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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.

13

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!

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News Flash, July 26

Deb Meredith will be at the Hanover Book Festival Saturday August 1 in Mechanicsville, VA signing POSED FOR MURDER. And at 2:15, she’ll be teaching a screenwriting workshop.

Deb Kristina was so pleased to see this lovely review from Joelle Anthony, in which she says “it’s often hilarious and laugh out loud.” Also, Kristina’s fellow Literary Mama editor Caroline Grant called REAL LIFE & LIARS “sharply funny” on her blog.

Kristina’s Michigan book tour takes her through the north this coming week. Catch her at McLean & Eakin in Petoskey at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 28, or at Saturn Booksellers in Gaylord at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 30 or in Charlevoix — the setting of LIARS — at noon on Friday, July 31 at Round Lake Bookstore.

Deb Katie has taken the technological plunge and produced her first “vlog”, a video blog. Click here to watch it at Youtube.

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My Favorite Writing Myths by Deb Meredith

posedformurderThe interesting thing about being a writer is how many opinions people have about writing as a career. Maybe it’s because most people have had to write something in their life—an essay in school, a letter to get a job, an email to complain about service at a hotel—and they think they know something about the “writing life.”

Here are some of my favorite writing myths:

Writing is easy. This is one of my favorites. Although the drafting of the letter to apply for that job was hard, writing fiction must be very easy since you’re just “making stuff up.” My favorite imagined punishment for anyone who waves this myth in front of my face: taking a fiction writing class. With a brutal critique group. Hah.

One draft is enough. This is the true sign of an amateur. They think you write down something (after being “inspired” and perhaps after drinking a large strong cocktail) and then send it to your editor to be published. There’s no revising or second drafts or even third and fourth drafts in this fantasy. And I can’t tell you how many screenplays I’ve been asked to read in which the person hasn’t even bothered to run spell check. Writing is rewriting, people.

You can only get an agent if you know someone. While that is certainly true for some people, there are lots of us in the world who didn’t know anyone in publishing. But somehow we got published on the quality of our writing. It’s not totally an insiders club, but you get points for doing some research and not sending your cat humor book to a publishing house that only publishes science fiction.

Writers are transcribers. I can’t tell you how many people have told me that they have a story that I need to write. I usually tell them that they should write it themselves, but this does not seem to dampen their enthusiasm. Writers actually do collect ideas, but it’s in a more creative way. We see things that interest us or hear things that make us think, and then a story starts bubbling up. We are not usually interested in writing about your Uncle Howard’s experiences in the war exactly the way he always told it.

And last but not least:

Writers make a lot of money. At this I can only roll around on the floor laughing hysterically. Although there are a few exceptions (Nora Roberts, Stephen King, James Patterson and Janet Evanovitch spring to mind), the rest of the writers out there just scrape by. But we do it because we love it, not to make lots of money. There are lots of other ways to earn lots of money fast (robbing a bank, hatching a ponzi scheme and working on Wall Street), and writing is not one of them.

What are your favorite writing myths?

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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.

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My blank walls, by Deb Meredith

posedformurderWhen my husband and I first lived together, he hung his own art up on our walls. But everytime he sold something or had a show, our walls would suddenly be blank. It was depressing to see all those bare nails. I finally put my foot down, and that’s when we started collecting our own art.

We don’t collect expensive art or art by world famous artists (at least not yet). We collect our friends’ art (sometimes with barters and trades) and art that we stumble upon and love. It’s a huge part of who we are. The art is mostly photography, drawings and prints—but we also have some paintings. We’re proud of our collection and know where each piece came from. It reminds us of our friends, and places we’ve been. And we love to be surrounded by art.

Right now the walls of our new house are blank, and it’s really disturbing. We have been painting our new house and trying to fix it up, so we delayed our stuff for a week. And now the stuff is here but not the art. My husband is going to go back and get it separately in a couple of weeks (he didn’t trust the movers), and right now it’s stored in his Brooklyn studio.

Moving is a huge disruption in your life. You comb through your possessions ruthlessly. You ask yourself why you are keeping sentimental objects and make yourself toss out things that you might regret later on. You aren’t able to write/read/exercise or do anything you might enjoy doing for weeks because you are packing/unpacking/sorting/tossing/cleaning. And it feels like it will never end.

One thing we did not purge was our art collection. We have more than we can fit on our walls, but we’re not ready to say goodbye to any of it. My husband has even tried to start my son on his own art collection, buying a small piece from a show called “My other robot is a donut.” And my son likes to have annual “shows” of his own art in his room, mimicking his dad’s gallery shows and offering refreshments.

Even after my desk is set up again, and I’m able to get back to writing my third book, the house won’t truly feel like it’s ours until we have our art on the walls again. And then I’ll be able to breathe a big sigh of relief. We’re home.