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!
- Visit the Friendship Bread Kitchen: http://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com
- Visit the Friendship Bread Kitchen on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fbkitchen
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!