The Debs Wrap Up 2011 with a Q & A with Deb Kim Stagliano!

As 2011 draws to a close, we’re thrilled to welcome back Deb Kim Stagliano to the Ball to talk about her new romantic suspense titled House of Cards available for all Amazon downloads!

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Move over Morelli and Ranger, here comes Mass State Trooper Strohmeyer! Bounty Hunter Stephanie Plum would think her life is easy compared to Kat Cavicchio’s. When a car crash with a New England Patriot lands her sister in the hospital, Kat has to move in with her brother-in-law to take care of her young niece and nephew – with autism.

The windfall accident settlement should turn around her financial woes and help the kids too, until the football player kicks his last field goal in a gruesome murder that lands Kat’s entire family in the cross hairs of a drug dealer who thinks she is hiding something from the football player that he wants. Can a sexy State Trooper throw a Hail Mary pass and save her life before the clock runs out on her life?

Q&A with author of House of Cards, Kim Stagliano

Question: Which books or movies influenced you in writing House of Cards?

KS: My life as a Mom of three girls with autism is pretty stressful (understatement of the year there) and so I read and watch movies for entertainment and laughter. I’m a big fan of the Farrelly Brothers comedies and love offbeat, irreverent humor. I created Kat Cavicchio in the hopes that readers will want to meet her again and again, like Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, Rita Mae Brown’s Harry Haristeen and Meg Cabot’s Heather Wells.

Q: You wrote a Memoir called All I Can Handle I’m No Mother Teresa and you blog and write for magazines. Why did you decide to write fiction?

KS: So I can kill people! OK, maybe not. Fiction gave me the freedom to have a character say things that would sound dreadful coming from me, a real Mom. It’s fun to create a world where you control the events – good and bad – and write the ending you want. If only life were so easy.

Q: Is House of Cards an “autism book?”

No more than Jodi Picoult’s House Rules would be called an “Asperger’s book.” House of Cards is about the growth of Kat Cavicchio and the arc of her Italian American family’s life. Sophie and Dom are characters whose autism shapes them – they help Kat learn who she is and how to grow up.

Q: Is House of Cards “your” story?

No. It’s definitely fiction. Kat is flakier than I am (though my husband might disagree). She is terrified of responsibility and hasn’t found herself even at 30-something. I’m much more uptight and buttoned down than Kat. And I prefer dark haired men like my husband to her blond State Trooper. I drew from my experiences with my girls, Mia (17), Gianna (15) and Bella (11), but Kat’s story is hers alone.

Q: You were in advertising and marketing, then had the girls and stopped working to care for them after you learned they had autism. What made you decide to start writing?

KS: My husband Mark was out of work, writing gave me a chance to vent my frustrations on paper and was more socially acceptable than tippling sherry at 9am. I learned I have a “voice” that welcomes readers, makes them laugh, and entertains.

Q: Where do you find inspiration?

KS: Friends, family, the news and favorite authors who’ve paved the road far ahead of me. As an author and Managing Editor of www.AgeofAutism.com, I’ve had the privilege of meeting parents all over the world, in person and through cyberspace. We share stories of the vagaries of raising kids on the spectrum; the joy, the love, the frustration, our hopes and dreams and even our fears. I incorporated those emotions into House of Cards.

Q: Anything you’d like readers to know about you?

KS: I drink far too much coffee, love kickboxing and am a prolific baker. I’m addicted to FaceBook and Twitter. I’m scared to death of what the future holds for my daughters – but keep moving forward. I’d love to have readers join me. And if you have a child on the spectrum, I’m always available to offer support at KimStagliano@gmail.com.

House of Cards is available for all Amazon downloads for just $2.99 or you can borrow for free. Click here to purchase! AND Kim is offering Chapter One for free on her blog!

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Deb Kim StaglianoKim Stagliano is author of All I Can Handle I’m No Mother Teresa which is now in paperback with added content including recipes and a book club guide. She blogs for Huffington Post, TodayMoms, writes for Autism File Magazine and other national publications. She lives in CT with her family.


The Deb Ball Welcomes Back Sarah Jio

A 2010-2011 Deb, Sarah Jio is the author of The Violets of March (Penguin/Plume), which was called “engrossing” by Redbook and “absorbing” by Woman’s Day and was a Library Journal Best Books of 2011 honoree. Her second novel, The Bungalow, will be published on December 27. Sarah recently sold her third, Blackberry Winter, and fourth, The Last Camellia, to Plume. She is the health and fitness blogger for Glamour and lives in Seattle with her husband and three young boys.

About The Bungalow (out on December 27):

Praised by Kristin Hannah and Karen White, The Bungalow is a novel that mixes history, romance and mystery. From the book jacket: “A sweeping World War II saga of thwarted love, murder, and a long-lost painting. …In the summer of 1942, twenty-one-year-old Anne Calloway, newly engaged, sets off to serve in the Army Nurse Corps on the Pacific island of Bora-Bora. More exhilarated by the adventure of a lifetime than she ever was by her predictable fiancé, she is drawn to a mysterious soldier named Westry, and their friendship soon blossoms into hues as deep as the hibiscus flowers native to the island. Under the thatched roof of an abandoned beach bungalow, the two share a private world-until they witness a gruesome crime, Westry is suddenly redeployed, and the idyll vanishes into the winds of war. A timeless story of enduring passion, The Bungalow chronicles Anne’s determination to discover the truth about the twin losses-of life, and of love-that have haunted her for seventy years.”

Sarah will be giving away a copy The Bungalow to a lucky Deb Ball reader! (Sorry, but she’s only able to mail within the US.) Just leave a comment below to enter.

Sarah takes the Deb Interview:

Talk about one thing that’s making you happy right now.

Books! I started my career in magazines, and while magazines will always hold a special place in my heart, it’s exciting to see my career in fiction take root and sprout. Just this year, I will have published my first two novels, written and sold my third, and sold my fourth (still have to write that one!). My debut novel has now been sold in five foreign countries, and I’ve just started working with a film agent in Hollywood (sometimes I let myself daydream about what I’d wear on the red carpet—just daydream, that’s all!!). This year has been so incredibly exciting, I frequently have to step back and take it all in, and remind myself of how hard I worked to get here and how incredibly lucky and blessed I am to do what I love. I adore telling stories and I will continue to write them as long as readers would like to read them.


Where do you love to be?

Home! There, now you know: I have no life! I’m such a chronic homebody. I used to dream about traveling the world, but in the last five years, after having three children, a funny thing has happened: I just want to stay home! It’s so cheesy to say this, but it’s true. I love my home in Seattle: My cozy bed with the nightstand stacked high with books and my notebook filled with dozens of new novel ideas, my Nespresso machine, our goofy golden retriever who’s always up to something naughty, my three boys and their menagerie of stuffed animals, my messy office with a window that looks out to a gorgeous sky. I love it all, and I’m so grateful for it.


Which talent do you wish you had?

I wish I could sing! Well! (Me and 4 million other people, right?) I have a horrible singing voice (even though I can beat my husband by leaps and bounds on our little Xbox Karaoke game (ha!). I would like to have Norah Jones’ singing voice, or maybe Rosemary Clooney. I would also like to knit and sew well. I attempted to make a dress once, and my husband announced, “It kind of looks like a sock.” It did. A great big dress-like sock. Which is why I do not sew anymore.


What time of day do you love best?

I love the late afternoons when I go on my jogs. I love the quiet, just me and my thoughts. It’s a nice break from the chaos at home (three boys under the age of five). I’ve come to love jogging in these past years for fitness reasons, but also for writing reasons: It’s where I get my very best novel ideas, character fixes and whole new concepts for plots. I always bring my Blackberry (in a black, Lululemon fanny pack, if you must know!) so I can email myself ideas as they come to me. Sometimes I stop a dozen times to send myself ideas. I realize that this is a bit ridiculous, but it works for me!


Share something that’s always guaranteed to make you laugh.

It’s all about SNL’s “Nuni” sketch. I watch this when I need to laugh, and it never fails me!



You can find Sarah on the internet in the following spots:





Doesn’t The Bungalow sound great? Don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to win it!


News Flash: September 18, 2011

Congrats to Carolyn, winner of a copy of Laura Goode’s Sister Mischief!


From the 2012 Debs…

Deb Joanne Deb Joanne is very excited to refer to herself in third person. She thinks it makes her sound sophisticated and important, even when she has no real news to tell you about.

Deb Rachel was thrilled to read the first review of MWF Seeking BFF this week! Apparently, this whole book thing is really happening!

Deb Molly writes for the newsletter of the Illinois chapter of SCBWI & since the Fall 2011 issue just went live, and because it is conveniently online, you can read her column yourself: More Than a Pounding Heart: Capturing Emotional Experience

Deb Linda was pleased to attend a different kind of ball last night — “The 2011 Wolf Trap Ball: Celebrating 40 Years,” held on the magnificent stage at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center, with scenery designed by her husband, the theater god. She is very likely still a little tipsy even as you read this.

Past Deb News

Deb Eleanor was happy to get her author’s copy of the Dutch edition of The Weird Sisters this week – check out the lovely cover!

Deb Sarah Jio is excited to announce the sale of her next two novels to Penguin, Blackberry Winter and The Last Camellia. (Details here!)

Deb Joelle is giving away an ARC of her upcoming release The Right & The Real at Goodreads so make sure to head over and enter to win!

Friends of the Debs

Allison Winn Scotch stopped by Women’s Fiction Writers blog this past week to give some great writing advice.

If you’re in the NYC area today, Samuel Park will be on the Debut Fiction panel at the wonderful (and free!) Brooklyn Book Festival.

Deb Dish — Which book did you adore but could never read again?

Deb Joanne Misery by Stephen King. I loved it so much when I read it as a teenager, but was so freaked out by it, that when I finished it at about 3a.m., I had to leave the light on.  That was the only time I’ve ever been so scared by a book.

My reason for not being able to re-read it as an adult, should be obvious:  I’m a writer.  And while I write for kids and I don’t really see how a crazed tween fan could keep me hostage in her house until I wrote the story she wanted, you just never know.  Just look how rabid they get for Justin Bieber.



Deb Erika Life of Pi by Yann Martel. While I have often wondered what it would be like to reread the book a second time with an eye toward the ending, I can’t bear to. I cherish my memory of that book too much, how powerful the story and the ending were, still are, to me. It remains one of my favorite books ever but also one I couldn’t revisit. The impact just wouldn’t be the same.


Deb Molly Paradise Lost. I took a Milton seminar in college, and we spent the majority of the semester on PL. I loved it so much, but reading it took so much energy and concentration I can’t imagine trying to do it again. It’s not exactly a beach read!


Deb Rachel This is a toughie. My gut is telling me The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. I’ve actually been toying with the idea of reading it again, but every time I stare at it on the bookshelf I just get sad. I don’t know if I can do that to myself a second time. She has a sequel-ish book, Blue Nights, coming out this fall, so maybe I’ll just read that.


Deb Linda Sophie’s Choice, by William Styron. I read it before I had children, and thought it was excellent — a compelling read — but I don’t think I could get through it again. As horrific as the choice Sophie had to make seemed to me at that time, I know it would hit me a hundred times harder now.



News Flash: September 11, 2011

Congratulations to Shakespeare, winner of a signed copy of Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood!

Winners of Deb Joanne’s bookshelf sharp-eyes challenge:

Tania and because I can hand-deliver her copy of FADE, I picked a second winner – Zoe who will receive her choice of my duplicate books – PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ by A.S. King

Thank you all for playing along. I hope you had fun! See below for the answers.

Duplicate books on Deb Joanne’s bookshelf:

  1. Lisa McMann’s FADE (3 copies)
  2. Former Deb Eileen Cook’s UNPREDICTABLE
  3. Former Deb Jenny Gardiner’s SLEEPING WITH WARD CLEAVER (oops, the second one is behind the JR Ward books – but it’s there, I promise!)
  4. Linda Gerber’s TRANCE
  6. Becca Fitzpatrick’s HUSH, HUSH
  7. Heather Brewer’s TWELFTH GRADE KILLS

From the 2012 Debs…

Deb Molly was thrilled to find ARCs of The Princesses of Iowa on her doorstep this week!

Deb Erika received a finished copy of Little Gale Gumbo hot off the presses and can’t stop sniffing the pages!

Past Deb News

Deb Eleanor is excited to be attending the Standley Lake Library‘s book group discussion of The Weird Sisters at 7 pm on Thursday, September 15. This is also her last public 2011 event! Things start up for the paperback release in January at the Pulpwood Girlfriends Weekend!

Deb Kim will be live September 15th on The Parent Coach with Dr. Phil Dembo at 11:00am EDT, 8am PDT Healthy Life Radio. Topic is “The New Normal – Life After Diagnosis.”

Deb Sarah has just learned that The Violets of March is going back to press for a fourth printing!

Friends of the Debs

Deb guest Kyran Pittman has a warm, funny (as usual) article in the September issue of Good Housekeeping!

Deb Dish — What one condiment is always in your fridge?

Deb Joanne – Ketchup.  I love ketchup on mac and cheese, grilled cheese, hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries – so uh, apparently anything fried and/or greasy. But I’m a ketchup snob – it MUST be Heinz (at home, at least). 

Deb Erika I would say it’s a tie between salsa and Trader Joe’s Lemon Curd. The salsa goes on everything but I rarely waste the curd on toast or some other appropriate bread product. By the spoonful is my favorite method.

Deb Molly Growing up in an only marginally air-conditioned house, I learned to keep my Noxzema in the fridge to maximize its cooling potential on the hottest summer days. I remember my mother coming to visit me in the first apartment that was mine alone — I was maybe 22 or 23 — and she opened the refrigerator to find nothing but a tub of Noxzema and a bottle of vodka. That’s my final answer: Noxzema and a bottle of vodka.

Deb Linda Do olives count as a condiment? Or are they more of a garnish? Whatever. I’m still going with them, because it’s hard to make a martini with mustard or ketchup. 😉   (Deb Joanne’s note: I am totally trying to figure out how to make a ketchup martini…)

Deb Rachel Barbecue sauce! I fell in love with it first at McDonald’s, when I would smother my Chicken McNuggets in their little BBQ sauce tubs. Now I’ve moved on to healthier varieties (mainly Trader Joe’s) but I’ll eat it on anything. (Including straight from my finger. Who says it needs to be served with something?)


News Flash: September 4, 2011

Congratulations to donnas, who won Amanda Kyle Williams’ The Stranger You Seek!

From the 2012 Debs…

Deb Erika is thrilled to announce that her novel, LITTLE GALE GUMBO, is a Goodreads giveaway for the next two weeks! Go on over and throw your hat in the ring for one of 25 copies!

Deb Linda is happy to have survived her initiation into Deb-hood without her head falling off. Much.

Deb Molly is excited about a brand-new class she’s teaching this semester, an intensive monthly workshop for YA & children’s book writers called, appropriately, the YA & Children’s Writing Workshop. (And you do NOT want to know how long it took to come up with that title!)

Deb Joanne is also delighted to have survived her first post without too much ridicule and finger-pointing.

Deb Rachel is ringing in Labor Day with some new friends. Of the human and Skinny Girl Margarita variety.

Past Deb News

Deb Eleanor‘s penultimate 2011 event will be at the Englewood Public Library in Englewood, CO, on Thursday, September 8th at 6:30 pm. Come say hello if you’re local (or if you’re not – Colorado’s really pretty)!

Deb Kim had a pre-interview with BBC’s Outlook radio programme (see how Brit she is?)  The half hour interview will take place this month, details to follow.

Deb Jenny will be in Manhattan on Wednesday September 7 at the launch of Wade Rouse‘s humorous dog anthology I’M NOT THE BIGGEST BITCH IN THIS RELATIONSHIP. With a powerhouse list of contributing authors, the book has garnered a lot of early buzz and the party should be a blast. Anyone around NY/NJ/CT who can stop in for champagne, authors and dogs (what’s not to love?!), feel free to do so at Trixie + Peanut Dog Emporium, 23 East 20th Street, 5-8 pm. Bitch is an Indie pick for September, and will be featured in an upcoming issue of Ladies Home Journal. Some proceeds benefit the Humane Society of the US so please do check it out on Amazon!

Oh also Deb Jenny’s novel SLIM TO NONE is approaching a top ten list on Amazon–it’s up there with Chelsea Handler and Tina Fey, so go check it out and help Deb Jenny climb the list!

Friends of the Debs

If you’re in the Atlanta, GA metro area, don’t forget to check out the Decatur Book Festival this weekend, featuring Friends of the Debs like Tayari Jones, Amanda Kyle Williams, Joshilyn Jackson, Alma Katsu, Elizabeth Stuckey-French, Libba Bray, Holly Tucker, Holly LeCraw, A.J. Mayhew, and over 300 other wonderful authors.

Deb Dish — Tell us five things that are in your purse right now

Deb Joanne

This will be the lamest answer ever, because I’m really not a purse gal and tend to keep things very minimalist, but here goes: wallet with all the standard stuff, pen, lip balm from bath and body works, Tide pen (I’m a bit of a spaz when I eat sometimes) and a spare hair elastic.  Sorry to disappoint – my next dish will be way more interesting, I promise!

Deb Erika

The running joke in our family is that I am Helen Hunt’s sister from Mad About You, you know the one who pulls umbrellas out of her purse? You really never know what is in there, but usually if you need it (you know,  for when you run into MacGyver), I’ve got it. For example, today in my purse I have a pair of my daughter’s socks (clean, but that isn’t always a given), a dispenser of Band-Aids given out at my husband’s medical insurance meeting, a Maine State Ferry service schedule, a tube of Smith’s Rosebud lip salve, and a paper coaster from Sebago Brewing Company.

Deb Molly

Does anyone else make sure a purse is large enough to hold your journal before buying it? Whenever I shop for handbags, I always end up standing in the middle of the store, trying to shove notebooks into each bag. Salespeople love me. Anyway, my current purse is shaped like a carpet-bag, wider at the bottom than the top, and though it doesn’t actually look that big, I can fit my journal, datebook, phone, wallet, keys, twenty pens and a hundred different tubes of lipgloss, a sweater in case it gets cold, and usually some kind of lunch if I’m heading to work. And yesterday at Costco I managed to shove two giant clamshells of blueberries into it, so I wouldn’t have to carry them around the store. Win!

Deb Rachel

I too seem to keep a little of everything in my purse. Handbags are to me what shoes were to Carrie Bradshaw (minus the $500 price tag). In fact, the navy blue number I’m carrying right now is a one-week old newbie. I’m reaching in and here are the first five things I pull out: overstuffed wallet full of receipts I need to log in my business expenses, empty envelope that I think once held a paycheck, a pair of $7 Walgreens headphones, two sets of vintage dice I just bought at an antique shop, a voice recorder (because you’ll never know when you need to log an interview? I have no idea.)

Deb Linda

Ha! Tough to narrow it down — it’s more like what don’t I have in my purse.  I like to be prepared for any eventuality. Let’s see, aside from the usual stuff, like wallet and keys…1. one of those cut-off stocking things they give out at shoe stores, because you never know when you’re going to try on shoes someplace that’s out of them, 2. my Kindle, 3. a tiny screwdriver for fixing glasses 4. emergency chocolate, and 5. a crap-ton of old grocery store receipts. Yes, I really need to clean out my purse.


News Flash: August 28, 2011

Congrats to Karen K who won Daniel Polansky’s  Low Town.

From the 2011 Debs…

Our wonderful 2012 Debutantes join the dance tomorrow! If you missed our introduction, you can learn more about them here!

On Saturday, Deb Elise placed third in her age group in the inaugural Mammoth Mud Run!  It’s her first-ever medal for speed, not just for finishing, and she’s insanely excited!!!

Deb Eleanor was thrilled to hear that The Weird Sisters was at the top of heat‘s recommended reading list for the second week in a row. Now, how long do you think it would take to swim to England?

Deb Tawna‘s Making Waves was featured in the Chicago Tribune‘s romance review roundup! Remember that old Sesame Street jingle, “One of these things is not like the other?” That’s what Deb Tawna has been humming all week as she looks at all the big-name authors featured in that same article and wonders if someone is playing a practical joke on her.

Check out this great email Deb Elise got from Amazon, recommending Deb Eleanor‘s The Weird Sisters, along with The Paris Wife, The Peach Keeper, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, and Like Water for Elephants!

Deb Kim is enjoying (easy to say as the sun shines on Friday) Hurricane Irene. Hope everyone is safe in DebLand!

Past Deb News

Check out Deb Kristina Riggle’s interview on the Michigan Writers Network!

Friends of the Debs

The Debs are sad to note the passing of Barbara Drummond Mead, owner of Reading Group Choices. An ardent supporter of reading and authors, Barbara was a bright, beautiful, and charming dinner companion at many a book festival, and we are grateful for her support.

We love this article on yesterday’s guest, Amanda Kyle Williams, in Decatur Metro!

Deb Dish — On Their Last Day, What Words of Advice Would the 2011 Debs Like to Give the 2012 Debs?

Deb Elise

Take advantage of the Deb network!  Your Deb class will be a huge source of support, but we Former Debs are here for you too.  Debs from previous years have made a huge difference in this year for me, giving me invaluable advice.  We’re all only an email away, and we’re all excited for your turn at the Ball!

Deb Eleanor

Be excellent to each other, and party on, Debs!

Deb Kim Set reminders on your calendar and plan as many posts in advance as you can. The night before your weekly posts comes fast and often!

Deb Sarah

Have fun! (And try not to wait until midnight the night before your post-day to write, because you will be very, very sleepy the next day!)

Deb Tawna

Don’t be so hard on yourself (and pause to snicker at any & all hard-on jokes). Seriously, there will be a million times you want to kick yourself for missing promo opportunities or blowing off deadlines or finding yourself so far behind on emails that you consider changing your name and deleting your account. Cut yourself some slack, realize life is chaotic for all debut authors, and reward yourself well for all the things you are doing right.


The Debutante Ball Welcomes Amanda Kyle Williams! (Giveaway!)

Author Amanda Kyle WilliamsWe’re happy to welcome Amanda Kyle Williams to the Ball today! Amanda’s debut novel, The Stranger You Seek will officially be released this Tuesday, but we’re giving you a sneak preview right now! Read on, because Amanda has quite a story to tell – about herself and the book!

An electrifying thriller debut, The Stranger You Seek introduces a brash, flawed, and unforgettable heroine in a complex, twisting novel that takes readers deep into a sultry Southern summer, a city in the grips of chaos, and a harrowing cat-and-mouse game no reader will ever forget. Amanda’s giving away a copy to one lucky commenter, so don’t forget to say hello!

Amanda Kyle Williams has contributed to numerous short story collections and worked as a freelance writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In order to lend authenticity to her Keye Street series, she studied criminal profiling under Brent Turvey, a nationally known criminologist and profiler, took courses geared to law enforcement in serial homicide investigation, worked with a PI firm in her hometown of Atlanta on surveillance operations, became a court appointed process server, and consulted with professionals in bond and law enforcement.



Amanda Kyle Williams Takes the Deb Interview!

What is the best perk of your job?

It’s been a little over a year now that I’ve been working as a full time writer.  It’s such a great job it’s almost hard to zero in on the one perk that out rocks the others.  First of all, it was my dream.  I was a writer for a couple of decades before I was a writer with a contract.  That’s another off-the-charts amazing gift—a contract.  I can write this series and still make my car payment.  Go figure!  Now my office is in my home.  I guess that’s the greatest perk.  Coffee at my desk, a window that shows me pine trees and big water oaks and jasmine climbing the backyard arbor.  My dogs hang out with me.  Three of them.  They’re completely rotten now.  I’m the doorman.  I really don’t know how they made it when I had normal hours.  That’s the other thing; my hours. I can make the schedule that works for me and write when I’m most creative.  Of course, I’m doing stuff like emailing people in the middle of the night on a weekend because I have no idea what day it is.  I’m living in some kind of weird writer’s bubble.

Talk about one book that made an impact on you.

I’ve been impacted in a million ways, large and small, by many books.  But I guess the first book I read cover-to-cover was the most significant.  It was a kind of mile-marker. I was 23 years old. I had been diagnosed with dyslexia the year before and I’d worked for that year on developing recognition skills so I could deal with things like long text and sequenced numbers.  My reading skills had improved so much in that year. A librarian recommended Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  This book rocked my world.  Not only because Austen brought to life all this tension around love, family, and class so brilliantly, but also because I understood for the first time why people read for pleasure. I fell hard for words and language. That book was like a door being flung open.

What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?

I once learned how to pilot an ultralight aircraft called The Hawk and spent a summer traveling to air shows with an old guy who built and sold them.  Pretty funny considering I don’t like flying commercial airlines.  My palms get sweaty. I try not to visualize the plane spiraling down. I’m a big believer in visualizations.  Somehow learning to fly an ultralight, which is much more dangerous in reality, didn’t scare me as bad.  Probably because I was in charge of the ultralight. And that’s another issue entirely.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?

Well, it’s been on-the-job training for me and I’m still pretty new at it, but I’d say; don’t wait for the big idea or for the clouds to part or whatever to get started. The real magic happens after you push through an hour or two of clunky, hard, brick-by-brick foundation building.  Getting something down whether you’re having a good writing day or not is huge.  Because the next day, it’s a heck of a lot easier to go back and fix something, build on it, give it life, than it is to get new work on paper.  And for me, the ideas really start to flow when I’m revising. Disconnect from the Internet for a few hours each day when you’re working.  Treat it like a job. Tie yourself to the chair if you have to. Once you actually start, moving forward it isn’t that bad.  But you have to start.  You have to make yourself sit down.  And know that when you do, the mind and flesh will rise up against you.  There will be a spot on the window that has to be cleaned. You’ll get hungry, thirsty, headachy, sleepy.  Did the mail come? Wouldn’t a cup of coffee be great? Don’t listen!  Fight your way through it and just be still. Just get the next scene out.

The Stranger You Seek, by Amanda Kyle WilliamsWhat’s your next big thing?

The Stranger You Seek hits stores on August 30th!  I can’t even see past that. It feels like I’ve been waiting for this for a very long time.


And we’re thrilled for you, Amanda! Congratulations, and enjoy every second of it!

“My name is Keye Street. In life, I am a dry alcoholic, a passionate believer in Krystal cheeseburgers and Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and a former behavioral analysis for the FBI How I ended up here in the South, where I have the distinction of looking like what they call a damn foreigner in most parts of Georgia and sounding like a hick everywhere else in the world, is a mystery Emily and Howard Street have never fully unraveled for me.” So begins THE STANGER YOU SEEK as Street—ex-FBI profiler, ex-drunk, ex-wife—dodges flying bottles while trying to apprehend the latest criminal who has jumped bail and who she needs to recover. While not the most glamorous job, it pays the bills—until her friend Aaron Rauser gives opens up one last shot in the Atlanta Police Department. A terrifying serial killer is on the loose and the department is desperate for her expertise as a profiler. Keye signs on—and even though she has seen the dark corners of the human heart and mind more times than she can count, nothing can prepare her for what the Wishbone murders will lead her into, both professionally and personally.

Hey, we’ve heard a little rumor that there’s a link to the first two chapters of The Stranger You Seek over on Amanda’s site! Clicky clicky for the sneak peek! Don’t forget to leave a comment to enter to win a copy!

You can also hang out with Amanda on Twitter or on Facebook!



Deb Tawna goes out kicking and screaming

For our final posts here at The Debutante Ball, we’re supposed to talk about what’s next and say goodbye.

But really, what are they going to do if I fail to do either of those things? Drag me out by the hair?

What I’d rather do is tell you what I love best about the incoming Debutante Ball class, and why they rock so hard they make me seasick. Here’s a rundown:

2012 Debutante Joanne LevyJoanne Levy’s debut middle-grade novel, Small Medium at Large hits shelves next June. I loved the idea of a middle-grade Deb, since reading at that age played a big part in why I became a writer in the first place. I especially adored Joanne’s description of the book in her application:

Lilah Bloom is just an average twelve year old. She’s looking forward to starting a band with her best friend, tries for decent grades and is dreaming of finding the perfect guy. That is, until her regular life becomes not-so-regular when she gets hit by lightning and can suddenly hear dead people.

I love the “her regular life becomes not-so-regular” angle (as you might have gathered from the “normal may be nice, but weird is wonderful” tagline on the cover of Making Waves) so I already know this book is going to totally roll my socks up. I also love that she’s a longtime Debutante Ball reader.

Erika Marks had me hooked from the very first line of her Debutante Ball application:Erika Marks

I wrote my first Harlequin-hopeful novel at 18, printed it on dot-matrix, sent it out and was hooked for life on writing thanks in part to several editors and agents who were far too gracious to tell me I had no business writing about sex when I’d never so much as kissed a boy (Do you think it was that obvious? Er, yes.)

Her book, Little Gale Gumbo, is not a Harlequin romance, but rather a women’s fiction title being published by NAL in October. I know I’m going to love it based not only on the description, but on Erica’s voice throughout her Debutante Ball application, including her response to our question about whether there was anything else she wanted to share:

 Well…I prefer a gin martini to a vodka one, I can’t let my hand hang over the side of the bed when I sleep, and my favorite Golden Girl is Dorothy, although perennial-Deb Blanche is a close second. I think that about covers it!

2012 Debutante Linda GrimesThen there’s Linda Grimes. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to confess that Linda is not only my beloved agency sistah (we’re both represented by the amazing Michelle Wolfson) but also one of my critique partners. Worried it might look like I was throwing my Deb weight around on behalf of a friend, I deliberately stepped back a bit and waited for the other Debs to weigh in before I offered my two cents. It turned out I had nothing to worry about, since all the Debs adored Linda’s humor, wit, and frequent, friendly comments on our posts (as one of the Debs put it, “I feel like she’s already an honorary Deb.”)

I’ve already been lucky enough to read her light urban fantasy debut, In a Fix, which will be released by Tor in July 2012. As a comment on her release date, Linda noted:

I’ve always pictured it as summer read. On a beach. With umbrella drinks. Maybe the kind that come in coconuts, and are delivered by cabana boys. (Not that I’ve over-thought it or anything…)

If you don’t fall out of your chair laughing over this book, you seriously need to check your butt or your chair for Superglue.

2012 Debutante Rachel BertscheThen there’s the nonfiction Deb, Rachel Bertsche. It’s not like we sat down and specifically said, “there simply must be a nonfiction Deb!” but it was wonderful to get an application from someone in that genre that made us all say, “she simply must be a Deb!”

Her debut memoir, MWF Seeking BFF is due in January 2012 from Ballantine Books, and the premise is so clever and unique, I think we all ran out and clicked the preorder button on Amazon the second we read about it:

MWF SEEKING BFF is a memoir of my yearlong search for a new best friend after moving to Chicago for love. Sort of I Love You, Man meets The Happiness Project meets AJ Jacobs, it looks at how difficult – and hilariously awkward!–it is to make new friends as an adult. I went on 52 “friend-dates” over the course of the year, and I interweave the stories of those dates with the latest research about the science of friendship.

Yeah, she had me at “hilariously awkward.”

2012 Debutante Molly BackesAnd finally, there’s M. Molly Backes. Her debut young adult novel, The Princesses of Iowa, will be published by Candlewick Press in May 2012.

Before I began blogging with our own Deb Elise Allen and read her amazing book, Populazzi, I’ll admit I wasn’t a huge fan of YA. Deb Elise changed all that for me, to the point that I’m seriously looking forward to Molly’s hysterical sounding story:

The Princesses of Iowa, set in suburban Iowa, is a reverse-Cinderella story in which an It-girl who seems to have it all – the gorgeous boyfriend, the perfect best friends, and a spot on the Homecoming Court – starts to wonder if there’s more to life than being popular. (I stole that from Publisher’s Marketplace.) There’s also a gay creative writing teacher, a fake car accident, a real car accident, some jokes about Muttnik, a sexy nerd, an angry alternateen who changes her name from Miranda to Mirror, a disastrous homecoming parade, and an airbrushed rainbow T-shirt that says “I love my Iowa Grandma.” I’m told it all hangs together, somehow. 

I not only want this book, I want to take Molly out for drinks and a pillow fight and then tickle her until she tells me more about all those little details.

So that’s it for the new Deb roundup. Not that I’m going anywhere. Ever. I’m staying right here. For good. Hey, wait a minute. What are you doing? Ow! Dammit….


Deb Sarah Says (Sniffle) Goodbye … and Hello

I can’t believe this is my very last Debutante Ball post. I’m not good with goodbyes. Sometimes when my husband leaves the house for the store (one mile away) to get milk, I get teary-eyed. Yes, I just typed that. What if he gets into a car accident and leaves me alone to raise three boys? Clearly, I have some things to work on. But, truly, this year as a Deb has been one of the most memorable years of my life, and its amazing looking back on the experiences. So many things happened in my world: Babies (1) , books (1 published, 2 written, and another in process), new friends (4, and their names are Eleanor, Tawna, Kim and Elise), and a gazillion other exciting incidents.

The posts you read here this year were only part of our Deb experience. Truth is, we shared a lot together privately—in person, on the phone, over email—with each other. We squealed with joy over good news, growled about bad news, cried a little (OK, maybe I’m the only one!) and laughed a lot. Mostly, I just respected and appreciated these women from afar. Eleanor’s I’ve-got-your-back attitude and organized, take-charge ways (I would like her to come to my house and be my life coach), not to mention her sheer brilliance with words; Kim’s raw honesty and strength, and huge dose of humor (you are a gem—truly one in a million, my dear); Tawna’s ability to write a single sentence (any sentence) and make me laugh out loud (still hoping to make it to Bend to say hello!); and Elise’s heartfelt posts and wise observations about life and writing that I can always relate to (and we are so running that marathon together someday, even if I do the half and you do the full!).

So, I won’t say goodbye. I’ll say hello. To lifelong friends. To new books. (Um, but no more babies, for me.) To huge successes. To all that’s to come.

Hugs and kisses and teary thank yous, everyone, for a wonderful year,

xoxoxoxo, Sarah

P.S. Lovely readers, please keep in touch! I blog here, and here, and you can find me on Facebook and Twitter.