Desperation and Doggedness: Why I Didn’t Stop Writing

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

This week we’re talking about the time we almost quit writing; the time we nearly tossed our computers out the second story window; the time we wrote terrible, angsty poetry. Our darkest time as writers, in other words. My story is fairly simple. The closest I came to quitting was after the MFA workshop I described last week — the one where my teacher called my writing (among other things)…


Interview With Dana Bate + a Giveaway

Saturday, December 12, 2015

We are proud to welcome as a guest one of our former Debutantes, Dana Bate. Dana wrote for the Ball in 2013, the year she published her first book, THE GIRLS’ GUIDE TO LOVE AND SUPPER CLUBS, which earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly and was translated into five languages. Her third book, TOO MANY COOKS, is a witty and insightful look at celebrity, cooking, love, and the influence of…


Criticism and the Impostor Syndrome

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

I was a lawyer for almost a decade, and every brief I wrote was edited by other lawyers. This never bothered me. Once, my boss crossed out a paragraph in which I’d explained, in multiple dependent clauses, not unlike this sentence, that the plaintiff — while perhaps well-meaning and confused — was, unfortunately, operating under several sadly incorrect assumptions. He replaced it with four words: “The plaintiff is wrong.” I…


You’re Only as Old as You Write

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

This week it’s about age. How old we are. How old we feel. How old we write. I am the oldest Deb. I also waited the longest of any of us to start writing. I was 43 when I typed “Chapter One”, and 49 when I typed “The End.”  My novel will be published when I’m 51. I am, by default, the best authority among us on what it’s like…


The Shit I’m Thankful For: A Poem

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What am I thankful for?? Well, first let me tell you what I’m not thankful for, and that’s posting the day after Jennifer, because everything she wrote about public displays of gratitude, saturating Thanksgiving meals with bourbon, and warmly thanking everyone she loves had me going, “Oh, yeah.” “Yup.” “Yep, that, too.” So I apologize in advance for doing exactly what Jennifer did, only not so wittily nor so well. No, wait…


Guest Blogger Melissa Cistaro + GIVEAWAY of PIECES OF MY MOTHER

Pieces of My Mother by Melissa Cistaro
Saturday, November 21, 2015

Melissa Cistaro is the author of PIECES OF MY MOTHER, a memoir of her childhood spent waiting for the mother who walked away, her own struggles with motherhood, and her search for understanding as her mother lies dying. Her essays, interviews, and work have appeared in The New Ohio Review, Brevity, The Huffington Post, Bookish, Good Housekeeping and the anthologies LOVE & PROFANITY and CHERISHED. She works as a bookseller and…


How Not to Write. How to Write.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

I love this topic, because I know so much more about not writing than I do writing. Not writing is easy, and most of us do it all day long, for so many hours that we get very good at it, and I myself am positively expert. I’ve run into a couple of folks who will say, with a straight face, that writing is such an imperative for them that…


She Says Tomahto, That Guy Over There Says Tomato: My Experience On Submission

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

This week we’re talking about our submission process, and what’s been interesting to me is how different each of those processes were. Louise’s path was deceptively easy — she was fortunate enough to impress a great editor with her first forty pages, but then she had to fulfill the promise of those pages and nurture that editor’s interest for three full years. Jennifer’s first novel died in submission, and she…


Like Sands Through the Hourglass: What is This Time Thing, Anyway?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

This week’s topic is time.  We picked it because November is NaNoWriMo, the annual writing frenzy that turns half a million people into slavering lunatics who eat nothing but Doritos and refuse to shower for 30 days just so they can put 50,000 words on paper.  But, much as I admire that level of dedication, I’ve never done NaNoWriMo.  Partly because I’m addicted to daily showers, but mostly because I’m…


Wait — What If People Actually Read It?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

This week, as I’ve laughed at and sympathized with Louise’s and Jennifer’s posts about their publishing fears (or, in the case of Jennifer’s bovinaphobia, non-publishing fears), I’ve wrestled with how to explain mine.  I’ve wrestled with it because it seems so counterintuitive, and more than a little self-indulgent.  Every writer who’s about to publish a book has the same overarching fear that trumps all the night sweats over readings and reviews:…