Five Fictional Couples That Will Tumble Your Heart

This week, to celebrate (or revile!) Valentine’s Day the Debs are talking all about love. True love, real love, fictional love, breakups, relationships, star-crossed sorts of love. To me, one of the most amazing things about books is that a good story will truly move you. At a very young age I found myself drawn…
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Deb Elise Blogs on Friendship, Courts Death

Good friends are the ultimate external hard drives: they enhance your memory.

I remember a lot, but there’s also way too much that’s slipped through the cracks over the years.  Yet when I’m with the friends who really shared my life at various points, everything comes rushing back like no time passed at all.

For 6th grade through high school reminiscing, there’s no one like Temperance.  Our friendship started rocky, with her shaking me down for my Capri-Sun juice pouches, but by 11th grade we were roommates, and there for each other’s every drama, obsession, and late night punchy cram session.

Temperance, by the way, is not at all her real name, but given what I’m about to insert into this post, I’m hoping to subliminally help her restrain herself from killing me.  Yep, this is where I do what I promise in the title of my post, and court death:

The Tampon Pic

Personally, I think it’s quite flattering to both of us, but she’s a highly esteemed professional now, and might not be thrilled about an on-the-net pic of her with a tampon up her nose and a maxipad on her forehead.  Love ya’, Temp!

If it’s college and my 20’s it’s all about Patches.  Not her name either, though it was her name for the way cool murder mystery business we ran for years, Dial Us for Murder.  I was Mittens.  The picture below, however, is something different entirely:

Dr. Bob and Supergrover

Yup, that’s right.  We’re Supergrover and Dr. Bob.  And we were hot.

No really, we were.  We were in giant fur suits, sweating like freaks as we paraded down the wrong Halloween street party (Hollywood is so not the same as West Hollywood) and barely skirted a riot.

Since my daughter started preschool three years ago, she has done me the incredible favor of growing particularly close with kids whose parents I love.  I have a circle of “mommy-friends” now with whom I can and do talk about anything, and who I bet many many years from now will still be my touchstones for this incredible time when my daughter (now nearly 6) is young and just starting to come into her own.

Do you have certain friends who hold the key to specific periods in your life?  Tell me about them — I’d love to hear the stories!

~ Deb Elise


Hey, baby, what’s your type? by Deb Katie

So I forget how long ago it was that I discovered the Jungian Typology test (sometimes called the “Myers-Briggs Typology” test). In a nutshell, possibly even a wrong one, because it’s lifted out of my brain, it’s a test based on Jungian theories that divide personalities into one of sixteen types based on the balance of four sets of traits:

Introversion vs. Extroversion
Sensing vs. Intuition
Feeling vs. Thinking
Perceiving vs. Judging

(I think Jung only relied on three of these sets… like I said, if you want to know the strict truth, go look on Wikipedia… they’re ALWAYS right over there.)

So, anyhoo, I like tests. When I was a kid, I filled out every direct marketing survey that came our way. “Why, yes, I DO like spending time outdoors! I DO have a dog!” If they’d ever made it into the mailbox, my family would have been buried in junkmail, but I’m pretty sure they were nipped in the bud.

So I took the test, a few years ago, and my results came out INTJ – Introverted Intuition Thinking Judging. The colloquial term for this type is “The Mastermind.” I enjoyed poring over websites describing me as impatient, perfectionist, demanding, and thorough. Then I went back to work.

Years passed. I got a different job–which I can unequivocally describe as a better job. I was a much happier person. I took the test again, looking forward to being reinforced as a mastermind.

So you can imagine my shock when my results came out INTP – Introverted Intuition Thinking Perceiving. What is this? No longer a Mastermind, I had been demoted to Architect. The major difference between Perceiving and Judging, from what I understand, is whether you SEW before you WRITE or WRITE before you SEW.

Masterminds line up all of their ducks before they have fun. Architects line up ducks for fun and then work only when driven to the point of insane guilt. I had started having too much fun, at work, and in every other aspect of my life. My true duck-playing nature scratched its way to the surface.

Anyway, I don’t set much store in classification systems like that. I mean, it’s kind of like dividing your pen drawer by color. Yep, there are the blue pens! Sorting them out doesn’t change the color of the ink.

But the introversion thing has stuck with me. I never thought of myself as an introvert–because I really like people. Only as I got older did I realize that the amount of “alone time” I need to refresh myself seems to be somewhere around double or triple that of the people around me. If the husb is out of town, I can spend the whole weeks happily puttering around by myself.

C.S. Lewis said, when cautioning against glorifying a love of humanity, “Love of humanity is easy because humanity does not surprise you with inconvenient demands. You never find humanity on your doorstep, stinking and begging.”

I find this funny, because I’m the opposite. Humanity? Not the biggest fan. I mean, blur your eyes and look around. My most common rant is, “What is WRONG with people?”

That seems to go hand in hand with my introversion, right? But here’s my secret–when you take humanity out of the equation and give me a human to interact with, I’m happy as a clam. I really do like people. I like YOU. And her. And that guy over there. And the guy who came to inspect my dryer vents. And the grumpy lady behind the counter at the drugstore.

I just don’t like all of these people when they gang together and act stupidly.

This is probably how I find my voice and form my characters as an author. An author plays God. You have to love every character you create enough to believe in what THEY believe, long enough to write it honestly. And how do you cultivate that love? By meeting real people and looking for the things that make them lovable, no matter how deep you have to dig.

So, introvert? Yes, definitely. But I’m the warmest, fuzziest introvert you ever met. I like everybody–one person at a time.

~ Katie Alender

If you take the test, make sure to comment and let us know what your type is! I’m always eager to hear other people’s results.

PPS – The Debutante Ball is now on Twitter! Click here and follow us for daily updates and special news briefs.


Love Hurts, But No Love is Worse…. by Guest Author Rosemary Harris

lw-smileWe are very pleased to welcome to the ball guest author Rosemary Harris.
A former bookstore manager and video producer, she is president of Sisters in Crime New England and a board member of MWA-NY Chapter. Her first book, Pushing Up Daisies was a Mystery Guild selection and was named to Library Journal’s Best First Fiction List 2008. The Big Dirt Nap will be released by St. Martin’s Minotaur on February 17, 2009.

There was only one thing my agent and my editor agreed on regarding the manuscript editing for my first book, Pushing Up Daisies (2008.) In fact, it was the first substantive thing either of them said to me after “I love it!” Needless to say, I was putty in their hands after that remark and would have agreed to most any changes a la Paperback Writer (“I can make it longer if you like the style, I can chance it round…”)

Take out the sex scene. That was their advice. By anyone’s standards, including my 88 year old Aunt Mary’s, the sex scene was pretty tame. Okay, it was in a non-traditional place (a greenhouse) and on a non-traditional surface (a potting table) but that was as adventurous as it got. Not a lot of descriptive anatomy or flinging of clothing. Just two single, healthy, over-the-age-of-consent people doing what comes naturally.

Didn’t matter. I was advised to take it out. I was writing a series. (I was?) And in a traditional mystery series, your female amateur sleuth can’t do the deed in the first book, unless she’s married, soon to be married, or deeply committed. I thought they were joking. Had I been transported back to the fifties? To the days of those old movies where the married couples got dressed to go to bed and slept in separate, monastic twin beds that you couldn’t double up in even if the censors let you? Should I strike a blow for fictional sleuths everywhere and insist that Paula Holliday (my heroine) get some nookie?

bigdirtnapblackThey explained that if Paula sleeps with someone in the first book and then someone else in the second book, readers will think she’s, um…frisky (i.e., not a nice girl.) What about Stephanie Plum, I said. Isn’t she sleeping with two guys in the same book? Apparently, when you sell as many copies as Janet Evanovich, your heroine can go to the docks during Fleet Week and pick up sailors three at a time, but for a newbie, it was a big mistake.

I thought about it. It was my first book. The agent and editor both said the same thing. And, it really only required me to delete two lines of text (the characters could have a near miss, as we used to call them when I was young.)

All right. Paula Holliday didn’t get any love in Pushing Up Daisies, but I hope that you all do on this Valentine’s Day!


Dedicated to the Oneonta Sweetheart, by Deb Eve

brownwaite_smallMy kids hate to listen to the radio with me. Okay, they’re adolescents and they hate to do just about anything with me, but the radio brings special angst. That’s because practically every song is either about love or about sex, unless it’s a song that’s ostensibly about love but really it’s about sex (which is not the same as love, but who can blame kids for confusing the two when every songwriter in America has). And the songs that are about love all seem to have a similar message about how damn much love hurts but, as most of these songs emphasize, you just gotta hang on, hang in, stick it out, stick with it. At which point I think, Stick with it? Until what?? It’s dead and stomped into the ground??? And quite often I do more than just think that, I actually say it out loud and that right there is why my kids hate to listen to the radio with me.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about today. I’m here to talk about this week’s topic: Love Hurts. Except that I think, it shouldn’t. Not romantic love, anyway. But I think an awful lot of people out there think it should. And I blame that in large part on the whiny songwriters who are putting out all these songs telling us all that it does. And I know there was a time when I believed it too. I certainly had my share of incompatible, mismatched, doomed relationships (okay, it was ONE doomed relationship but it went on for a very, very long time) and it hurt. Oh did it ever hurt. And we just kept hanging in there, sticking with it, working it out over and over and over again well past the days when it was dead and should have been stomped into the ground. But we were young and in love – and listened to the damn radio – and believed that even when love hurts, it’s worth fighting for.

And here’s what I tell my kids – when they’ll listen to me, which isn’t very often anymore (as I said, they’re adolescents): love shouldn’t hurt. It should make you laugh and lift you up. Love should give wings to your dreams and help move you along to your destiny. Love should make you a better person, a happier person, a healthier person. If it doesn’t, then love yourself enough to move along until you find the partner who does all that for you. Because that’s what we all deserve.

It took me many long and painful years to finally extricate myself from my own love hurts relationship. And that’s when I met the Oneonta Sweetheart – you’ll meet him in FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MALARIA. And, no, he’s not the one that I share my happily ever after with. But he is the one who taught me a very important lesson. That love doesn’t have to hurt at all. And for that, I am forever in his debt.

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends. And I truly wish all of you love that lifts you up and makes you happy.

~Deb Eve


Love, by Deb Katie

Our theme this week, in honor of Valentine’s Day, is “love hurts.” The thing is, (and shh!–don’t tell my fellow Debs)… I don’t think love hurts.

Go ahead and call me Pollyanna if you must, but as I get older, I’ve learned to count my blessings and let the rest of it go. (Besides, if you must nickname me after a character in a Disney movie, just do what everybody else does and go with Mary Poppins.)

So, yes, I’m being a stickler here (my Meyers-Briggs type is, after all, INTP), but from where I stand, love doesn’t hurt. It’s the good stuff.

I’ve actually been thinking a lot about love lately. Not specifically as it relates to me and my life, but as a concept. I forget why, but a few months ago, I realized: love is the ultimate heroic act.

The two schlubbiest schlubs that ever slouched down the street become heroes if they fall in love. The two most average people in the world become above average if they fall in love. I can’t think of any two people whose love story—if it’s sincere, real love—doesn’t instantly elevate them.

Without love, Romeo and Juliet are just two teens from cranky families. Scarlett and Rhett are just two spoiled Southerners. Lady and the Tramp are just dogs.

Think about it—to have a great war movie, you need great battles (or at least a backdrop of battles). To have a great action movie, you need a great adventure. But to have a great love story, you just need two people who are willing to bend their lives toward one another until they touch (metaphorically, of course).

Now, once you have your great love story, where you go with it is a whole ‘nother beast. You can get all Cinderella and fairytale ending–they meet at the top of the skyscraper!–or you can go Romeo and Juliet on your characters–one of them gets hit by a bus. (That, by the way, would be where the hurt comes in.)

Love inspires and it expands, and it is one of the few things we can all do well, if we try.

The pain, the loss, the disappointment… those things come along, unfortunately for us at regular intervals. But it’s not the hurdles that define a champion hurdler—it’s the leaping.

I’m truly apologetic to my Debutante sisters, but I can’t find it inside me to be cynical on a topic like this one. (Unless you get me talking about the traffic that results from all of the love on Valentine’s Day in Los Angeles… but that’s a totally different story.)

May you be the hero of your own story! Happy V-Day.



In which love hurts all kinds of ways, by Deb Kristina

coverReal Life & Liars isn’t a love story, but it’s a story about love.

In all the writing advice books, they talk about having high stakes for your characters. In adventuresome books, an author can literally hang the fate of the free world in the balance, or at least the life of a beloved character or two.

I like to read those books, but they’re not my kind of thing to write. My novel’s high stakes are mostly internal, and that’s how we come to this week’s theme at the Ball: Love Hurts.

Boy, does it ever, in all its forms.

Thinking of love as heartache brings to mind the classic pop-tune angst of unrequited ardor. Sure that hurts, as Ivan in Liars has been reminded time and time again.

It also hurts to be married sometimes, when your problems are multiplied and projected on another person because you’re in the same small boat even if you don’t feel like it at the moment, even if you can’t remember why you climbed aboard in the first place. In my book Katya feels this way, though she’d never bail out, so she stays, paddling, but unsure where she’s going, having lost the map and refusing to talk about it with Charles, paddling in the other end with his own agenda.

It hurts to be put aside by one’s children as Mira feels, increasingly rejected and excluded by her brood who seem to have ignored every lesson she tried to model for them all their lives.

And as a child, sometimes it hurts to wonder if you’re loved as much as your siblings, as does Irina, the baby of the family who believes she was an accident who should never have been there at all.

Yet there is still love, which is why it hurts. Without love at work in any of the above situations, the characters could remove the problem as a sliver from a finger and go on, relieved by the absence of the sting.

Love hurts, but love also connects, and love makes us not want to give up.

Deb Kristina