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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: 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.

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Newsflash: December 9, 2012

From the 2013 Debs…

Deb Kerry is in waiting mode after turning in Book Two to her editor.

Deb Dana launched her book in the UK (squee!) and, in the States, scored a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly. A huge week!!

Deb Kelly

Deb Susan devoured Deb Kerry’s upcoming fantasy novel BETWEEN in a single night – and absolutely loved it! Here’s a link to her five-star Goodreads review.

Deb Amy has been working on her page proofs! They’re beautiful!

 

Past Deb News

– Warm holiday greetings and aloha from Founder Deb Mia King aka Darien Gee (or is it the other way around? I need to figure that one out!). My next novel, The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society, written as Darien Gee, hits bookshelves on January 29, 2013. Publisher’s Weekly called it “irresistible….a surefire book club hit” and it’s received lovely endorsements from Debbie Macomber, Isabel Wolff, and our own Sarah Jio.

I’m hosting a “12 Days of Kitchen Giveaway” over at my virtual kitchen and home of my first Darien Gee novel, Friendship Bread (Friendship Bread Kitchen). This daily giveaway includes an ARC a day of my upcoming novel (I’ll be giving away 12), along with one AMAZING prize daily (think cake stands, Bundt pans, scrabooking supplies, and oh yeah, a Kindle Fire!). It starts December 7, 2012 and ends December 18, 2012. I hope you’ll all be able to join in on the fun!

– A big Debutante Ball congratulations to Deb Jess Riley on the recent release of her new novel, All the Lonely People! After losing her beloved mother to cancer, 37-year-old Jaime Collins must confront the ugly fact that she and her siblings don’t actually like one another. At all. Fueled by grief and an epic argument at Thanksgiving dinner, Jaime decides to ‘divorce’ her siblings and posts an ad on Craigslist for a new family for Christmas. What happens next is a heartwarming, funny, and surprising journey to forgiveness and healing. Is blood really thicker than water? And how far do we have to go to find our way back home again? Dedicated to anyone who ever wanted to unfriend a relative on Facebook, All the Lonely People is about family: those you make, and those you make peace with. A perfect gift for anyone on your holiday list!

– And Congratulations to Founder Deb Eileen Cook on the December 4 release of THE ALMOST TRUTH: Sadie can’t wait to get away from her backwards small town, her delusional mom, her jailbird dad, and the tiny trailer where she was raised…even though leaving those things behind also means leaving Brendan. Sadie wants a better life, and she has been working steadily toward it, one con at a time. But when Sadie’s mother wipes out Sadie’s savings, her escape plan is suddenly gone. She needs to come up with a lot of cash—and fast—or she’ll be stuck in this town forever. With Brendan’s help, she devises a plan—the ultimate con—to get the money. But the more lies Sadie spins, the more she starts falling for her own hoax…and perhaps for the wrong boy. Sadie wanted to change her life, but she wasn’t prepared to have it flipped upside down by her own deception. With her future at stake and her heart on the line, suddenly it seems like she has a lot more than just money to lose….

 We’ve got a lot of Holiday releases from the Debutante Sisterhood this year!

 

Deb Dish – In life, do you try to avoid conflict or meet it head-on?

Deb Amy: I’m conflict-averse. It was a real lesson for me to learn to write intense conflict in my books and stories.

Deb Dana: Like Amy, I am conflict-averse. And I’m not just saying that to avoid conflict with Amy and my fellow Debs.

Deb Kelly:

Deb Kerry: Conflict. Ugh. Shudder. I hate it and will avoid it until avoiding it is uglier than engaging. In writing, though – well that’s a different story and I hear I’m supposed to write a blog post about that.

Deb Susan: In life, I’m about as conflict-averse as a human being can be. In fiction, however, all bets – and the gloves – are off.

 

Your Turn!! How do you prefer to deal with conflict? Does it make a difference who you’re in conflict with?


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News Flash: June 26, 2011

Congrats to Ashlyn Rae who won Katie’ Alender’s From Bad to Cursed. Katie can be found online at KatieAlender.com, Twitter, and Facebook.

From the 2011 Debs…

Deb Eleanor is excited to be spending a few days in New Orleans, visiting with some of her favorite kind of people….librarians! The annual ALA conference is wrapping up, and I can’t wait to talk books and eat beignet! Oh, and I’ll be at the Barnes & Noble in Harvey, LA at 6:00 TONIGHT with Tayari Jones and Jon Michaud. How fun!

Deb Sarah is excited that The Violets of March has been chosen as the June book selection for Portland’s ABC morning show, KATU, as well as a July book club pick for the Manic Mommies, and also the September book club pick for SheReads! Yay for summer reading!

Deb Tawna is thrilled that Making Waves just received 4 1/2 stars from RT Book Review magazine. The review noted, “This delightfully witty debut will have readers laughing out loud.”

Deb Elise loves this quote from Populazzi’s Publishers Weekly review:  “In her first solo novel, Allen offers a smart mix of hilarity and tragedy in this Macbeth–meets–Mean Girls tale.”

Deb Kim is taking her girls to the fabulous Lake Compounce park for an autism event. It’s much easier to be surrounded by families facing similar challenges than to brave a theme park on a “typical” summer day.

Past Deb News

Deb Mia King (Good Things) is giving away a Kindle and there’s only a few days left to win! If you’ve read her latest book, FRIENDSHIP BREAD (written as Darien Gee), or want to, then entering is easy! Visit her at the Friendship Bread Kitchen (the book’s website) for more details. The Miami Herald calls it “an engrossing read,” and Ladies’ Home Journal says it’s “charming.” Ends 6/30/11. Good luck!

Friends of the Debs

Sarah Skilton, a member of the LAYAs (Los Angeles Young Adult Authors — other members include Deb Elise and former Deb Katie Alender), is thrilled to announce her debut BRUISED, about a 16-year-old girl with a black belt in martial arts who freezes up at an armed robbery and is left wondering if martial arts failed her or if she failed it.  The book was sold to Maggie Lehrman at Amulet for publication in 2012, by Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary Agency.  Congratulations, Sarah!

Deb Dish — What the Debs are Most Looking Forward to This Summer

Deb Elise

Oh well this is just too easy, given Populazzi’s release August 1st.  So, um, well… that.  Also, I have a mega-big birthday coming up in exactly ten days, and while I think I’m required to dread it… I’m really really really looking forward to it.  Let the celebrations begin!!!!

Deb Eleanor

Exploring Colorado! We moved there at the end of September, and I’ve pretty much been traveling since January when The Weird Sisters came out, so I’m hoping to spend some time going to some Denver restaurants I’ve had in mind, visiting a couple of resorts, and enjoying the gorgeous summer.

Deb Kim

I love the easier tempo of summer. Even though my girls go to summer school for special ed, we feel less rushed and hectic.

Deb Sarah

I’m itching to start my fourth book (just finished #3)! I realized this may make me sound like a workaholic, but I’m crazy-obsessed with writing fiction right now, and getting the chance to sit at my desk and write with a warm breeze blowing through my open window in my office is just plain bliss. P.S. I also look forward to chilling on my back deck with good wine with the hubs after the boys are in bed—our favorite summer pastime. We’re celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary on July 21!

Deb Tawna

I’ll avoid stating the obvious and squealing “the release of Making Waves on August 1!” I love summertime in Central Oregon’s high desert. I plan to do a lot of hiking around the mountain lakes, floating the Deschutes River, and enjoying sunset dinners on my back deck.



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News Flash: June 19, 2011

Congrats to Jennifer who won Camille Noe Pagan’s The Art of Forgetting.

From the 2011 Debs…

Deb Eleanor is so excited to be visiting The Bookworm in Edwards, CO this Thursday the 23rd! I’ve been hearing about The Bookworm since I moved to Colorado, and I can’t wait to see it in person. Mountains, here I come!

Deb Elise spent Friday night at the Emmys!  She was nominated for her writing on Dinosaur Train, and though The Penguins of Madagascar snagged the trophy (they are after all a crack paramilitary operation, so it should come as no surprise), she had an amazing time… and even got one-on-one time with OSCAR THE GROUCH!!!

Deb Kim Had a very fun chance meeting yesterday. I’m a big fan of music of the 30s, 40s – big band, jazz, swing – and I met Cab Calloway’s daughter at a local BBQ joint. She was with a gent and wearing a Cab Calloway T-shirt. I commented, “Oh I love his music! I saw his grandson a few years ago in Cleveland.” “He was my Dad.”  Tears sprung into my eyes. What a piece of history, both musical and political. And my girls love the Cab Calloumouse character on Sesame Street. I cried when I met Bob McGrath from Sesame Street too.  Such a softie!

Past Deb News

Deb Mia King (Good Things) is giving away a Kindle! If you’ve read her latest book, FRIENDSHIP BREAD (written as Darien Gee), or want to, then you could win! Visit her on her website for more details. The Miami Herald calls it “an engrossing read,” and Ladies’ Home Journal says it’s “charming.” Ends 6/30/11. Good luck!

In case you missed it, Deb Katie Alender‘s sequel to Bad Girls Don’t Die is out! From Bad to Cursed is available now, and get your popcorn ready, because the trailer is (ahem) to die for!

Friends of the Debs

Congrats to Deb guest Liane Moriarty, whose What Alice Forgot is in this week’s People magazine’s list of Great Summer Reads!

Deb Dish — The Debs Most Memorable Moment with Dad/Father Figure

Deb Elise

You know the grandmother I’m always writing about?  She and her husband, my Pop-Pop Irv, used to go to Atlantic City all the time.  They even had a condo there for awhile.  I remember him taking me — I’m sure it was my sister too, but I just remember him with me — out beyond the breakers, so we could jump the ocean swells together.  I can still see him laughing as each wave bobbed us upwards.  He’s been gone for thirteen years now, but every time I think about it I miss him more.

Deb Eleanor

My father used to be a music teacher, and I remember being on a road trip with him, where he explained to me how he used to use the Beach Boys’ “Help Me, Rhonda” to teach symphonic form. It was hilarious, and I still think of that moment every time I hear that song.

Deb Kim

My Dad sent me a dozen roses for my 13th birthday – perhaps it was 13 roses. Red. I’ve never forgotten how special and loved that made me feel.

Deb Sarah

Too many stories to recount. But my dad was (and is) an amazing storyteller—so good, we’d prefer his made-up stories at bedtime to real books. He’d also take us on walks to a local cemetery. I know, this sounds very morbid (and my dad is not morbid), but we were so fascinated by the stories of the dead (we loved checking the dates and were so amazed to find that little kids like us actually DIED!

Deb Tawna

When I was 3, my dad saved my life. We were at a wedding reception at someone’s home, and I wandered off into the backyard where there was a swimming pool with a cover over the top. I just assumed the cover was solid and tried to walk on it. Bad move. Lucky for me, my grandmother turned around just in time to see me slip under. My dad took off running and dove in after me wearing his suit, tie, shoes, and watch. I probably still owe him a new watch.




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News Flash: June 12, 2011

Congrats to Jane Cook who won Liane Moriarty’s What Alice Forgot.

From the 2011 Debs…

Deb Elise is over the moon that GirlsLife.com picked Populazzi as one of its Top 40 Hits of the Summer — a list that includes movies, TV shows, and music as well as books!  Squee!

Deb Kim IS CHEAP! Has watched her book fly out the door in the Amazon SUNSHINE DEALS: You can buy her book for just $1.99!  All I Can Handle I’m No Mother Teresa HERE. Please leave a review if you do!   finalized her paperback edits, whispered her new idea to her agent (got a thumbs up, phew!) and was selected as the Stern SuperFan of the Week – a blog for The Howard Stern show with oodles of rabid fans. I’ve met some of the nicest people through the Stern SuperFans FB page. They’be been big supporters of my girls and my book, which features a chapter titles, “Howard Stern Every Day.” That chapter is about how Mark and I reverse roles easily for family needs.


Deb Tawna was tickled pink this week to be interviewed over at The Divining Wand by longtime Debutante Ball (and “authors’ fairy godmother”) Larramie.


Past Deb News

Deb Mia King (Good Things) is giving away a Kindle! If you’ve read her latest book, FRIENDSHIP BREAD (written as Darien Gee), or want to, then you could win! Visit her on her website for more details. The Miami Herald calls it “an engrossing read,” and Ladies’ Home Journal says it’s “charming.” Ends 6/30/11. Good luck!


Deb Dish — A Question Written in to us: “When you write, are you writing for yourself, to answer your own inquiring mind and to tell a story, or for a specific audience?  How do you find a balance?”

Deb Elise

I get in serious trouble when I write for anything other than the characters and their story.  The minute I let “the audience” sneak into my head, I worry about what they’ll like and not like, and edit myself based on that outside eye.  When that happens, the characters’ voices are drowned out, and the writing that comes out has no life.


Deb Eleanor

Definitely for myself. As an example, The Weird Sisters was really an exercise for me to try to figure out things that were puzzling me – the persistence of birth order traits, what it meant to be an adult, the way families communicate. I’ve tried to write for specific audiences for and it’s always gone horribly wrong. Constantly thinking about what someone else might think of what I’m writing is a sure way to shut down any creative progress for me!


Deb Kim

I have a theme thread in my head that helps me stay on track. I delete work that doesn’t add to or explain or remain within the theme (yes, I kill my darlings and it HURTS!)

Deb Sarah

Good question! For me, it’s a mix. I write, first, for the characters. I try very hard to authentically follow their stories, but I often think about the reader. After all, I want the reader to sympathize and not hate the characters. It’s a balance. I also write for my husband, my very first reader, as goofy as this sounds. I want him to love my stories. Is that weird?

Deb Tawna

Blame it on my years in journalism and in marketing/PR, but I’m all about the audience. They’re in the back of my mind no matter what I’m writing – Would a reader like this? Would she think it’s funny or just weird? Though that plays into everything I write, obviously I’m my own first reader. If I don’t crack myself up, I figure I’m not going to make anyone else laugh, either.

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News Flash: May 8, 2011

Congratulations to Jenny Ryan, who won Kelly O’Connor McNees’ The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott!

Congratulations to Jackie, who won Kyran Pittman’s Planting Dandelions: Field Notes from a Semi-Domesticated Life

From the 2011 Debs…

Deb Eleanor is spending Mother’s Day at the Schlessman Family Branch of the Denver Public Library, giving a talk at 2 pm. If you’re local, I’d love to say hello! And if you’re in South Carolina, I’ll be at the South Carolina Book Festival in Columbia next Sunday!

Deb Kim is likely admiring some fabulous art and goodies her kids made in school. It’s the best part of Mother’s Day!

In cased you missed it Friday, Deb Tawna officially unveiled her cover for Making Waves. To say she’s delighted with it would be an understatement. She bawled like a little girl the first time she saw it. Now she can’t stop staring at it, and is seriously considering wallpapering her bedroom with it.




Past Deb News…

Visit Deb Mia King (aka Deb Darien Gee) at Writer’s Digest where she guest posts about 7 Things I’ve Learned Along the Way, where writers talk about seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning. They’re also giving away a copy of her latest novel, Friendship Bread, which Kirkus said has “thoughtful portraits of women on the brink of finding better versions of themselves … perfect for the book-club circuit and beyond.” Contest ends today, good luck!




Deb Joelle Anthony now has a cover for her new book The Right & the Real (April 2012)!!!  Check out the picture — we love it!  Also, the paperback book club rights to Joelle’s debut, Restoring Harmony, were picked up by Scholastic.  In the fall, it will be featured in the Teen Club catalogue and at school book fairs.  Congratulations, Joelle!






Deb Dish — The Debs’ Favorite Fictional Moms

Deb Elise

At the moment, it’s Ruby Oliver’s mom in E. Lockhart’s series.  The woman is completely over the top, a constant embarrassment to Ruby… and absolutely hysterical.

Deb Eleanor

Did anyone else ever read The Mummy Market? It’s now out of print, but was one of my favorite books when I was little, about siblings who go to the Mummy Market to trade in their mother for a different one (and, of course, learn in the process that their mother was precisely the right one for them). Actually, now that I think about it, it was kind of creepy, like the red-light district in Amsterdam, with booths where mothers sat, showing off and hoping someone would take them home.

Deb Kim

Grandma Mazur from the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich.

Deb Tawna

I’m not sure what it says about me that the only fictional mom I can think of is Norman Bates’ mom from Psycho.

Deb Sarah

Ma Ingalls all the way!

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Deb Mia is Still Dancing … and a Giveaway!

In 2006, I was invited by Kristy Kiernan to join a brand new blog for debut authors. Back then we lovingly referred to it as a “grog” (group blog) and there were six of us in all (Deb Kristy, Deb Eileen Cook, Deb Jennifer McMahon, Deb Tish Cohen, Deb Anna David, and me, Deb Mia). All of us had first novels coming out in 2007, our literary “debuts,” so to speak. The Debutante Ball was born.

One of these women is not Deb Mia nor Darien. Can you guess which one?

My first novel was called Good Things. It was published in trade paperback by Berkley Books (Penguin USA) under the name Mia King—an alias. The Debs knew I was Darien Gee, and they knew I had chosen to write as Mia because my husband, Darrin, and I had very similar names and he coincidentally had a non-fiction book being released a month after mine. I had originally written Good Things as a romance, and having a nom de plume was a norm for that genre. When Berkley decided to mainstream the novel, a few elements ended up staying—some of the more, ah, mature scenes in the book, as well as the name Mia.

Click on any of the covers to view their book pages at Amazon
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After Good Things, Sweet Life was published in 2008 and then Table Manners, the sequel to Good Things, was published in 2009. It was my intention to write a fourth title for publication in 2010, but my plans were waylaid when my then 8 year old daughter, Maya (“Mia” is a play off of her name), brought home a bag of Amish Bread starter. As I ate a slice of the bread, I saw the image of a woman in my mind, holding up a bag of starter with a frown. I didn’t know who had given her the starter or what she was planning to do with it, but I could tell she was carrying around an unspeakable grief. I started writing a new story that night, a story that became a hefty novel called Friendship Bread.

I filled every available moment, day or night, with writing. My husband recognized that look in my eye so he re-arranged our schedules to give me as much time as possible to write. The woman I had seen was Julia Evarts, and as I wrote, her story quickly began to unfold. I saw her sister, Livvy, next and liked her instantly—her optimism, her bubbly personality. But I sensed that something had happened between her and Julia, that they were no longer talking though they had once been very, very close. I continued to write, and more central characters started to show up, all with stories of their own—Madeline, a lonely widow who opens a tea salon on a whim; Hannah, a former cello prodigy whose marriage is ending; and Edie, an ambitious journalist who is desperate to make her mark. I started to see all the connections, saw how the bread was linking people together in ways that surprised me. Then the rest of the town of Avalon, Illinois, started to show up, and before I knew it, the bread and its starter had made its way into everyone’s home, and hearts.

Can a loaf of Amish Friendship Bread heal broken hearts and unite an entire community?
Read an excerpt of Friendship Bread now!

Friendship Bread releases today, April 5th, as a hardcover from Ballantine Books (Random House). It sold at auction last March along with foreign, e-book, audio, large type, and book club rights, and will be published under my own name, Darien Gee, in large part because the writing and scope of the book is so different from my Mia King titles (plus my husband doesn’t have a title coming out next month, LOL!). It’s been an amazing experience, one that I hadn’t foreseen when I first started dancing at the Ball, and I’m filled with gratitude to still be dancing!

And now for the giveaway … a copy of Friendship Bread (hardcover or Kindle/Nook, winner’s choice) to one random winner! All you have to do is visit the Recipe Box at the Friendship Bread Kitchen website and choose a recipe you’d like to try (or eat)! Then come back here and leave a comment, telling us which one it is. We’ll draw a winner on Friday, April 8, and announce it in our Sunday Newsflash on April 10. Thank you all for being a friend of the Ball!

PS. And a special thanks to Deb Eleanor for so generously offering me her Tuesday spot to post my news!