, RI on Saturday, July 25.

While in Santa Fe this past week, Deb Eve was interviewed by Mary-Charlotte of KSFR for Santa Fe Radio Cafe. (Yes, they really do the interview in a cafe and offer free coffee for the guests and THE BEST chocolate mocha raspberry cake I ever had!)

Deb Eve has also been invited to be the Keynote Speaker at the Girls, Inc. Annual Celebration Luncheon in October, at which they will be giving out the Breaking the Glass Ceiling Awards. Go Girls!

A review of Deb Kristina‘s REAL LIFE & LIARS by blogger BookingMama says “It’s almost hard to believe that REAL LIFE AND LIARS is Ms. Riggle’s debut novel because it is just so good.” Read the whole thing here.

Deb Meredith will be at Reagan National Airport at Borders Books Friday July 24 at noon signing POSED FOR MURDER.