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Archive for April, 2011

Guest Meg Waite Clayton on
Thoughts on Perfect Necks and Imperfect Friends

April 12, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Although quick to note that her novels are not autobiographical, Meg Waite Clayton
(The Wednesday Sisters) admits that she falls back on her own emotions and experiences while writing. And, in today’s guest post, the author offers how her past shine through in The Four Ms. Bradwells.]

Thoughts on Perfect Necks and Imperfect Friends

Lovely neck on that The Four Ms. Bradwells book jacket, isn’t it? Pretty much the perfect neck. The perfect young neck in perfect white pearls on the cover of a book about four perfect…

Well, not exactly perfect.

O.K., not even close to exactly perfect.

Like all of us, Mia, Laney, Betts, and Ginger – a.k.a. the four Ms. Bradwells – are flawed. They are grown-up women who have been friends since the days when they may or may not have had gorgeous necks like the one on the cover of The Four Ms. Bradwells. The novel cuts back and forth between the present starting-to-feel-bad-about-my neck phase of their lives – when Betts is in confirmation hearings to become a Supreme Court justice – and their good-neck years. That’s when things began to go bad for them, in their good-neck years. The skeleton they buried together back then – one with a considerably more masculine neck – has surfaced. Untimely questions are being asked.

Mia’s neck would have been a bit chubbier than “the neck” even back then, when they were burying that skeleton, on an island in the Chesapeake Bay where Ginger’s family had a summer house, and still does. Laney has the best neck now, but even she would tell you her neck was scrawny back in the day. Betts … Well, Betts would joke that they should have wrung that neck when they had a chance to, but she would never lay claim to it. Ginger might or might not; one never knows with Ginger. She’s the Ms. Bradwell most likely to have had “the neck.”

Ginger’s mom, Faith, almost certainly had the neck. She had pearls, too, although they were gray pearls rather than white. Sadly, when we tried gray pearls on the cover, they didn’t “pop.”

Women of any age can relate to “the neck,” my publisher assured me, and I went off happily repeating that phrase: we can all relate to that neck, as if I might once have had “the neck” myself.

“Admire the neck on the cover,” I emailed my friend Sheryl, whom I’ve known since the sixth grade. “Surely we had necks like this, didn’t we?”

Her response: I NEVER HAD A NECK LIKE THIS. THIS IS A FICTIONAL NECK.

Her caps.

It made me laugh, the way dear friends do leave you laughing at the less important things in life. Like the Ms. Bradwells laugh together, even when things look grim.

Like them, Sheryl and I have both been through enough of life’s challenges to place much importance on the state of our necks.

O.K., not too much importance on the state of our necks.

But for the record, if Sheryl didn’t have the neck, then nobody did. More importantly, she was smart and thoughtful, and a wonderful friend.

The Four Ms. Bradwells is in some small way a tribute to friends like Sheryl, and like my own law school roommates who lived together on Division Street, in a house with a ratty old couch on the front port, like the Ms. Bradwells’ house. Jenn and Darby and Sheri. You can see their young necks here. Look at Jenn, on the far left of the top photo. Pretty nice neck, isn’t it?

It was a pleasure to sit down to write each morning, to wrap myself up in those friendships, and write from that wonderful, warm place.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away a copy of Jael McHenry’s The Kitchen Daughter in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Jael McHenry and The Kitchen Daughter. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

Jael McHenry and The Kitchen Daughter

April 11, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books

Jael McHenry’s passion for cooking and writing combine together in the most unique blend of sweet and bittersweet for her debut novel, The Kitchen Daughter in bookstores tomorrow, April 12, 2011. And, let it be noted, the clever, quirky cover art is the perfect appetizer for the feast spread within the pages.

The idea for the book began with the author creating a character who loves food, loves cooking, but is closed off from the rest of the world. Even though food is such a natural way to connect with people, it’s a conundrum that the young woman has never used her cooking to connect. But why? Jael realized that there had to be a reason/obstacle that prevented her protagonist from being able to reach out and that’s when she added Asperger’s syndrome to the mix. Ironically Ginny — the main character — had already been formed with many traits of an individual on the autism spectrum and, after more extensive research on Asperger’s, it became part of her identity as well as her story.

In fact, according to its synopsis, The Kitchen Daughter

is about a woman who discovers she can invoke ghosts by cooking from dead people’s recipes.
 


Julie & Julia meets Jodi Picoult in this poignant and delectable novel with recipes, chronicling one woman’s journey of self-discovery at the stove.



After the unexpected death of her parents, shy and sheltered Ginny Selvaggio, a young woman with Asperger’s Syndrome, seeks comfort in family recipes. But the rich, peppery scent of her Nonna’s soup draws an unexpected visitor into the kitchen: the ghost of Nonna herself, dead for twenty years, who appears with a cryptic warning—before vanishing like steam from a cooling dish.



A haunted kitchen isn’t Ginny’s only challenge. Her domineering sister Amanda insists on selling their parents’ house in Philadelphia, the only home Ginny has ever known. As she packs up her parents’ belongings, Ginny finds evidence of family secrets she isn’t sure how to unravel. She knows how to turn milk into cheese and cream into butter, but she doesn’t know why her mother hid a letter in the bedroom chimney, or the identity of the woman in her father’s photographs. The more she learns, the more she realizes the keys to these riddles lie with the dead, and there’s only one way to get answers: cook from her parents’ recipes, raise their ghosts, and ask them.



Offering a fascinating glimpse into the unique mind of a woman struggling with Asperger’s and featuring evocative and mouth-watering descriptions of food, this lyrical novel is as delicious and joyful as a warm brownie.


Of course there are recipes, including the brownie recipe that goes so well with the HOT Chocolate Jael serves up in this video:

(If the video does not appear on your monitor, please watch it here.)

Now also read the early Praise for the book and the Excerpt of Chapter One Bread Soup.

Creating the kitchen daughter character to be likable to readers, even with her seemingly anti-social behavior, might have been the author’s greatest challenge. But, by introducing Ginny at her parents’ funeral where she is surrounded by grief and struggling to control her emotions, well what could be more universal and relatable? As might be expected, Ginny is at her worst there. She’s scared, feeling abandoned, and her thinking fragmented. Her speech and actions reflect those feelings but isn’t that normal?

Ah, yet what is normal? That question is not only the message of the novel, it’s also Ginny’s personal need to be. Over the years this young woman has compiled The Normal Book filled with advice columns on what is normal. It’s a secret “security blanket,” a touchstone, to reassure her — despite what others might think — that she is normal. After all normal has a wide-range definition. Jael concedes that she’s always been interested in how people describe their own situations and how often they want an outside opinion on what they should do. And this becomes Ginny’s logic, as the author further explains:

“If people write in saying “‘Here’s what’s going on in my life, is this normal?”” a lot of times the columnists will say “‘You’re asking the wrong question.'” And I agree. Whether it’s “‘normal'” or not doesn’t mean it’s right for you. You have to figure things out for yourself, not by some made-up standard.”

What’s right and works for Ginny is cooking. By following a recipe, step-by-step, she’s soothed and feels in control. Even during anxious moments — when not in the kitchen — she can think about food as a distracting comfort. The fact is food not only is Ginny’s world, it becomes the way she views the real world. For example, because the character isn’t comfortable around people, she tends to describe most of them in food-related terms. Her intrusive, over-bearing/over-protective sister, Amanda, has “an orange juice voice,” while her father’s was “tomato juice.” And, through that type of thinking, Ginny is better able to relate.

There’s no question that the kitchen daughter has experienced a sudden, devastating trauma for which she is unprepared. Yet what’s important to remember is that this twentysomething young woman, who happens to have the added challenge of Asperger’s, is not inclined to give up. Instead Ginny seeks to take control for who she is and where she belongs. Simply put, it’s a variation on a young woman searching for happiness and “Mr. Right.” But Jael McHenry has upped the stakes with an insightfully original, poignant, and triumphant tale.

The Kitchen Daughter — given a glorious review in the May edition of O, The Oprah Magazine — is a delicious literary treat. It’s rich in lush description and delicious thought-provoking dilemmas stirred up by a truly heartwarming heroine. Please savor and enjoy!

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away a copy of Jael McHenry’s The Kitchen Daughter in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

Go-to Writing Books, III

April 07, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites, Profiles, Q&A

Before, during and after a work-in-progress, a published/debut author has likely read more than a few books on the art and craft of writing. Yet not all motivation or inspiration comes from books on writing, in fact favorite novels are just as likely to be kept close at hand. With this in mind, The Divining Wand asked its authors:

What books do you keep nearby or go back to as you’re working?

And this week the following authors — including Laura Dave, the most recent addition to TDW — replied:

~Claire Cook (Seven Year Switch, Must Love Dogs, Life’s A Beach, and the rest in Bibliography, and Best Staged Plans coming May 31, 2011):

“I think of it as self-medicating with writing books. I keep a pile of them beside me as I write a novel, and flip through them as needed, not really for specific info but for their calming properties. The two I pick up again and again are Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird and Carolyn See’s Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and other Dreamers.”

~Laura Dave (The Divorce Party, London Is the Best City in America, and The First Husband coming May 12, 2011):

“Slouching Toward Bethlehem, The Great Gatsby, Pride and Prejudice, The Feast of Love, The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing, Everything Changes, Something Borrowed, The Lost Legends of New Jersey and On Writing.”

~ Shana Mahaffey (Sounds Like Crazy):

“I keep books of poetry by W.B. Yeats, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Mathew Arnold to read when I need beautiful words to inspire me. I always have my online dictionary and reference website open. I consult both, but especially the latter, often throughout the process. For regular reading, I try to keep a good mystery by my side, and if there are none, I will always go back to The Chronicles of Amber* by Roger Zelazny.”

~Rebecca Rasmussen (The Bird Sisters coming April 12, 2011):

“I always keep Mary Oliver’s poems close to me when I’m writing. Sometimes I read a poem or two before I get started on my own work to remind myself to be mindful of my word choice and to enjoy the process even when it is frustrating me. Mary Oliver often celebrates life in her writing, from birds and trees to people and great loves, sometimes losses, which is what I am trying to do in mine.”

~Lori Roy (Bent Road):

“I have a well worn copy of Janet Burroway’s WRITING FICTION A GUIDE TO NARRATIVE CRAFT. The pages are highlighted, paperclipped and flagged with sticky notes. I also have several novels from favorite writers that I will open at random and read from whenever I find myself stuck.”

~Leah Stewart (Husband and Wife, The Myth of You and Me, Body of a Girl):

“It depends on the book I’m writing. For my last, because it was first person and relationship-driven, I kept looking at Nick Hornby’s HIGH FIDELITY, Curtis Sittenfeld’s PREP, and Richard Ford’s THE SPORTSWRITER.”

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Announcement: The winner of Friendship Bread by Darien Gee is Janel. Congratulations!

Please email diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and your book will be sent out promptly.

The Revealing of Meg Waite Clayton

April 06, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

Following the success of her national bestseller The Wednesday Sisters, Meg Waite Clayton returns with another tale of friendship in The Four Ms. Bradwells available in local bookstores and at online retailers now.

A Literary Guild Book Club Fiction Selection
 and A Mystery Guild Selection, the book’s one sentence description promises: A page-turning novel that explores the secrets we keep, even from those closest to us, and celebrates the enduring power of friendship.

And its early Praise confirms:

“This is a stirring and compelling novel about women’s changing roles.” –-Booklist

“Fans of Elizabeth Noble, Ann Hood, Elin Hilderbrand, and other luminaries of female friendship fiction will find much to captivate them.”Library Journal

“An exquisitely written novel about the heartbreaking and heartwarming moments of life and friendship and everything in between, The Four Ms. Bradwells will resonate with you long after you’ve turned the final page on these wonderful women. Don’t miss a second of their journey.”—Allison Winn Scotch, New York Times bestselling author of Time of My Life and The One That I Want

The Divining Wand has scheduled a presentation/review of The Four Ms. Bradwells for Monday, April 18, 2011 but, in the meantime, let’s meet the author through her “official” bio:

Meg Waite Clayton is the author of the national bestseller, THE WEDNESDAY SISTERS, THE LANGUAGE OF LIGHT, which was a Bellwether Prize finalist, and the forthcoming THE FOUR MS. BRADWELLS (Ballantine, March 2011). She’s also hosts the blog, 1st Books: Stories of How Writers Get Started, which features award-winning and bestselling authors sharing stories about their paths to writing and publishing. Her short stories and essays have been read on public radio and have appeared in commercial and literary magazines. She’s a graduate of the University of Michigan and Michigan Law School, and lives with her family in Palo Alto, California.

Now, for the upclose and personal profile, as Meg reveals:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: Living the dream with family, books, and pen

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”— Eleanor Roosevelt

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: A warm manuscript

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: Losing one of my sons

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: Somewhere I’ve never been before. Top choice at the moment: Iguazu Falls

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: Identify? I’m not admitting that!

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: I’m going to narrow the field to living writers, and say Harper Lee.

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases?
A: “anyway” in speach. “and” in writing

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: Singing

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: My sons – can they count as an achievement? They are both amazing, but I suppose I can’t claim all the credit for them. So if not them, then my books

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: Oh, just name any one of the seven deady sins!

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: (running though the seven virtues, which admittedly I had to google first: Prudence? Not so much. Restraint? Ha!)
I’m probably not bad at love, although perhaps that’s cheating. It’s easy to love back, given all the love I get.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: That Mac had to propose seven times before I said yes. What was I thinking?!

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: A novelist. 🙂

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: Freckles. If I spend too much time in the sun, they start to run together so that my face looks dirty. Seriously.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Dorothea Brooke from Middlemarch

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Lucy Steele from Sense and Sensibility

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: I had the great thrill of meeting the athlete I most wanted to meet – Joan Benoit Samuelson (winner of the gold medal in the first women’s Olympic marathon) – at a breakfast the day before a half marathon we both ran a few months after The Wednesday Sisters released. I’m afraid I stammered something incomprehensible.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: selfishness

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: Can I say this one in polite company?

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Again, that would be novelist. Pinch me!

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Generosity of Spirit
Intelligence
Thoughtfulness

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Extra Dark Chocolate

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: And So it Goes by Billy Joel, when sang by my son Nick.

I could list four others, but they would be such distant seconds…

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Middlemarch by George Eliot
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

A believer in the power of women and the value of friendship, Meg Waite Clayton is an author to learn from by following her on Twitter and becoming a fan on Facebook.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away a copy of Darien Gee’s Friendship Bread in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Darien Gee and Friendship Bread. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is tonight at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in tomorrow’s post. If you enter, please return tomorrow to see if you’re a winner.

Guest Jael McHenry on
The Blessed Mystery of the Pre-Debut

April 05, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[How many successful authors have THAT drawer and/or corner in their closet where their first “Great Novel(s)” hide? Probably ninety-nine percent do and, in today’s guest post, Jael McHenry (The Kitchen Daughter coming April 12, 2011) admits to being one of them. However she also shares why — although these works will never see the light of day — this early writing has made her a debut novelist.]

The Blessed Mystery of the Pre-Debut

Positive reviews are always welcome and wonderful things, but every once in a while, they make me feel guilty. This particularly happens whenever a reviewer mentions that The Kitchen Daughter is well-written “for a first novel.” Because, friends and readers, I am here to tell you that the only reason my first novel is even remotely well-written is the truly stunning quantity of unreadable stuff I wrote before.

I was especially pleased, then, when I spotted a New York Times essay last month asking Why Do Writers Abandon Novels? Because I’m in good company. Great company. Apparently even the finest novelists among us, boldface names like Michael Chabon and Jennifer Egan, started writing certain novels, but later these manuscripts turned so awful/difficult/wretched that they were forced to abandon them. They started over, and wrote something better instead.

The stuff of mine you will never read would make you say, “How interesting, yet sad, that this ‘writer’ can’t actually write.” It would make you say, “This person may or may not understand the English language.” You’d say “This book goes nowhere” or “Isn’t this entire thing an exact ripoff of the Audrey Hepburn movie Wait Until Dark?” or “Is this writer making a bet with herself that she can go for pages without punctuation?” or “Am I supposed to believe that a powerful demon would take human form as a lounge singer in a basement bar for farmers? Am I SERIOUSLY?”

Some of the stuff I wrote before my debut is fine. Some of it is even lovely. Some of it is great raw material I may return to in the future.

Some of it is so appalling I couldn’t even begin to tell you about it without bursting into laughter. Or tears. Or both.

(My personal favorite is the short story set at a senior prom held in a high school gym, where the pure-of-heart, innocent narrator [in a white dress] is threatened by a wild-eyed druggie with a gun, but saved from certain death by the druggie’s girlfriend [in a black dress of course] who throws herself into the path of the moving bullet at the last moment and DIES in the narrator’s arms ON THE FREE THROW LINE. In my defense, I was 16.)

And so, if you’re a writer whose writing sometimes disappoints you, take heart. Writing one or two or three awful things doesn’t make you an awful writer. And over time, even the awful things make you better. As Dan Kois puts it in the NYT essay I mentioned earlier, “Unsuccessful novels happen to everybody.” And the good news is, when your debut is published, it’s the only thing your readers see. It may not be your first writing, but it’s their first reading. How you got there is all a big dark mystery. And thank goodness for that.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away a copy of Darien Gee’s Friendship Bread in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Darien Gee and Friendship Bread. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, April 6, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

Darien Gee and Friendship Bread

April 04, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books


How appropriate for Darien Gee aka Mia King (Good Things, Sweet Life, Table Manners) to write the novel, Friendship Bread, with her given name. For the truth is — as Darien’s guest post, The Book That Inspired a Novel, — explains this story is a personal gift, literally growing out of an Amish Friendship Bread starter kit from her daughter.

And, like the division of the starter kits, the novel took on a life of its own. Darien recalls: “As I was finishing the last piece [of the bread], I saw a woman in my mind who was reluctantly holding up a bag of the starter, regarding it with a frown. I didn’t know where she had gotten the starter but one thing was clear—she was enveloped in sadness, stuck in the day-to-day motions that mimicked life when in fact she hadn’t felt alive in years. I knew right then that I wanted to find out more, and I started writing that night.”

As the main character of Julia appeared to tell her story so, too, did all the other characters/residents of small town Avalon. In fact, when the author began writing, she didn’t know the cause of her character’s sadness. But as the story unfolded Darien realized that Julia and her sister were estranged, and that her son’s death was the reason why. Her reaction? “I felt a shock and sadness as if I were hearing the news from a friend—I experienced a kind of disbelief, a how-could-this-happen sort of response. I did think about my kids during this time, but as a writer I had to keep writing and follow the story to the end because I wanted to know if Julia would be okay.”

The author discovered more secrets and answers that evolved into the Friendship Bread synopsis:

An anonymous gift sends a woman on a journey she never could have anticipated.

One afternoon, Julia Evarts and her five-year-old daughter, Gracie, arrive home to find an unexpected gift on the front porch: a homemade loaf of Amish Friendship Bread and a simple note: I hope you enjoy it. Also included are a bag of starter, instructions on how to make the bread herself, and a request to share it with others.

Still reeling from a personal tragedy that left her estranged from the sister who was once her best friend, Julia remains at a loss as to how to move on with her life. She’d just as soon toss the anonymous gift, but to make Gracie happy, she agrees to bake the bread.

When Julia meets two newcomers to the small town of Avalon, Illinois, she sparks a connection by offering them her extra bread starter. Widow Madeline Davis is laboring to keep her tea salon afloat while Hannah Wang de Brisay, a famed concert cellist, is at a crossroads, her career and marriage having come to an abrupt end. In the warm kitchen of Madeline’s tea salon, the three women forge a friendship that will change their lives forever.

In no time, everyone in Avalon is baking Amish Friendship Bread. But even as the town unites for a benevolent cause and Julia becomes ever closer to her new friends, she realizes the profound necessity of confronting the painful past she shares with her sister.

About life and loss, friendship and community, food and family, Friendship Bread tells the uplifting story of what endures when even the unthinkable happens.

Please read The Prologue and Chapter One. Then discover what Amish Friendship Bread is, complete with a starter recipe.

Perhaps it’s been noticed that many of the winter/spring books presented here during the past months have centered on family and friends. With that in mind, Friendship Bread might be considered the literary equivalent of a welcome mat, telling the tales of an entire town. For Darien Gee (even when writing as Mia King) has the remarkable talent to transport readers into whatever world she’s created — in this novel, it’s Avalon, Illinois. The details describing the residents, their homes, streets, and landmarks are not intrusive yet combine to convey a strong sense of community. And the sharing of Friendship Bread bag starter kits only creates a stronger bond.

Populated by a multigenerational cast of characters who must cope with a range of sadness and problems, Avalon is refreshing in its sprit of hope. Hope that comes alive by the introduction of bread. Simple? Yes, except most major challenges are resolved by simple solutions. And, in truth, the novel’s message is that a single act’s ripple effect can make anything possible.

In this age of technology each one of us can choose to become connected. Cyberspace isn’t friendly Avalon, Illinois but it can promote the desire and power to reach out to share. A perfect, current example is being able to donate to the Read Cross for Japan Relief. After all bread comes in forms.

And that’s the beauty and truth of Darien Gee’s novel. Through her writing, the author took a bag of ingredients, squeezed it, added more individuals to the mix then turned it all into an enormously positive phenomenon. Warmth, genuine caring, and the fact that people need people transcends fiction, spilling out and into the Friendship Bread Kitchen. How does Darien feel about both her creations?

“We’re having fun in the Kitchen sharing Amish Friendship Bread recipes and community, and the Kitchen has taken a life of its own that includes the book but is not only about the book. I hadn’t expected it to go one way or another — I just thought it would be a fun thing to do and (like the starter) it kept growing. Amish Friendship Bread has changed my life in ways both big and small, and I know I’m not alone in saying that. I think Julia sums it up best when she tries the bread for the first time:

“’It hits the spot, as unexpected kindness often does.’”

For deliciously honest, comfort food for thought, Friendship Bread is a reading treat available tomorrow at local bookstores and online retailers. Enjoy, savor, and be sure to share it by gifting a copy to a friend!

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away a copy of Darien Gee’s Friendship Bread in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, April 6, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.