Deb Class of 2020

Debutante Lisa Braxton

Lisa Braxton is an essayist, short story writer, and novelist. Her debut novel, The Talking Drum, is forthcoming from Inanna Publications in spring 2020.
She is a fellow of the Kimbilio Fiction Writers Program and a book reviewer for 2040 Review. Her stories and essays have appeared in Vermont Literary Review, Black Lives Have Always Mattered, Chicken Soup for the Soul and The Book of Hope. She received Honorable Mention in Writer’s Digest magazine’s 84th and 86th annual writing contests in the inspirational essay category.
She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Media from Hampton University, her Master of Science degree in Journalism from Northwestern University and her Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from Southern New Hampshire University. She is a former newspaper and television journalist.


Read Lisa’s Debutante Ball Posts

Find Lisa at:   Website  *  Twitter  *  Goodreads  *  Instagram 

Her Debut: The Talking Drum, Inanna Publications, May 2020


It is 1971. The fictional city of Bellport, Massachusetts, is in decline with an urban redevelopment project on the horizon expected to transform this dying factory town into a thriving economic center.

This planned transformation has a profound effect on the residents who live in Bellport as their own personal transformations take place.

Sydney Stallworth steps away from her fellowship and law studies at an elite university to support husband Malachi’s dream of opening a business in the heart of the black community of his hometown, Bellport.

For Omar Bassari, an immigrant from Senegal, Bellport is where he will establish his drumming career and the launching pad from which he will spread African culture across the world, while trying to hold onto his marriage.

Della Tolliver has built a fragile sanctuary in Bellport for herself, social activist boyfriend Kwamé Rodriguez, and daughter Jasmine, a troubled child prone to nightmares and outbursts.

Tensions rise as the demolition date moves closer, plans for gentrification are laid out, and the pace of suspicious fires picks up. The residents find themselves at odds with a political system manipulating their lives and question the future of their relationships.

The Talking Drum explores intra-racial, class, and cross-cultural tensions, along with the meaning of community and belonging.

Debutante Kathleen West


Kathleen West is a writer, teacher, reader, and semi-professional minivan driver. A life-long Minnesotan, she holds degrees from Macalester College and the University of Minnesota. Her debut novel, Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes, will be out from Berkley (Penguin Random House) on February 4, 2020. She lives in Minneapolis with her hilarious husband, their two sporty sons, and an ill-behaved goldendoodle.


Read Kathleen’s Debutante Ball Posts


Find Kathleen at: her website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, or Instagram.

Her Debut: Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes (Berkley, February 2020)

Minor DramasIsobel Johnson can’t stand helicopter parents like Julia Abbott, a stage mom whose world revolves around interfering in her children’s lives. Julia resents teachers like Isobel, who effortlessly bond with students, including Julia’s own teenagers, who’ve been pulling away from her more each year.

Isobel has spent her career in Liston Heights side-stepping the community’s high-powered families. But when she receives a threatening voicemail accusing her of Anti-Americanism and a “blatant liberal agenda,” she realizes she’s squarely in the fray. Rather than cowering, Isobel doubles down on her social-justice ideals, teaching queer theory in AP American Lit. Meanwhile, Julia, obsessed with the casting of the winter musical, inadvertently shoves the female lead after sneaking onto the school campus. The damning video goes viral and has far-reaching consequences for Julia and her entire family.

With nothing to unite them beyond the sting of humiliation from public meltdowns, Isobel and Julia will find common ground where they least expect it, confronting a secret Facebook gossip site and a pack of rabid parents in a suburb where appearance is everything.


Debutante Karen Osborne

Layne Fargo © Katharine Hannah Photography

Layne Fargo is a thriller author with a background in theater and library science. She’s a Pitch Wars mentor, a member of the Chicagoland chapter of Sisters in Crime, and the cocreator of the podcast Unlikeable Female Characters. Layne lives in Chicago with her partner and their pets.


Read Karen’s Debutante Ball Posts


Find Layne at:   Her Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Her Debut: Temper, Scout Press, July 2019

Actress Kira Rascher has finally landed the role of a lifetime. The catch? Starring in Temper means working with Malcolm Mercer, a mercurial director who’s known for pushing people past their limits—on stage and off.

Kira’s convinced she can handle Malcolm, but the theater’s cofounder, Joanna Cuyler, is another story. Joanna sees Kira as a threat—to her own thwarted artistic dreams, her twisted relationship with Malcolm, and the shocking secret she’s keeping. But as opening night draws near, Kira and Joanna both start to realize that Malcolm’s dangerous extremes are nothing compared to what they’re capable of themselves.


Debutante Yodassa Williams

  Yodassa Williams is a powerful conjurer of black girl magic (70% Jedi, 30% Sith). A Jamaican American writer, speaker, and award winning performing storyteller, alumna of the VONA/Voices Travel Writing program and creator of the podcast ‘The Black Girl Magic Files’, Yodassa (Yoda) launched ‘Writers Emerging’ in 2019, a wilderness writing retreat for women of color and non-binary people of color. She grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and currently resides in the Bay Area. The Goddess Twins is her debut novel.

Find Yodassa at:   Her Website  *  Twitter  *  Facebook

The Goddess Twins cover art

Her Debut: The Goddess Twins (SparkPress, May 2020)

After years of traveling the world, black identical twins Aurora and Arden think they’ve settled into normalcy in Ohio. But days before their eighteenth birthday, the snarky twins develop powers in telekinesis and telepathy – at the same time that their famous mother, on tour in London, disappears. Searching for answers and determined to rescue her, the sisters unearth truths that threaten to extinguish their bond and demolish their strength as individuals. These goddess twins must work together, master their powers, and unveil a horrifying, century-old family mystery. Otherwise, they may not live to see eighteen―or their mother again.

Pre-Order The Goddess Twins from: Amazon


Debutante Amy Klein

Amy Klein has always written about what she’s going through, from sky-diving to bee-keeping to internet dating (pre-Tinder, thank God!) and finally, unwilling, infertility.

She started out as a journalist at The Jerusalem Post, and has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, Salon, Newsweek, Aeon and even Hustler.  Her New York Times “Fertility Diary” column, based on her four-year journey to have a baby, is the basis for her book.

She has an MFA from Antioch University.

She teaches writing and is also a Moth storyteller.

She lives with her husband and daughter in New York City.

Read Amy’s Debutante Ball Posts


Find Amy at:   Website  *  Twitter  *  Goodreads  *  Instagram 

About The Trying Game

From the author of The New York Times “Fertility Diary” column comes a girlfriend’s guide to both the emotional and technical process of trying to get pregnant, written with the smarts, warmth, and honesty of someone who has been in the trenches.

There are so many ways to be Not Pregnant: You can be young, old, partnered, or unpartnered. Maybe you don’t have enough eggs or your partner doesn’t have enough sperm. Or maybe there’s nothing wrong except you’re Just. Not. Pregnant.

Amy Klein has been there. Faced with fertility obstacles, she quickly became an expert in reproductive endocrinology. After nine rounds of IVF, four miscarriages, three acupuncturists, two rabbis, and one reproductive immunologist, she finally became a mother.

Now, Amy has written the book she wishes she’d had when she was Not Pregnant.


Pre-Order The Trying Game from: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | GooglePlay | Powell’s