Deb Class of 2014

Debutante Heather Webb

Heather 150x150Heather grew up a military brat and naturally became obsessed with travel, culture, and languages. She put her degrees to good use teaching high school French for nearly a decade before turning to full time writing and editing.

As a freelance editor, Heather spends oodles of time helping writers find their voice and hone their skills–something she adores. She may often be found Twittering helpful links, sharing writing advice and author interviews on her blog Between the Sheets, or teaching novel writing in her community. Other favorite haunts are RomanceUniversity.org, where she contributes to the Editor’s Posts and Writer Unboxed where she poses as Twitter mistress.

Heather’s Debutante Ball posts

Find Heather at: Her Website * Twitter * Facebook * Google+ * Pinterest * Goodreads

Her debut novel: BECOMING JOSEPHINE (Plume/Penguin, December 2013)

A sweeping historical debut about the Creole socialite who transformed herself into an empress.

Readers are fascinated with the wives of famous men. In Becoming Josephine, debut novelist Heather Webb follows Rose Tascher as she sails from her Martinique plantation to Paris, eager to enjoy an elegant life at the royal court. Once there, however, Rose’s aristocratic soldier-husband dashes her dreams by abandoning her amid the tumult of the French Revolution. After narrowly escaping death, Rose reinvents herself as Josephine, a beautiful socialite wooed by an awkward suitor—Napoleon Bonaparte.

“A debut as bewitching as its protagonist.” —Erika Robuck, author of Hemingway’s Girl and Call Me Zelda

Debutante Lisa Alber

Lisa 150x150Lisa Alber received an Elizabeth George Foundation writing grant based on Kilmoon, A County Clare Mystery in addition to a Walden Fellowship. Lisa is a pushcart prize nominee.

Lisa worked in international finance and book publishing before exchanging the corporate ladder (no more business suits!) for storytelling. Ever distractible, you may find her staring out windows, dog walking, fooling around online, or drinking red wine with her friends. Travel, books, animals, photography, and blogging round out her distractions. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Lisa’s Debutante Ball posts

Find Lisa at: Her Website * Her Blog * Twitter * Facebook * Google+ * Goodreads

Her debut novel: KILMOON, A COUNTY CLARE MYSTERY (Muskrat Press, March 2014)

The brutal game began among the ruins of Kilmoon Church …

Desperate to mend her troubled past, Californian Merrit Chase travels to Ireland to meet her father, Liam, a celebrated matchmaker. While tourists gather for the annual matchmaking festival, Merrit battles the anxiety and guilt that have plagued her since the death of her mother.

Like her mother before her, Merrit becomes ensnared in a web of betrayal and hatred that she must unravel if she’s ever going to find peace. Why has Merrit’s arrival triggered a rising tide of violence that includes murder? Most of all, what lurks beneath Liam’s charismatic smile?

As Merrit circles ever closer to the truth that emanates from Kilmoon’s grounds, she discovers just how far she and others will go to get what they want. The truth isn’t what it seems, and only her father understands how vengeance can strike from beyond the grave.

“This first in Alber’s new County Clare Mystery series is utterly poetic … The author’s prose and lush descriptions of the Irish countryside nicely complement this dark, broody and very intricate mystery.” —RT Book Reviews (four stars)

Debutante Susan Gloss

Susan Gloss 150x150Susan Gloss is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, where she majored in English and Spanish, and the University of Wisconsin Law School. She lives on Lake Monona in Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband, young son, and a neurotic hound dog. She balances–or attempts to, anyway–writing and family time with working as an attorney, curating an online vintage shop at Etsy.com, and writing about food for Edible Madison magazine.

Susan’s Debutante Ball posts

Find Susan at: Her Blog * Her Website * Twitter * Facebook * Pinterest * Google+ * Goodreads

Her debut novel: VINTAGE (William Morrow/HarperCollins, March 2014)

Vintage is the story of a vintage clothing store, the women who work and shop there, and the garments that come through the door.

Violet Turner, the owner of Hourglass Vintage in Madison, Wisconsin, knows the personal history behind each item in her store, from a Chanel suit to a Bakelite cocktail ring. Yet when it comes to her own life, she’s determined never to revisit her troubled past, even if it means forever closing off her heart.

Eighteen-year-old sales clerk April Morgan is halfway through an unplanned pregnancy when her boyfriend calls off their hasty engagement. The perfect 1950s wedding dress April had planned to wear now hangs limp in the store’s back room, ignored, just like her dreams.

Shop customer Amithi Singh has struggled to share the traditions of her native India with her only daughter, with limited success. Now facing an empty nest, Amithi longs to be useful in some way, but after decades of housekeeping and parenting, fears she has nothing more to offer.

Hourglass Vintage, the place where these unlikely women become friends, is a shop riddled with financial woes. If Violet, April, and Amithi can’t save it, the shop will soon be forgotten like the costume jewelry and crinoline gowns on its sales floor.

“Gloss should have a built-in fan base for this book-club-worthy story of redemption, healing, and love.”  —Booklist

Debutante Natalia Sylvester

Natalia Sylvester 150x150

Born in Lima, Peru, Natalia Sylvester came to the U.S. at age four and grew up in South Florida, where she received a B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Miami. A former magazine editor, she now works as a freelance journalist and copywriter. Her articles have appeared in Latina, Writer’s Digest, and The Writer magazines. Chasing the Sun, partially inspired by family events, will be published in June 2014 by Lake Union/New Harvest. She lives in Texas with her husband and two rescue dogs.

Natalia’s Debutante Ball posts

Find Natalia at: Her Website * Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads

Her debut novel: CHASING THE SUN  (Lake Union/New Harvest, June 2014)

Andres suspects his wife has left him—again. Then he learns the unthinkable has happened: she’s been kidnapped. Set in Lima, Peru in a time of civil and political unrest, this evocative page-turner is a perfect marriage of domestic drama and suspense. Too much time and too many secrets have come between Andres and Marabela, but now that she’s gone, he’d do anything to get her back.

Or will he?

As Marabela slips further away, Andres must decide whether they still have something worth fighting for, and exactly what he’ll give up to bring her home. And unfortunately, the decision isn’t entirely up to him, or to the private mediator who moves into the family home to negotiate with the terrorists who are holding Marabela. Andres struggles to maintain the illusion of control, while simultaneously scrambling to collect his wife’s ransom, tending to the needs of his two young children, and reconnecting with an old friend who may hold the key to his past and his wife’s future.

“A fascinating, brooding depiction of a kidnapping in Peru and how the price of a happy marriage is much higher than any ransom.”

—Jamie Ford, NYT bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Debutante Lori Rader-Day

Lori Author Photo

Lori Rader-Day works on a university campus in Illinois, but not the made-up one. “Lori Rader-Day is the author” is Lori’s new favorite thing. Her favorite other things are tacos, 11, Radiohead, BBC’s Sherlock, and blue. She is from a minuscule town in Indiana, but now lives in Chicago with her husband, Greg, who will be pleased to see his name mentioned for once above the dog’s. (Ursa.)

Best-selling author Jodi Picoult chose Lori’s story for Good Housekeeping’s first short story contest in 2010. Lori is also the recipient of the Chris O’Malley Prize in Fiction from The Madison Review, and has had stories published by TimeOut Chicago, Crab Orchard Review, and others.

Lori’s Debutante Ball posts

Find Lori at: Her Website and Blog * Twitter * Goodreads

Her debut novel: THE BLACK HOUR  (Seventh Street Books, July 2014)

For sociology professor Amelia Emmet, violence was a research topic—until a student she’d never met shot her. He also shot himself. Now he’s dead and she’s stuck with a cane and one question she can’t let go: Why her?

All she wants is for life to get back to normal. Better than normal, actually, since life was messy before she was shot.

Then graduate student Nathaniel Barber offers to help her track down some answers. He’s got a crush and his own agenda—plans to make her his killer dissertation topic. Together and at cross-purposes, Amelia and Nathaniel stumble toward a truth that will explain the attack and take them both through the darkest hours of their lives.

“Exceptional debut … an irresistible combination of menace, betrayal, and self-discovery.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)