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: 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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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


Graduate Deb Kristina on How Grandma Taught Her How to Party

Kristina Riggle is a Graduate Debutante from the class of 2009, where she celebrated the release of her debut, Real Life & Liars. Her new book, The Life You’ve Imagined, releases Tuesday. The new novel tells of three friends and a mother connected by a dying family business, learning to cope with life as it is, not as they planned. It’s an IndieNext Notable pick for September.

Thanks for having me back at the Ball! I love going to a party, and I also love to throw a party. The planning, shopping, food preparation, even the cleaning! I love that few minutes when the house is clean, set up, and I’m just waiting for the first guests. Even though my parties are casual, I’m usually a little dressed up, because why not? It’s an occasion, even if the occasion is something like, Hey, we haven’t had anyone over in a while… I’m a fiercely social person and it’s one of my simple joys to sit in the midst of a crowd of people in my house, a buzz of chatter all around me.

At first, the origins of my hostess habit seem mysterious. My parents are on the shy side, and gatherings at our house were infrequent.

But there’s my Grandma Riggle. Mary Helen, as she is known to everyone (never just “Mary”) has always been the consummate hostess. When my husband first had dinner at her house, I cautioned him to take only about half the food he thought he’d eat, because she would insist he take second helpings. As gentle as she is, saying no to her is well-nigh impossible.

Grandma loved a picnic, either in her backyard, or at the beach. These events were swarming with relatives, and every horizontal surface was covered with plates, bowls and platters of divine summer food. There were deviled eggs, sweet corn, grilled meat, salads of every kind, pitchers of lemonade and iced tea (not sweet, we’re northern, after all) and cans of beer for the men who would gather in a circle around my Grandpa at the grill, talking about fish and baseball and whatever else men discuss at picnics.

The screen door would creak open and snap closed all day as the women rushed in and out getting more of this and that dish, extra napkins, more ketchup.

Some days rain threatened, but Grandma never doubted the sun would burst through the clouds. Often it did, just in time. Sometimes, it rained, and we’d cram into the house, or under the beach pavilion, and we had fun anyway. Deviled eggs, lemonade and beer, how could we not?

Mary Helen is now 94, and her hostessing days are behind her. She’s ill, and at the moment in a nursing home. Recently I visited her with my parents. As we sat under the gazebo talking of old times, Grandma said, “Say, John, why don’t you go to the fridge and get us some beers?”

In the twilight of her life now, no longer at home, she’s still playing hostess. What I would have given to conjure up some real beer right then! (We made do with cold water.)

No matter how long she has left with us in his life, a part of her will always be with me, especially when I prepare hors d’ouerves (she used to jokingly call them “horse doovers” and for years I thought that’s what they were really called). She’ll be with me when I greet my guests, invite them in, and make sure they have second helpings.


News Flash, November 22

The very first review of Restoring Harmony by Deb Joelle is up at Princessbookie‘s site and she gave it five cupcakes! If you want a sneak peak, she’s also organizing (for a limited time) an ARC tour by mail.

Author Irene Zutell is giving away a copy of her book, Pieces of Happily Ever After! To enter, just leave a comment on Irene’s guest blog on The Debutante Ball from Nov. 14. She’ll pick a winner this week!

And the winner of the giveaway for Wendy Lyn Watson‘s book I Scream, You Scream is Kim Stagliano! Keep watching and commenting on our guest authors – we’re going to have more giveaways!

Graduate Deb Kristina is celebrating a new book deal for two more books! That makes a total of four under contract for those keeping score at home. (The Life You’ve Imagined is due out August 2010). The Publishers Marketplace announcement goes like this: “Author of Real Life & Liars Kristina Riggle’s HERITAGE HILL, a novel of a blended family in which a missing teenager and a volatile ex-wife could destroy the fragile bonds of a struggling household built on the optimistic premise that love can conquer all, again to Lucia Macro at Avon, in a very nice deal, in a two-book deal, by Kristin Nelson at Nelson Literary Agency (NA).”


News Flash, November 1

Graduate Deb Kristina
will be signing Real Life & Liars at Literary Life Bookstore & More, 758 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Thursday, Nov. 5 starting at 7 p.m. She’ll also have postcards available for a sneek peek at the new book coming out in August, The Life You’ve Imagined.

Founding Deb Anna David has a new book deal! As announced recently in Publishers Marketplace: “Author of Party Girl and Bought, journalist Anna David’s WHAT I SAY I WANT: One Woman’s Quest to Find the Perfect Man or the Perfect Me, about the year she spends following the advice of Cosmo’s Helen Gurley Brown to change her life — and finally determine if she really wants to find “the one” and settle down or accept her life the way that it is, to Jennifer Schulkind at Harper Paperbacks, by Andy McNicol at William Morris Endeavor.”

Graduate Deb Meredith is very pleased to announce she has been picked as NJ Bergen County’s “Invite an Author” for the month of November. The libraries will be showcasing POSED FOR MURDER and inviting her to book discussion groups.

News Flash, September 6

The Debutante Ball has been nominated for a Book Bloggers Appreciation Week Award for the most collaborative blog. Way to go Debs AND all of our fabulous collaborators!

Australian rights sold for The Opposite of Me by Deb Sarah! Simon & Schuster Australia will publish simultaneously with Simon & Schuster’s Atria/Washington Square Press imprint on March 9, 2010.

Deb Joelle is excited to announce her first blurb for her novel Restoring Harmony (Putnam, May 2010) by one of her favourite authors. Armed with only a fiddle and a keen sense of the land, Molly is the best kind of heroine–smart, feisty and courageous. Anthony writes with tenderness and imbues her story with hope. Suzanne Selfors, author of SAVING JULIET and COFFEHOUSE ANGEL (read the entire blurb here)

Want to see Graduate Deb Kristina in action? An eight-minute television interview aired recently on a local TV show called Take Five, and is archived here. Also, Real Life & Liars is a September pick at Book End Babes, a cool new chain of book clubs launched by former Deb guest Malena Lott. To that end, there’s a video of Kristina reading from Liars, here.

Check out what else Malena and the Book End Babes are up to by clicking here, including information on how to start your very own chapter so you can party with your girlfriends and start a reading revolution!.

Hi Joelle,

I had a chance to look at your site today. I know I said I wouldn’t modify anything before I contacted you again, however I found some dangerous files on your site, and felt immediate action was more appropriate.
There were two different exploits hidden on your site. One was a package called “c999sh” which can allow a hacker to gain shell access to the underlying server (behind WordPress). That is very dangerous. This exploit was stored in a file “wp-includes/wp-functions.php” but this is not a real WordPress file. I’ve deleted this file, its not necessary for the correct operation of WordPress.
The second exploit was prepended to your current theme “Beautiful Day”. Like the other exploit, this allowed someone to execute code on the underlying server. I couldn’t locate a correct copy of that theme from anywhere online but in reading the way the code was constructed I’m pretty certain I’ve neutralized the threat. The exploit was stored in a file “wp-content/themes/beautiful-day-10/header.php”. I’ve removed the offending code but otherwise left the theme itself intact.
I also manually looked for other similar exploits but didn’t find any.
You should probably copy the text above and forward it to your friend. Its possible this exploit has affected his other sites too.
There was one file heavily modified from the original WordPress distribution for the currently installed version. I don’t quite understand why but the modifications do not appear to be dangerous. I need to do some more research before I can safely attempt an upgrade.

It’s the last dance… by Deb Kristina

It’s the last dance, each beat of the last dance…

I have a Frank Sinatra CD and those words above begin one of my favorite songs on the album, and Ol’ Blue Eyes is crooning in my head as I write this.

Is it really my last dance as a 2009 Debutante? It seems like only yesterday I was playing with my string of pearls, tugging my gloves tight and adjusting my tiara, tapping my foot impatiently for my turn on the floor, seeing as I was the last Deb out.

I think I’m ready to take my bow, though.

I worried there would be a post-dance letdown. When I was a kid, I used to build up important, long-awaited events to such an impossible proportion that sometimes the letdown occurred right in the middle of the fun. I’d count the days, even the hours until a vacation and then I’d be there at the beach with the lake water too cold and sand in my sandwich thinking, well, crap this wasn’t as great as I thought it would be.

I feared this for my book launch. It was the culmination of six years of work, and many years of daydreaming before that. I’d even bought a book launch dress, on clearance last fall, and never wore it until my debut night at my local bookstore Schuler Books and Music.

I walked into Schuler – extremely early, because I’m particular like that – and my heart started pounding at the sight of all those empty chairs. It was a hot, gritty day, the kind that feels like you’re standing under a hair dryer every minute outside. Did no one want to venture to their cars in weather like this? Maybe everyone ran out of time at the last minute…

Then my heart jumped into my throat as I saw a woman stroll casually by with a copy of my book – my book! – in her arms. I ducked behind a shelf in case she knew who I was. I wasn’t ready to be “on” yet.

I wandered the store to distract myself from the empty reading space, and by the time I wandered back, I exhaled. There were people. Enough for a respectable turnout. By the time I started reading, the respectable turnout had become “standing room only,” at least until more chairs were fetched.

The audience held friends old and new, relatives, store book club members, aspiring writers, and teachers who knew me from elementary school and brought photocopied yearbook pages. Afterward, we gathered at Pietro’s down the road and I got more time to talk to people who were proud of me, celebrating with me.

Was there letdown? No, actually, not a bit. Because I had an event the next night, and the night after that. They were each special in their own way. Even my most sparsely attended reading was nice because I posed for a picture with a young lady who wants to be a writer, too. To her, I was a celebrity, someone worth a souvenir photo. I hope I get to come to her book party someday.

Book events are spilling over into the fall, too, and now they feel like part of my job. Fun, but not on par with say, my wedding day, or the birth of my children.

I get a break for most of September and then I’m back at it in October. If you want to keep track of me after I take my bow here at the Ball, you can go to my website’s “Events” page, and even better sign up for my newsletter at the Contact page. You can also friend me on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter. I plan to continue blogging Mondays at Red Room.

In the meantime, as fun as this dance was, I’m ready to curtsy and be seated.

These shoes are killing me.


News Flash, August 23

bookcoverThe Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Deb Tiffany is featured in the Kirkus Big Book of Fall Fiction under Debut Fiction. Look for a well-written summary and a brief interview. Little Giant will be released in paperback this January.

Deb Kristina‘s REAL LIFE & LIARS is a Target “Breakout” pick now through October, highlighted as a book “everyone will be talking about” alongside former Deb guest Allison Winn Scotch and the paperback version of her New York Times bestseller, Time Of My Life.

Debs are reading

Deb Kristina is reading SELF STORAGE by Gayle Brandeis, which she won in an auction to support the Afghan Women’s Writing Project, a worthy cause worth a click to check out. (Also, SELF STORAGE is engrossing and compelling!)


In which Deb Kristina says “son of a %#&#*!”

liarscoverthumbnailMy bad habit is something I’ve by now given up. Well, mostly.

Swearing. It’s coarse, tacky, definitely unladylike … but let’s face it, nothing vents pressure like letting fly with a really satisfying curse. The apex of my swearing history occurred during my news reporter days when, in certain situations, I would swear like a merchant marine. I’m a little ashamed to admit this when I consider certain people who have never heard me swear and would be shocked to imagine this filthy habit. But then, not really ashamed. It was situational: I wouldn’t swear in front of children, or people who would be offended, or during settings where professional, appropriate behavior was expected.

But newspaper people can be a boisterous, gruff bunch. And the beat that I covered at the paper, City Hall, meant I was often rubbing elbows with old-school politicians and union guys: at work, yes, but also at happy hour downtown or the neighborhood dive bar. I was acting like one of the boys. It wasn’t a calculated effort, it just happened. And I can’t lie, I’ll admit I enjoyed watching the union guys look shocked when I cursed right along with them. See, I’m of petite stature, and overall I’m a pretty boring, do-good kind of gal. There’s not much about me that’s shocking. It’s a rare treat.

Though the late George Carlin seemed to think the shock over swear words is pretty stupid, I think we have to admit that these words have power. Maybe their only power comes from the fact that they’re forbidden, but it’s power nonetheless. If there’s a word we are not allowed to say because it’s shocking and crude in polite society, when a really strong, sudden emotion comes up, it’s only natural to want to exclaim with one of those forbidden, powerful words.

Cursing is on my mind lately because I recently received a gentle admonishment from a relative about some swearing in Real Life & Liars. It went something like this —thoughtful and intelligent people find other words to use. Well, she’s right. But I fall back on the classic author defense: My characters were not behaving in a thoughtful and intelligent way when they cursed. I write realistic fiction, and the kind of people I write are fallible in many ways, occasional foul language being only one of them.

I’ll give you an example, but I’ll bleep it out because we have young-adult authors and readers around here. My character, Katya, is furious because Charles, her husband, seems confused and overwhelmed by what to do with his own children, and she thinks – she thinks it, does not even say it out loud – Tend to them yourself for once in your life, you lousy, selfish (blankety blank.) It rhymes with “what a trucker.” Not thoughtful or intelligent I’ll grant you, but honest and angry.

Recently, when working on my second book, I was writing an exchange of dialogue and in one character’s speech, the worst swear word I know came right out of my keyboard. Four letters, starting with C. Yep, that one. Even in my merchant-marine days that would have made me cringe.

The character uttering this vile word is a despicable, abusive cretin, and he was trying to be as vicious as possible. In other words, absolutely in character.

However, I deleted the word and used another expression that still drove the point home. You see, that word is the most shocking one I could choose and I fear that if I used it, the reader would be yanked out of the moment, shocked so badly that the one word would overshadow the whole scene.

Even in swearing, I choose my words carefully, and that’s what being a writer is all about.

Now. This post is supposed to be about Deb bad habits. I’m not a reporter anymore. I’m a mom, and as such I’ve (mostly) cleaned up my language. That means if I drop a pan on my foot I’m inclined to mutter, “Son of a.” and stop right there. (Which meant my infant daughter went around once saying something that sounded like “Suh-va! Suh-va!”)

I generally try to use thoughtful and intelligent language in my everyday speech (though it’s harder when I drop a pan on my foot). No promises, though, when it comes to my badly behaved, impulsive, occasionally crass characters.

[Brief aside: The fabulously successful and talented Jennifer Weiner had to confront this recently in the setting of a public reading, when a bookstore asked her to please tone down her language considering the Sunday afternoon time of the reading and the proximity to the children’s section. The whole story is here on Edward Champion’s blog. Looking this up allowed me to Google “Jennifer Weiner reading cock” by the way, which I thought was really funny.]