THE DEBS and Starting Over by Guest Author Susan McBride

It seems like the perfect time to talk about starting fresh, especially with the new Debs taking charge of The Deb Ball. Which works out well for me, as it’s precisely what I wanted to discuss in my guest post. Oh, first, thank you, Debs, for having me. I’m wearing pearls, white gloves, and a tiara as I type this, just so I’ll feel in the spirit of things. (Okay, really, I’m in pajamas with a cat draped across my lap, but I write fiction so let’s pretend.)

Though I’m not a debutante nor have I played one on TV, I am the author of THE DEBS, the first in a new young adult series from Random House that debuted last week. It features four prep school seniors in my former hometown of Houston, Texas, as they claw their way through their debutante season. Before THE DEBS, I’d authored five mysteries for the adult market in my Debutante Dropout series for Avon. Yes, yes, there does seem to be a string (of pearls, perhaps) tying these two series together. When I signed with Random House to write THE DEBS, I was told that doing a YA series and an adult mystery series weren’t that different at all. Hey, it sounded good, and I believed it. Until I actually got started.

After several revisions of THE DEBS and a few revisions of LOVE, LIES, AND TEXAS DIPS (June 2009), I finally realized there’s a huge freakin’ difference between YA series and mystery series! For one thing, the mystery wraps up at the end of each book. Yes, the characters grow throughout the series, but no real plotlines are left dangling (unless you’re Janet Evanovich and end a book with a mystery dude knocking on the door). With a young adult series, you’re writing storylines that continue from book to book to book. Gulp.

Another thing I’m getting used to: mysteries are sold so differently from YA, kind of like comparing a sprint to a marathon. Being more of a sprinter—or at least, really hyper—I’m slightly freaked out by the idea of taking things slowly. “Don’t worry,” I’m told, “if readers don’t discover the series for months or even a year.” A year? (That noise you hear: it’s me, hyperventilating.)

My saving grace is the writing itself, and I’m having a ball telling tales about my DEBS: brainiac Mac, earth-friendly Ginger, larger than life Laura, and evil ex-beauty queen Jo Lynn (Boo! Hiss!). I’m channeling my inner soap opera fan and repeating the mantra of “storylines don’t die, they just morph into even more drama” as I start on Book Three. (Speaking of which, do any of y’all have title suggestions? I’m thinking right now about, GLOVES OFF, considering all the cats fights between my “good” Texas debs and their archenemies in the Bimbo Cartel).

And I’m feeling more comfortable in my new skin as a YA author and a smidge less like the bright and shiny (and clueless) New Kid. Random House is doing some really fun things to spread the word about THE DEBS as well, including having Max Media hand out pink and green Lilly Pulitzer/DEBS lipstick cases on college campuses. Plus, Lilly P is also co-sponsoring a contest where four girls can win a trip to NYC and a shopping spree at the Lilly store on Madison Avenue. How cool is that? Check out for details.

In the meantime, I’m keeping my head down, my fingers on the keyboard, and my tiara firmly ensconced on my big beehive of Texas deb hair, as I quietly pray readers discover THE DEBS and fall in love with Mac, Ginger, Laura, and Jo Lynn as I have. Oh, yeah, and maybe I’ll try to remember to breathe.

Susan McBride shifts from mystery to YA with The Debs (Random House), the first in a new series and a Fall 2008 Kid’s Indie Next Pick. She’s also penned five Debutante Dropout Mysteries, including Too Pretty to Die (February, Avon). For more scoop, visit

19 Replies to “THE DEBS and Starting Over by Guest Author Susan McBride”

  1. Howdeeee Susan! Waving a glove-clad beauty queen Deb-esque hand your way! Your book sounds like such fun and I am so thrilled that your house is doing such fun promo for you! I want a Lilly lipstick case!!! And those Texas Dips–I always thought those had chili con queso in them, but I realize now I’m sorely mistaken. Shows what a fine Deb I’ve been 😉 .

  2. Hi, Jen! If you really want a Lilly lipstick case, I can smuggle one to you! 😉 Yeah, there’s a lot of, um, misinformation out there about the Texas Dip. It’s definitely not something you can scoop up with a Dorito. The debs from Highland Park (an upscale area of Dallas) used to practice their dips in study hall at the Pi Phi house at UT-Austin. Who’d of ever thunk that watching them (and rolling my eyes) would result in so many books later in my life? So maybe I should send them all lipstick cases to thank them!

  3. I have a feeling if I grew up in Texas, I’d have invented the sort of Texas Dip you can eat with a Dorito ;-). And I bet you wouldn’t have rolled you eyes at that!
    Definitely sign me up for the Lilly lipstick case! It will enhance my Debability!

  4. Aw, Jen, I’m so glad y’all liked it! I’m getting a really positive response so far, so keeping fingers crossed! As for the lipstick case: ask and ye shall receive. I’m reserving one of these pretty pink and green babies just for you!

  5. Hey Susan! (Waving my good hand from Eastern Illinois.) I’m excited to hear of a new series from you for me to dive into. Your Drop Out Debutant series got me through several Chemo sessions. Now I’m just dealing with the arm swelling from lympodemia (who knew you needed those little buggers) but doing well.

    I have sung praises on your kindness when you reached out to me last year every chance I get. So hopefully the karma train will hit and The Debs will be found sooner than later by all of those YA readers will be bursting into the bookstores to buy.

    Me, I need to get over to Borders and buy Too Pretty to Die and see what Andy and Cissy are up to.

    Great post!

  6. Lynn!!! Hi, chica! I’m sorry to hear you’re dealing with lymphedema after all you’ve been through. Hope the swelling doesn’t last long. It’s like surviving breast cancer isn’t tough enough. We have to worry about all sorts of side effects, too, none of which are very fun. (Now, if there were FUN side effects, that would be a different story!) I hope you love THE DEBS! It’s definitely a departure from the mysteries, but my, er, slightly sarcastic sense of humor somehow crept into that one, too. Hope you enjoy TOO PRETTY TO DIE. I wrote both TOO PRETTY and THE DEBS while going through my lumpectomy and radiation therapy! Weeee! No wonder my editor at Random House thought the first draft of THE DEBS seemed less than ideal. 😉 Sending you a big (but gentle) hug! Take care, please.


  7. Hi Lynn! So sorry to hear you’re going through all of that–absolutely awful. Thought I’d point out that Deb Gail Konop-Baker has a FABULOUS memoir coming out at the end of the month that is about her dealing with her breast cancer, mid-life, marriage, motherhood, etc. She’s a truly gifted writer and I think you’ll find it to be a really inspirational and very relatable read. Best of luck as you heal!

  8. Susan, thanks so much for your visit and welcome for the new Debs. Your book sounds fantastic (GORGEOUS COVER and those shoes make my feet say ouch just to look at them). I wish you all the best for snagging a whole new category of readers, and bringing along your faithful mystery fans to your new books, too.

  9. Kristina, thanks so much! I love the cover, too…and the shoes! Before I got married in February, I kept hoping I’d find a pair in ivory. No such luck. If I had, they probably would’ve cost more than my dress so maybe that was a good thing!

  10. Susan, in the two years of my attendance at The Deb Ball, I’ve never read about a book so appropriate. 😉 Love the fact that good, smart writers are delving into YA and building a new audience with positive role models. Congratulations and much success to you.

  11. Susan –

    Thank you for classing up our Ball with your gorgeous book cover and your debutante ways! Your book – and your author photo, btw – look great and I can’t wait to read it.

    Thanks for joining the dance,

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