The Divining Wand

Discovering authors beyond their pages…

Archive for August, 2009

Presenting Debutante Tiffany Baker and The Little Giant of Aberdeen County

August 17, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books

[Note: This week The Divining Wand spotlights The Debutante Ball Class of 09 by featuring their original “Presentations,” along with subsequent professional recognition and/or personal rewards. With only two weeks left to watch them waltz around the Ballroom floor, let’s toast Debs Tiffany Baker, Meredith Cole, Eve Brown-Waite, Katie Alender and Kristina Riggle: Bravo for their debut offerings and cheers to their careers!]


On the Book’s Back Cover:

Praise for
The Little Giant of Aberdeen County

“Baker’s bangup debut mixes the exuberant eccentricities of John Irving’s Garp, Anne Tyler’s relationship savvy and the plangent voice of Margaret Atwood…It’s got all the earmarks of a hit—infectious and lovable narrator, a dash of magic, an impressive sweep and a heartrending but not treacly family drama.– Publisher’s Weekly (Starred Review)

“Grabs you from its astonishing beginning to its riveting conclusion. Its charms are multitude– a wholly unique love story, a devastating friendship, a bewitching multi-generational history, all brought to an apex in the larger-than-life personage of Truly, a heroine simultaneously infused with a quiet and dignified grace and peculiar sense of purpose. This dark-yet-rolicking debut is a must-read.”–Sara Gruen, author of WATER FOR ELEPHANTS

“Read so fresh and unfolded in such surprising ways that I was captivated from start to finish. It’s a bracing, bright, masterful debut, and Tiffany Baker is a writer to watch.”–Joshilyn Jackson, author of THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING.

“A beautiful, startling and wholly original novel infused with magic, lush language, and surprises on every page. Tiffany Baker has given us a flawed, prickly, enchanting heroine in Truly–part Cinderella, part Witch, part Behemoth. In ther timeless story of small town life, the boundary between reality and fairy tale does not exist, and happy endings are possible but hard-won. This book is a treasure.”–Stephanie Kallos, author of BROKEN FOR YOU

With the beginning of the new year, The Debutante Ball Class of ’09 makes its bow and Deb Tiffany Baker leads off with the above glowing reviews. Although the novel, The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, will officially be released this Thursday, January 8th, Amazon began its shipping December 23rd…thereby delivering some on Christmas Day.

However, living in the San Francisco Bay Area, in the same small town she grew up in, Deb Tiffany was likely unaware that her magical, mythical book was being opened along with other presents. Instead, she must have been enjoying the holiday excitement of her three young children, sneaking in a quick run, cooking, or dreaming about the beach. Oh, yes, she does all of that and more. In fact let’s meet this Debutante through her September 4, 2008 post, Girl Thursday:

“Hi everyone! I’m Tiffany, the Thursday deb, although in real life I’m nothing like a debutante. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area with my husband and three, young children, am prone to wearing Birkenstocks and cowboy boots, can’t curtsy, and believe that Lay’s plain potato chips and champagne is the perfect food pairing.

“Before becoming a novelist, and before getting married and having kids, I taught literature and writing at UC-Irvine and the Cooper Union. I have an MFA and a PhD in Victorian Literature, and my favorite book since the age of nine has been Jane Eyre, a character who wasn’t debutante material, either.

“I’m so thrilled to be participating in this group over the next year. In fact, the coming months will be filled with “firsts” for me. Yesterday my oldest daughter started Kindergarten (I cried; she didn’t). It will be the first time all three of my children are in school for at least part of the day, my first Christmas in a house we bought last year (and still have yet to fully unpack), my first time blogging, and, of course, the first time I’ve ever had a novel published!”

How well can you relate to Tiffany Baker? Quite easily and naturally, of course. The fact that she has a most vivid imagination, is a gifted literary storyteller and will likely mesmerize you with these talents in her debut novel are pure bonuses to your reader/author friendship. Still you might be wondering how this author manages to accomplish everything and in the The Writing Routine post of November 13, 2008, she confesses all.

And that’s how the book was written, beginning with the backstory or How I Came to Write the Book:

“People are always asking me how I came up with the idea for The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, and I always tell them the whole thing belongs to Truly. Truly is not “‘real'” of course—except that she kind of is. Before this version of the novel, there was another incarnation, one where the story belonged to the Morgan men. Well, Truly was having none of that. Her voice barreled in over the narrative, broke it into smithereens, and told me to pick up the pieces and start over, her way. I would, it seems, be telling the story from her perspective, with her words, whether I liked it or not. She has been a singular muse, to say the least—chatty, bossy, and stubborn as all get-out. But also forgiving, tender, and full of regret. In other words, totally human. People often ask if Truly is some version me, and of course, in a way she is. She is my answer to the question of why we die the way we do. I didn’t necessarily set out to write a book about that subject, but over the course of writing this novel, several friends and family members passed away—some from old age, some from disease, some, I guess, just because their number was up. Then I got pregnant in the middle of it all and almost miscarried my son. As I lay in bed wondering if I would be able to have him, I found myself asking the questions that Truly confronts at the end of the novel: When one of the needs in life turns out to be death is it murder or a mercy? Enter Truly—a kind of spirit-guide of mortality who brings these issues to the table, but who also is constantly reminding us that life is a feast. There’s more, of course, to writing a novel than just “‘tuning in'” to a character’s voice, but not much. Writing, I think, is as much an act of listening as anything else. Luckily, I chose to shut up and open my ears to Truly, even when I didn’t always like all the answers she was giving me, even when we sometimes fought. Finally, like Truly, I also spend a lot of time cooking, and I believe there are similarities between writing and the culinary arts. For instance, I don’t really think you can be a good cook if you don’t like to eat. You always need a secret ingredient. You should never give away your recipes, and most of all, in my opinion, whatever you’ve made always tastes best when it’s shared. Truly, I’m sure, would absolutely agree. I hope you enjoy The Little Giant of Aberdeen County.”

From Truly’s voice to Deb Tiffany’s writing, The Little Giant of Aberdeen County emerged, along with its Synopsis:

“When Truly Plaice—part Behemoth, part Witch, part Cinderella—is born larger than life into a small-minded town, her birth rocks the pillars of tiny Aberdeen, New York, and breaks her family into smithereens. Truly spends a painful childhood in the shadow of her older sister Serena’s beauty and is teased mercilessly for her enormous physique. But when Serena unexpectedly leaves her son in Truly’s care, she must become the woman of a house she did not choose. Her brother-in-law, Doctor Robert Morgan, was one of her childhood tormentors and, as an adult, subjects her to brutal criticism, cruel medical testing, and degradation to the breaking point. It’s only when Truly finds her calling helping townspeople with herbal remedies that she begins to regain control of her life. However, unearthed family secrets will lead to a devastating betrayal that will break the Morgan family apart forever, and as Truly reckons with her own demons, she must come to terms with her role in Aberdeen’s destiny and the possibility of love in unexpected places.”

While there’s so much to like about this unique novel with its complex characters and a bit of magical realism, it also deals with the physial and emotional pain of being “different.” And how does Deb Tiffany feel about differences? In her November 20, 2008 post, Sign of the Times, we (not surprisingly) learn that she embraces them. And that’s the real basis of Truly’s story. As unique and memorabe as this debut novel is, it’s personal tale may be even more meaningful. Simply put, The Little Giant of Aberdeen County allows us to look at our own life, the differences that surround us and the choices we make, while hoping that, in the end, we’ll be happy in our own skin.

Now do enjoy…Truly!


That was then (January 5, 2009) and this is now: The Little Giant of Aberdeen County has just been nominated for Book of the Year in the Fiction category for the NAIBA awards.

And the winner(s) of TETHERED by Amy MacKinnon are: Mary and Gaby! This Fairy Godmother simply didn’t have the heart to randomly choose only one entry from two choices. Besides, this novel is deserving of two winners. Please contact me at: diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your snail mail address and the book will soon be on its way to you. Congratulations!

Authors Beyond Their Pages and in the Media

August 13, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Audiocasts, Interviews, Movies, News

Our authors are definitely out and about, garnering attention in print, audio and film. Just in case you’ve haven’t heard, here’s some of their latest news.

Judy Merrill Larsen (All the Numbers) shared her baking talent in the August 5, 2009 St. Louis Post Dispatch article, Novelist is creative in the kitchen, too.

Taking to the airwaves, Carleen Brice (Orange Mint & Honey and Children of the Waters) recorded Carleen Brice Podcasts Children of the Waters from the legendary Tattered Cover bookstore.

And Allison Winn Scotch (Department of Lost and Found and Time of My Life is still giddy over the Variety article that proclaims: Eastman Makes Time for “Life”. How exciting!

Indeed these are three more ways to get to discover and enjoy authors well beyond their pages…

Please note that the giveaway for a copy of TETHERED by Amy MacKinnon will remain open until Sunday evening at 7:00 pm EDT. Leave a comment in the post directly below to be entered in the random drawing! The winner will be announced in Monday’s post.

Amy MacKinnon’s Tethered, Again

August 12, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Contests

On this day last summer, Amy MacKinnon debuted with her suspenseful and haunting novel, Tethered, while yesterday brought the release of Tethered in paperback edition. This is good news for all readers seeking an unforgettable book. It’s also another tribute to Amy’s long journey to publication. Throughout her well documented journey, she shared both her self-doubt about readers’ desire to accept the story’s dark subject matter and her dedication to remember the “forgotten children” who silently die of abuse or neglect.

Fortunately she chose the latter by taking the following stance:

“My theme is, and always will be, faith.

”My faith is a tenuous thing. I had it once, and have longed for it ever since. It’s difficult to navigate the dark passages of life without believing there is some higher power at work, that there exists order where we see only randomness and chaos. My novel began with a question: How could an undertaker perform her work if she didn’t believe in God? I layered into that premise another question I struggle with daily: Why do children need to suffer, to die?”

And this is the novel’s synopsis:

“Clara Marsh is an undertaker who doesn’t believe in God. She spends her solitary life among the dead, preparing their last baths and bidding them farewell with a bouquet from her own garden. Her carefully structured life shifts when she discovers a neglected little girl, Trecie, playing in the funeral parlor, desperate for a friend.

“It changes even more when Detective Mike Sullivan starts questioning her again about a body she prepared three years ago, an unidentified girl found murdered in a nearby strip of woods. Unclaimed by family, the community christened her Precious Doe. When Clara and Mike learn Trecie may be involved with the same people who killed Precious Doe, Clara must choose between the stead-fast existence of loneliness and the perils of binding one’s life to another.”

I read Tethered well over a year ago and time has not diminished this powerful human story and my concise review remains the same:

The writing is brutally/achingly gorgeous, the experience of living the story is vividly intense, and the amazing bond you’ll feel for the characters well past The End is extraordinarily fulfilling. In other words, Tethered is for everyone who seeks a remarkable novel…you shall see!

If you’d like to read my full presentation, please see: Amy MacKinnon and Tethered

As much as Tethered exposes the raw ugliness of the world, it is also beautiful and brimming with hope. Do pick up a copy and/or leave a comment for a chance to win the novel in a random drawing. Due to technical difficulties and a neighborhood power outage, this post was delayed in being uploaded and will remain up through SUNDAY afternoon (August 16th) until 7:00 pm EDT and the winner will be announced in Monday’s post.

Cecilia Samartin’s Vigil

August 10, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations

On occasion The Divining Wand will go beyond its own Authors pages to spotlight an author — likely unfamiliar to most – yet not without her circle of fans. And today is such an occasion as we Meet Cecilia Samartin (Broken Paradise, Tarnished Beauty) whose third novel, Vigil, was released on July 21, 2009.

Described as a powerful writer and compared to such literary giants as Isabel Allende and Paul Coelho, Cecilia Samartin was born in Havana, Cuba in the midst of Fidel Castro’s revolution and grew up in Los Angeles as a fully bicultural, bilingual American. Majoring in psychology at UCLA and marriage and family therapy at Santa Clara University, Ms. Samartin became aware of the need to assist new and first generation immigrants like herself to adapt to their environment. As a result, she’s been practicing as a psychotherapist and social worker with individuals and families from Mexico, and Central and South America for more than twenty years. And, as this author notes: “It’s gratifying work, and the most compelling inspiration I could hope for as a writer.”

History, war and moral/political upheaval have influenced Cecilia Samartin from the age of thirteen when she read The Diary of Anne Frank. And, although she didn’t realize it then, she now admits that the young Anne Frank inspired her to write.

In fact the author’s personal experience of leaving her cultural heritage (and homeland) provides much of the backstory for Ana, the protagonist in Vigil. As Cecilia Samnartin explains:

“I relate in many ways to people who’ve left their countries regardless of which country they may be from, especially if they were forced to leave because of war or political turmoil. Of course, Ana experienced a tragedy far worse than anything I ever experienced. I have a great admiration for her because despite the horrors she witnessed, she remained open and relied on her spiritual strength to guide her and keep her belief in the goodness of mankind alive. I don’t think I could have been as noble and courageous under similar circumstances.”

And here is the novel’s Synopsis:

A heart-wrenching story of sacrifice and devotion, 
Vigil is Cecilia Samartin’s most powerful novel to date.

While Ana waits at her beloved’s deathbed, she thinks back on her life and the incredible journey that brought her to this unlikely place. Ana’s story takes her from war-torn El Salvador, to a convent in the United States, and finally to a wealthy California estate where she is employed as the nanny for a dysfunctional family caught up in the throes of a decadent life. Despite her own emotional wounds, she is able to bring love and healing to her affluent yet spiritually bereft employers — gifts that no money could ever buy.

In the course of Samartin’s work as a psychotherapist, she has been awed by those rare individuals who, after having endured unimaginable trauma, not only survive, but flourish. Her work is inspired by those unique and courageous people who are able to turn personal tragedy into profound inner strength that has the power to transform those around them. Vigil is the story of one such woman and the family that she sets her heart on saving. Readers will be spellbound by Vigil’s magical language and provocative themes; this is Samartin’s most impressive work yet.

Then, of course, the praise:

“Written with evocative grace and poetic beauty, Ana’s story captured my heart on the first page and did not let go until long after the last heart-mending words. A story of losing one’s homeland and beginning again, Samartin’s storytelling is infused with tender insight into the wounded places of the human soul.”
~ Patti Callahan Henry, National Bestselling author of Between the Tides

“Vigil is a moving novel about the resilience of the human spirit and the triumphant power of love and forgiveness. Ana’s story takes the reader into grim poverty and war in gripping reality, yet Samartin simultaneously manages to illuminate the beauty of family and connection, and the driving light that propels Ana into adulthood. Beautifully told, Vigil is a book for my keeper shelf.”
~ Karen White, author of The Lost Hours, The House on Tradd Street and The Memory of Water

Having read Vigil, I will promise readers that Cecilia Samartins’s passion and compassion is infused into her character of Ana. Beginning with her life filled with death and destruction in war-torn El Salvador, Ana’s story rings true as do her childhood acts of love and loyalty. Her escape to a convent in the United States and the choice to become a nun is also based on realistic motivation and could well have stood as a solid foundation for an all-together different and fascinating tale of helping other immigrants begin and adapt to new lives. In other words, this work of fiction had the potential to share with Americans the problems that challenge Hispanics and Latinos in becoming a part of our country without giving up their heritage.

Instead VIGIL takes the course towards the author’s ultimate happy ending. Ana’s story is no longer unique when she becomes an indispensable nanny in a wealthy, dysfunctional household and falls under the spell of unrequited love. To be fair, however, televised soap opera entertainment is a cultural mainstay of Latino/Hispanic culture – something not-to-be-missed every weeknight. And, perhaps, Ms. Samartin’s objective was meant to remind her readers why and where they came from, while offering them relief into fantasy escape as well.

Vigil is available for online purchase, although – when retrieving this link – Amazon noted there was only 1 copy left in stock…though more were on the way!

And the Winners Are…

August 06, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Contests

After three days of three posts presenting three new book releases, the time has come to announce the three winners. And they are:

Jill who receives Mia King’s Table Manners

Kristan who receives Allison Winn Scotch’s Time of My Life

Terri who receives Lara Zieln’s Donut Days

Jill, Kristan, and Terri, please email me with your snail mail addresses at: diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com

Thank you all for playing and please continue to visit for one never knows which author and book The Divining Wand will feature next.

Also, if you’d like to try your luck, there are three other contests currently underway.

The first is Mia King’s and runs until August 31, 2009. Please read Mia’s details carefully:

“I am giving away a signed copy of each of my books, a special edition ceramic GOOD THINGS wall/desk plaque that says ‘”Live Simple,'” something delectable to eat and/or drink (TBD by Mia), plus author goodies and swag. The contest runs from August 4 to August 31 11:59 pm HST, and people just need to leave a comment on the August 4th blog post to qualify. The zinger is that people who leave a review for TABLE MANNERS on and/or during the contest period (and leave a comment with their review in the body of the comment and where they posted it) will get not one but ten entries (twenty if they post at both sites), dramatically increasing their chances to win. Open to readers everywhere (must be 18 years or older, but you could live in Timbuktu and qualify!).”

Katie Alender announces Happy Wednesday! New Contest Time! where you can win a signed copy her YA debut novel, Bad Girls Don’t Die, and a custom tote bag made just for you by this crafty author. The deadline for this contest is next Friday, August 14th at 11:59 pm Pacific time.

And What Women Write has a book giveaway for Jamie Ford’s Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet with the deadline being midnight CST tonight.

Happy summer weekend…stay cool!

Lara Zielin Offers Up Donut Days

August 05, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Contests

For many today may feel like one of those “dog days of summer,” but on the eve of her debut as a YA novelist Lara Zielin is only thinking Donut Days. Yummy title, isn’t it? And how appropriate that it comes from someone who grew up in Eau Claire (French for “clear water”), Wisconsin and thought that “’clear water’ in French was Evian.”

Yes Lara is an engaging, witty and charming young woman who radiates enthusiasm and a visit to her website will confirm her fun-loving nature. As a self-described “writer on the verge of…something,” she loves her day job as the editor of LSAmagazine, a University of Michigan alumni magazine. It provides her opportunities to meet wonderful people, discuss cutting-edge research, visit interesting locations — and then go and write all about it. Michigan is not the author’s alma mater (that would be Carleton College ‘98), yet she bleeds blue!

Sound as though Lara Zielin is confidence personified? Ah, it wasn’t always that way, and thus her inspiration for writing in the YA genre as she explains:

“Middle school and high school weren’t always easy for me, so I often turned to books to escape. The challenges I faced, coupled with the books I read, left a significant emotional imprint on my heart. And that’s why I think writing YA has always been my first love — because I can remember how being a teen can be so crappy one minute, and then so amazing the next. It sounds like a terrible cliché, but having books with characters I could identify with really helped me feel less lonely, and that I wasn’t the only teenager who had ever struggled with things like friendship, love, and acceptance.”

It’s not surprising then to learn that the backstory of the novel, along with the theme/message, is – according to Lara — semi-autobiographical:

“I wrote DONUT DAYS based off my own personal experiences in the evangelical church, but the issues Emma faces in DONUT DAYS transcend any particular denomination. Many teens have doubts about what they’re being asked to believe in a variety of contexts, church being just one among many. My great hope is that DONUT DAYS encourages teens to thoughtfully question what they believe, and why, and to remember that even if people suck, that doesn’t necessarily mean that faith (or God) sucks, too.”

Here’s a brief synopsis:

DONUT DAYS’ main character, Emma Goiner, has a lot going on. Her best friend’s not speaking to her, a boy she’s known all her life is suddenly smokin’ hot, she’s at a camp-out for the opening of a donut shop, and oh yes—her evangelical pastor parents may lose their church. And that’s just this weekend. Suddenly, sixteen-year-old Emma has to make some serious choices: creationism or evolution, faith or freedom, Harley bikers or Frodo wannabes, and of course, cruller or glazed.

And then a wonderful literary trade journal review:


“In this spirited—and, in an offbeat, somewhat irreverent way, spiritual—offering, readers meet Emma, who, despite the fact that both her parents are ministers at an evangelical church, finds her desire to feel the power of God in a direct and immediate way continually frustrated. Emma’s relationship with God becomes even more troubled when a wealthy church member challenges Emma’s mother’s right to preach based on her gender. Add to this the terrible fight that Emma has had with her best friend Nat, her budding relationship with the son of the man who instigated the church trouble and her attempt to get around her parents’ decision that she attend a Christian college by winning a scholarship contest for the best article on the Crispy Dream donut camp, and complications abound. The whimsical plot stretches credulity in places, as does the virtuousness of Emma’s crush, Jake, who never flinches in his loyalty to Emma, but Zielin’s lighthearted yet substantive portrayals of Emma’s struggles with God, family and friendship ring absolutely true.”_Kirkus Reviews

Tomorrow Lara will celebrate the publication of Donut Days and you can too by purchasing this fun but thoughtful read. In fact there’s not a better way to introduce a teen to a new author/friend. Lara Zielin’s career is just beginning, with her second novel, PROMGATE, tentatively due in summer 2011. She admits: “It feels like a long time away but I know the editing process will eat up a lot of that time, and the book will be here before I know it!” And to understand exactly what this author means, merely watch her video, Editing Letter.

Congratulations Lara, may your success be sweet!

To win a FREE copy of Donut Days, simply leave a comment and you’ll be entered in the contest. The deadline is 11:00 pm EDT tonight when a random drawing will be held and the winner announced in tomorrow’s post.

Here’s Time of My Life, Again

August 04, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Contests

Our lives are filled with “what if’s” and “givens,” the latter being an event destined to happen. And, after reading the ARC of Time of My Life a year and a half ago, I knew its success was a “given.” Allison Winn Scotch had touched a universal memory nerve – that chord of imagination our mind plays for us whenever we may not be having the time of our lives.

And yet the truth of this novel answers not “would we go back” but “could we go back” to take that second chance and get it right this time? After all everything can turn on a dime, especially when trying to perfect the past.

If you wish to read a much more detailed account of the book, please read my presentation post, Allison Winn Scotch and Time of My Life, from October 6, 2008. However for a concise summation, here’s my “official” review:

Time of My Life may be initially thought of, chosen and read for its “what if” fantasy, yet the story is actually grounded in diverse and discomforting universal issues that are not limited to marrying the right man. Writing in a strong, confident and smart voice, Allison Winn Scotch is in total control of her protagonist’s indecisiveness and this is what gives the book a well-earned reality check mark. Whatever time of life you may be in, this novel is a reminder that the past holds the lure of potential but the present is where all things are created possible for the future. A most entertaining and thoughtful read, you’ll enjoy the escape into second chances.


The trade paperback edition of Time of My Life is available in bookstores and online today. There’s also a copy available here for anyone to win in the book giveaway contest. Just leave a comment and you’ll be entered in the random drawing with the winner to be announced on Thursday.

Wherever, whenever, how ever…do get this NYT Bestselling* novel to enjoy the time of your life!

*The answer is “Yes,” the NYT Bestseller List was a major part of the given. 😉

Mia King and Table Manners

August 03, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Contests, News

Two and a half years ago Mia King debuted as a novelist with Good Things and immediately had fans wanting more of her heroine Deidre McIntosh’s story. Writing in a style that made Deidre’s life and environment oh so real, the author — after publication of her second novel Sweet Life — turned her attention back to Deidre, her friends and even Marla. Indeed she discovered there was much more story to tell and, better yet, this book (although a sequel) could easily stand on its own. Of course you can judge for yourself when Table Manners appears for purchase in bookstores and online tomorrow.

However visit the author’s website now and read Mia’s synopsis:

“I am so excited about TABLE MANNERS, which is a selection of the Doubleday, Literary Guild, Rhapsody, and Book of the Month Club book clubs. It’s a book with generous servings of food and friendship, with wonderful recipes from prominent chefs and foodies from Seattle to Paris. You’ll meet the ever-resourceful lifestyle maven Deidre McIntosh, who has a knack for getting back up when life knocks her down. At 41, she’s created a new life for herself and has a wonderful relationship with Kevin Johnson, one of Seattle’s most eligible and sexy bachelors. Creative, energetic and loving, Deidre is the person people go to whenever they need a helping hand.

“But when her branded line of baked goods runs into trouble and an ex-fiancée shows up intent on finagling her way back into Kevin’s life, it’s Deidre who needs help. On top of that, the two people she can count on the most—Lindsey Miller and her best friend William Sen—have crises of their own and are relying on her to see them through.

“I hope you’ll read TABLE MANNERS and see how tenacious and creative Deidre can be while making room for the things—and people—that matter most. I know you’ll be cheering for her as much as I do!”

Now here’s an Excerpt from Table Manners.

In the First Review for Table Manners: Four Stars, Romantic Times, Sandra Garcia-Myers wrote:

“In this the follow-up to Good Things, Deidre McIntosh must figure out the right ingredients to make the recipe for her life work. As she does this, King provides a feast for the imagination, since much of the plot revolves around food. There’s no real doubt that this will end with a happily ever after, but the reader will enjoy getting there. There’s a treat at the end, where several mouthwatering recipes await.”

And Food Loves Writing’s post, Take it with you, of July 17, 2009, says:

“The literary version of a romantic comedy … as engrossing as any chick flick.”

Although these reviews are both positive and true, there’s much more than food and a seemingly light-hearted storyline to Table Manners. In fact, to Mia’s credit, she deals with serious and timely issues in this women’s fiction novel including: the current economy; women’s health; gay rights; single parenthood; trust in a relationship; the repercussions of sibling rivalry and the ultimate goal of believing in one’s self. Perhaps that she does so without over-the-top maudlin scenarios – along with the promise of “happily ever after” ending – creates the feeling that this is just a “fun” read. And it is, along with being filled with a substantive message.

In the author’s own words, the novel revolves around: “Food, friendship, and family. Also, that everyone has a story, that nothing is set in stone, and that anything is possible. People can change, for better or for worse, but I believe that it’s always an evolution towards something better. TABLE MANNERS reminds us how much joy exists and everyone can get a share no matter what their situation.”

Could it be that this savvy writer – who is also a wife, mother of three, homeschooling parent, business owner and writing teacher – understands that a spoonful of sugar helps one face and deal with reality? If Mia does, she’s provided Table Manners readers with her trademark recipes (fortified with sugar and healthy ingredients too) from prominent chefs, chocolatiers, restaurateurs and food bloggers from Washington state and Paris.

Table Manners is meant to be enjoyed on several levels, so indulge in reuniting or getting to know Mia King’s characters. And, once you’ve reached The End, go beyond her novel’s pages and discover those delicious recipes…what a treat!

For anyone wishing to win a copy of Table Manner, just leave a comment as your entry to the contest. A random drawing will be held with the winner to be announced in Thursday’s post.

[Note: Mia King was one of the six Founder Debs of The Debutante Ball’s Class of 2007 and yesterday The Debutantes of 2010 were announced.

Congratulations to: Joelle Anthony, RESTORING HARMONY (YA, Putnam, May 2010); Alicia Bessette, ALL COME HOME (book club fiction, Dutton, August 2010); Maria Garcia-Kalb, 101 WAYS TO TORTURE YOUR HUSBAND (chick-lit humor, Adams Media, January 2010); Sarah Pekkanen, THE OPPOSITE OF ME (women’s fiction, Atria Books, March 2010); and Emily Winslow, THE WHOLE WORLD (literary/mystery, Bantam Dell, May 2010).

The outgoing Deb Class of 2009 promises: “These debut authors and their books represent a variety of categories and genres, and most importantly, authors with clear, smart voices that will resonate with the Debutante Ball’s readers.”

Their waltzing (aka weekly blogging) begins the week of August 31st, yet it is hoped that this Fairy Godmother can meet up with them on the Red Carpet the week prior to their formal bows and introduce them here. TRUST: There isn’t a better way to discover authors beyond their pages than at The Debutante Ball! And this year daily attendance will be even easier now that there is a Twitter feed, where you’ll find each day’s, along with Deb news highlights. Please click here to follow!]