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: 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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Graduate Deb Meredith Cole is back with a new book!

The 2010 Debs are thrilled to welcome back one of our own, Meredith Cole, who is guest blogging today to tell us about her second novel, Dead in the Water. Graduate Deb Meredith started her career as a screenwriter and filmmaker. She was the winner of the St. Martin’s/Malice Domestic competition, and her book, Posed for Murder, was published by St. Martin’s Minotaur in 2009. She was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel in 2010. Her second book, Dead in the Water, came out May 11, 2010, and continues the adventures of Lydia McKenzie in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Please visit her website at www.culturecurrent.com/cole

Please welcome Meredith, everyone!

Launching a second book.. but still feeling like a deb


There’s nothing like your first book. You hold it in your hands. You admire it from all angles.  You send everyone a photo of the cover. You take pictures of it in various poses around your house. Okay, I’m only half-kidding about that last one. But all the rest is true, and was true for me with POSED FOR MURDER. And then, if you’re very lucky, along comes your second book.

I can only liken the second book to a second child. Paying too much attention to the second one feels a little bit disloyal. You want to make sure the first one knows it is still very much loved before you shower your attention on the second one. And the first one is still so demanding. You’re still asked to talk about it, and forced to dredge up every aspect of its plot, even though now you’re working on a third one and having a bit of a difficult time keeping it all straight. But throughout it all you feel extremely blessed, and try not to sound whiny even when you’re tired from all those children you have.

I managed to learn a few things the first time that I hope will come in handy this time with DEAD IN THE WATER. I certainly have a list of places I want to go back to, and places I’m definitely going to avoid. But here are a few general lessons that I can share with anyone embarking on their first book tour.

Lesson 1: if a bookseller, book festival or library does not seem particularly excited to have you come, back away slowly and go do something else. In my eagerness to be everywhere, I said yes to things that were hard and far away, and followed every lead even when my gut told me to walk away. I had no idea what I was doing. But I found that their lack of early enthusiasm translates into a lack of publicity, etc., for your event, and you end up sitting by yourself in an empty store or room or bringing the entire audience. Not good, and not worthwhile for you.

Lesson 2: You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get the word out. You just need to have loud friends and a good Internet connection. It helps if your friends are editors and journalists, but we all do what we can. The small time I spend tweeting has managed to net me a few documented book sales, and I didn’t even burn any gas!

Lesson 3: Always, and I repeat always, be a lady (or gentleman). I knew this going in, and have always prided myself on good manners. But I can’t tell you how many times I witnessed hissy fits or heard from booksellers about a certain author who blew his or her top. They don’t forget or forgive juvenile behavior very easily. So when going gets rough and your books aren’t at your event, or there’s no sign or they forgot to put the event on their website, take a deep breath and imagine you’re an arctic explorer or an understudy forced to go on at the last minute with costumes that don’t fit. You can make do and still shine. They won’t forget that, and they’ll be eager to have you back, if you want to go there again.

Lesson 4: Get your Zen on. You do what you can, but have to admit at a certain point that the fate of your book is up to the readers, reviewers, bookstores and your publisher.  Knocking your head against a wall will just make your head hurt, and will probably interfere with the writing of your next book.

All in all, I still feel like a newbie. I’m still not particularly wise or cynical. I get excited when someone emails me that they love my book. It makes my day. And I still feel the urge to get up and yell “hey, everyone! My new book comes out this week!” So I just did.

Hope you enjoy Dead in the Water, and Lydia McKenzie’s next adventures!

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Newsflash May 9

Deb Sarah will be speaking at the Gaithersburg Book Festival on Saturday May 15 at 1 p.m. Stop by if you’re in town! And here’s a 90-second clip of a (very unprofessional) interview Sarah did for the festival http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVukm3oftzQ

Deb Joelle’s book, Restoring Harmony, was spotted in the wild today and Bri Meets Books sent her a picture from her phone!

The Romantic Times gave Deb Joelle’s Restoring Harmony 4 stars (out of 4) this week and an excellent review.

Who knew a fiddling heroine could be so satisfying? This futuristic tale hits all the right notes. Anthony’s heroine is delightfully Canadian, charming and good tempered despite the obstacles in her path.

Deb Joelle continues the second week of her 18 day blog tour, and you can see a complete list of the hosts in the sidebar on her site. Also, she’s running several contests, including a grand prize Restoring Harmony tote bag full of goodies, so make sure you stop by and enter.

Graduate Deb Meredith is launching her second book, Dead in the Water, this week, May 11th, at WriterHouse in Charlottesville, VA. From there, she’ll be in Reston, VA on May 13th, at the Gaithersburg Book Festival May 15th, and in New York City May 26th at Partners & Crime. All the details of her book tour can be found on her website www.culturecurrent.com/cole

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News flash: February 21

REDBOOK Magazine picks The Opposite of Me by Deb Sarah as a”Bookmark” selection for its March issue! Writes REDBOOK: “As early as elementary school, it was crystal clear: Alex was the pretty twin, Lindsey was the smart one. And since then, they’ve shaped their lives around those labels. So what happens when the piece of your life that most strongly defines you is challenged? With her smart, soulful novel, author Pekkanen explores the place where self and sisterhood intersect.”

The Courier-Mail in Brisbane, Australia gives a rave review to Deb Sarah’s The Opposite of Me: “It’s warm, it’s whimsical, and it’s a winner”!

Audio publisher Der Hoerverlag acquired German audio rights to Deb Alicia’s Simply From Scratch. And, to the left is the cover of the North American edition!

Deb Maria continues her book tour with a stop at the prestigious “Book Revue” in Huntington, NY this weekend.  Next up on the list, Borders in Scarsdale!  You can pick up 101 Ways to Torture Your Husband in stores or online now.  More info, articles, and event pics at  www.101WaystoTortureYourHusband.com

Alumni Deb Meredith has just been nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel for Posed for Murder. Her next book, Dead in the Water, comes out May 11, 2010. Congratulations!

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Until We Meet Again by Deb Meredith

mcoledoorHas it been a year? Are you sure? It seems just yesterday that we started our debutante year. I had no idea how funny and wonderful the debs are–or how much I would enjoy their writing. I still had ambitious plans for a west coast tour. I was busy trying to assimilate all the information I was getting from more experienced writers about the do’s and don’ts of book touring as I prepared to launch Posed for Murder. I was young and innocent…

One year later, I still don’t feel like an experienced writer. Doesn’t that happen when you have five or more books under your belt? My book hasn’t even been out a year, and the next one won’t be out until sometime in 2010. But here’s a few things that I’ve learned in my year at the ball.

1) The world of a published author can be frustrating and upsetting at times (bad reviews, lonely book signings, etc.) so make sure to surround yourself with a great support team.

Throughout it all, the debs have been a wonderful support network for me. When something terrible happens (or something wonderful) I share it, and the others write back with an outpouring of understanding, and virtual hugs. It’s made all the difference in the world for me during my debut year.

2) Blogging is not, as I originally feared, and exercise in navel gazing.

I admit that I was dragged kicking and screaming into the world of blogging. With so many blogs out there, it seemed impossible that anyone would actually be reading one. But I was pleased to discover that there is a dialogue on our site. People read the ball and comment, and then we respond back. And we’ve found so much support from our readers, and other amazingly generous bloggers (Larramie, Jen Forbus, and so many others).

3) Most writers are lovely generous people.

Writers, for the most part, give freely of their time and enjoy interacting with their readers. The few that are not nice—well, everyone knows who they are. And they’re pretty easy to avoid.

4) It’s difficult to blog weekly, tour with a new book, hold down a job, be a parent and spouse—and write another book. But it’s not impossible!

When I hang up my crown, I’m looking forward to taking a blogging break for awhile. I have to write my third novel in the series, catch up on the large mountain of laundry, and write a few thank you notes… But I enjoyed spending time in the blogosphere and I don’t think I’ll be able to stay away too long.

Thanks for reading! And a hearty welcome to the class of 2010. The year will fly by–so make sure you enjoy it!

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Time+Discipline+Creativity-Procrastination=Book (I hope) by Deb Meredith

posedformurderI used to think I was highly organized and extremely disciplined. I finished a screenplay every year. I regularly went through my closets and bookshelves and gave away stuff I no longer wanted or used. Birthday cards got mailed, and Christmas shopping got done. I kept neat to do lists. Everything was under control. And then I had a kid.

Here’s what I learned post-child: sometimes it’s better to go with the flow then regulate your life. It’s amazing how fast you can a) eat, b) go to the bathroom and c) eat dinner when someone with very large lungs really needs to either eat or go to sleep right this second. So quite a few things fell by the wayside for a couple of months.

When my son was four months old, I was fortunate to win a screenwriting fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts. I used the money to pay for a babysitter and membership to the Writers Room. I parceled out my creative time in 3-hour increments. I rediscovered my efficiency. I had to finish my pages and get home. I realized in the past that I hadn’t been very disciplined at all. I had just had a lot of time.

This past year I’ve had to rethink my schedule again. Stretched between marketing, blogging, touring, freelancing, parenting and writing another book, I had to push myself out of my comfort zone and try new things. I started writing at night, which I always said I could never do. I got up really early to write (something I remember doing in high school to study Calculus). And I wrote in short bursts during the day instead of having the leisure to write for hours at a stretch.

This summer, my attempts to put my head down and write the third Lydia McKenzie book have been stop and start. Unfortunately it’s been mostly stop. My son no longer naps, but bursts into my office every few minutes to tell me things. But I’ve discovered that occasionally hanging out in kid time is restful and can be good for the creativity. I’m not stacking up pages, but I am getting lots of ideas while swinging on the swings for an hour after dinner. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be the first to make a schedule as soon as school starts, but for now both my son and I are a lot happier without one.

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Marooned with Lots to Read by Deb Meredith

posedformurderWhen I was twelve years old, I won a Desert Island Disks contest on the radio. They picked my letter out of the stack (I deliberately used some garish stationary) and played my five favorite songs on the radio. The prize? Tickets to see Los Lobos at a time I couldn’t go. Oh, well. It was a thrill to be picked. As to what songs were on the list, I believe there was something by Eric Clapton and Fleetwood Mac and probably a song by Cat Stevens… And I probably had a hard time picking just five songs.

I’ve always hated having to decide on one book that I would want to read over and over again while waiting to spot a boat on the horizon. I want all of them! Or I want lots of new books that I’ll come to love. But how impossible is that to write down when you’re making a list?

I love to read a new book that really sticks with me. I turn it over and over in my mind, quote from it at parties, and think about it again and again. OUTLIERS by Malcolm Gladwell and TRAFFIC by Tom Vanderbilt were like that for me this year.

But I also have my favorites that I return to again and again. I reread PRIDE AND PREJUDICE at least once a year. I like to dip back into GREENGAGE SUMMER by Rumer Godden, and revisit Agatha Christie classics (THE SECRET OF CHIMNEYS and MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS). I enjoy reading Georgette Heyer again—the regency world feels so comforting–as well as C.S. Lewis, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Frances Hodgson Burnett. And I challenge myself to read a classic every once in awhile—something I meant to read but never got around to.

But what would I bring to a desert island? This is always a difficult question for me to imagine, because after all, how much packing do you get to do before you’re marooned somewhere? But, if possible, I’d like a little bit of everything if you please. Something old, something new, some mysteries, some classics, some YA, some non-fiction, some meaty fiction, and some light and wonderful summer reading. And lots of blank paper and pens, too (so I can perhaps send Lydia McKenzie to a desert island, too). Just please don’t let me be stranded anywhere without reading material, though! I wouldn’t be able to stand it for long. And I’d probably end up talking to a volleyball or something.

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Oprah? I hardly know yah! by Deb Meredith

posedformurderMy first book came out this year—POSED FOR MURDER. Despite all the excitement around my anticipated debut, Oprah did not call me and ask me to come on her show. I did, however, appear on a local TV show in Fairfax. The experience reminded me why I went to film school in the first place. I like to be behind the camera (directing preferably) rather then in the hot seat.

When I first moved to New York, the first thing I did was get a library card at the local branch. The Bushwick branch of the Brooklyn Library had been built years ago, but when they renovated it they had taken out most of the books to make room for computers. Their fiction section was tiny, and I soon read my way through most of it. If Oprah had recommended a book, they bought it. After reading through 10 books from her book club, I began to notice a pattern. They were full of depressed and depressing people who had suffered terrible losses–often a child—and were married to terrible men. They made me… depressed. Of course, I had also just moved to an unairconditioned loft in the summertime, had no job, and had promptly broken my arm upon arrival, so I had a few other things to be depressed about.

Occasionally there was an exception among her selection—a book that was truly interesting and I was really glad to have read (“The Corrections” and “Middlesex” spring to mind). But I knew that I would never be a candidate to appear on her show. When has she ever highlighted a mystery novel? I imagine John Grisham or Elmore Leonard or Dan Brown may have appeared, but no mid-list authors. No Laurie King or Rhys Bowen or Katherine Hall Paige or any of the other many interesting writers I’ve met in the mystery world.

I admire Oprah as a person. She is a savvy business woman, a talented actress, and a smart person who is trying to make a difference. I haven’t watched her show in awhile, but I seem to remember the shows had people on who had to face extraordinary difficulties (a paralyzed woman who becomes a painter), celebrities (her best friend Tom Cruise), and doctors (full of advice on how to improve your sex life). So unless something horrible happens to me or I get divorced and marry a celebrity, or I get a PhD—I think I’m safe from getting a call from Harpo Productions.

But Oprah–if you’re reading this–shoot me an email! Let’s talk.

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A personality jumble by Deb Meredith

mcoledoorWhen faced with a choice, I usually gravitate to “neither.” I really don’t like to be categorized or to think of everything as black and white or either/or. And so my answer to whether I’m an introvert, an extrovert or neither is, as it is with many other choices, “it depends.”

Introvert? Let’s see… I like to spend time alone. I need to spend a little time alone everyday (a challenge as a mom). I’m happy doing my own thing. And I feel shy sometimes when I have to make a phone call. It feels so intimidating.

The introvert in me helps to make me a good writer. I don’t mind spending hours without anyone to talk to. I like to work for myself and by myself. I’ll often just want to curl up at night with a good book then go to a party. But once I’m there…

I’m not one of those people who sit in the corner all night, longing for the evening/party to be over. Does that make me an extrovert? Hmm… I love to “work” a room. I love to chat with people, so book signings and author events are lots of fun. I enjoy throwing dinner parties and introducing people (although I am definitely the world’s worst matchmaker).

The extrovert in me helps to make me a good promoter. I like to meet new people and find out all about them. I can find something to talk about with almost anyone, and I’ll often seek out someone who looks shy to plunge into the party and chat with them.

And the neither? The neither makes me able to inhabit both worlds. I like a little solitude and a little socialization every day. Too much or too little of one or the other and I feel off-balance. After being alone all day with my computer, I’m very happy to see my husband, son and friends. After a day on the road with my book tour, I have to go back to my hotel, put my feet up and be alone for a little while.

So what does that make me? Someone who has a jumble of different personality traits. Someone who enjoys defying categorization. Someone who is… myself.

So—are you an introvert, extrovert or neither? I want to know!