In 2008, in one of the smartest moves I've ever made as an author, I joined a group called Debut2009. We all had first novels in the MG or YA category coming out in 2009. Although we ended up doing some promotional activities, the primary focus of the group was--and still is--the sharing of information and mutual support. We've shared our personal and professional ups and downs. We've read one another's books. We've cheered one another's successes, and commiserated over the more challenging moments.
Right before Christmas 2008, my book was bumped to 2010, and I joined the Tenners. But the Debut2009 community said I was still one of them, and I remain a 2009 "Deb" to this day. I feel a special bond with all of the Debs.
But I had another layer of connection with one of the Debs, Lisa (known to the wider world as L.K. Madigan). Like me, she was writing first-person male POV, though she's female. Like me, she had a contemporary realistic novel in a world where paranormal and fantasy books were hot. And I loved the title of her book: Flash Burnout. I couldn't wait for it to come out--and as it turned out, I didn't have to. When she donated an advance copy to a charity auction, I had the winning bid on it. I was surprised by how tickled Lisa was that I bid on her book--she expressed that in the inscription of the book (which is sitting next to me right now) and a couple of times afterward. My attitude was: Of course I want to read this; are you kidding? Awesome story, awesome title, awesome writer! I was vicariously proud and not at all surprised when Flash Burnout won last year's Morris Award for a debut novel.
Like so many of the Debs, Lisa was there for me throughout the crazy publication process. And there are a few things I remember in particular:
--She was able to turn writer angst into gold in the "Tim Gunn in My Head" series on her blog (see Tim Gunn's first visit to Lisa's head, the triumphant return of Tim Gunn, and once more with feeling). She even called in Tim Gunn (and Dr. House) after her surgery last fall.
--One time she and I ran a Debs giveaway together, and I was fretting over one aspect of the giveaway. Lisa sent me a soothing message that boiled down to: Don't sweat the small stuff.
--She ran "Authorial Intrusion" interviews on her blog to celebrate other debut authors. She interviewed me when my book came out. She continued to post interviews with this year's Morris nominees even while her health was suffering.
Now that Lisa has gone public with her cancer diagnosis, so many of us want to help in whatever way we can. If we could restore her to instant physical health, we would. But being writers rather than oncologists, one of the things the Debs have decided to do is help bring Lisa's wonderful voice to as many people as possible. Forty of us are giving away copies of her first book, Flash Burnout, and her second, The Mermaid's Mirror. Details are here, along with a list of other things you can do to spread some love at this difficult time.