I am shockingly overdue for a blog post. And a new haircut.
But I have an excuse! (I know, I’m a writer — we don’t get excuses! At least that’s what I tell my students.) You may have heard the news about my next novel, FRIENDSHIP BREAD. It sold at auction in mid-March to Ballantine Books for hard cover publication in 2011 and foreign rights have already been sold to Italy, Brazil, and Australia.
I wrote this book last year after my own daughter brought home a bag of Amish friendship bread starter. The truth? If she hadn’t been the one to give it to me, it would have gone straight into the trash! What a shame that would have been because days after receiving this fateful bag of starter, Julia Evarts, my protagonist, appeared.
I started writing and soon both the story and the words started to flow. “Gush” was more like it. And six weeks later, I had a new novel.
Do I normally write this fast? Yes and no. I don’t have a writing schedule or routine beyond grabbing whatever time I can between the kids and other family responsibilities. But the story started demanding more than the little snippets of time I could give so my husband offered to take the kids as much as possible until the book could be written (note that he was running his own business at the same time). I wrote like crazy and didn’t stop until I finished.
Between my agent’s client load (apparently she has other authors to represent — imagine that!) and more edits (if you heard teeth gnashing in the middle of the Pacific, that was me), it was almost a year before the manuscript went to auction. Talk about a lesson in patience! I dug up this image to share with you and realized that the day I started writing was one year to the week that we sold FRIENDSHIP BREAD to Ballantine! How crazy and wonderful is that?!
So what happens between now and the release of FRIENDSHIP BREAD? Lots of baking and recipe adapting, for starters. Meeting new readers and foodies, too. And of course, more edits. Instead of creating a book page I decided a kitchen was more up my alley, so behold the Friendship Bread Kitchen (www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com). We’re parked at Facebook for now but will be moving to our own home mid-year and I’d love for you to join the wonderful community that’s growing there.
I’m happy to share the synopsis of the novel with you:
Julia Evarts is still healing from the loss of her son when she and her five-year old daughter receive the equivalent of a culinary chain letter: a plate of Amish friendship bread along with a Ziploc filled with the gooey yeast starter. They’re instructed to feed the starter over a ten-day period then bake two loaves of bread and share the remaining starter with three other people. As the bread and its starter make its way through Julia’s small town (including into the home of her estranged sister whom Julia holds responsible for her son’s death), the residents of Avalon, IL find their lives inexplicably changed. Friendship Bread is a novel about life and loss, friendship and community, and what endures even when the unthinkable happens.
Will there be recipes in the book? Of course! The novel will include loads of Amish friendship bread recipes and tips. I’m amazed by how many variations there are to this otherwise simple recipe. This week we even came up with a vegan, gluten-free version at the Friendship Bread Kitchen: Pineapple-Papaya-Coconut Macaroon Friendship Bread Mini Muffins (Vegan) (Gluten-Free). Yum!
So I hope you’ll come and find me in one of the many places I tend to linger online. In the meantime, now that my blog post is done, I think it’s time to call my hairdresser. Aloha, everyone!
PS. I’ll be in Honolulu next weekend, April 9-11, teaching a workshop on writing the memoir. The fabulous YA author, Lisa Yee, is the keynote. For information, please visit the National League of American Pen Women’s Biennial Writers Conference. I’ll also be stopping in to offer my congrats to fellow author Jane Porter and sweetie Ty Gurney as they celebrate the opening of Ty’s new surf shop in the Imperial of Waikiki Resort!