The Divining Wand

Discovering authors beyond their pages…

Archive for July, 2009

Coming Attractions

July 30, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Books, Contests, Site Info

As promised, all the pages on this site soon will be filled to serve their purpose. Some — like Book Presentations — have been created naturally by applicable posts, however please either click on the link, Debuts, or the Debuts Tab and you’ll find a much more specific, ever-changing page. Divided into Debut Novels and New Releases (by already published authors), this page, complete with cover art and publication dates, should be your guide as to coming literary attractions. And, within a week or two of publication, books will be transferred to the Recently Released page in order to announce what’s forthcoming.

Next Tuesday, August 4th, offers the publication of Mia King’s Table Manners, Allison Winn Scotch’s Time of My Life (Paperback edition and, then on Thursday, August 6th, Lara Zielin’s debut YA Novel, Donut Days. All three books will be presented here and to honor this trifecta one copy of each book will be given away in a random drawing to those who comment.

Since I’ve never done a book giveaway, this is indeed a special occasion! Hope to see you Monday when you’ll learn about Table Manners.

Books That Made Our Authors, Authors

July 29, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Contests, Profiles

In whatever one chooses to do in life, there’s usually a catalyst or defining moment when a career and/or life’s direction becomes a given. And, working on that premise, it would be reasonable to wonder what one book had most influenced our authors’ careers. So they were asked and the following take us beyond their pages:

EILEEN COOK (Unpredictable, What Would Emma Do? (YA))

“One book? Yikes. I’m not sure I can narrow it down to one. Without a doubt the biggest influence on my choice to be a writer was that my parents were huge readers. Our house was always over flowing with books. We always talked about what we were reading and I grew up having an insatiable desire to consume more and more books. I always knew that I wanted to be one of those people who got to make them up. What power! To be able to create your own world, populate it with whomever you want and to choose the ending.”

[Eileen recently heard that CBC Radio One listed What Would Emma Do? as one of their summer book recommendations.]

KRISTY KIERNAN (Catching Genius,Matters of Faith)

“Wow, that’s pretty tough. I can’t pick. I was such a voracious reader. I finished one and picked up the next. I read so many, so quickly, they ALL influenced my life and my career, the good ones, the awful ones, the ones I recall and the ones I’ve long forgotten.”


“To Kill a Mockingbird is at the top of my list–the first time I read it I realized books could matter in a way I’d never understood before. It led me to want to be an English teacher (which I did for 15 years) and also made me want to create characters and stories that readers would fall in love with. And of course, as an English teacher, I got to fall in love with so many other writers and books–and what I found was that I’m really drawn to voice in a book–and characters and stories that capture a specific time and/or place. The classics are good for that!”


“After Many a Summer Dies the Swan, Aldous Huxley. It was significant because it was given to me by my eighth-grade English teacher, the same man who first gave me the idea that I had stories to write that others might want to hear.”

ALLISON WINN SCOTCH (The Department of Lost and Found, Time of My Life)

“Well, my life is probably too big of a question to answer, but my career, I’m going to have to say Good Grief by Lolly Winston. I was piddling around with fiction, writing it, but not necessarily writing it well, when an editor friend referred me to this book. She said, “Read this. THIS is what you could be writing. THIS is how you craft a good book that you are capable of.” I read it, and not only was it and is it to this day one of my all-time favorites, but a light bulb clicked on – ah yes, this IS how you write a good book. I understood what Winston had done (not to take away from what she did, because as I said, I LOVED it) and how she did it in a way that I hadn’t before, and it really inspired me. I sat down and shortly thereafter wrote my debut novel, The Department of Lost and Found.”

Therese Walsh (The Last Will of Moira Leahy)

“I can’t name any one book that changed the trajectory of my life as a writer, but many influenced me. My favorite book is The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger; it taught me what it meant to take risks, to write beautifully, and that a novel is capable of evoking great swells of emotion. My second favorite book is probably The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime; again, it provided a great example of taking risks with the narrative, but it was also just brilliantly written. I have great admiration for both works and their authors. (And there are many more books I could talk about!)”

Also Therese and co-founder Kathleen Bolton of Writer Uboxed announced in yesterday’s post, On your mark, get set…CONTEST!, which runs through next Tuesday, August 4th. This requires you to become unboxed and submit as many hilarious analogies as possible for a chance to win a treasure of literary goodies. Play and have fun…

Barnes and Noble FREE eBook Reader

July 28, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Contests, News

By any chance is there a Kindle on your wishlist? If so, how thrilling would it be to click on ebooks for Everyone and immediately download the FREE Barnes & Noble eReader to your iPhone, Blackberry, PC or Mac?

You’ll read that its features include:

-Automatic downloads of your latest Barnes & Noble eBook purchases and samples
-Access to download eBooks from your Online Library anytime
-Bookmarks, note taking & highlight functionality
-Portrait or landscape display modes
-Customizable font, margins and page gestures

In addition there’s a Bonus of 6 FREE eBooks! And, with more than 700,000 titles to choose from (many at $9.99), most favorite authors and their books will be only a click away.

While this Fairy Godmother’s desire is to have you discover authors beyond their pages, even I couldn’t have imagined granting an opportunity to discover books beyond their physical pages too!

And there’s more. Julie Kilber, from What Women Write, left a comment on yesterday’s post announcing yet another contest underway this week.

Julie said:

“We have an interview with Jacquelyn Mitchard and a drawing for her upcoming No Time to Wave Goodbye over at What Women Write, too, if you comment before midnight (CST) Thursday!”

Do drop by after visiting ebooks for Everyone…it’s FREE!

You Could Be a Winner

July 27, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Contests

With one week left before debuts and new releases start filling the bookstores – and these pages –, why not try to win a free book or a gift card? Below are four contests currently underway and, since three of them end on different days of this week, visit now and play your luck.

As anticipated in last Thursday’s post, Allison Winn Scotch is holding a “What If?” contest, giving away a total of 5 copies of the trade paperback edition of her NYT bestseller Time of My Life. Entries will be accepted until the end of the day tomorrow and winners will be announced Wednesday. The details can be found on the post, And Now It’s Free Books, at Ask Allison. Even if you don’t wish to enter, reading the heartfelt comments are worth your time.

Lara Zielin, YA debut novelist of Six Writers, Six Weeks contest this Thursday. Simply comment on that day’s post and you could be the recipient of a $10 Dunkin’ Donuts gift card.

This Friday, July 31st is the deadline for the GoodReads giveaway of three copies of Wendy Tokunagas’s debut novel, Midory by Moonlight. Please visit Wendy’s blog where you’ll be directed to signing-up for the contest.

Finally Masha Hanmilton offers a Contest to win a free hardcover copy of her forthcoming novel, 31 Hours. But for this, you must:

“Email a paragraph or story (500 words max) about when your intuition has been right about your child.

“The top ten stories—selected by Masha and guest judges—will get a free hardcover book and have their stories featured on this site.”

The deadline is September 30th with winners to be announced on October 16, 2009.

Enjoy and much good fortune to all!

What Comes After Time of My Life

July 23, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Advance News, Books

Although the paperback edition of Allison Winn Scotch’s NYT bestseller, Time of My Life, will not be available until Tuesday, August 4, 2009, the author has been busy writing her third novel and trying to come up with its title. Yesterday, in her blog post of “Well, It’s Not Free Books, But…,” Allison announced:

“I DO have a title for the next book. Hurrah!

“After much debate, back and forth, and brainstorming, we have all agreed on the title of….



“Yay! I love it! (I actually came up with it, so it’s a good thing I do.) And yes, there is a Grease subplot in the book, so the title is fitting in many more ways than one. By the way, have I even told you guys about it? I don’t think so. Wow. Okay, so here’s a little description, that I’m writing as we speak, so it might be rough around the edges, but should give you a general idea.”

Interested in the off-the-cuff synopsis? Read more…

You also may have guessed that Allison will be giving away free copies of Time of My Life so be sure to keep checking her blog.

As for “THE ONE THAT I WANT,” patience…its release date will likely be Summer 2010!

Beyond Audrey Niffenegger’s Pages

July 22, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Books, Interviews, Movies

For those who read Suzanne Anderson’s A View From Table One, The Divining Wand — A New Spell Is Cast, you may be thinking, “Ah, Larramie was granted her own wish.” Because in that interview I was asked:

“Are there any favorite/dream authors you’d like to feature or review at DW?”

And I replied:

“My second all-time favorite novel is The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, in fact I read the book at its release and reread it again four months later. The movie adaptation debuts in a few weeks, on August 14th, and her new novel, Her Fearful Symmetry, will be available September 29, 2009. But Ms. Niffenger — in addition to being a writer — is also an artist and professor in the Interdisciplinary Book Arts MFA Program at the Columbia College Chicago Center for Book and Paper Arts. And, from one TV interview I watched on her, she appeared rather shy.

“However back on March 10, 2006 at the blog, Writer Unboxed, there was the terrific post: INTERVIEW: Audrey Niffenegger by Therese Walsh (debut author of The Last Will of Moria Leahy to be published October 13, 2009).

[Note: That was then, this is now.]

“Audrey Niffenger will be busy and certainly the object of attention in the coming months…I don’t think The Divining Wand would fit into her schedule.” 😉

Now, while that still holds true, I’ve taken some liberties and allowed Borders to assist in discovering this author well beyond her books’ pages.

First of all there’s a fascinating essay, The Story from the Static: On Writing and Painting which describes Ms. Niffenegger’s creative process.

Then you can watch a Video of Audrey Niffenegger being interviewed on her forthcoming book, Her Fearful Symmetry.

Finally may you enjoy the Film Preview of The Time Traveler’s Wife in theaters August 14.

Again thank you Borders for waving your divining wand!

The Sounds of Their Music

July 21, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

Music, known as the universal language, can also be the most energetic force in inspiring a writer’s creativity. With that in mind, don’t you wonder what’s on your favorite authors’ playlists as they write?

The following writers share what and/or who they’re currently enjoying in song, and you may find their answers both surprising and revealing.

Meredith Cole (Posed for Murder)

“What’s on my playlist this week: John Legend, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All-Stars, and Lucinda Williams

“I don’t write to music normally, but I occasionally will when I’m at a cafe. Noise doesn’t bother me when I’m out like it does when I’m at home.”

Ad Hudler (Man of the House, All This Belongs to Me

“I am musically illiterate. I don’t have a playlist, don’t have an iPod. If I do have music on when I’m writing, I find it can’t have a beat or lyrics because they’re too distracting.”

Jessica Barksdale Inclan (The Beautiful Being, Intimate Beings)

“What’s on my Playlist: I listen to books, not music. I am currently listening to “A Changed Man” by Francine Prose.”

Holly Kennedy (The Silver Compass, The Penny Tree and The Tin Box)

“My playlist is an odd mix of present and past. At the moment, I love Nora Jones, but I also enjoy Christmas music, even during summer months. I usually choose a list of 20-30 songs for each novel and while I’m writing I play them in the background over and over again. I find it helps me set the tone.”

Lara Ziielin (Donut Days)

“I am (still) obsessed with Coldplay’s “’Viva la Vida’” and I really like Kings of Leon right now too. Music definitely helps me write, and if I find the right song that’s totally a fit with what I’m penning at that moment, I’ll hit repeat on iTunes and just let it play over and over. Sometimes I’ll look at the play count for a particular song at the end of the day and it’ll be something insane, like 200.”

So, readers, what’s on your Playlists?

Revisiting Tish Cohen’s Town House

July 20, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Books

While not based on absolute fact one of the joys for any author has to be having your first novel discovered long after its debut…particularly when found, read, and enjoyed by another author. And that is exactly what Tish Cohen (Inside Out Girl, The Invisible Rules of The Zoe Lama, The One and Only Zoe Lama) experienced a few weeks ago when Randy Susan Meyers posted on her RedRoom blog, Summer Satisfaction Read This Week:

“Fourth of July weekend and I wasn’t swimming, sunning, or drinking gin and tonic. The first draft of my new novel screamed to be done (and by Sunday it was) but even the best of intentions need a break for the arm muscles.

“I needed a book juicy enough to suck me in, interesting enough to nourish, and with seamlessly transparent writing that could silence my infernal editing word-judge. All I wanted was to read, thank you very much.

“In TOWN HOUSE by Tish Cohen I found my answer. Jack Madigan has all the ingredients of a character I love: a fatal flaw of distinction (agoraphobia,) an attention-grabbing back story (dead mega rock star father) and a what’s-gonna-happen (his crumbling Boston townhouse, the only legacy of rock-dad, is about to be foreclosed upon.)

“There’s a stuck-in-the-seventies teenage son, a too-helpful ex-wife, a hapless chattering real estate agent, and a missing killer-turtle shell.

“The most important ingredient in a book seems to me, to be a main character (or characters) you just need to stay with. It’s like the perfect best friend or the ideal husband, somehow everything about their life is interesting. That’s Jack Madigan. You like being with him for the entire ride.”

If you have yet to visit Jack Madigan in Town Hosue — a Commonwealth Prize Regional Finalist –, why not read my April 30, 2007 post, Presenting Debutante Tish Cohen with Town House? And then share his company

As for the lovely and talented Ms. Cohen, she’s preparing for yet another debut with her YA novel, Little Black Lies, appearing in bookstores on October 13th and coming to this blog soon.

Sharing Good News

July 14, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: News

According to the PBS Book Review: “Alibi Junior High”,
Greg Logsted has a winner.

Carleen Brice (Children of the Waters) will host a
discussion about faith and mysticism in fiction on Litchat (via Twitter). Please join in this Friday, July 17th between 4 – 5 p.m. EDT.

Masha Hamilton’s 31 Hours, a deeply human thriller, is now slated to be published on September 8, 2009. The author has a most thoughtful Contest to win a copy of the book. The deadline: September 30, 2009…giving you more than 31 hours.

Therese Walsh and her debut novel, The Last Will of Moira Leahy, now have a film agent, Sarah Self with Gersh Agency.

And the book continues to receive the most beautiful reviews:

“A hauntingly beautiful story about grief, the language of twins, and the healing power of a bond that is stronger than death. The characters of Moira and Maeve will linger long after you finish this amazing first novel.”__Brunonia Barry , New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Lace Reader

“The Last Will of Moira Leahy is haunting, exotic and romantic—the way Gothic tales are romantic, wrapped in luscious, dark atmosphere. It’s a magical debut and I can’t wait for more from Therese Walsh. She’s one to watch.”__Sarah Addison Allen, New York Times bestselling author of Garden Spells

And debut novelist Lara Zielin’s Donut Days will be released on August 6, 2009. To celebrate, the about-to-be author is running a contest every week until publication date. For details of ths week’s contest, please visit Lara’s Blog.

Remember, what’s good news for authors is almost always better for their readers!

[Note: I was unable to preview this post and double check the links. Apologies if any are “broken,” but my 7 1/2 year old PC is gasping for breath at the moment. That’s why The Divining Wand will only feature two posts this week as I will be offline becoming an imac owner! Hope to see you all back here next Monday.]

“Moonlight” Becomes This Debut Author

July 13, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books


Although Wendy Tokunaga’s novel, Midori By Moonlight, was published in September, 2007, readers are still discovering this debut author’s light-hearted touch of exploring why some people feel the need to trade in their native culture for a new one. Combining substance with delicious fun comes naturally for Wendy as she applies her extensive experience in studying the Japanese language and culture; living, working and playing in Japan; and, of course, the lessons learned from her cross-cultural marriage,

And GoodReads has taken notice as the writer’s blog post on Friday, July 10th announced, Midori By Moonlight Book Giveaways on GoodReads. The Contest runs until July 31st so please check it out there. And, if you’re fortunate enough to win one of the three copies, you’ll be enjoying a book praised as:

“Tokunaga depicts Midori’s determination to create her own version of the American dream with exuberance [in this] delectably frothy debut.”__Publishers’ Weekly

“[Midori by Moonlight] draws upon vivid imagery when defining traits of Japanese culture and really hits the nail on the head when depicting some American attitudes toward others…. witty and charming.”__Charleston Gazette

“Midori is endearing, feisty, and funny: the novel is a delight.”__ Ellen Sussman, editor of Bad Girls and author of On a Night Like This

Best selling author Cara Lockwood (Dixieland Sushi) says, “Midori by Moonlight is part wasabi, part ginger, and as scrumptious as a California roll. You’ll devour this book in a day!”

Author Lauren Baratz-Logsted (Vertigo) says, “A delightful fusion of East meeting West, as if Banana Yoshimoto and Meg Cabot got together to create a romantic comedy.”

From Margo Candela, author of Life Over Easy: “Shedding light on Japanese culture and modern dating, relating, and living woes, Tokunaga blends both with an insider’s eye for nuance and a real love for her characters. Delightfully sweet, just like Midori.”

Here’s a brief Synopsis:

“Midori Saito’s dream seems about to come true. Too independent for Japanese society, Midori is a young woman who has always felt like a stranger in her native land. So when she falls in love with Kevin, an American English teacher, she readily agrees to leave home and start a new life with him in San Francisco—as his fiancée. Kevin seems to be the perfect man. That is, until he dumps her for his blond ex-fiancée, whom Midori never even knew existed. With just a smattering of fractured English, not much cash, and a fiancée visa set to expire in 60 days, Midori realizes she’s in for quite a struggle. Unable to face the humiliation of telling her parents she’s been jilted, she decides to go it alone, surprising even herself as she proves she will do almost anything to hang on to her ‘“American Dream.”’

Now prepare to be charmed by the Midori by Moonlight Book Trailer. Wendy’s husband Manabu composed the great music.

And, finally, you can Read an Excerpt since Midori By Moonlight was featured in the St. Martin’s Press “Read-It-First” Program.

While it’s possible you could be a winner in the GoodReads Contest, chances are you’d feel even luckier to purchase Midori by Moonlight at your local bookstore or one of these other online retailers: Barnes & Noble and Borders.

There’s something special about getting to know a debut author and Wendy Tokunaga will not hold that title much longer since her second novel, Love in Translation, (to be released November 24, 2009) is already available for Pre-order. By all means, it’s time to discover her now!