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“Compelling…There are shared secrets, support, encouragement, and love as the Avalon Ladies come to terms with the past and boldly step forward into the future.” –Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author
About THE AVALON LADIES SCRAPBOOKING SOCIETY: Scrapbooking groups give crafters the ability to come together, share ideas, and experience the deep bonds of friendship. And that’s exactly what the lovably persistent Bettie Shelton, founder of the Avalon Scrapbooking Society, hopes to achieve in her small town of Avalon, Illinois. But for many Avalonians, their past is something they’re trying to forget – not remember. There’s Isabel Kidd who is fixing up her rundown house while sorting through the complications of her late husband’s affair. Ava Catalina is mourning the love of her life and struggling to raise her young son without his father. New to Avalon, the smart, beautiful, local plumber Yvonne Tate realizes no matter where she is, her past has a way of finding her. And then there’s Frances Latham, mother to boisterous boys, who eagerly awaits the arrival of a little girl from China but is completely unprepared for the emotional roller coaster of foreign adoption. Under Bettie’s guidance, even the most reluctant of Avalon’s residents come to terms with their past and make bold decisions about their future. It’s when the group receives unexpected news about their dedicated leader that they must pull together to create something truly memorable.
On Sale January 29th
Note from Author Darien Gee: Get a bunch of scrapbookers together (or, better yet, spend the weekend cropping with them), and one thing’s for sure: the stories never end.
There’s a reason for this, of course, because scrapbookers are the consummate storytellers. They don’t just leave a picture on a page or stick a movie stub in between the pages of a book. They caption the photos, offer details and explanations on journal cards, add embellishments that evoke a sense of the moment. They guide you through the baby shower, the family vacation, the graduation. They pull you into an experience they have lived and invite you to be a part of it by being witness to it.
“I don’t scrapbook,” is the first thing out of people’s mouths when they hear the title of my book. I then go on to explain that scrapbooking takes many forms, that at its heart it’s about memory keeping. “Ohhh,” I’ll hear, because they understand that. They know about memory keeping, about holding something close, about the risk of losing that very thing. And then guess what happens? They beckon me to sit down next to them and the stories never end.
The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society is about people and about the stories we hold tight to. For Isabel, fixing up her house so she can sell it means confronting painful memories; for Frances, it’s about how her life will change if their family adopts a special needs girl from China; for Yvonne, another chance at happiness means looking at the life of privilege she once left behind; and for Connie, who also appears in my first Avalon book, Friendship Bread, finding a wayward goat triggers a sense of aloneness that makes her question what home really means. And then there’s Ava, a single mother who is trying to do the best by her son but realizes she needs more support and there’s only one person who can give it.
Through the eyes of these women we see the thread of the story, a woman named Bettie Shelton. Bettie is a nosy parker, pesky, annoying-sort-of-neighbor who happens to be the founder of the Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society. She’s been carrying a secret all these years, and that’s what propels her to get everyone to put picture to paper. Bettie knows the value of remembering, and knows what’s lost when we forget.
We are all the storytellers of our own lives. Scrapbooking is the means by which we prove our connection—with ourselves, our past, our present, and our future. It’s about how we interact with the world around us. It’s the evidence that we exist and are alive in the world. It reminds us of the people who have been a part of our journey. Scrapbooking reminds us of who we are.
Darien Gee is the author of the novels, The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society and Friendship Bread. Her short stories have been anthologized and she also writes an occasional column, From the Writer’s Corner, for her local newspaper. Darien lives in upcountry Waimea on the Big Island of Hawaii with her husband and three children.
Darien attended Wellesley College and graduated from Rice University with a B.A. in Political Science. She has served on the boards of several nonprofits, including the Friends and Foundation of the San Francisco Public Library and ZYZZYVA, an award-winning literary magazine. Through it all she read voraciously, wrote short stories and journaled, and dreamed about one day writing a novel.
In 2000 she and her husband had the crazy idea of quitting their corporate jobs (Darien was an international tax manager), selling their things and moving to Hawaii (note to reader: they also thought it would be fun to do this with no jobs, very little savings and while Darien was seven months pregnant). They landed on the Big Island of Hawaii with four suitcases (twenty banker boxes came by USPS via the slow boat a few weeks later). The years that followed were “life changing” (this is the polite way of putting it), but they made it through, saved some money, had a couple more children, and learned a thing or two about themselves. They fell in love with Hawaii and agreed never to move again (Darien had moved thirteen times in her life). They also started writing (visit the FAQs for more information about her husband, Darrin Gee, who is partly to blame for why Darien’s first books were written as Mia).
In 2007, Darien published her first novel, Good Things, under the pen name Mia King. Her second novel, Sweet Life, followed in 2008. In 2009, Table Manners was published. Darien was homeschooling her children at the time, and started writing Friendship Bread after her daughter brought home a bag of Amish Friendship Bread starter and the bread. She wrote the first draft in five weeks, and then spent a year in revisions. The novel sold at auction in 2010. It was published in 2011 in the US as well as in 11 countries. Friendship Bread is the first novel written under Darien’s own name.