A Toast to 2009

by JT Ellison

Happy New Year!

I've been casting about for days trying to decide how to open the year. New Year's Resolutions – been done, and then some. Reflections on 2008 – ditto. Revamping the writing process – DONE, DONE, DONE. Then it hit me. What I wanted to talk about today. It's something I've been missing.

Killer Year.

You've heard me talk about the group ad nauseum, and with the paperback release of our anthology, we've come full circle. No more debuts. No more anticipation of releases. We've all moved on – into our second, third, fourth books. Our debut year is well and truly over, and our post-debut year is behind us as well. It's hard to fathom, actually.

One of the random biographical details that I share with my main character Taylor is the fact that I was a semi-reluctant debutante. (She was a completely reluctant debutante, but that's a different story.) During that time, my reluctance disappeared and I embraced the reality wholeheartedly, because it was flat out fun. We had a two-year commitment – our debut year, and our post-deb year. The debut year was full of classes and parties — midnights hiding behind statues in foyers, sneaking kisses with boys who had "potential," afternoon teas at lovely estates, slick boats, fast cars, darkened subways and sleazy bars, broken hearts, torn dresses, too much liquor and a few emergency room runs. It was a blur of silliness and fun, the last moments before we became "responsible" adults.

The post-deb year was when we made that transition. We were expected to mentor the upcoming debutantes – teach them all the little tidbits that we'd learned from the post-deb class before us — not to get throwing up drunk when in the presence of royalty, don't sleep with the escorts unless they give you a ring, write your thank you notes within twenty-four hours so you don't forget, start practicing your curtsy a few months before the big night, because the incidence of pulled hamstrings and quadriceps muscles is higher than during pro football season. You know, the little things.

Killer Year was surprisingly similar to my real debut. There were lifelong friendships made, secrets shared, help, support and never ending kudos for the smallest accomplishments. There was a real sense that we were doing something special, unique, and we all benefited. All of us.

But the most exciting part is the fact that the spirit of the organization continues. ITW has made Killer Year's concept into a permanent reality – helping all their debut authors realize the wonderful dream that is cooperative marketing, friendship and support, all under one umbrella organization- The ITW Debut Authors.

So instead of looking back to 2008, I'm going to channel the spirit of the post-deb. I thought I'd take my very first Murderati post of 2009 to give a shout out to this exceptional group of debut writers. The ITW Debut Class of 2009, to be exact. These are the upcoming writers who you may not have heard of yet, but you most definitely will by the end of the year.

And away we go…

Kay Thomas – BETTER THAN BULLETPROOF, (Harlequin Intrigue) January 2009; BULLETPROOF TEXAS (Harlequin Intrigue) April 2009

Roger Smith – MIXED BLOOD (Henry Holt) March 2009

Kate Carlisle – HOMICIDE IN HARDCOVER (NAL) February 2009

Don Helin – THY KINGDOM COME (Medallion Press) March 2009

Robert Rotenberg – OLD CITY HALL (Farrar Straus and Giroux) – February 2009 (UK), March 2009 (Canada & U.S.)

A. Scott Pearson – RUPTURE (Oceanview) February 2009

Bob Burke – THE THIRD PIG DETECTIVE AGENCY (The Friday Project / Harper Collins) March 2009

Paul Tremblay – THE LITTLE SLEEP (Holt Paperback) March 2009

Rhodi Hawk – A TWISTED LADDER (Tor/St. Martin's) April 2009

Jaye Wells – RED-HEADED STEPCHILD (Orbit) April 2009

Rebecca Cantrell – A TRACE OF SMOKE (Tor Forge Books) May 2009

Christy Reece
RESCUE ME (Ballantine Books) – May 2009; RETURN TO ME (Ballantine
Books) – June 2009 ; RUN TO ME (Ballantine Books) – July 2009

Stuart Neville – THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST (Harvill Secker) July 2009

Grant McKenzie – SWITCH (Bantam Transworld UK) July 2009

Jeremy Duns – FREE AGENT (Viking) July 2009

Sophie Littlefield – A BAD DAY FOR SORRY (Thomas Dunne) August 2009

Diana Orgain – POSTPARTUM DETECTIVE (Berkley) August 2009

JJ Cooper – INTERROGATED (Random House Australia) August 2009

Hank Schwaeble – DAMNABLE (Berkley/Jove) – September 2009

Norb Vonnegut – TOP PRODUCER (Thomas Dunne) – September 2009

Sharon Potts – IN THEIR BLOOD (Oceanview) September 2009

Cynthia Robinson – THE DOG PARK CLUB (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's) Fall 2009

Pretty amazing group of authors, huh? Talk about a force to be reckoned with. I can't wait to see what they do.

I'd be remiss if I didn't include two more of 2009's debuts. My friend Andrew Grant – EVEN (St. Martin's Minotaur) May 2009, and a fabulous book that I'll be blurbing: Stephen Jay Schwartz – BOULEVARD (Tor Forge) Unknown Release.

So tell us, 'Rati faithful. What books are you looking forward to this year???

Wine of the Week: Since I took a trip down memory lane for this post, I'm going to make a general suggestion this week, Lambrusco, a wine that's gotten a bad rap in the past. We had a bottle of Lambrusco over Christmas, and it was excellent – tart and fizzy, just the right compliment for a heavy turkey second-coming (that's our redux of the traditional Christmas feast.) We had the old faithful, Riunite, almost as a joke, but it was quite good. Eric Asimov has some more suggestions for you here. Salut! 


R.I.P Donald Westlake

Such incredibly sad news. The many tributes can be found here.

25 thoughts on “A Toast to 2009

  1. R.J. Mangahas

    Thanks for the list of stuff I can add to my TBR JT.

    As far as what I look forward to this year: Bouchercon in Indianapolis. I’m sure this list will grow as the year moves on.

    BTW, picked up my copy of Judas Kiss yesterday. Looking forward to reading it.

    And what a loss the writing community has suffered with the death of Donald Westlake.

  2. Chuck

    Great post today, JT. Appreciate the list and the knowledge of what the heck goes on with debutantes. Happy New Year!

  3. Alexandra Sokoloff

    “don’t sleep with the escorts unless they give you a ring,”

    I knew there was a reason I would have made a lousy debutante.

    I, too, can’t wait for Rhodi Hawk’s and Sophie Littlefield’s and Hank Schwaeble’s and Paul Tremblay’s and Andrew Grant’s debuts. (Can I sleep with them, btw? Do I need a ring?)

    Sorry, I’m punchy because of these DAMN GALLEY CORRECTIONS.

    Another debut I am salivating for is Christopher Ransom’s THE BIRTHING HOUSE. I could just kill him for writing that instead of me writing it.

  4. Allison Brennan

    What a wonderful tribute JT!

    I’m looking forward to many of these debuts, especially Christy Reece with my publisher launching a debut back-to-back trilogy much like I did in 2006. Another debut author Misa Ramirez has a fun mystery called LIVING THE VIDA LOLA coming from St. Martin’s. I read and blurbed it because I truly enjoyed it.

    There’s so much angst in the industry right now with the economy and all the changes in the publishing business, but truly, there are still an impressive showing of debut authors coming out this year across all genres, a sign that the industry is not dead but simply going through some tough times like every other business in the country.

    Good luck to all the debut authors! I hope you’ve all started the next book.

  5. Laura Benedict

    2009 is such a terrific class–I’m so glad you’ve given them a shout-out, JT. Thanks for providing all the links. I’ll always be proud that members of the 2007/2008 ITW class got the ball rolling with the Debut Authors group (including folks who were not part of the original Killer Year). Killer Year really showed how it should be done–now debuters will never have to feel alone in the bar for one moment!

    I always knew you were a classy dame, you deb, you! xo

  6. Jeremy Duns

    Thanks for the lovely post, JT. It is indeed a great support group (as is ITW as a whole), and I’m looking forward to meeting some of the gang as the year progresses (I’m an outlier, a Brit living in Sweden). And thanks for *your* support. 🙂


  7. Kaye Barley

    Dang and aaarghhhhh!Just spent the longest kinda time posting my comment only to see it go “poof!” into cyberair. Possibly because I got too long-winded . . .

    JT – thanks for this terrific post! Links included, oh boy. Since a whole lot of these names are new to me, I look forward to checking them out and feel certain that by this time next year, many will be on my “New Favorite Writers” list. About JUDAS KISS – our local bookstore did not have it when I stopped by, but promise me it’ll be there tomorrow. I’ll be grabbing it and can’t wait to see what your Taylor is up to!

    ummmmmm – about this line “don’t sleep with the escorts unless they give you a ring,”. oh my. Alex and I would have been just flat drummed out of the debs. But, seeing as how I’m the shy one here,I would never EVER have said so. Alex! shame shame, you evil woman! (and God love ya.).

    As far as what I’m looking forward to in 2009 – well, besides new books from favorite writers (I’m especially excited about the new Pat Conroy), and discovering new writers, I join RJ in being excited by B’Con in Indianapolis. (I’m the newest in the ranks of B’Con junkies). AND I look forward to blogging (who’da a thought it?!), and having you guys come blog with me. AND I look forward to more great times here at Murderati where we can always count on laughs and/or tears and some thought provoking conversations. A toast to each of you. and a hug.

  8. J.T. Ellison

    RJ – thanks, man. I hope you enjoy, and I’m glad you got one. People have been having trouble – B&T hasn’t gotten their holiday shipments out.

    Chuck – You’re welcome. On all fronts ; )

    Louise – There are too many on this list to count that I’m excited about. 2009 will be a banner year.

    Alex, honey, I didn’t say exactly what KIND of ring… you would have been the best part of the deb class. There was actually one girl who was so like you – a complete free spirit, didn’t conform to the rules. She was a blast.

  9. J.T. Ellison

    Allison, I’m glad you said that — this is just a small sample of all the debuts across all the genres. Publishing is certainly not dead.

    And I hope that a few of the debuts are here today, and saw Allison’s comment. Now get back to work ; )

    Laura, if we’d only known about your debut — that’s one of the most important items to take away from all of this: raising awareness is key. So many novels debut without anyone really finding out about them. These programs help alleviate that.

    Kaye, you hussy! I had no idea…

    Sorry about the comments. Typepad seems to still be having intermittent issues.

  10. rebecca cantrell

    Thanks, JT, for the mention and explaining how those debutantes live. Seems like we should have hints like that for debut authors too. No throwing up on royalty. That’s a good start. A not too intimidating, fairly achievable goal. Most of the time…

  11. Rae

    I got a sneak peek at Andrew Grant’s book, and liked it a lot. The ending left me wondering what happens next, which is always a good sign.

    I’m pretty sure Robert Crais has a book coming out this year…I hope so, I’m ready for something new from him.

  12. Hank Schwaeble

    Yes, thanks, JT!

    This will be a great year to break in my new Sony Reader I got for Christmas.

    And I’m always looking forward to your next book, Alexandra.

    I guess I should start carrying a few spare rings around in my pocket. Who knew?

  13. Gayle Carline

    First of all, I popped over to the website (thethrillbegins), just to see a friend of mine, Andy Peterson, being touted as one of the finalists for the Reviewer’s Choice awards in mystery/suspense. Yay, Andy!

    Second, in addition to all these great books I’m looking forward to reading, my own very first mystery, Freezer Burn, is being published this year by Echelon Press (http://www.echelonpress.com/direct/buy-gc-fb.htm for info). I can hardly sit still, I’m so excited.

    Third, I’d have flunked out as a deb, for sooo many reasons. I bow to your expertise – did you also learn to throw up without losing the tiara?

  14. J.T. Ellison

    Gayle, no tiaras for me, unfortunately. That would have been fun… Congrats on your release!

    Hank, I fear I may have let loose a plague. ; )Let us know how you like that Reader. I’ve heard good things.

    Rae, I am so jealous! I want to read EVEN so much!

    Rebecca, it really is a motto to live by.

    Stephen, me too!!!

  15. pari

    J.T.,What a wonderful way to ring in the New Year! I love how far you’ve come in your own career since we first met.

    I look forward to reading many of these authors in the coming months.

    And a quick moment of silence for Donald Westlake. I absolutely adore his Dortmunder books and am sad that he won’t be writing them for years to come. But the way he died — quick and on his way to a celebration — well, that consoles me somehow.

  16. Hank Schwaeble

    I can tell you that so far, JT, it’s great. The Kindle and the Sony have the same screen, which is what really counts, so I’d recommend either (the Kindle is wire less through Amazon, the Sony requires internet purchases through your PC from the Sony Book Store). I was skeptical, but I have to say I’m already a convert.

    If anyone is interested, I’d be happy to write up a review for the site explaining my thoughts on the pros and cons of ereaders, and what I believe the implications for publishing may be. There are some subtle but significant advantages (and a few disadvantages) to these readers that most who haven’t used them probably don’t realize. I know I didn’t.

    Oh, and Happy New Year, everyone!

  17. Christy Reece

    J.T., thanks so much for this post! What a lovely way to start out the new year. I’m honored and thrilled to be among the 2009 ITW debut authors. And I’m so looking forward to reading everyone’s books.

    Special shout out and thanks to Allison Brennan for her kind words. She’s as wonderfully generous as she is talented.

    Happy New Year to all!

  18. J.T. Ellison

    Pari, it seems like a blink of an eye, I’ll tell you that. I don’t know where the time has gone. That’s what the accelerated schedule does for you.

    Rob, hang in there.

    Christy, we’re all excited to see your books!


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