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It’s Your Party and You Can Cry if You Want To

Look, y’all, there are already enough pressures put upon authors. Don’t heap onto that pile needlessly, okay? I didn’t have a “launch party” per se; I had a hometown reading at my favorite local, independent bookseller the week Caged Eyes released. I kept it simple: One of my fellow Deb Ball rock stars helped me…
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News Flash: Updates from the Debs, past and present

We send our thanks to Lori Rader-Day for being our guest yesterday on The Debutante Ball. If you haven’t already, pick up a copy of THE DAY I DIED this Tuesday or enter to win a copy by sharing our post on Facebook and/or retweeting the following tweet: RT to Enter! Interview w/ @LoriRaderDay + #DebBallGiveaway of…
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News Flash–Writing and Reviewing Edition

  Congratulations to Letty Blanchard, winner of ISLAND OF WORTHY BOYS by Connie Mayo! Check back next week, where we will announce the winner of this weeks giveaway– From the 2016 Debs: Louise Miller received her first Goodreads review! She is thrilled (and terrified) that her book is taking baby steps into the wider world in the form…
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News Flash! Exciting Alumni News Edition

From the 2016 Debs Louise Miller is thrilled to announce that she will be representing the Novel Incubator at Grub Street’s annual gala LIT UP on November 5th. She will be reading from THE CITY BAKER’S GUIDE TO COUNTRY LIVING in the 10×2 program–10 writers reading for 2 minutes. She hopes to see some of you there!…
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Deb Alum Mia King on FAMILY ROOM + GOOD THINGS GIVEAWAY!

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This week at the Ball, we welcome a Deb alum — the wonderful Mia King, who is a graduate of the first class! Mia King is the national bestselling author of seven novels, including three written under the name Darien Gee. Her books have been translated into 14 languages and are selections of the Doubleday, Literary Guild, Rhapsody and Book of the Month Club book clubs. Mia lives with her family in Hawaii. (And we’re SO totally jealous.) She is currently at work on her next novel, FOUND OBJECTS.

And in her latest, FAMILY ROOM, after seven years, she revisits the memorable Deirdre McIntosh, the protagonist from her bestselling novel GOOD THINGS. Deidre is a woman with it all…a successful business, a doting fiancé, a baby on the way. But business is getting busier, Kevin is always on the road and Deidre’s future mother-in-law has hijacked the wedding plans. To make matters worse, Kevin’s sullen goddaughter, Claire, has been expelled from boarding school and has ended up in Deidre’s care, a temporary arrangement that seems more permanent by the day.

Claire Phillips doesn’t want to be in Seattle. It’s bad enough that her own parents are too busy with their lives to care about hers, but being stuck with Deidre is like a prison sentence. Deidre works, cooks, cleans and crafts…the woman is obviously nuts. Claire knows it’s just a matter of time before she’s enrolled in another boarding school, out of sight and mind once again, and despite her godfather’s promises that things will get better, Claire is doubtful that anything will change. Why should it?

But when a woman appears on Deidre’s doorstep, both Deidre and Claire find themselves faced with the ultimate question: what is family, and what lengths would you go to care for those you love?

This week, Mia stopped by the Ball to share some of the twists and turns of her writing and publishing journey. And we’re so excited to welcome her back!

It’s so great to be back at the Debutante Ball–thank you for inviting me back!

I launched my literary career here at the Ball with GOOD THINGS and had no idea what would be in store for me over the next seven years. I wanted to share a bit of what my journey’s been like.

GOOD THINGS had done well and was a national bestseller. But my next two novels, SWEET LIFE and TABLE MANNERS, brought in lower sales numbers. In publishing lingo, this is called “trending down” and it is not a good thing. My agent at the time was doubtful she could sell a fourth book because publishers would’t want to take a chance on an author whose numbers were falling rather than rising. She didn’t say it was over, just that it would be very, very difficult to sell my work again.

I spent a few weeks brooding and feeling like mud, and then I decided I’d had enough of that. I trusted myself as a writer. I set to work writing my next book with the hopes that it would be a way for me to “level up” my career. Inspiration came knocking and five weeks later, thanks to the support of my husband Darrin who juggled our three young kids, our home life, and his own business, I had a first draft of FRIENDSHIP BREAD

I ended up with a new agent and the novel sold at auction to Random House. They thought it was too different from my first three books so I published it under my real name, Darien Gee. Over the next two years I wrote one more novel, THE AVALON LADIES SCRAPBOOKING SOCIETY, and a holiday novella, AN AVALON CHRISTMASwhich I indie published.

Family Room
In the meantime, Mia King readers kept asking when they’d get another book. I’d started writing FAMILY ROOM back in 2010 — I had a clear sense of what was going to happen and I was especially fond of Claire, Kevin’s difficult 10 year old goddaughter, who has a point of view in this book. I told readers the book was “coming soon!” for almost four year but every time I thought I was done, something else came up and I’d revise it again. It was getting to the point where I thought I might not ever get it done.

But when I did my last read through before the manuscript went into production, I could feel that the book –and Deidre’s story — had come full circle. Deidre, along with many of the other characters, had gone through a journey just as I had these past few years, and by the end of FAMILY ROOM they are all exactly where they need to be. I feel that same way about my life.

Remember how I said “trending down” wasn’t a good thing? Well, for me it turned out to be a great thing. It strengthened me as a writer and challenged me. It tested my beliefs about myself and what other people believed about me or my career. I learned to trust myself and to ask the question, “How do I feel about this? What do I believe?” It opened the door to something better but most importantly it gave me clarity about what being a writer means to me.

I’ll be writing as Mia, and I’ll be writing as Darien. I’ll traditionally publish and I’ll indie publish. But the most important this is this: I’ll always write books, and I’ll always tell stories.

Advice to Writers: Let go. Do what you can, write your heart out, have fun, then let it go.

Advice to Readers: Stay open. To new writers, new books, new ways of thinking, to happy surprises. Seek literature that helps you feel good, that puts a smile on your face, that makes you think. There are lots of ways to engage in the world in which we live, and books are one of them.

What’s your next big thing? The next Mia King book is called FOUND OBJECTS and it’s about a young woman, Emma Hunter, who inherits a failed art gallery from a father she never knew.

GIVEAWAY: Mia will be giving away a bundle of books — sorry, US or Canada only — including GOOD THINGS (paperback or Kindle), TABLE MANNERS (paperback or Kindle), and FAMILY ROOM (Kindle). Comment on this post by Noon (EST) on Friday, November 28 to enter to win. Follow The Debutante Ball on Facebook and Twitter for extra entries—just mention that you did so in your comments. We’ll choose and contact the winner on Friday. Good luck!

Find Mia on the web here, or catch up with her on Facebook or Twitter!

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News Flash: Giveaways, Spines, and Signature Drinks

Congrats to Linda, who won a copy of WAKEWORLD by guest author Kerry Schafer! From the 2014 Debs… Susan Gloss is pleased to announce that her publisher is giving away 20 copies of VINTAGE on Goodreads! Enter here. Lori Rader-Day started receiving copy edits from her publisher this week, and made plans for her visit…
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News Flash: Contracts, Invitations, and a Cover Reveal!

Congrats to Nat, who won the copy of Katie Coyle’s VIVIAN VERSUS THE APOCALYPSE last week! From the 2014 Debs… Lisa Alber was invited to participate in a local reading series sometime around her launch in March. She loves that the invitation came as a surprise and through a local writing peep. Word-of-mouth at its…
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News Flash: Secrets, ARCs, and a First Good Review

Congrats to Thew Swihart, who won the copy of Dave Jackson’s TATTOO RAMPAGE last week! From the 2014 Debs… Lisa Alber received her advance reader copies (ARCs) of KILMOON (yay!), and she’s in love with them. She can’t wait to take a few to Bouchercon, the world mystery convention, next week. In fact, now that…
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The Debutante Ball welcomes back Former Deb Darien Gee!

Darien Gee aka Mia King
Darien Gee, aka Mia King, is one of the founding Debs at the Debutante Ball and made her debut in 2007 with Good Things (Berkley Books), a national bestseller. Darien will continue to write under both names (Mia is a pen name — to learn more about this, visit her www.miaking.com website) and joins us today to talk about her latest novel, The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society, which was published on January 29, 2013 by Ballantine Books.

Welcome back, Darien! Should we call you Darien or Mia?

I answer to either. “Hey, you!” works, too. 🙂

Talk about one thing that’s making you happy right now.

My garden. I transformed a small side yard into four raised boxes and have several lavender plants lining two sides of the yard. I did this as research for my next novel as I’ve never had much of a green thumb and I’m not a huge fan of bugs. But now I spend hours in my litte garden, and sometimes my characters join me there. I figure out who would do what, who can’t be bothered, who is obsessed and why. I grow a lot of herbs, some kale, some cherry tomatoes, some bush beans. I also have carrots, turnips and beets. My favorites are thyme (I grow three varieties), mint (five varieties), and the lemon verbena and lemon balm.

Who is one of your favorite (fictional or non-fictional) characters?

I recently read Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette. I love Bernadette Fox, who’s fearless and flawed, funny and so uniquely her own person. The book is doing famously well, so I won’t break down the synopsis other than to say she’s an intensely creative woman, as many women are, and yet when the book opens she’s given it up. One of my favorite lines in the book (“If you don’t create, Bernadette, you will become a menace to society”) is a brilliant reminder that even with our multiple roles as mother, spouse, neighbor, and so on, we need to answer to our higher, creative selves.

Do you have a regular ‘first reader’? If so, who is it and why that person?

Nancy Sue Martin, a dear friend who has been with me since Good Things. I’ve thanked her in every Mia King/Darien Gee book I’ve written. She looks at all of my pages as soon as I’m ready to give them to her. She doesn’t heap praise and she’s not super critical — she simply tells me what she loves, what she wants more of, what she’s confused about, what she dislikes. She’s definitely not shy about voicing an opinion about something that is not working for her, though. Her approach is very simple and straight forward, and I carefully consider every comment she makes. We’ve been there for each other and our friendship — which many people around us don’t understand because we are so different — has blossomed over the years. We push each other constantly to be honest, authentic people, and she does that for me with my novels, too.

Tell us a secret about the main character in your novel — something that’s not even in your book.GEE_AvalonLadies_9

Spoiler alert: Bettie Shelton’s daughter, the one she gave up at birth, lives in Avalon.

What’s your next big thing?

I have a Mia King book (Family Room, the third novel in the Good Things trilogy) and a Darien Gee book (The Green Girls Garden Club) in the works. I’m also going to give the Friendship Bread Kitchen some more attention this year. I started it when I was working on Friendship Bread and it’s grown (just like Amish Friendship Bread starter) into this huge thing that I need and want to spend more time on. We have almost 73,000 fans on Facebook and I want to spend more time connecting with them. You can find me there at www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com or www.facebook.com/fbkitchen. Thanks for having me back at the Ball!

And thank you for joining us, Darien! Find more about Darien at her website, facebook, on twitter and on pinterest! Pick up your copy of THE AVALON LADIES SCRAPBOOKING SOCIETY here or at your local indie.