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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!

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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!)

News Flash, May 31

bookcover2THE LITTLE GIANT OF ABERDEEN COUNTY went international this week, launching in the UK.

Little Giant was chosen by Waterstone’s Books to be part of its Book Circle promotion, and just received a four star review in OK Magazine! In addition to the UK, the book will also be released in Israel, the Netherlands, Germany, and the Czech Republic.

Deb Kristina will make her first official tour appearance for REAL LIFE & LIARS at the Printers Row Lit Fest on June 7 in Chicago, where she will appear on a panel titled, “Female Persuasion” on Sunday, June 7 at 11 a.m. in the Burnham Room of Hotel Blake. Fellow panelists are Kimberla Lawson Roby, Janelle Brown and Therese Fowler. A signing will follow, and Liars will be available nine days before the official release date. Come on down if you’re in the Windy City!

Also, Kristina just learned that Liars will be a “Breakout” novel featured in Target stores starting in August!

Do you Twitter? Come join Kristina in the live Twitter conversation “LitChat” on Friday, June 5, to talk about Beach Reads. Details here!

Graduate Deb Anna David Anna’s second novel, BOUGHT, was released by Harper Collins on May 19th, and has already earned raves from Booklist (“glitzy, glamorous, gossipy”), nerve.com (“I practically devoured this”) and the dailystab.com (“One of those fabulous books that sucks you right in and you just cannot put down”). Profiles on Anna on websites like LAist.com and TV appearances on CBS and Fox News helped the book zip down to the 400’s on Amazon on its release day.

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News Flash, January 18

bookcover1The Little Giant of Aberdeen County has been chosen as the inaugural book pick for the Twitter Mom’s Book Club! If you’re a mom and you Twitter, join in the reading fun!

Deb Tiffany will be appearing at A Great, Good Place for Books in Oakland, CA on 22 January at 7:00 PM. If any of you are in the East Bay, come stop by and say hi!

Ex Deb Gail’s CANCER IS A BITCH was reviewed on The Feminist Review and Amy Sue Nathan’s blog. You can read her interview with Irene Levine on Fractured Friendships and The Huffington Post. Erin Balser conducted a Twitter interview on Books in 140 and also wrote a 140 character review of CANCER IS A BITCH here. On January 20th she will be interviewed on the Every Day Goddess radio show on the Health and Harmony Radio Network. On January 26th she will be interviewed on the Stupid Cancer Show. On January 28th Dr. Oz will interview her for the Oprah and Friends radio show.

Friend of Deb News
Suzanne Kamata, co-editor (with Deb Kristina) for fiction at Literary Mama announced that Call Me Okaasan: Adventures in Multicultural Mothering, is available for pre-order from Amazon. Suzanne and twenty women writers from around the world, including Violet Garcia-Mendoza, Kate MacVean and Susannah Pabot, contributed to this book. Congratulations!

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The Lovely Giant of Aberdeen County, by Deb Eve

Deb Tiffany is the first of the firsts and is certainly starting the year off with a bang. Anyone who picks up THE LITTLE GIANT OF ABERDEEN COUNTY (and I predict that a whole lot of people will) cannot help but be awed by Tiffany’s writing. Clearly, our Deb Tiffany knows her way around the English language. Her descriptions are as as pure as her word choices are gorgeous. It took me twice as long to read The Little Giant as it should have because I had to stop and relish so many beautiful phrases.

But beautiful writing aside, Deb Tiffany has created a world inhabited with incredibly interesting and compelling characters. And while most of them are more than a bit quirky, there are traits in all of them that are so common we just might recognize them in ourselves or in those around us. Okay, perhaps no one we know is afflicted with acromegaly as is THE LITTLE GIANT’s Truly Plaice. But many of us struggle with something – or certainly we know someone who struggles with something – that makes us feel thick, graceless and like an outsider. Truly’s small town of Aberdeen seems to have more than its fair share of antagonists: the heartless Priscilla Sparrow and the often vile Dr. Robert Morgan among them. While “normal” sized to Truly’s “giant,” these two folks prove themselves to be dwarfed by Truly’s compassion. And whether we live in a small town or a giant city, we all know people like that. So as Tiffany Baker ravels and unravels the lives of her characters in Aberdeen County, we readers can’t help but see just a bit of our own lives in their story.

With THE LITTLE GIANT OF ABERDEEN COUNTY, Deb Tiffany sets the bar high for the rest of us and proves herself one tough act to follow. So now that it’s FINALLY out, go get a copy of THE LITTLE GIANT OF ABERDEEN COUNTY. I predict we will all be hearing more about this book, and hopefully, more from Tiffany Baker!

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The Launch of Tiffany’s Little Giant of Aberdeen County, by Deb Meredith

I was completely sucked into Tiffany’s book from the first page. I love Alice Hoffman and many of the other writers who combine magic and folklore with fiction. Tiffany’s characters are ordinary people—farmers, barbers, doctors, teachers, drunks, lonely and spiteful people—but magic and witchcraft hovers over their lives, too.

Truly is a giant—tall and wide—and she towers over everyone around her. But she is a shrinking violet personality-wise. She would prefer to be invisible, but is also terribly lonely. Her mother died when she was born, her father gave her away, and her perfectly lovely sister is indifferent. But at the same time she has friends, fellow outcasts who have bonded with her. And their friendship is much more powerful than anyone knows.

Tiffany writes eloquently about the hierarchy of a small town, and the 1950’s and beyond—where women are still second-class citizens. Even when they have the power to heal, someone else can still oppress them. Her image of the quilt, passed down by a “healer” in the family, reminded me of a lovely documentary on the quilts that slaves made on plantations. One woman was quoted as saying something like “we made them warm so we wouldn’t freeze, and we made them beautiful to keep our hearts from breaking.”

The book Little Giant of Aberdeen County has already gotten a lot of attention from the media before it barely came out. If I had a crystal ball, or a magic quilt, I could possibly see into the future. And this is what I’m pretty sure I would see: the book on multiple best of lists for 2009, a bestseller, and nominated for some serious awards. It is that kind of special book—the kind everyone will be talking about—so I recommend you run out and buy a copy now (before they’re all gone!).

And enter our launch week contest! All readers who comment on any of our posts this week will automatically be entered to win a signed-by-the-author copy of the very first 2009 Debutante Ball release, Tiffany Baker’s The Little Giant of Aberdeen County! You get one entry for every day this week that you comment here at the Ball.

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Truly human (in honor of Tiffany’s launch!), by Deb Katie

…So, initially, I was drawn to The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by its cover. I’m a seamstress, so dress forms catch my eye. Especially dress forms with such rubenesque proportions. I’m also a sucker for pretty things. I love the color, the mood, the typeface. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I had high hopes from the get-go for Truly Plaice.

Another clue that the book would be right up my alley was that once, when I blogged about quilting, Tiffany remarked, “My book has a quilt in it.” Fun, I thought. Not a lot of quilting going on in the world of fiction these days.

So when I got my paws on a copy of Little Giant, I sat down, gazed admiringly at the cover, and began to read, eager to get to the part about the quilt.

It didn’t take me long to become completely engrossed in Truly’s voice and story. I won’t say I forgot about the quilt–(no, indeed, you can’t forget about this quilt–it may even influence how you look at all other quilts you ever see…) but I was captivated by the story of a woman whose whole life was made out of layers of pain, as thick as the overgrown body in which she’s a prisoner.

No one I know has had to deal with Truly’s physical condition. But I’m willing to bet almost everyone has found themselves walking a mile in her emotional shoes–the relationship that makes you feel small, the job that makes you feel like a hack, the dilemma that makes you feel like a failure. We’ve all been stuck in situations where we felt dumb, or ugly, or unwanted, or just plain miserable.

In Truly, I found a woman to whom fate has dealt a smack on the back of the head–which is then compounded by, oh, virtually everyone and everything around her. She is resigned–but it’s not her suffering that gives life to her story. It’s that in her resignation, she finds a spark of defiance. And she nurtures it.

It’s the best part of human nature to keep fighting the good fight, to keep digging for the surface, no matter how dark the layers of misery covering us. Truly, though she may be too big to contain in one small town, is a fighter. And because of this, I saw myself in her life and her story. And I think a lot of people will do the same.

And oh, the quilt! The quilt. I’ll admit that at one point, I thought, “Maybe I’ll surprise Tiffany by making her a replica of the quilt in her novel.” Well. You’ll have to read the book to figure out why that probably won’t happen.

Brava, Tiffany! Thanks for bringing Truly to life and sharing her with us.

(Want to order a copy? Follow the links from Tiffany’s website.)

~ Deb Katie Alender

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In which Deb Kristina celebrates the release of LITTLE GIANT

tiffany coverOne test of a good book, for me, is whether I’m still thinking about it after I turn the last page. Deb Tiffany’s Little Giant of Aberdeen County passes that test with a perfect 4.0.

This is the kind of book where, when I describe it to people, their eyes get a little wider and they say, “Ooooh.” Truly Plaice is a singular heroine, a woman who can’t stop growing in a town that would seem too small to contain her, but contain it does, cruelly so, as she has few allies among Aberdeen’s narrow-minded denizens. Her beautiful sister, Serena Jane, does escape, though she leaves behind her son and her husband, the latest in a generation of town doctors — only this version has a mean streak. For the protection and care of Serena Jane’s beautiful little boy, Truly moves in with the doctor and before long, nothing is the same in Aberdeen again.

This paragraph fails to do the novel justice though, as it sprawls across the whole of Truly’s childhood, back through generations of Aberdeen doctors named Robert Morgan to the original and his reputed witch-wife, Tabitha, who lingers at the edges of the story.

None of us, I venture to say, have much in common with Truly at the outset. But you will feel her, you will walk around in her bulk and you’ll withstand the petty cruelty of a spinster schoolteacher and then you’ll get a glimpse into the life of that schoolteacher and start to understand her, because that’s another gift from Tiffany Baker is that she doesn’t content herself with a single point-of-view story or a standard omniscient narrator. Truly is somehow…both, and you’ll love her for it.

I’m so proud to be the first 2009 Debutante to kick off celebrating our first release. I urge you all to run out and grab The Little Giant of Aberdeen County right now and prepare yourself for some first-class storytelling, and a little magic, too.

Deb Kristina

Did this post pique your interest in Deb Tiffany’s beautiful book? Enter our launch week contest! All readers who comment on any of our posts this week will automatically be entered to win a signed-by-the-author copy of the very first 2009 Debutante Ball release, The Little Giant of Aberdeen County!

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News Flash, January 4

coverOur first launch approaches! Stop by the Ball all week as the 2009 class sends Deb Tiffany’s The Little Giant of Aberdeen County out into the world!

Little Giant has debuted at #9 on the San Francisco Chronicle Best Seller List!

Speaking of the Little Giant launch, loyal reader Larramie celebrates Deb Tiffany and her book tomorrow, Monday, January 5, over at Seize a Daisy! Thank you, Larramie!

Check out www.bookpage.com to read an interview with Tiffany about The Little Giant of Aberdeen County! Hope you enjoy.

We have a Contest Winner!
We had several fabulous contestants enter our Fabulous Holiday Contest, but only ONE who got all the answers right!
. . . Deb Tiffany thinks Lays Potato Chips and champagne are a perfect food pairing.
. . . Deb Kristina is known for her ability to walk AND read at the same time.
. . . Deb Katie wrote an infomercial for The Kegelmaster.
. . . Deb Eve believes she makes the world’s best ruggelach.
. . . And Deb Meredith grew up on a commune. Now you know!

Since only Cally Waite got them all right and she’s the Contest Maven’s 12-year-old niece (and probably doesn’t want a Scribbling Woman T-Shirt), we chose another entrant at random for our fabulous prize. Congratulations to Marsha Brantley, she gets a Scribbling Woman t-shirt. Marsha, drop a note to eve(at)thedebutanteball(dot)com and let me know your t-shirt size and your preference (i.e. are you a Damn Scribbling Woman or just a regular one?).

And to celebrate Deb Tiffany’s launch week, we’re holding another contest. All readers who comment on any of our posts this week will automatically be entered to win. At the end of the week, one commenter will be chosen at random and will receive a signed copy of The Little Giant of Aberdeen County! So visit the Ball this week and help us launch Deb Tiffany – and leave us a comment to win a signed copy of this gorgeous book.

Former Deb Gail has a new website and two new blogs! Poke around and let her know what you think!

Former Deb Jenny Gardiner’s novel Sleeping with Ward Cleaver is featured all month on Facebook’s Mom Lit page. Please stop by to visit!

News Flash, December 7

Deb Katie Alender is proud to share her new blurb for Bad Girls Don’t Die, courtesy of Founding Deb Eileen Cook:

“An intriguing mix of compelling and creepy, Alender’s Bad Girls Don’t Die is not to be missed. Ghosts, friendship, romance, and family all weave together in a puzzle that will keep you reading until the very end.”

(Check out Deb Eileen’s YA novel, What Would Emma Do?, releasing December 23. Pre-order it or pick it up for the teen girl in your life as a sure-to-please holiday gift!)

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County has just been announced as an upcoming Indiebound pick (www.indiebound.org)! Look for it on the January list!

Pre-Order News!

Deb Eve’s First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria and Deb Katie’s Bad Girls Don’t Die are both now available for pre-order at Powell’s Books!

First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria is also available at Barnes & Noble.com!

What We’re Reading…
Deb Katie is thoroughly immersed in Deb Tiffany’s The Little Giant of Aberdeen County. Just a month until the release date!

Since it’s shopping season, don’t forget to check out The Debutante Ball’s Cafe Press store featuring clothing, mugs and more with the slogan “Damned Scribbling Woman”, or the nicer “Scribbling Woman” or for the guys in our lives, “Equal Opportunity Reader.” There are even baby gifts! All of this inspired by an awesome guest author, Joanne Rendell. You can check out the post here. Proceeds to breast cancer research.