The Gift of Books

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Books are my go-to gift. Most of the adults in my life have enough “stuff.” They don’t need another scarf or candle or necktie. But, if they are anything like me, they always need something new to read. Here are some books I’ve given as gifts to people I love. You’re Not You by Michelle Wildgen. My mom is an occupational therapist and has worked for the last 30+ years with…


My Adventure Chose Me This Week

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I don’t need to “choose my own adventure” for a topic this week. The adventure chose me. As I type this post, there’s an insurance claims adjuster wandering around our yard to check out what damage was sustained in a tornado that hit my city last night. We are lucky. Our house does not appear to have been damaged, just our garage. A couple of homes in our neighborhood had their roofs blown off. Several of…


Flexing those other creative muscles

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Here’s a dirty secret about writing on a professional level: it’s hard to be creative under a deadline. The best ideas take time to develop, and sometimes we have to yank them out of the incubator before they are ready. Many of us authors are harsh self-critics to begin with, so putting an end date on the creative process only exacerbates the problem. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to…


Controversy in CHASING THE SUN

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

As you know, yesterday deb Natalia Sylvester’s debut novel, CHASING THE SUN, came out into the world. The novel is about a lot of things. It’s about family. Crime. Power. Sacrifices and choices. It’s also about controversy. You see, CHASING THE SUN is set during a period in Peruvian history swathed in mixed emotions. There are several references in the novel to the rise of Alberto Fujimori to power. As a Spanish major, I took…


Teaching Kids about Loss through Books

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

This week at the Debutante Ball, we are blogging about loss and remembrance. I first learned about loss from books, long before I ever experienced it in my own life. And now, as a parent, I sometimes shy away from reading books to my son that I know are sad. The older he gets, though (he’ll be 3 this summer), the more I realize that I can’t–and shouldn’t–shield him from…


3 tips for getting the most from early reads

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My first novel, Vintage, would have never landed an agent and gotten published if it had not been for the help of my posse of early readers who helped me whip the manuscript into shape. They included, in this order: me, two different critique groups, me, me, me,  my college roommate, my law school roommate with a background in journalism, me again, lots of agents, me again, MY agent (once…


Book events: 3 Survival Tips for Authors

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Most of our work as authors occurs in solitude, typing at a keyboard, jotting down notes, or working through editorial suggestions. It’s a bit of a departure from our “habitat,” then, when we’re asked to appear in public. Here are my survival skills for those occasions. Lower your expectations. As a debut author, your opportunities to speak in front of large crowds will probably be few and far between. Maybe…


Guest author Erin Celello Shares her Road to Publication + Giveaway

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Today we have guest author Erin Celello here at the Debutante Ball! Erin is the author of two novels, Miracle Beach and Learning to Stay, which was nominated for a 2013 PEN/Faulkner award. After spending nearly a decade in political communications, she is now an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Erin lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband, two young children, and two unruly Vizslas. You can find her…


Give it all, give it now

Just a short post today for a quick burst of inspiration. The late American artist Sam Fink published a gorgeous, illustrated version of Annie Dillard‘s advice to writers in a book called Give It All, Give It Now (Welcome Books, 2009). The quotations featured in the illustrations are from Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life (Harper Perennial, 1990). These beautiful pictures and words help inspire me when my usual arsenal of writing tricks and tips fails me.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Sometimes a Girl Needs a Good Cry

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I have had some readers tell me that they cried at certain parts of my novel, Vintage. Secretly, I adore hearing this. Why? Because it means that the reader cared enough about the characters to be moved emotionally by what happened to them. Personally, I love it when a book makes me cry. A good cry is cathartic, and a reminder of what makes us human. I’ve been boo-hooing my way…