Greetings and salutations and welcome to the Debutante Ball!
I was so excited when I read the first words of the email I received on a Sunday morning in early August of 2019 informing me that I’d been chosen as one of the 5 debut authors who would chronicle her “big dance” toward publication. I had been following the Debutante Ball blog for more than a year and eagerly anticipating the date when the application period would open for the new class. I figured it was a long shot, but I hoped I’d make the cut. Within days of that first email my elation turned to dread when I was told of all of the responsibilities. Each of us Debs would have certain tasks. I chose to be the contest maven, managing the book giveaways and tweeting and Facebook-ing about them. Up until that point I had barely used Twitter. I had no idea how to pin a post, time stamp a post, or retweet! My 17-year-old nephew, Julian, was kind enough to give me a social media tutorial.
Getting to know my fellow Debs has been such a rewarding experience. We’ve become a cheering squad of sorts, supporting each other, giving each other virtual pats on the back at our publishing accomplishments. Before COVID shut everything down I actually got to meet fellow Deb Kathleen West in person when her book tour brought her through the Boston area. It was like meeting up with an old friend. We took pictures together. I loved being in the audience at Belmont Books learning details of her publication journey that I wasn’t already aware of and seeing the reaction of her local fans who attended her book launch.
I was thrilled when I got a surprise email around Christmastime from an editor at Writer’s Digest magazine. She had seen my blogs for the Debutante Ball and wanted to feature me in the magazine’s “Breaking In” column. I was so excited to be featured in a national magazine. A number of people I knew and some I didn’t know contacted me that following April when the article came out to congratulate me.
One of my favorite parts of being a Debutante was getting to know all of the interesting guests we’ve featured in our author interviews. They’ve all had interesting stories to tell of their journeys and several have begun following me on social media and doing what they could to bring attention to The Talking Drum.
Outside of The Debutante Ball, my book party interviews have been exciting, including one I had with Lainey Cameron, whose debut novel, The Exit Strategy, was recently published, and my official book launch with Belmont Books in which one of my favorite suspense novelists, Hallie Ephron, interviewed me. One of the most special moments for me was when my home church in Bridgeport, Connecticut hosted me for a book chat. Qu’Amere Brantley, one of my 1st grade Sunday School students (pictured above, left and here at the right) interviewed me on Zoom. He is now in his late 20s, has a career, and is engaged to get married. Early on in the conversation my sister, brother-in-law, niece, and nephew who live in a different part of the country and who I hadn’t seen in months because of COVID, joined the event. I was so surprised to see them and happy that they could attend.
I’ve had nothing but highs as a debutante and as a debut novelist. No lows. Becoming a novelist had been my dream since childhood. It’s a beautiful thing when your dreams can come true and the Debutante Ball escorts you on that big dance toward publication.