The Divining Wand

Discovering authors beyond their pages…

Archive for October, 2009

News Beyond Our Authors’ Pages…

October 13, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: News

First and foremost today let’s celebrate Happy Book Birthday for:

Little Black Lies by Tish Cohen (Town House, Inside Out Girl, The Invisible Rules of the Zoe Lama, The One and Only Zoe Lama), who makes her debut as a YA author.

And The Last Will of Moira Leahy by Therese Walsh who makes debut as an adult fiction author.

Congratulations to both!

October, known for being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, will be celebrated by Lisa Davis — the creator, host, and producer of a popular health radio show in Boston — in a 9:30 – 10:00 a.m. EDT interview this morning with Gail Konop Baker author of Cancer Is a Bitch. If possible, check it out at Its Your Health Radio.

And one of TDW’s recent author members, Randy Susan Meyers (The Murderer’s Daughters coming January 19, 2010) reminds us that “October is Domestic Violence Month and during that time, it’s important to think of the children who watch as their parents raise fists to each other, to them, and to strangers.” You can read more about Randy’s thoughts and facts in her September 28th post, Fasting Against the Violence at Home.

Four authors well beyond — yet still attached to — their pages.

Book Giveaway continues with a chance for you to win a copy of The Last Will of Moira Leahy. To enter, leave a comment on this post describing what made your younger self feel powerful, brave, or invincible. The deadline for all entries is Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced on Thursday’s post.

Therese Walsh’s The Last Will of Moira Leahy

October 12, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books

Naturally gifted as a writer, Therese Walsh is an even more giving storyteller. Consider that she first began writing storybooks for her children and, as they grew, those stories became more complex. A friend loved romance novels so Therese — as she told Jael McHenry — decided to write a love story about a guy and a girl and a peach pie. That was seven years ago and, somewhere between the second and third revision, Therese allowed her characters to take over, giving them the opportunity to tell their story. This finalized gift, The Last Will of Moira Leahy debuts tomorrow, October 13, 2009, and for every one of its readers this novel will be a most memorable present.

Unique for several reasons, this debut novel has earned praise from literary trade journals as well as Therese’s peers. These can be found on the News/Reviews page of the author’s website, including:

“Walsh’s debut is a magical, involving journey, one that mixes a compelling mystery from the past with a suspenseful search in the present.”
– Booklist

“Walsh’s debut seamlessly weaves together past and present. This tender tale of sisterhood, self-discovery, and forgiveness will captivate fans of contemporary women’s fiction.”
– Library Journal

“Walsh’s satisfying novel follows Maeve Leahy, a brilliant young professor, in her pursuit for answers about her family and herself. [She] ably shifts between Maeve’s current quest and flashbacks showing the twins as children, revealing little by little the story behind Maeve’s grief. . . . [A] pleasing blend of mystery, romance and the supernatural.”
– Publishers Weekly

Notice how each review tends to describe The Last Will of Moira Leahy in different genres? All are correct for Therese is the first to admit: “My manuscript wasn’t easy to categorize–women’s fiction/family saga melded with touches of mystery, psychological suspense and romance. The real wildcard component was the mythical realism, though.” But in her October 6th Interview with L.T. Suzuki, the author personifies her work, making it delightfully reasonable:

“If Last Will were a person, I’d say she has a women’s fiction heart but raided several genre closets. She snagged the ripped denims of mystery, muddy boots of family tragedy, a cloak of suspense, an eye patch of adventure, a little suede hat of romantic drama, and a sprinkling of mythical realism glitter.”

Ah, let’s not forget the glitter that the debut author has sprinkled into a universally appealing story. Here’s the Synopsis:

When Maeve Leahy lost her twin sister, Moira, to tragedy nearly a decade ago, she buried her adventurous spirit to become a workaholic professor of languages instead. Until one night at an auction when she wins something that reminds her of her carefree, piratical youth: a Javanese dagger called a keris. Days later, a book is nailed to her office door, followed by anonymous notes, one inviting her to Rome to learn more about the blade. Soon, she’ll learn that nothing can be taken at face value—including the face she’s been presenting to the world—and that the keris might play a role in slicing away her many self-protective layers, once and for all.


Rather than use a Book Trailer to provide a visual sneak peek at the novel, Therese offers readers Maeve Leahy’s Photo Journal and there’s also an Excerpt. In fact the author gives so much detailed research and background on her writing that exploring her website is almost like reading a story within a story. Indeed it’s wondrous and well worth checking out AFTER you’ve read the book. The links within this post are all you need for now.

Why? Because this Fairy Godmother wants you to be enchanted, enticed, and enlightened — just as I was — by falling into the pages and under the spell of Therese Walsh’s mesmerizing tale of twin sisters who haunted her to tell their story. Here are several of my thoughts and feelings:

Although The Last Will of Moira Leahy is totally believable, the novel can also be considered a most intriguing adult fairy tale. From the beginning there are the elements of location, the stark shores of Maine, and characters: a seemingly distant Mother, a Grandfather who spins yarns of adventure and bestows a magical weapon to twin sisters — identical but so different. A combination of all these factors, plus more, forms a story that provides fantasy, sorrow, romance and self-discovery.

The fact that this novel successfully works amidst several genres is likely because the author has grounded it in reality, mythical though it occasionally may be. There are no false notes, only stunned surprises, that are effortlessly woven between past and present events. As for the romance factor, it exists to a degree, however the truth is that this book tells a universal love story — both of sisterhood and self-acceptance. Still it is the ever-present keris that will undoubtedly enchant, enlighten, and perhaps even bring back childhood memories of a similar personal object imbued with power.

Therese Walsh’s debut also has its power — her writing/storytelling that will touch your heart and remind you to believe.

After almost four months of reading “mentions” about The Last Will of Moira Leahy, you can actually purchase a copy tomorrow.

Please DO because it’s just…

Book Giveaway: The Last Will of Moira Leahy will be given away in this week’s contest. To enter, leave a comment on this post describing an object that made your younger self feel powerful, brave, or invincible. The deadline for all entries is Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced on Thursday’s post.

Our Authors’ 20/20 Hindsight

October 08, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

Knowledge, wisdom even savviness comes through learning and living life experiences, whether personal or professional. And, while we all go through this process, writers who become authors usually do so through the school of hard knocks. With this in mind, The Divining Wand asked its authors: If you knew then, what you know now about writing as an art and a business, what might you have done differently?

Here are some of their responses and musings:

Eve Brown-Waite (First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria: How A Peace Corps Poster Boy Won My Heart and A Third World Adventure Changed My Life):

“I’m actually so glad I did NOT know much about the writing business while I was pushing so hard to write and get my book published. If I did, I might have just given up. An awful lot is expected of the authors in terms of book promotion after the book is published. And more often than not, authors do it on their own with little support from their publishing house and they pay for most of it themselves! Of course, you can choose NOT to do it, but that just diminishes your chances of success on the first book and the chances of getting a good deal on your next book. So writers often feel stuck doing what they don’t like to do or may not even be good at. And they’re pretty much in it on their own. Of course, I’d heard all this, but didn’t totally “get it” until it happened to me.”

Eileen Cook (Unpredictable, What Would Emma Do? YA and Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood YA, coming January 5, 2010):

“Ah hindsight…. I’m not sure I would do anything different. Everything that has happened so far, both good and bad, has been a part of the journey. If I could go back in time and tell my pre-published self to relax a little I would. This is what I wanted for so long that I spent a lot of time worrying about every step of the process instead of always enjoying it. I’ve been very fortunate to have met and been supported by so many great writers. For example, Kristy Kiernan invited me to be a founding member of The Debutante Ball. This was such a great experience and connected me with so many other writers including Meg Cabot who gave me a blurb for my second book. Kristy is a great example of how by giving, you gain so much more.”

Therese Fowler (Souvenir, Reunion):

“I don’t know that I’d do anything differently. I’ve had a few hard knocks because of enthusiasm and/or naivete, but the outcome has been so positive that I consider even those knocks as a necessary and maybe even desirable part of the process.”

Emily Winslow (The Whole World coming May 25, 2010):

“I would have started using PLOT years ago. Vivid settings, interesting characters and insightful themes are all well and good, but they really need to DO stuff….”

Announcement: The winners of Tish Cohen’s Little Black Lies are RKCharron and Jane. Please email: diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and your copy will be sent out. Congratulations!

A Love Story of Two Authors who Made Their Dreams Come True

October 07, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Books, Debs, Profiles

Almost every aspiring writer, if asked, would probably describe their working life as a solitary one, perhaps even a lonely one on occasion. They’re usually not complaining, merely stating a fact of the hours that turn into weeks, months and years spent writing THAT novel. Which novel? The debut one of course — the one that will launch their career and realize their dream.

What happens, though, when a husband and wife share the same dream? Do they live on love, compromise one or another’s future, encourage each other through rejection after rejection?

At the end of August, on The Red Carpet of The Debutante Ball, The Divining Wand introduced you to Alicia Bessette whose novel, All Come Home debuts in August 2010. What wasn’t mentioned then, but will be now, is that Alicia is married to Matthew Quick, author of the highly acclaimed debut novel, The Silver Linings Playbook. Already translated into Italian, Spanish and Chinese (forthcoming), the book’s movie rights have been optioned by The Weinstein Company, and David O. Russell has written the screenplay adaptation. In addition to all that success, Matt will debut as a YA novelist with Sorta Like a Rock Star in April 2010.

Successful authors, both husband and wife (TRUST: Alicia will soar), what are the odds? Unless you have a dream, talent and a plan, they’re not not very good at all. However “Q&A” made it work as Alicia wrote last Wednesday, September 30, 2009 in her post, Persistence + Luck = Pluck…by Deb Alicia. Although this post appeared and was read at The Debutante Ball as well as on Facebook, this Fairy Godmother felt it needed to appear here too. So for anyone who believes or needs encouragement to believe in their dream, with Alicia’s permission, here is:

Persistence + Luck = Pluck…by Deb Alicia

Short version: I emailed a query to an agent at Folio Literary Management. Next day she requested the first fifty pages of my book. A week later, she requested the whole thing. Two days after that, she called and asked if I was willing to make some changes to the manuscript. I thanked her for her astute observations, and promised to resubmit the revised manuscript exclusively to her. She said that wouldn’t be necessary, because she was offering me representation.

Extended version: Rewind to the summer of 2003, when Matt and I traveled to Ireland. We were work-weary and restless, in our late twenties, and armed with books by Thich Nhat Hanh. In the pubs of Dublin and Sligo, Westport and Kilkenny, we had long conversations about our marriage; our future; our deepest, brightest dreams. Many of these conversations included some version of the following exchange:

Matt: I can’t be a high school English teacher for the next thirty years. I just can’t.
Me (quoting a paperweight I saw in a Dublin bookstore): What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
Matt: Write books.
Me: Yeah. Me too.

We were both experiencing a quarter-life crisis. And our lives needed a major overhaul.

Over Guinness, we hatched a wild plan to sell our house, quit our jobs, and move from Jersey to Massachusetts, where I’m from. He’d write, and I’d work. Then we’d switch.

And so, after the ’03-04 school year, we moved in with my parents. I taught yoga and worked for the weekly paper while Matt pursued an MFA. He spent no less than nine hours a day in his “office” (my parents’ unfinished basement), hunched at his desk, writing, revising, reading, studying, emailing authors for advice and encouragement, researching agents. About once a week, I’d wake up at 2 a.m. or 4 a.m. and realize he wasn’t in bed next to me. I’d find him in the basement, working.

As our meager savings dwindled, we questioned the wisdom of our drastic life-change. Others did, too (“So, are you going to get a real job?” “Publish that book yet?” “Gonna get your own place soon?” “What are you going to do next?”).

Two and a half years went by, Matt graduated, and we planned to venture out on our own again. But this time we had no idea what we were going to do, or how we were going to do it. Then, on a Wednesday morning in April 2007, he came bounding up the basement steps to announce that a wonderful agent offered to represent his novel, The Silver Linings Playbook. And soon after, his manuscript sold in New York, the UK, Italy, Spain, and Hollywood.

We celebrated with Guinness, of course. And Rocky Patel cigars.

With enough money to allow us both to write, full time, for about two years, we tearfully thanked my parents and rented a two-bedroom, 800-square-foot apartment outside Philly. That first year of on-our-own bliss-following, I wrote a 60,000-word spoof on the chick lit and fantasy genres. It had sword fights and Sephora, dragons and designer handbags. It was awesome.

It was rejected by more than 120 literary agents.

Oh, and five small presses.

Then, in 2008, I began All Come Home, a much different novel than my first. My goal was to write an emotionally honest book that demands to be read quickly and intensely, and that also demands to be savored and discussed. I wanted to write a book that book clubs would fall in love with.

I worked on All Come Home at least six hours a day, six or seven days a week. Full-time fury. I was determined. I also spent many hours researching agents and soliciting advice from kind writer-acquaintances.

Ten months and two revisions later, I calculated how many months’ rent remained in the bank. It wasn’t much. At the same time, I started pitching All Come Home to agents. Thankfully, I got a fantastic one: Laney Becker. She sold All Come Home to Penguin’s Dutton imprint. And she and her colleague, Celeste Fine, sold it to a German publisher too.

Matt and I picked up some Guinness and toasted a couple more years of bliss-following.

I tell my husband’s story in addition to my own because they’re inextricable; his success led to mine, and vice versa. But to get an agent, you don’t have to be married to someone who shares your dream. In fact, most writers aren’t.

You don’t need an MFA (although I greatly admire those who pursue graduate studies). You don’t need to quit your job, sell your house, or move into your parents’ or in-laws’ basement. You don’t need to “know somebody.”

Support from family and/or friends is nice, and if you have that, cherish it. Being open-minded and conducting yourself professionally helps.

From where I’m standing, what you absolutely need is tons and tons of persistence, and a little bit of luck.

Persistence + luck = Pluck. You’re going to need that, too, especially if, like many writers, you find yourself facing down rejections.

A final note about luck: One of my favorite expressions is, The harder you work, the luckier you get. That notion really resonates with some people. I’ll express it in another way, in case it gives your spine an electric flutter. Ready?

You make your own luck.

~Alicia Bessette


[Note: Two copies of Little Black Lies are being given away this week. Please leave a comment on Tish Cohen’s Little Black Lies by this evening at 7:00 p.m. EDT to be eligible for the random drawings. The two winners will be announced here in tomorrow’s post.]

Book Trailer, Giveaways, and an Honorary Chair

October 06, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Book Trailers, Contests, News

Fall, it’s brimming with energy as are our authors — some of whom already have new ventures to share.

Wendy Tokunaga (Midori by Moonlight) whose second novel, Love in Translation, will be released November 24, 2009, premieres the Book Trailer and notes Advance Praise for Love in Translation:

“A delightful novel about love, identity, and what it means to be adrift in a strange land. This story of a search has an Alice in Wonderland vibe; when Celeste climbs down the rabbit hole, one can’t help but follow along.”–Michelle Richmond, New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Fog

“An amusing story of one woman’s quest for her father and the improbable path of love.”—Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters

Debutante Joëlle Anthony (Restoring Harmony YA coming May 13, 2010) is delighted to announce a new feature on her website: Wild Card Wednesdays. Join her for author interviews, guest blogs, and book giveaways. This week Sara Zarr will be Joëlle’s guest author.

Katie Alender (Bad Girls Don’t Die) celebrates fall with an October contest time!. Here’s a chance to win a signed copy of Bad Girls Don’t Die as well as some custom-made stuff!

Although Katie is a talented writer, using of the word “stuff” — to describe her handmade items — is far too modest.

Just look at the stuff given to September’s Contest winner:
So do visit, read the contest rules and enter before 12:01 a.m. PDT this Saturday, October 10th.

We all know the power of words, but when Kristy Kiernan (Catching Genius, Between Friends coming April 6, 2010) wrote Matters of Faith it’s doubtful that she even realized the significant awareness she was casting on food allergies. Yet this November 14th, in Tampa, Florida, Kristy will serve as the Honorary Chair for The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network Walk for Food Allergy Congratulations, Kristy!

[Note: Two copies of Little Black Lies are being given away this week. Please leave a comment on Tish Cohen’s Little Black Lies between now and Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m. EDT to be eligible for the random drawings. The two winners will be announced here in Thursday’s post.]

Tish Cohen’s Little Black Lies

October 05, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books

As the talented, respected and highly acclaimed author of two adult novels — Town House, Commonwealth Regional Finalist, and Inside Out Girl, a Globe and Mail bestseller — Tish Cohen certainly doesn’t lie. Her writing is actually well-known for speaking the truth and her YA debut novel, Little Black Lies, to be released next Tuesday, October 13th, follows the same rule.

In fact, when asked about this new genre venture, the author says, “So much of this book came from a place of honesty, as well as a place of acceptance.”

“It’s really a book about the sort of conflict people deal with in life. About how very angry you can be with someone you love most in the world. About how, with some relationships, as sad as it may be, it’s best to just stop expecting that person to be what you want them to be. Realize they are who they are and if they ever offer you more, you savor that like a candy you discovered in your purse. You weren’t expecting it and may never find that particular candy again, so you enjoy it while you can.”

Difficult yet important life lessons for adults to learn, let alone adolescents. However there’s no doubt that Tish has successfully conveyed the message clear and strong with proof coming from early Praise. This “formula” review, in particular, must have had the author beaming:

“(wicked sense of humour) + (awesome characters)(searingly astute observations) — sentiment = (one great read)”
—Adrienne Kress author of Alex and the Ironic Gentleman

Because it’s that description which almost identifies the writer’s backstory. How? Well do you remember Janie Berman from Inside Out Girl? That character, a “14-year-old pseudo punk just dripping with attitude and love and anger,” latched on to Tish’s heart as she says, “I ADORED writing in her voice. Once I finished writing, I decided to write an entire novel in a teen voice—and I plan to do a few more!”

From that one character’s attitude and voice evolved a story described in this Synopsis:

Sara and her father are moving to Boston from small-town Lundun, Massachusetts. She is going to attend the prestigious Anton High school—crowned “North America’s Most Elite and Most Bizarre” by TIME Magazine—harder to get into than Harvard. As the new girl, Sara doesn’t know anyone; better yet, no one knows her. That means she can escape her family’s checkered past, and her father can be a surgeon instead of “Crazy Charlie” the school janitor.

What’s the harm of a few little black lies? Especially if it transforms Sara into Anton’s latest “It” girl. But then one of the popular girls at school starts looking into Sara’s past, and her father’s obsessive compulsive disorder takes a turn for the worse. Soon, the whole charade just might come crashing down…


What harm indeed? Here’s an Excerpt for a sneak peek.

Does Sara’s voice grab your attention? As I read the Advanced Reader Copy, well before learning how important this voice was to the author, my thoughts/feelings were:

Sara’s “voice” — even when less than honest — possesses confidence for she knows who she is, right or wrong. And it’s her decisiveness and caring that cause everything and everyone else to be believable.

There is depth to this novel, much more than about fitting in and being accepted. And, while attention is given to the loyalty and trust of relationships, the story ultimately comes down to dealing the hand you were dealt, making the best of it and successfully coming-to-terms with life.

Poor judgment, evasion and questionable (including hurtful) behavior are all a part of little black lies, yet not one of these is without its consequences. And, while Tish Cohen’s novel may be written with young adults in mind, the theme is universal and a reminder to anyone about what happens when you decide to deceive.

Little Black Lies is a winner and could well be the author’s best book yet…or so proclaim adult readers. What about the young adults, though, the teens that it was written for?

To discover this truth, The Divining Wand sought out Bookie, one of Tish’s friends on Facebook. Bookie is a teenager who loves books and has her own blog, A Corner of the Universe Just for Books, where she reviewed the ARC that Tish sent her. Since The Fairy Godmother in me wanted an adolescent’s point of view, this bright, perceptive and enthusiastic reader has graciously offered us the following:

“Little Black Lies is something special. Being a teen, I do not often find a novel so true to what one actually experiences in High School, and though Tish is out of High School her description is spot-on. The characters, from Sara to Poppy to every character, are someone that you could find at any high school. There is not one specific word that describes this book. Special and WOW are the only ones that come close.

Tish is a very special person, and she comes up with some of the most amazing stories that I have ever read. When you open Little Black Lies, you enter the world of Anton High, so vivid, so compelling, and so real. What amazes me is that Tish writes what is real and true. She does not try to make it unrealistic or gloss over what really happens at High School. Being an avid reader, it is not too often that I come across something like this.

Reviews are supposed to point out some faults. The only problem with this book was that there was not a single thing wrong! That never happens! Tell us your secret Tish! I REALLY REALLY REALLY love Little Black Lies, and I also believe that no matter what your gender or age is, you will as well. I have already read it twice. When October 13th comes around, rush to a bookstore and buy one! Also, wear pink, black and white to honor this day, one that should be celebrated.

This was the first advance copy that I have ever gotten, and it will always have a special place in my heart. Thanks again Tish!”

And thank you, Bookie! Little Black Lies will be available a week from tomorrow, Tuesday, Ocotber 13th, when you can “rush” to a local bookstore or favorite online retailer to purchase a copy…no matter what your gender or age, you will enjoy. After all Bookie and yours truly both agree and that’s the HONEST truth!

[Note: Two copies of Little Black Lies are being given away this week. Please leave a comment on this post between now and Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m. EDT to be eligible for the random drawings. The two winners will be announced here in Thursday’s post.]

Our Authors’ Inspiration, a Muse?

October 01, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

Simply defined, a muse is something that inspires. And — to discover what’s beyond their pages — The Divining Wand asked its authors: What does your Muse look like? Or what does s/he sound like? Or what does s/he feel like? Muse(less)? What inspires you to write?

Here’s how a few writers described the company they keep.

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

“My muse is the daily newspaper in whatever city I happen to be in. Newspapers are the daily diaries of the human race, and since Florida is the White Trash Crime Capital of the Universe, we writers here can get plenty of stories straight from the headlines.”

Kristy Kiernan (Catching Genius, Matters of Faith and Between Friends coming April 6, 2010):

“I’m not a big muse believer, much like I don’t believe in astrology and yet I read my horoscope every day. I am nervous about allowing anything other than me any power over my work. I always feel that if I do that, then I can blame the muse when things aren’t going well, that I can use it as an excuse to not work, or to not do my best. So, I take full responsibility for whether I work or not, but if I don’t, I still secretly curse my muse. Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone.”

Sarah Pekkanen (The Opposite of Me coming March 9, 2010):

“My muse is scruffy: He’s usually wearing a mis-buttoned plaid shirt and old jeans with a hole in the knee, and he wanders over to me, rubbing his eyes and yawning. Often I suspect he’s hung-over. “What, you haven’t written ANYTHING yet?” he bellows at me. “It’s your fault!” I shout back. “I’ve been waiting for you.” Sometimes he gets pouty and refuses to help and storms away. Other times, if I cajole him with coffee and chocolate and compliment him on his brilliance, he gives me a few pages.”

Announcement: The three winners of Jessica Barksdale Inclán’s trilogy sets — including The Beautiful Being — are Debra, Diana and Dot S. Please contact me at: diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address.