Dirt on the Debs by Deb Danielle Younge-Ullman

Okay, I don’t actually have dirt, but I like alliteration, needed a title and figured it might catch your attention. And I do have some behind the scenes tidbits to share that are interesting, if not particularly dirty.

We started as strangers back in July and had to divvy up jobs, learn how to use the site, post our blogs etc. About 200 emails later, with a huge amount of help and advice from Kristy and the other Founding Debs, we went “live” in the second week of August.

I was totally freaked. I feared the site would implode when I hit the word “publish.” I remember getting instructions from Kristy about how to do a link and I was so overwhelmed I thought, Well, I just won’t ever link anything. What do I need to link for?! I will be link-free. And I couldn’t imagine how I’d write something each week for an entire year. It took me about 25 hours to write and edit my first post (I know this because I have 20 hours of daycare weekly for my toddler and I used all of it, plus) and I spent the entire first day glued to the site waiting for comments, responding to them, rereading my post, rereading the comments, etc. This went on for weeks. I was an obsessive lunatic who would clearly never turn in my edits for Falling Under, much less write another book.

Well, we all got the hang of it and you’ve probably noticed we’re having a great time getting to know each other and many of you. But behind the scenes…

There have been 5353 emails between us on our closed Yahoo loop and hundreds more individual and group emails between us plus fan mail, letters from authors, pitches from publicists, applications to various conferences and festivals and a surprising number of people asking if we’ll help them plan a real debutante ball for them in their hometown, at their high school, etc.

We have brainstormed about publicity, title changes and cover art. (We are part of the reason the toenails got painted on the cover of Driving Sideways, for example.) We’ve shared stories about signings, talked about interviews, pitching, getting blurbs (thank you ladies for telling me to get them early and get them myself—my editor was very pleased and so were my publicists) and helped each other through the inevitable emergencies and freak-outs we all have as our release dates loom.

And somewhere along the line these wonderful women, who I’ve never met in person, became my friends–good friends!–and that has made this experience incredibly rich.

A couple of favorite memories:

The day Lisa found out Fifteen Minutes of Shame was going to be optioned (before she could announce it because the details were still being worked out) she emailed the news and we all sent whoops and cheers (via email) and proceeded to celebrate with our food or beverage of choice. (For me I believe it was Port.) The emails flew back and forth that night as we got the details from Lisa and then I believe we went on a wild and funny tangent about hidden talents which inspired Jess & Eileen to give that as our topic a few weeks later.

On Super Tuesday I emailed to let my fellow debs know that, like every good Canadian, I was watching American Politics on CNN. One email turned into 70 as we sat with our laptops in front of our televisions and watched. Jenny had stories from her days working for a Senator, Gail had thoughts about the Democratic candidates and we discussed everything from Obama vs Hillary to Mormon underwear. Another night of thought-provoking conversation mixed with snort-worthy hilarity.

On the site and off, my fellow debs have encouraged me and egged me on, drawn out hidden parts of my personality, challenged me and gained my respect and admiration. And as each book has come out I’ve felt, just a little bit, like it was my book too. And so this year, I get six debuts instead of one, and five new talented, smart, funny, generous friends.

Cheers to you, ladies.

And to all of you, of course

Deb Danielle
(Hey, did you notice the all the links I put in?! And BTW, I’m still quite obsessive on Thursdays.)

15 Replies to “Dirt on the Debs by Deb Danielle Younge-Ullman”

  1. Holy cow! 5353 emails between us? No wonder I never get any work done! PS I think you need to link the Mormon Underwear, now that you know how to link!
    I am a total doofus–I posted my Mother’s Day thing on tuesday thinking it was Mother’s Day theme, but it was Inside the Debs. Oh well, I’ll now have to gather dirt for NEXT week to put my Deb thing up 😉

  2. Well, if I might spill a bit of my own insider information (hoping you don’t mind) – Danielle, you’re certainly not as obsessive as you were about that first post, since that was the only one you sent to your ‘live’ crit group to read over before you posted it. And might I say that every post since has been full of fun, insight and often something very poignant. I’m so proud to be a deb groupie – thanks for turning me on.

  3. You summed up so many of my feelings, Danielle that I got shivers reading this. What a memorable year and experience!

  4. Jenny, I’ve been waiting to see when the penny dropped. So funny! But Mother’s Day is just as good a topic for this week as next and we’ll expect big things from you next week. (Uh, not too big–you won’t reveal my hidden talent, right?)

    That’s right Joanne, I DID send it to the group. OMG what a freak–you guys are so patient. And a sidebar, my crit group (which includes Joanne) has been amazing this year too and was there through every crazy step of submission, offers, etc. They could have their own post.

    Eileen, you have made me snort too many times to count. You may be the MOST guilty of making me snort though it is a close race.

    Gail, back at you. I can’t wait to meet you all in person this summer.

  5. Oh and Jenny, I will look for a Mormon Underwear link later today. Further proof that I’m no longer such a lunatic about being on the site ALL DAY, I’m off to write in a coffee shop. Admittedly that’s bc I have to leave the house to stay off the internet.

  6. Danielle,

    Great post, I forgot about the election night gossipfest. 🙂

    I don’t have any trouble believing that we’ve sent 5300 emails to each other — every time I’ve connected to the internet on tour for FIFTEEN MINUTES, I have 278 Deb emails in my box. It has definitely helped me stay sane on teh road.

    Eileen — SNOT-worthy, SNORT-worthy — all true.

    It has been an AMAZING year. I can’t imagine doing this without you girls.



  7. Great post, Danielle. To add some further insider dirt… Danielle just left said coffee shop where she was writing and chatting with me this am, and is off to get a hot stone massage from our mutual friend Maia who’s starting a massage therapy business and needed guinea pigs. Such a sacrifice, Dani, such a sacrifice… I’m next, Maia. Seriously.

    On another note… it is interesting how well you can get to know people over e-mails. In some strange ways, it can be more intimate than “real life”. Especially with blogging, because often we share personal details in blogs that wouldn’t normally come out in conversation. Hoping to meet (in real life), the rest of the Debs in San Fran this summer! (I’ve only met Jenny, Eileen and Danielle in real life, but feel like I know you all, at least a bit. Jess, have we met? Maybe at another RWA Nationals? Not sure. I’ve certainly been aware of your book/you for several years via Diana Peterfreund, mostly…)

  8. See what’s REALLY interesting is the “behind the scenes” of the behind the scenes. The stories I could tell…

    The Oppressor!

  9. Lisa, you’re very kind, but I’m guessing seeing 278 emails from us gives you heartburn with how busy you are. I left my house at 10am today and came back to 22 deb emails!

    Cindy–hope you’ve LIKED having your eyes opened!

    Maureen: yeah I took one for the team today, that’s for sure. (OMG, she’s amazing.)And it is so interesting how the blog world and email can create kind of a distillation of character, if that makes any sense. You really can get to know people well.

    Oppressor–don’t even try it!

    Gail–I know, he’s fun to egg on.

  10. Yaay! You are so right. I can’t believe we’ve been together already for ten months!!!! (Can that be?!)

    Also, I want to hear the Oppressor’s Behind the Behind the Scenes!!!

  11. Danielle, hope you’re somewhat obsessed on Fridays too. 😉 This was a great post — one that I’ve been waiting to read — as those of us who are merely guests at The Ball can only imagine behind the scenes! Becoming an author, being a chosen Deb and making/meeting new friends will — in years to come — define 2008 as “inevitable.” Enjoy!

  12. Hi Larramie, I missed you yesterday!

    Yep. Truth be told I’m somewhat obsessed every day, especially about the debs and all of our friends.

    I’m so happy you enjoyed the post. There’s so much that we can’t share here for the sake of professionalism (ie not ticking off our publishers) but we really have leaned on each other and inspired each other off-site, all the while really looking forward to each other’s posts and seeing what kind of responses our writing sparks with our readers. The off and on site stuff really feeds each other, and I wanted to convey that in this post.

    Thanks, as always, for being here with us.

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