Deb Class of 2021

Debutante Ehsaneh Sadr


Ehsaneh is a novelist and activist with a PhD in International Relations. She has worked, in various capacities, on campaigns related to biking advocacy, Palestinian human rights, lifting sanctions on Iran, access to credit for rural villagers, and safe spaces for children in crisis.

 

 

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Her Debut: A Door Between Us (Blackstone, September 1, 2020)

THE DISSIDENT, THE SOLDIER, THE BRIDE: WILL THE GREEN WAVE SAVE THEM OR DROWN THEM ALL?

Weddings always have their fair share of drama, but this one comes on the heels of the highly controversial 2009 Iranian election and ensuing Green Wave protests.

When the matriarch of Sarah’s family arranged her marriage to Ali, it was with the intention of uniting two compatible families. However, as the 2009 election becomes contentious, political differences emerge and Sarah’s conservative family tries to call off the wedding. Sarah and Ali, however, have fallen in love and, against the wishes of their parents, insist on going through with the marriage.

Sarah’s cousin, Sadegh, is a staunch supporter of the government and a member of the Baseej (the volunteer militia), tasked with arresting protestors and shutting down speech against the regime. Meanwhile, Ali’s sister, Azar, is an activist, a divorce attorney, and a passionate Green Wave supporter, trying to enact change in a way that many Iranians see as inflammatory. When Sarah impulsively shelters a protestor in their car on the drive home from the wedding, she sets off a chain of events that can either unmask the government’s brutality or ruin them all.

Sarah, Sadegh, and Azar’s stories weave together in an unflinching, humorous, and, at times, terrifying, story that demonstrates that, even as the world is falling apart around us, choices matter.

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Debutante Greta Kelly


Greta K. Kelly is (probably) not a witch, death or otherwise, but she can still be summoned with offerings of too-beautiful-to-use journals and Butterfingers candy. She currently lives in Wisconsin with her husband EJ, daughter Lorelei and a cat who may, or may not, control the weather.

 

 

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Her Debut: The Frozen Crown (Harper Voyager, January 12, 2021)

A princess with a powerful and dangerous secret must find a way to save her country from ruthless invaders in this exciting debut fantasy, the first novel in a thrilling duology packed with heroism, treachery, magic, and war.

Askia became heir to the Frozen Crown of Seravesh because of her devotion to her people. But her realm is facing a threat she cannot defeat by sheer will alone. The mad emperor of the Roven Empire has unleashed a horde of invading soldiers to enslave her lands. For months, her warriors have waged a valiant, stealth battle, yet they cannot stop the enemy’s advancement. Running out of time, she sets sail for sun-drenched Vishir, the neighboring land to the south, to seek help from its ruler, Emperor Armaan.

A young woman raised in army camps, Askia is ill-equipped to navigate Vishir’s labyrinthine political games. Her every move sinks her deeper into court intrigues which bewilder and repel her, leaving her vulnerable not only to enemies gathering at Vishir’s gates, but to those behind the palace walls.

And in this glittering court, where secrets are worth more than gold, Askia fears that one false step will expose her true nature. For Askia is a witch gifted with magical abilities—knowledge that could destroy not only her life but her people. As her adversaries draw closer, Askia is forced to make an impossible choice—and no matter what she decides, it may not be enough to prevent Seravesh’s fall.

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Debutante Denny S. Bryce

Denny S. Bryce is an award-winning author and three-time RWA Golden Heart® finalist, including twice for WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES, her debut historical fiction novel coming on March 30, 2021. She also writes book reviews for NPR Books, entertainment articles for FROLIC Media, and debut author video interviews for A Mighty Blaze.

A former professional dancer and ‘bad’ actress, she spent over two decades running her marketing and event management firm. A fan of genre-TV, she is currently obsessed with The CW’s The Flash, which is in line with past obsessions, which fed her love of writing fanfiction. Her fandoms included Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, the BBC’s Being Human, and of course, Outlander_Starz.

A member of the Historical Novel Society, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and Novelists, Inc., she is a frequent speaker at author events. She also is relocating from Northern Virginia to Savannah, GA.

 

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Her Debut: Wild Women and the Blues (Kensington, March 30, 2021)

Jazz-age Chicago comes to vibrant life in Denny S. Bryce’s evocative novel that links the stories of an ambitious chorus girl and a modern-day film student, both coming to grips with loss, forgiveness, and the limitations—and surprises—of love.

“Why would I talk to you about my life? I don’t know you, and even if I did, I don’t tell my story to just any boy with long hair, who probably smokes weed. You wanna hear about me. You gotta tell me something about you. To make this worth my while.”

1925: Chicago is the jazz capital of the world, and the Dreamland Café is the ritziest black-and-tan club in town. Honoree Dalcour is a sharecropper’s daughter, willing to work hard and dance every night on her way to the top. Dreamland offers a path to the good life, socializing with celebrities like Louis Armstrong and filmmaker Oscar Micheaux. But Chicago is also awash in bootleg whiskey, gambling, and gangsters. And a young woman driven by ambition might risk more than she can stand to lose.

2015: Film student Sawyer Hayes arrives at the bedside of 110-year-old Honoree Dalcour, still reeling from a devastating loss that has taken him right to the brink. Sawyer has rested all his hope on this frail but formidable woman, the only living link to the legendary Oscar Micheaux. If he’s right—if she can fill in the blanks in his research, perhaps he can complete his thesis and begin a new chapter in his life. But the links Honoree makes are not ones he’s expecting . . .

Piece by piece, Honoree reveals her past and her secrets, while Sawyer fights tooth and nail to keep his. It’s a story of courage and ambition, hot jazz and illicit passions. And as past meets present, for Honoree, it’s a final chance to be truly heard and seen before it’s too late. No matter the cost . . .

Coming from Kensington Books in the spring of 2021, WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES is Denny’s debut historical fiction novel about a grieving film student in modern-day Chicago and an ambitious chorus girl in 1925 Chicago in a Jazz Age tale of love, forgiveness, and betrayal.
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Debutante Elizabeth Gonzalez James

Before becoming a writer Elizabeth was a waitress, a pollster, an Avon lady, and an opera singer. Her short story, Cosmic Blues, was a finalist in Glimmer Train’s 2016 Short Story Award for New Writers, and her stories and essays have received multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations. She’s attended the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Tin House Writers Workshop, and Lit Camp. Her first novel, MONA AT SEA, was a finalist in the 2019 SFWP Literary Awards judged by Carmen Maria Machado, and is forthcoming, Summer 2021, from Santa Fe Writers Project. Originally from South Texas, Elizabeth now lives with her family in Oakland, California.

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Her Debut: Mona at Sea (Santa Fe Writers Project, July 2021)

MONA AT SEA – Finalist in the 2019 SFWP Literary Awards judged by Carmen Maria Machado, and forthcoming, Santa Fe Writers Project

When Mona Mireles wakes up every morning, the first thing she sees is the array of plaques and trophies lining her bedroom wall: valedictorian, national spelling bee champion, outstanding delegate in Model UN. But that was the past. Today Mona is eight months out of college, unemployed, she’s never had a boyfriend, she lives with her parents in Tucson (the most boring town on the planet), and she’s carving a portrait of the Mona Lisa into her thigh.

Set during the Great Recession, Mona is forced to navigate the world of the chronically unemployed. She grudgingly attends job seminars with a motley cast of workforce rejects, seeks advice from a finance guru, and tries and fails to get anything resembling the plum banking job she believed would be waiting for her after graduation.

A budding relationship with a photographer causes Mona to uncover a long-buried passion, and through this discovery Mona learns that she can find meaning in a life that looks nothing like the one she’d imagined.

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Debutante Lyn Liao Butler

DaveCrossPhotography

Lyn Liao Butler was born in Taiwan and moved to the States when she was seven. In her past and present lives, she has been: a concert pianist, a professional ballet and modern dancer, a gym and fitness studio owner, a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor, an RYT-200 hour certified yoga instructor, a purse designer and most recently, author of multi-cultural fiction. Her mother swears she was not a Tiger Mom to Lyn. Lyn came about her over-achieving all by herself.

Having lived in New York City for over a decade, Lyn fled for the peace and quiet of the suburbs when she married her FDNY husband. She now resides on a lake with her Fireman, their son (the happiest little boy in the world) and their two stubborn dachshunds, Pinot and Lokie. When she is not torturing clients or talking to imaginary characters, Lyn enjoys cooking, sewing purses for her Etsy shop, spending time with her family and trying crazy yoga poses on her stand-up paddleboard. So far, she has not fallen into the water yet.

 

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Her Debut: The Tiger Mom’s Tale (Berkley/PRH, July 6, 2021)

A woman confronts the scars of her past in order to embrace her true identity in this stunning debut by Lyn Liao Butler.

Lexa Thomas has never quite fit in. Having grown up in a family of blondes while more closely resembling
Constance Wu, she’s neither white enough nor Asian enough. Visiting her father in Taiwan as a child, Lexa thought she’d finally found a place where she belonged. But that was years ago, and even there, some never truly considered her to be Taiwanese.

When her estranged father dies unexpectedly, leaving the fate of his Taiwanese family in Lexa’s hands, her safe life in New York City is no longer enough. She is faced with the choice to return to Taiwan and claim her place in her heritage . . . or leave her Taiwanese family to lose their home for good.

Armed with the advice of two half-sisters (one American and the other Taiwanese who can’t stand each other), a mother who has had a recent change in sexual orientation, and a man whose kisses make her walk into walls, Lexa finally confronts the person who drove her away from Taiwan all those decades ago. As the truth of the last fateful summer in Taiwan slowly unfolds, Lexa must stand up for herself and open her heart to family and love, or allow the repercussions of her family’s choices to forever dictate the path of her life.