Monday, September 21, 2009

Welcome Author/Editor Deborah Smith!

Missy here. I’m so happy to welcome one of my very favorite authors today, New York Times bestseller Deborah Smith. I’ve known Deb through Georgia Romance Writers and BelleBooks for many years. And before I even met her in person, I was crazy for her books. Do you have one of those authors who makes you weep when you finish her book? Well, I do that after I read Deb’s books. I cry and think, “I’ll never write like this.” I’m talking literally, here. Real tears and feeling sorry for myself. :) A Place to Call Home is one of my all-time favorite stories. And I guess The Crossroads Cafe is a close second. So Deb, welcome! Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed.

--First off, could you tell everyone about your most recent release?

My projects lately have bounced off a lot of different walls. Earlier this summer I published part two of my ebook mini-series, SOLOMON’S SEAL, a contemporary romantic fantasy. I’m writing it in 100-page sections. Next year I hope to write parts three and four. It’s only available at

This month I have a story in the new Mossy Creek novel, our seventh in the series, THE CRITTERS OF MOSSY CREEK. I write the part of the sexy Mossy Creek mayor, Ida Walker, who has a blossoming romance with her much-younger police chief, Amos Royden. If you’ve never read a Mossy Creek book just think of Mayberry only a little racier.

In October I’ll publish a very dark, bloody urban fantasy novel, SOUL CATCHER, under a pen name, Leigh Bridger. This is not a book my regular readers may like, thus, the pen name. I had great fun playing on the dark side with this novel, and hope to write a sequel.

--And what do you have in the works right now?

I spend most of my time as an editor and publisher for my small press, with my writing often taking a back seat. But I’m planning a novella for this winter, THE TOMATO MOONS OF MORNING GLORY, which we’ll publish in a duet with Sarah Addison Allen’s Novella, CLEMENTINE. And I hope to publish the first book in a big southern trilogy, KITCHEN CHARMS, next year.

--For our readers who may not be familiar with BelleBooks, could you tell us a brief history of the company?

About ten years ago I started a small publishing company with several of my friends, who are also veteran romance and women’s fiction authors: Sandra Chastain, Debra Dixon, Martha Crockett and Nancy Knight. BelleBooks was, at first, a hobby, but now it’s taken on a life of its own and birthed a new division, Bell Bridge Books, to publish a variety of different genres. We’ve published more than a dozen books this year and will probably publish more than 20 next year.

--I was thrilled to make my very first sale to BelleBooks for Blessings of Mossy Creek! Can you tell us about the newest Mossy Creek and Sweet Tea books?

Book 7, The Critters of Mossy Creek, is, no surprise, about people and their pets. We continue all the main plotlines with romances, births, deaths, weddings, etc. We’re also launching a spin-off mystery series this fall, THE MERRY ABBOT CARRIAGE-DRIVING MYSTERIES, by veteran author Carolyn McSparren. Carolyn owns and trains carriage horses, so she’s using that world as the background for the series, about a horse trainer who solves murders in the carriage-driving world.

We’ve published three collections in the Sweet Tea series, which is a cozy anthology group of Southern short stories. We don’t yet have a fourth book on the schedule, but we may do that next year.

--Could you fill us in on the fairly new Bell Bridge Books?

A quick list: PRIMITIVE, a thriller, by former NBC newsman Mark Nykanen, Ocbober; CART BEFORE THE CORPSE, a Merry Abbot Mystery, Carolyn McSparren, October; THE GREENWOOD LEGACY, a Civil War historical, Jacquelyn Cook, September; THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF OCIEE NASH, Milam McGraw Propst, Children’s Historical Novel, September; DEAD PAN, a Daphne Martin Cake Decorating Mystery, November; A HOME FOR CHRISTMAS, sweet romance, Deborah Grace Staley, November; HUMMINGBIRD RIDGE, mom-lit, Margaret Nava, December; and in winter 2010: THE LITTLE KNOWN, by Pulitizer nominee Janice Daugharty, literary southern fiction.

--For writers considering submitting to you, what type stories are you looking for? Any insider tips for our readers?

We are actively seeking young adult fiction of all kinds and levels, including fantasy; also adult fantasy, mystery, suspense and “Others.” However, we’ve scaled back our search for the more gentle Southern fiction for now. While we aren’t actively seeking inspirational fiction, we don’t exclude it. Simply put, the marketing of inspirational fiction is difficult for publishers who don’t specialize in that type of book.

The biggest things that set an author apart are: a fresh plot, and a strong, compelling voice. Also, in today’s world it’s increasingly important for the author to have some knowledge of online promotions: websites, blogs, social sites like Twitter and Facebook, etc. A small press depends heavily on authors to help build a community of readers; so we give extra Brownie points to a query that includes the author’s marketing plan.

--What are some of the upcoming BelleBooks/Bell Bridge releases you’re most excited about?

PRIMITIVE is a huge book for us. We’ve sent out nearly 200 advance reading copies including to VIPs in the political and media world. Mark Nykanen is a fascinating author whose work for NBC back in the 1980’s produced the very acclaimed documentary exposing child sex rings: THE SILENT SHAME.

We’re also very excited about CART BEFORE THE CORPSE. Initial orders from the booksellers have been strong. And I, of course, as an author, am hoping to get a foothold in the urban fantasy world with SOUL CATCHER.

--Anything else you’d like to tell us?

We have more than 60 excerpts posted on (search Bell Bridge Books) and dozens of book trailers on YouTube (our channel is “BelleBooks and Bell Bridge Books.”)

We’ve learned to make our own book trailers, and we also design all our covers.

Thanks for inviting me!


Deb, thanks so much for joining us! Deb has generously offered to hang around and answer questions as well as give away a dozen books today. I’ll choose winners tomorrow from among those who leave comments WITH THEIR CONTACT INFO.
Please visit Deb and BelleBooks at

Deborah Smith is the New York Times bestselling author of A Place to Call Home, Sweet Hush, The Crossroads Cafe, A Gentle Rain and other acclaimed romantic novels portraying life and love in the modern Appalachian South. A native Georgian, Deborah is a former newspaper editor who turned to novel-writing with great success.

With more than 35 romance, women's fiction and fantasy novels to her credit, Deborah's books have sold over 3 million copies worldwide. Among her honors is a Lifetime Achievement Award from Romantic Times Magazine and a nomination for the prestigious Townsend Literary Award. In 2003 Disney optioned Sweet Hush for film. In 2008 A Gentle Rain was a finalist in Romance Writers of America's RITA awards.

She lives on a secluded dirt road high in the mountains of north Georgia with Hank, her husband of many years, plus a herd of deer, a flock of turkeys, numerous well-fed raccoons, possums and the occasional bear, also eight cats, a dog and more than one-hundred pond-raised goldfish.


Walt M said...

Since many of the Seekers may be returning from Denver, I'll make the coffee. I apparently have extra time this morning as Atlanta TV stations are reporting flooding/standing water on all the roads I use for my commute.

Several of those upcoming books sound fascinating. I will definitely have to check out "Primitive."


Tina M. Russo said...


Welcome Deborah. What a treat to have you here.

Your diversity as a writer and publisher is pretty amazing. I'm wondering how you have the time in your day :)

Debra E Marvin said...

Geez. Talk about the power of a book cover! I have to find out more about "Cart Before the Corpse." Deb, can you tell us how that book cover idea came about?

And, a series about a racier Mayberry? omigosh. Makes me wonder about Barney and Thelma Lou in a whole new light!

Your titles and covers are fantastic. Congratulations on the success of Bellebooks and thanks Seekerville and Missy for bringing it to our attention.

I think there was a lot of buzz at the ACFW conference about how the YA market is opening up. We want our children to be readers, so why has it taken so long? Thank you to Harry Potter and Twilight, eh? I went from Black Beauty to Barbara Cartland myself.

PS I flew through Atlanta on the way home (ya'll know that Atlanta is halfway between Colorado and New York, right?) and the locals were all abuzz about the rain. I hope this means the drought situation is improving.

Walt M said...

It's improving. However, I'll soon need a machete to trim my back lawn.

Missy Tippens said...

Good morning, all! Walt, thank you so much for making us coffee this morning. I'm definitely sluggish from traveling yesterday. We had an hour delay in Denver--which isn't fun when getting there 2 hours early anyway. :)

Debra, it was great seeing you in Denver! And yes, the Atlanta area has been recovering from a drought, although we'd pretty much caught up. And now 12-15 inches in 24 hours! I'm glad my commute is from my coffee pot to my couch. :)

Missy Tippens said...

By the way, if you don't hear from me for a while, it's because of the weather. For some crazy reason, our Internet is sketchy in bad weather. (Visualize my blood pressure shooting up as I try and try again to get online!) :)

Pepper Basham said...

Thanks for the post, Deborah. Wow, you have a lot of different genres you like to explore. That must be fun. Do you enjoy one type over another?

Wow, three Seekers up and awake this morning. That's impressive, ladies, especially after your 'party-all-night' weekend :-)

It looked like loads of fun.

And I'll add my interest of "Cart Before the Corpse", what a great title for a mystery. Can't wait to hear more about it.

Ruth Logan Herne said...


Deborah Smith.

Oh my stars, be still my heart, I so can't believe this and I know how trite, cush and perfectly estupido that sounds but...

You're Deb Smith.

Author of Sweet Hush.

My most #1 favorite, marvelous, most wonderful oh-my-gosh-how-great-is-this-book author who wrote...

Did I mention this already???

Sweet Hush.

Love it. Love that book. Love Deb's writing. Having read the others, I thoroughly enjoyed them, loved the Southern aspect of them, related so much to Deb and Karen White that I put them on my profile (no lie, they've been there since the beginning) and it was their lovely depictions of life in the South that made me realize I was placed in Western New York by a directionally challenged angel.

Probably named "Tina". (inside joke!)


Deb Smith. Here. Today. And Norton locked up my Internet access early this morning while they scanned my hard drive to kill off any possibility of terrorist bugs and I gritted my teeth, bit my tongue, wrang my hands in agitation and waited until now.

To talk to Deb Smith.

Who is here. Today. In Seekerville.

I gotta grab coffee. Think about this. Dwell.

Deb Smith.

Oh my stars.

Welcome to Seekerville.



Julie Lessman said...

Welcome, Deb, and gosh, you are ONE busy lady!!! Kind of makes me want to crawl back into bed, but then I'm still en route to home and draggin' this morning after a wonderful time at ACFW.

And I totally agree with Debra Marvin (hey, Deb -- great meeting you at ACFW!!) -- your covers and titles are WONDERFUL and definitely hook me in to want to read them.

Thanks, Missy, for a great blog this morning, and thanks, Deb, for jazzing up our Monday.


Missy Tippens said...

Deb, I failed to mention your stalker fan, Ruthy. Beware. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Good morning, Pepper. So good to see you. I look forward to meeting you next year at ACFW!

Mary Connealy said...

Deborah, thanks for being on Seekerville. Ruthy is NOT kidding about what a fan she is. If you look really close at her picture, you can see she got her hair done and the house behind her has been polished and dusted and there's a scented candle burning.

Great day to have a guest after all the FUN WE HAD THIS WEEKEND meeting face to face with all the terrific friends we've made on Seekerville, plus all the Seekers of course.

DEB MARVIN! I have to say, judging by the picture, the weekend was a very MATURING experience for you. :)

If Jessica Nelson drops by, I'd like to apologize for my witting signature in the book you were so kind to want me to autograph.

It would have been REALLY FUNNY if you were Deb Marvin.

Seriously girl. Email me. I'll send you a book signed to YOU. You can use the other for a coaster or something.

Renee said...

Great interview! Now I have more books to add to my wishlist!!! The Cart Before the Corpse looks really interesting! The Mossy Creek book looks great that puppy on the cover!!!

XOXO~ Renee

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Connealy, are ya' kiddin' me? You signed Jessica's book TO DEB MARVIN??????

Oh mylanta, thank the good Lord your children got their father's brains and their mother's good looks.



Reverse that.

:) :) :)


About me.

Does my hair look all right? I mean seriously. E-mail me off-blog and tell me if the candle is too over-the-top. I'm totally out of balance today, koyaanisqatsi to the mega, and of course my shirt has a coffee stain on the left shirt-tail.

Too noticeable????

And oh my stars, I forgot food.

Corn muffins. Biscuits. Eggs. Sausage links, not patties. Coffee creamers, all kinds. Hash browns. Danish.

Enough? Too much????

Heck I'm making it all and letting her have her pick.

More coffee... Gimme.

Ruthy (not in the LEAST BIT nervous.)

Audra Harders said...

Good morning, Deb and welcome to Seekerville!

Thanks for the intriguing post. I'm impressed with the diversity of Belle Books.

How do you still find time to write?

Thanks for visiting!

debbsmith said...

Hey all! Thanks for the welcome. Sorry it took me so long to show up. My wireless modem died this a.m. and we just got it fixed a few minutes ago. Here I am, finally!


Edna said...

She is a good ole Southern Gal, I live in SC and my husband loves the outdoors, he is always fishing or in the woods,
I like to stay inside and surf the web or read or play with my embroidery machine. Have made a lot of gifts on the machine.


Missy Tippens said...

Deb, I hope you're not washing away up in your neck of the woods. This rain is crazy! I'm watching the news now and can't believe the flooding.

Missy Tippens said...

Renee, thanks for stopping by!

Edna, it sounds like you're very crafty!

milissaaustinjenkins said...

I am glad everyone is home safe and sound! I am going to get the Mossy Creek series, sounds awesome, what a great author, I think everyone likes to be little on the dark side every once in awhile!!! Milissa :)


debbsmith said...

From DebS again:
First off, Hey Ruthie! And thank you! Sweet Hush had a fleeting shot at a Disney movie deal. They bought the rights, wrote a script, swore they'd make the film, then, as often happens, the whole plan died when the studio management changed. Bah.

I have a question. What was in Denver? A conference? Also, someone had info on the YA market. I'd like to hear more. BelleBooks and Bell Bridge are eager to publish more YA.

April said...

Great post. I have not read any of your books but I am looking forward to. They sound great. BlessingsAprilR


Missy Tippens said...

Yes, Deb, we just had the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Denver with about 500 attendees and a good many CBA editors and agents. For the first time ever, we had all 15 bloggers together in person. Most travelled home yesterday, so we're all a little draggy today. :)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Missy Tippens, speak for your own sweet, Southern self!!!!

This Northern gal is MEETING Deb Smith (kind of) and I'm on fire...

Oh, wait, that's the kids' lunch.

Dagnabbit. I KNEW I smelled somethin' burnin'.


First: A movie couldn't do it justice, but let's play...

Who'd play Hush?


Sweet. I could see that in a heartbeat.



Earthy, craggy, tough, tender, seasoned, to die for...

Rough life, a survivor.

Dagnabbit, WHO would be cool enough to play him???

Deb, WELCOME!!!!

Do you love the candle? The food? The pecan pie????


Okay, I'm doing deep breathing exercises now. Calming by way of Yoga.

Does anyone REALLY do Yoga?


Debby Giusti said...

Hi Deb,
How wonderful to have you with us in Seekerville!!!

Years ago you critiqued my submission for GRW's March Workshop... or maybe it was a Maggie entry. Anyway, you wrote a lovely note that I have kept and treasured. I had so much to learn (and still do), but your comments encouraged me to keep writing. Thank you!!! Those of us in Geogia Romance Writers are so fortunate to have such big name stars who take time to help those just starting their writing journey. You've always been an inspiration to me!

Missy Tippens said...

Milissa, I know you'll enjoy the Mossy Creek books. they're so fun! Funny, quirky characters. :)

April, thanks for stopping by!

Missy Tippens said...

Ruthy, the mention of pecan pie has my mouth watering! I may just have to make one. But then my son would complain because I didn't make a pumpkin pie instead. Hmmm... I wonder if I have 2 pie crusts. (Yes, I use the refrigerated roll up crusts! Please forgive me.) :)

Debby Giusti said...

Love your books and BelleBooks!!! You gals have made publishing history.

Jacqueline Smith is a friend and accomplished writer. I'm so happy you continue to publish her stories.

Also good to see Janice Daugharty's name. She spoke at my local library years ago.

Carolyn McSparren is another generous writer, who always lends support and encouragement. I used to see her at the River City Conferences in Memphis.

Great BelleBooks lineup!!! I've always loved the Mossy Creek series. Such fun characters!

Congrats on your success!!!

Cathy Shouse said...


How fascinating that you went into publishing.

One would think you could get as many books published as you like :) What do you find so fascinating about editing? I'm just curious. I would think you'd prefer to write, but that's just me.

I'd love to win a book.

cathy underscore shouse at yahoo dot com

debbsmith said...

Hey, Debby Guisti! I miss seeing all the GRW folks. Since RWA reduced me to associate membership (after nine years of BelleBooks they decided, finally, I'm an editor, not a writer) I'm not a member anymore. I resigned in protest. Bah.

Re: Christian market. We have studied the possibilities there and keep hoping to make some inroads, but it's hard for a secular publisher to get past the gatekeepers, even with specific books by authors who have the right credentials (our Jackie Cook was a Barbour author, and her historicals are faith based)

We recently got a toe in the door at the Lifeway chain. They carry the kid movie THE ADVENTURES OF OCIEE NASH. the Ociee Nash books are written by Milam Propst, who we now publish. So Lifeway has agreed to look at the Ociee books. Fingers crossed.

In a related story, my cousin David, a retired salesman, writes Christian poetry. As a gift to him, last spring we created a nice trade paperback of his poetry (using the POD publisher, Create Space, which is virtually free except for when you buy the finished books from them.)

David dusted off his salesman shoes, hit the pavement, and has now had a couple of successful book signings at Christian stores, with more in the works.

Debra E Marvin said...

Okay. here's the scoop.

Hello again Deb Smith.I was in the Barbour Publishing late night chat (9 pm is late to some of us, yes.) and Rebecca Germany said they were looking to expand into the YA market. Another attendee at a different Publisher chat said she'd heard it too, but I don't recall the pub house.

A certain Seeker friend who shall remain nameless but has that gentle countenance similar to Scarlett's Melanie would remind us that a wonderfully written YA novel can crossover into the adult market.

Apparently children and teenagers are somehow learning about a thing called holding a book in your hands and reading it--no texting needed, no joy stick. It's the most amazing thing!

Okay, Ruth. The inside joke about Tina is not so inside. She had a bunch of us crossing railroad tracks and crossing railroad tracks back again and . . .and as they say " I didn't know if I was coming or going!"

Yes, Mary signed Jessica's book to me. oh, it's a long story. Somehow I think I owe Jessica Nelson a book. Maybe Sweet Hush?

So Ruthy. Do I have to drive up to your house now to get your sticker? Nice move, skipping town like that.
And about all that white space in your comments?

Hey, some of us use



to check the blog.

Sheila Deeth said...

Lovely interview. Nice to meet you, and I'm heading over to look at Belle Books now.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Deb M, I never thought of hand-held stuff!!! Oh my gosh, I'm sorry and honored beyond belief that you're scoping us (but Deb Smith IS here!!!) on your thing-a-ma-bobby. Go You!!! And I dodged you in Denver so you wouldn't yell at me about white space. :)

Deb Smith... You've got visitors and Seekers who write all kinds of things and your venture into BelleBooks just puts you into a whole new realm of go-get-em, girl praises. Tell me, do you charm bees too?

Well, wasps, actually. :)

debbsmith said...

Bee charmer? Me? No, more like a waspy old crone . . . lol

Someone asked if I liked editing. Actually, no. It's the second-hardest work, next to actually writing. But I do like working with authors, and I've discovered I love marketing. It's a game. Can we score? Right now we're waiting anxiously to see if one of our authors gets reviewed in a major metro newspaper and/or gets interviewed by a big-time book reviewer on radio. That's the kind of stuff that sends a small publisher reaching for the anti-acids or the wine . . .

Debby Giusti said...

Deb, hope you don't mind me mentioning to the Seekers that you're part of a fantastic brainstorming group that meets for long weekend retreats! Creativity flows and plots develop. A number of bestsellers have been created at those gatherings!

Seeker Alert: We need a brainstorming retreat!

Missy Tippens said...

April and Cathy, thanks for stopping by!

Okay, long replies are going to be short, now. I just lost one due to internet freezing. Windstream is not my favorite company right now!

Missy Tippens said...

deb, I can't imagine editing! It's hard for me to do contest judging and critiquing.

And marketing? Maybe I should think of it more as a game. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Debra, thanks for the info! Very interesting.

Sheila, thanks for stopping by!

Missy Tippens said...

Okay, satellite is now out. And DSL is sketchy. But I'm thankful I don't have any flooding. Although, maybe I should make a quick run to the basement to make sure...

Mary Connealy said...

Yes, I teased Jessica in Jessica's book (my book-Cowboy Christmas...I think) about her baby picture here on blogger.

She came up to me later and beat me over the head with the book for a while.

Well, no, she didn't. But she SHOULD HAVE.

I can't even remember, was Debra standing there talking to me about her grandchild? I've been known to be willing to talk about that's possible.

Anyway, I'm gonna track Jessica down and get her a new book. Maybe the current one could be used to...make a table with one shorter leg stop tilting.

Or, remember when they had a craft project that would turn a reader's digest into an angel? Fold the pages, spray paint the 'body'. use a plastic doll head?

Jessica there are MANY THINGS you can do with that book.

HEY! I could have just signed it correctly right there on the spot. It never occurred to me.

Missy Tippens said...

LOL, Mary! I remember those angels. :)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Mary, you could have totally fooled Jessica by pretending you meant how "Young" she looks...

Which she does, dagnabbit.

Ooops, forgot and I'm using white space again. Sorry, Deb Marvin. Don't read this until you get home, darling. ;)

Deb Smith, I love that 'game' attitude, you competitive thing, you! That rocks. We'll see if it rubs off on Missy!


Debra E Marvin said...

Ruth don't worry about white space. Don't let my finger cramps and wrist pain stop your creativity!


I do use the thing-a-ma-bobby only when I'm away from work or home and that's rare. (like ACFW conferences?)

Yes Mary. We were talking grandchildren and that explains everything, doesn't it? So does anyone want to hear about my granddaughter?

Cara Slaughter said...

Deb, welcome to Seekerville! Congratulations on your small press that's growing and growing.

Whoever brought the coffee I'm a little late. I got home to Florida this afternoon (Monday) even though I left Denver yesterday. No I didn't drive. My plane was cnx because of engine problems so I had to stay overnight in Dallas. Not my favorite plan.

I'm glad to be home and back at Seekerville.

Missy Tippens said...

Oh, Cara! I'll quit feeling sorry for myself for being delayed an hour. I'm sorry you had such a crazy journey home!

Jessica said...

Interesting post! Thanks so much for sharing.
You guys published K Magendie's Tender Graces, right? I SO WANT that book.
Her writing style is just beautiful.
Congrats on your successes. :-)

Jessica said...

I'm going to e-mail Mary in case she doesn't see this, but it was actually really funny.
See, I was just going to send the book to Debra (after I read the amazing story first, lol!) but then I looked at the autograph again and it says To Jessica, and then Deb's message! LOL!!!!

Don't feel bad at all Mary. It actually makes me smile. :-)I'm excited to have all of these lovely books!

Mary Connealy said...

Well, Jessica is merciful. But of course Ruthy will now torment me for all eternity.

Wow, when we think of 'torment' and 'eternity' what exactly comes to mind.

RUTHY and................

Virginia said...

Hello! Thanks for this great post. These new books cover a wide range of genres, something for everyone. Speaking of covers, they're beautiful! I visited BelleBooks website and signed up for the mailing list. Loved the recipes! gcwhiskas at aol dot com

Missy Tippens said...

Jessica and Virginia, thanks for stopping by!

I'll be doing the drawing for the books later this week and we'll announce over the weekend. So please keep commenting if you'd like to enter!

Lori (sugarandgrits) said...

These are all new authors to me ~ I'd love to give them a try. Please enter me.

Thank you,
~ Lori

sugarandgrits {at} hotmail {dot} com