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Posts Tagged ‘Friendship Bread’


Monday, March 11th, 2013

avalon ladiesDear Friends,

One of the biggest challenges for any writer is what to write about next. When I finished writing Friendship Bread, I knew there were more stories to be told from the small river town of Avalon, Illinois. Earlier drafts of The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society saw a parade of characters, all wanting to meet you, the reader, and all wanting face time with me, their loyal transcriber. I was diligent in trying to capture their stories, but it soon became clear that five women in particular—Isabel, Ava, Frances and Yvonne—were meant to be the focus of this book. I also knew that I wanted to give Connie Colls, the young laundromat attendant turned tea salon manager, a chance to share her story as well.

The thread that runs throughout the book is Bettie Shelton, founder of the Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society. Her insistence that people take the time to scrapbook their memories may seem puzzling to some, but the truth is that scrapbooking, or memory keeping, plays a much bigger role in our lives than people may realize. Early scrapbooks, also known as commonplace books, emerged in the early 15th century and were ways for people to record personal interests, favorite quotes, letters, recipes and prayers. Author Mark Twain used to collect memorabilia from his travels and would clip articles about himself and his books and paste them into scrapbooks. Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, and Bruce Chatwin are known for having notebooks filled with sketches, notes, stories, and ideas. Men, as well as women, have found all sorts of ways to celebrate or remember the moments in their lives that comprise the person they have become.

So it’s no surprise that memories and memory keeping are themes you’ll find woven throughout the novel. Happy memories, hurtful memories, lost memories, memories yet to be made. The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society is about the choices we make in every moment and the consequences that follow, along with the unexpected joys that come when you least expect it. That I was able to jump off the computer and play with my own family’s photographs, a generous selection of gorgeous papers, colorful die cuts, and random embellishments, was a bonus. I was able to put together some much overdue albums of my own, journaling memories and moments I knew I didn’t want to forget.

There’s a wonderful saying by Aldous Huxley: “Experience is not what happens to you; it’s what you do with what happens to you.” New experiences and memories are waiting for us to encounter them. May we all continue to be the creator of our own lives.

Enjoy your visit to Avalon.

Darien Gee

Enter here or below for your chance to win a free copy of THE AVALON LADIES SCRAPBOOKING SOCIETY


Friday, February 1st, 2013

978-0-345-52537-6-1A Reader’s Guide to the Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society by Darien Gee

Darien Gee’s follow-up to the book club favorite, Friendship Bread, follows a group of women who form deep friendships through their love of scrapbooking—as memories are preserved, dreams are shared, and truths are revealed. Use this Reader’s Guide to enhance your book club’s discussion of Darien’s latest.

To learn more about Avalon, click here to read an excerpt or here to find it at your favorite online retailer.

The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society by Darien Gee
Questions for Discussion

1. Scrapbooking is a method used to record our memories. Do you scrapbook? Other than putting photos in an album, what are some other ways you can celebrate special moments or people?

2. Author Mark Twain used to collect memorabilia from his travels and would clip articles about himself and his books and paste them into scrapbooks. Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, and Bruce Chatwin are known for having notebooks filled with sketches, notes, stories, and ideas. So why does it seem like only women scrapbook these days? Do the men in your life scrapbook or journal in any way?

3. Do you think it’s important to only scrapbook about memories that are pleasant or do you think it’s important to include all events and memories, even those that didn’t create a happy memory? Should both be added to your scrapbooks? Why or why not?

4. Bettie Shelton is intent on getting everyone in Avalon to scrapbook, men and women alike. Why do you think she does this? Do you think she uses this to avoid recording her own memories? Is there something you are putting off doing by helping others?

5. The stunning plumbing beauty, Yvonne Tate, knocks on your door to fix your backed up toilet. Would you want her to be left alone with your husband or partner? Have you ever judged someone immediately on their outward appearance only to later realize you made a hurtful or hasty judgment?

6. Yvonne left her past behind to create a new future. Do you think it’s possible to really leave our past behind? What happens when we try and forget the past?

7. Serena (aka Daffodil) pulled Connie into her life and provided her the strength to love and care for something. Even though they were only together for a short time, Serena proved to be the catalyst for many things in Connie’s life—reconciling with her past, accepting help and love in her present, and even introducing her to someone who might be a part of her future. Have you had an animal or pet do this for you? How did it turn out?

8. Hannah Wang is a character who also appears in the first Avalon book, Friendship Bread. In what ways has she evolved in The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society? Is there anything you miss about her from the first book? What about Madeline? How has she changed?

9. In times of a crisis, we rally together just like the town of Avalon. Have you personally been in a crisis or involved in helping someone through a crisis?

10. Do you know of someone like Bettie who is dealing with a failing memory? Do you have a friend who is dealing with someone with Alzheimer’s? How can or how have you helped? Is there someone in your town or neighborhood who reminds you of Bettie?

11. What do you think about Isabel’s decision to take care of Bettie? Would you consider doing something like this for a friend?

12. It takes a lot of love, strength and courage for someone to give up a child for adoption or to be the adopting parents. Have you been in this situation? Have you helped someone in this situation?

13. Isabel had not planned for her life to go as it had. Have you been in a situation where life served you several platters of disappointment? Would you be strong enough to let someone like Ava, the woman involved with ending your marriage, become a part of your future? Why or why not?

14. Bill left a card in a safe-deposit box for Isabel to read on their 25th anniversary. Ian builds her a surprise porch swing. Colin saves a big bag full of bottle caps for Ava. What do you think about these gestures? Are they rare things for men to do? Or are they becoming more common today than in the past?

15. Which character do you identify with the most? Why? Does anyone in your reading group remind you of a character from the book? In what way?

16. Do you have a domestic talent or skill that you could share with other women in your community? What could you share? Have you considered doing it? Who or what group could you share it with?

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