FRIENDSHIPS DON'T JUST HAPPEN! The Guide to Creating a Meaningful Circle of Girlfriends, by Shasta Nelson. Turner Publishing Co., 243 pp., $18.95.


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Shasta Nelson, a life coach and former pastor who appears often in the media as a friendship expert, writes in this wise and openhearted book of being lonely after moving to a city, finding herself staring through a restaurant window at a group of laughing friends -- and dying to be in that "Sex and the City"-like circle.

Fact is, Nelson writes, a life-changing event such as a move, divorce or illness -- or even simply moving on -- may mean you need to find new friends. She'll teach you how.

THE SCOOP For living a long and healthy life, having friends may be as important as being physically fit, according to studies Nelson quotes.

THE BOTTOM LINE "I invite you to cast your net wider, not narrower," she writes. "Don't doubt someone's potential just because you don't instantly see it."