The Divining Wand

Discovering authors beyond their pages…

Archive for November, 2009

Richard Doetsch’s The 13th Hour

November 30, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Book Trailers, Books

Hear the clock ticking? Unlike Jack Bauer and company, who always have 24 hours to find the evil mastermind and save the world, Richard Doetsch (The Thieves of Heaven, The Thieves of Faith) only gives his main character 12 hours to prevent a horrific crime from destroying his personal life in The 13th Hour to be released on December 29, 2009.

Billed as “A THRILLER,” this novel takes the reader on a unique race against time by posing the question, What if you could reach back in time and change a single moment…?
 That’s correct, another time travel storyline but this one has a twist as the author notes:

“You are not mistaken as you turn to the next page and find Chapter 12.

“The chapters of this book are in reverse order and are to be read that way for reasons that will become evident upon your journey.”

Oh the fun of the chilling unexpected, the mental challenging turns, and the heart-stopping maniacal moments, seconds, minutes that this thriller holds.

Here is a synopsis:

A mesmerizing thriller — told in reverse! The 13th Hour is the story of a man given the chance to go back in time in one-hour increments to prevent a vicious crime from destroying his life.

Nick Quinn is being held in jail, accused of the murder of his beloved wife, Julia. He knows she’s dead; he saw her bloody corpse, shot in the head at point-blank range. The police tell him they found the murder weapon with his fingerprints on it in the trunk of his car. Nick is confused, grief-stricken — and completely innocent.

At 9 p.m. on July 28, a gray-haired gentleman visits Nick in the police interrogation room and asks him a simple question: “If you could get out of here, if you could save her, would you?” He hands Nick a golden talisman that allows Nick to go back in time, one hour at a time, for a total of twelve hours. With each hour that Nick travels back, he finds more clues to the identity of Julia’s real killer, but he also discovers that his actions in the past may have unexpected repercussions in the future.

In his race against time to save the woman he loves most in the world, Nick will find that friends become enemies, old loyalties are tested, and Julia’s murder is part of a larger scheme that has its roots in greed and vengeance. Nick has the ability to save Julia, the chance to put his own world in balance, but he is venturing down a precarious route. If he hasn’t set things right by the thirteenth hour, his desperate attempts to save Julia’s life may lead to a far greater catastrophe than he could have ever imagined.

A surprising and utterly original thriller, The 13th Hour is pure page-turning suspense — full of double crosses, cliffhangers, and shocking revelations.

Now please watch The 13th Hour video:

And you may also read The First Chapter.

Having heard about The 13th Hour earlier in the fall, this Fairy Godmother felt more than pleased to accept an Advanced Reader Edition with the promise of, “You will LOVE it!” And indeed I did.

The reading experience was a change of pace — a fast-moving, curiosity that dares the mind to remember what’s already happened and what needs to be changed. For, in this time travel, every hour takes two steps backward, one forward, and every new action affects the future.

Intelligent, clever, and thoughtfully moral, The 13th Hour is also just plain fun. In fact the novel is a refreshing escape that energizes the imagination, even while leaving it a bit breathless.

However there is one criticism, that being poor timing with the book’s release date. The 13th Hour is the perfect gift for…anyone, and it’s difficult to understand who scheduled the release for after the holidays. Although TRUTH: Happy New Year gifts can be among the best surprises!

And, finally, who is Richard Doetsch, this thrilling author? Well, according to his website:

“Richard is a respected expert in the field of commercial and residential real estate, having served as the president, managing director, and owner of several large national real estate firms. He currently runs his own investment firm with offices in New York and Connecticut.

While many authors choose to write about thrills, Richard has lived his life experiencing them.”

To learn more, visit About the Author and/or friend Richard Doetsch on Facebook.

Whatever you do, though, remember that The 13th Hour is coming to a local bookstore or online retailer on December 29, 2009. PROMISE: If you read this book, you will love it!

Announcement: The winners of Wendy Nelson Tokunaga’s new novel, Love in Translation, are: Janel and Reiko. Congratulations to you both! Please email: diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with a mailing address and your book will be sent out promptly. Also many thanks to everyone who commented, my wish is that you’ll all have the opportunity to read the book.

The Revealing of Barrie Summy

November 25, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

barrie child cropped
Yes that’s a picture of Barrie Summy, a young Barrie — of course — but since she’s the author of humorous middle-grade mysteries…well it seems appropriate. Barrie debuted with I So Don’t Do Mysteries exactly one year ago and her second book, I So Don’t Do Spooky will be released on December 8, 2009 and is scheduled to be presented here on Monday, December 7th.

According to her “official” bio on the backflap book jacket cover:

Barrie Summy grew up in Canada on a steady diet of books and tobogganing. She tries to read a book a week and always breaks for tea and cookies at three o’clock.

Barrie lives in California with her husband and their four children. She’s currently hard at work on her next book.

But now let’s meet the real Barrie or — at least — as much as she’s inclined to seriously reveal:

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: Bird by bird (based on Anne LaMott’s book: Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life)

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: It’s 78 degrees Fahrenheit with a slight breeze. I’m sitting on a decently webbed chair by a lake in Muskoka, Ontario with a good book in my hands and a cup of hot tea and a butter tart next to me. My children are happy and healthy and firmly on the way to figuring out their lives. My spouse is not snoring. My next book is written and in to the editor, ahead of schedule. All I have to do is read. Relax and read.

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: Having to lead an aerobics class

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: Women

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases?
A: Put your dishes in the dishwasher. Is your homework done? The project is due when??

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: A sense of direction.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: Seriously? Ha! I am so not revealing my greatest flaw for all the cyber world to see. I will, however, reveal a lesser flaw. It is this: I have been known to leave my bed unmade for an entire day.

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: A decent sense of humor.

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: My highlights. Of course, anyone can have them. Just pay my hairdresser a visit.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: This changes depending on which book I’m reading.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: I don’t think I have one.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: Drivers who don’t pull forward at the gas pump.

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: Reading.

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Being on a team of writers for a TV show.

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Honesty, humor, neatness. Hmmm…Originally, I typed “neatness” as a joke, but now I’m thinking that the more my children become messy teens, the more important neatness has become to me!

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Licorice

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; The Gate to Women’s Country; Alias Grace; Lives of Girls and Women; Ladder of Years; The Inn at Lake Devine; The Chrysalids, Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging. Oh, oops. More than five. Sorry.

Funny, kind and very thoughtful (after all she just apologized *G*), get to know Barrie even better by becoming her friend on Facebook.


Wishing you all a most happy, healthy and safe traveling Thanksgiving. May it be filled/stuffed with love and warm memories with family/friends!

And remember Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand will be giving away two copies of Love in Translation. To enter, please leave a comment on this post before the deadline of Saturday, November 28th at 11:59 p.m. EST. Due to the busy holiday week, this contest is being extended and the winners — based on a random drawing — will be announced here in the Monday, November 30th post.

What Kind of Books Are Our Authors?

November 24, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Fun, Profiles

In the September 17, 2009 post, What Kind of Book Are You?, this Fairy Godmother indulged in and shared a Blogthings Quiz. Yet what you didn’t know then was that our authors had taken the same quiz and, since this is a happy holiday week, what better time to share what kind of books our authors are!

Remember the results of What Kind of Book Are You? best describes the person and may not be what our authors favor in reading or writing.

You Are Action Adventure

You are lively and spirited. You like to be in the middle of the action, and you have a ton of energy.
You are very driven, and not just with your career. You like to play hard as well!

You are bold and brave. You’re always looking for the next great adrenaline rush.
It’s likely that you are athletic or at least pretty physically active. It’s hard for you to sit still.

Joëlle Anthony (Restoring Harmony YA coming May 13, 2010)

You Are Fantasy / Sci Fi

You have an amazing imagination, and in your mind, all things are possible.
You are open minded, and you find the future exciting. You crave novelty and progress.

Compared to most people, you are quirky and even a bit eccentric. You have some wacky ideas.
And while you may be a bit off the wall, there’s no denying how insightful and creative you are.

Katie Alender (Bad Girls Don’t Die YA)
Meredith Cole (Posed for Murder, Dead in the Water coming May 11, 2010)
Therese Fowler (Souvenir, Reunion)
Lauren Baratz-Logsted (most recent Crazy Beautiful YA)
Eve Brown-Waite (First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria)
Emily Winslow (The Whole World coming May 25, 2010)

You Are Humor

You love to laugh at life, and if possible, get others to laugh along with you.
You believe there’s always a humorous side to everything. And your sense of humor ranges from upbeat to very dark.

You are outrageous and very honest. You’re often the only one willing to say what everyone else is thinking.
You are witty and verbally talented. You like to play with words and say things in interesting ways.

Melanie Benjamin (Alice I Have Been coming January 12, 2010)
Eileen Cook (Unpredictable, What Would Emma Do? YA and Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood YA, coming January 5, 2010)
Jenny Gardiner (Sleeping with Ward Cleaver, Winging It: Twenty Years of Caring for a Vengeful Bird Determined to Kill Me coming March 16, 2010)
Kristina Riggle (Real Life & Liars)
Trish Ryan (He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Love, and Happily Ever After, A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances coming in June 2010)
Allison Winn Scotch (The Department of Lost and Found, Time of My Life and The One That I Want coming June 1, 2010)

You Are Mystery

You are a natural problem solver. You like figuring out the best way to do something.
You are very intuitive. You are good at picking up on people’s moods and predicting the future.

You can’t help but being a bit of a detective and a snoop. You always want to know what’s going on.
And while you may have the scoop on everyone you know, you’re not a gossip. You’re a pro at keeping secrets.

Alicia Bessette (All Come Home coming in August 2010)
Barrie Summy (I So Don’t Do Mysteries, I So Don’t Do Spooky Ages 9 – 12, coming December 8, 2009)
Wendy Tokunaga (Midori By Moonlight, Love in Translation)

You Are Realistic Fiction

You are an outgoing person and very interested in others. You have many relationships that are important to you.
You are always willing to lend an ear to a friend with a problem. And you’re even pretty good at giving advice!

Some may accuse you of loving drama, but you just seem to find yourself in the middle of it.
You are a true people person. You find the lives of others to be fascinating. You’re up for hearing anyone’s life story.

Tish Cohen (Town House, Inside Out Girl, Little Black Lies YA)
Kristy Kiernan (Catching Genius, Matters of Faith and Between Friends coming April 6, 2010)
Judy Merrill Larsen (All the Numbers)
Holly LeCraw (The Swimming Pool coming April 6, 2010)
Randy Susan Meyers (The Murderer’s Daughters coming January 19, 2010)
Sarah Pekkanen (The Opposite of Me, coming March 9, 2010)
Therese Walsh (The Last Will of Moira Leahy)

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand will be giving away two copies of Love in Translation. To enter, please leave a comment on this post before the deadline of Saturday, November 28th at 11:59 p.m. EST. Due to the busy holiday week, this contest is being extended and the winners — based on a random drawing — will be announced here in the Monday, November 30th post.

Wendy Nelson Tokunaga’s Love in Translation

November 23, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books

Love in Translation, Wendy Nelson Tokunaga’s second novel available in bookstores tomorrow, November 24, 2009, is simply that — her love story to Japan and all things Japanese. Of course if you read last Wednesday’s post, Love in Translation: Backstory and Song, you already know the how and why the author has a passion for all things Japanese and that she freely admits her writing naturally focuses on the country and its culture. However, though Wendy imbues the novel with personal insight, information, and a few shared experiences with her main character, this story is not autobiographical.

Instead it’s a book praised by fellow authors and reviewers as:

“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, NY Times Best-Selling 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

“Tokunaga… describe[s] Japanese culture in absorbing detail.”–Publishers Weekly

“A delightful plot with wonderful characterizations.”–Affair de Coeur Magazine

Here’s the synopsis:

Stuck. That’s how 33-year-old aspiring singer Celeste Duncan feels, with her deadbeat boyfriend and static career. But then Celeste receives a puzzling phone call and a box full of mysterious family heirlooms, which just might be the first real clue to the identity of the father she never knew. Impulsively, Celeste flies to Japan to search for a long-lost relative who could be able to explain. She stumbles head first into a weird, wonderful world where nothing is quite as it seems—a land with an inexplicable fascination with foreigners, karaoke boxes, and unbearably perky TV stars. With little knowledge of Japanese, Celeste finds a friend in her English-speaking homestay brother, Takuya, and comes to depend on him for all variety of translation, travel and investigatory needs. As they cross the country following a trail after Celeste’s family, she discovers she’s developing “more-than-sisterly” feelings for him. But with a nosy homestay mom scheming to reunite Takuya with his old girlfriend, and her search growing dimmer, Celeste begins to wonder whether she’s made a terrible mistake in coming to Japan. Can Celeste find her true self in this strange land, and discover that love can transcend culture?

There is also the Excerpt: Chapter One – A Proposal for a sneak peek.

It’s true that based on the praise, synopsis and the mere title of Chapter One a potential reader would assume this to be another “chick lit”/women’s fiction tale of a thirtysomething heroine searching for fulfillment and love. Yet in Love in Translation there is much more to be told.

For Celeste Duncan — orphaned at age ten by her mother’s death — becomes a foster child and must literally create her own identity from memories and photo albums. This is a believable character motivated to search for her roots in of all places, Japan. Yes she is a stranger in a strange land but it’s through Celeste’s eyes and experiences that the novel becomes a vivid travelogue, a fascinating account of traditional Japanese customs and culture, and ultimately the discovery that people are people no matter what their heritage. Oh, for those who desire some romance, there is that very kind, respectful and good-looking homestay brother!

As Publishers Weekly acknowledges, Wendy Tokunaga “describes Japanese culture in absorbing detail.” Why not then allow the author to take you to Tokyo and Japan’s countryside? Love in Translation will serve as your ticket/passport/travel guide and occasional translator with writing that is both rich, natural and sensory.

Yes, sensory, because music also plays a major part of the storyline. When reading the Advanced Reader Copy, I honestly believed that “The Wishing Star (Nozomi no Hoshi)” was a traditional Japanese song and that Wendy had used it as Celeste’s “theme/karaoke/contest performance song” since it was such a perfect fit for Celeste’s situation. Only a few weeks ago did I learn that its perfection came from the music being written by Manabu Tokunaga and the lyrics by the author and their friend Hiro Akashi. Now seriously how impressive AND inspired to write, sing/record a song for a novel and offer it as a free download oniTunes here or at Wendy’s website here? Also on that website link, you’ll find and can listen to an eighteen minute Love in Translation Audio Drama Trailer in which Celeste Duncan explains how she got to Japan.

Rather than listen, though, simply take the leap and accompany her. Love in Translation is a refreshing change — a true getaway — to enjoy…and you will!

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand will be giving away two copies of Love in Translation. To enter, please leave a comment on this post before the deadline of Saturday, November 28th at 11:59 p.m. EST. Due to the busy holiday week, this contest is being extended and the winners — based on a random drawing — will be announced here in the Monday, November 30th post.

On Our Authors’ Keeper Shelves

November 19, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

Those books, the cherished ones, that our authors reach out to reread may inspire, comfort or simply entertain. Yet whatever they do, these novels have become priceless companions in our authors’ lives and writing.

How does your personal keeper shelf stack up to:

Joëlle Anthony (Restoring Harmony YA coming May 13, 2010):

“For rereading, I always turn to Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy series or a Nevil Shute novel. You cannot go wrong with either. Hmmm…I may have to go read one of those now…”

Tish Cohen (Town House, Inside Out Girl, Little Black Lies YA):

“I am a dedicated rereader. Right now I want to reread September by Rosamunde Pilcher for the atmosphere and cozy feeling it offers.”

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

“I love to reread books. This is how I justify the stacks of books in my house- someday I’m going to reread them all! I find the first time I read a book I do it simply for enjoyment, the second time I read them I like to look at the craft and structure. There are so many writers I admire and I enjoy dissecting their books. I’ve been known to do chapter by chapter breakdowns looking and how they worked their magic! Some books that I’ve reread include: Vanity Fair, Pride and Prejudice, A Prayer for Owen Meany, Gone with the Wind.”

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

“The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky. I’m actually re-reading it right now. It shows the story of three brothers (one a hedonist, one an intellectual and the other a spiritualist) and the different ways they navigate life despite being from the same family.”

Lauren Baratz-Logsted (most recent Crazy Beautiful YA):

“The Grear Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald – I’ll always reread that.”

Randy Susan Meyers (The Murderer’s Daughters coming January 19, 2010):

I reread all the time. There are some books I revisit at least once every five years or so, just to remind myself the amazing jobs these authors have done in combining story telling, plot, and exquisite writing.

“The novel I have probably reread most often is Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux. His story of one of the all-time most dramatic examples of a dysfunctional family refusing to admit to the elephant in the room is astounding.”

Barrie Summy (I So Don’t Do Mysteries, I So Don’t Do Spooky Ages 9 – 12, coming December 8, 2009):

“Light in August by William Faulkner. The opening scene is absolutely priceless.”

Therese Walsh (The Last Will of Moira Leahy):

“I have an overstuffed keeper shelf, and I would—and will—reread any of those books, from Colleen McCullogh’s The Thorn Birds to Keith Donohue’s The Stolen Child and Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest.”

Love in Translation: Backstory and Song

November 18, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Books, Profiles

Next Monday, November 23rd Wendy Tokunaga’s second novel, Love in Translation, will be presented here and the following day it will be released to bookstores and online retailers. Although likely to be shelved with “chick lit” or women’s fiction, this book is filled with much more than categorizes either genre. Therefore, with the hope of providing fascinating and lovely glimpses of this coming attraction, The Divining Wand is delighted to welcome author Wendy Tokunaga as today’s guest blogger.


It’s not surprising that I am often asked about how my relationship with Japan and Japanese culture came to be. It seems peculiar since I don’t look Japanese, but have a Japanese last name. My spoken Japanese is half-way decent and I have a penchant for singing in Japanese. And the culture of Japan has had a major impact on my writing.

My debut novel, MIDORI BY MOONLIGHT, is the story of a Japanese woman who escapes Japan by coming to California. My current novel, LOVE IN TRANSLATION, is about a Californian, Celeste Duncan who, after receiving a puzzling phone call and a box full of mysterious family heirlooms, is off to Japan to search for a long, lost relative who could hold the key to the identity of the father she never knew. At first Celeste is overwhelmed by Japan, where nothing is quite as it seems, but when she discovers and learns to sing a Japanese song called “The Wishing Star (Nozomi no Hoshi)” things begin to fall into place in ways she never expected. And it is in Japan that she actually discovers who she is.

And maybe that’s what happened to me in some ways, though my story is far different from Celeste’s. Unlike her I became a Japanophile starting in college when I stumbled upon a course called Japanese American Personality, which filled a general studies requirement. Taught by a dynamic Japanese-American professor, he fueled my interest in all things Japanese—the literature, the tea ceremony, the language, etc. It didn’t hurt that he was also good looking as I’d always been attracted to Asian men instead of big, blond football types. I also greatly admired the politeness, order and ritual of the Japanese language and culture, which is generally much more reserved and refined, as opposed to in-your-face. Being a Caucasian-American without a prominent heritage or religious identity I liked the idea of embracing a new culture for myself.

Friends were saying that I must have been Japanese in a past life because it was such a good fit. My other passion had been music and this was a match too when my first trip to Japan was as a winner in a songwriting contest sponsored by a Japanese record company.

Eventually I lived in Tokyo for a year. I taught English, did recorded narration work for language tapes, and sang with some rock bands. I even appeared on a wacky TV singing contest for foreigners, which is part of the inspiration for the television show Celeste appears on in the book. And when I returned home I continued to participate in Japanese karaoke contests in San Francisco’s Japantown and won a number of prizes. And it was in San Francisco that I met and married my husband Manabu Tokunaga, an expatriate who had moved to the United States from Osaka when he was eighteen.

So when I decided to take up fiction writing many years later, it seemed natural that the stories that poured forth were all about Japan and Japanese culture.

And it also seemed natural for my writing and musical pursuits to eventually come full circle.The fictional song from LOVE IN TRANSLATION has become a reality with the release of my version of “The Wishing Star (Nozomi no Hoshi),” with music written by Manabu and lyrics by myself and our friend Hiro Akashi. You can download the song for free on iTunes here or at my website here.

I think Celeste Duncan would approve of my rendition of the song that changed her life.

Back to Our Authors’ Present

November 17, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

With the theme/trend of time travel becoming popular in books, movies, TV shows, etc., authors might wonder “what if” on their journey to publication. Yet how did the following writers respond when asked, If you knew then, what you know now about writing as an art and business, what might you have done differently?

Melanie Benjamin (Alice I Have Been coming January 12, 2010):

“I’m not sure I’d do anything differently; I honestly believe that I wouldn’t be where I am now without previous, even painful, experiences. No regrets, in other words. We are who we are because of what we’ve endured and the lessons we’ve learned.”

Meredith Cole (Posed for Murder, Dead in the Water coming May 11, 2010):

“I wouldn’t have done anything differently. I’ve been very lucky, with one book published this year and another coming out next year. In my opinion, each “‘failure'” or piece that isn’t published or made into a film is actually part of my learning process. If you tie your creativity too close to the market (writing with the idea of catching a trend), I think you run the risk of inhibiting your creativity.”

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.”

Kristina Riggle (Real Life & Liars):

“Lucky for me, I fell in with a group of talented up-and-coming authors (via The Debutante Ball and Backspace and other online venues) early, so I understood publishing as a business by watching their careers ahead of me. I don’t think I’d change anything (yet) about how I’ve conducted my fledgling career.”

Allison Winn Scotch (The Department of Lost and Found, Time of My Life and The One That I Want coming June 1, 2010):

“Hmmm, probably not much to be honest. I always understood, from the very get-go, that writing is just as much a business endeavor as an artistic one. I think writers TOO often forget that, but writing is like any other job: you have to be your biggest champion AND you have to present yourself in the best possible light by meeting deadlines, proving your competency, etc. If you don’t remember that, you truly can’t succeed in this business.”

For Your Health and Well-Being

November 16, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Health

It’s time to welcome back Lisa Davis — founder, director, host, etc. — of It’s Your Health, the radio program “dedicated to providing strategies for healthier living.” In this post Lisa focuses our attention on two very different, yet two very personal health-related matters that require making physical and emotional commitments. Please also note that both programs will air LIVE tomorrow, Tuesday, November 17th, beginning at 9:30 – 10:00 a.m. followed immediately by the second show at 10:00 – 10:30 a.m.

Interestingly enough the authors of these two books are known for their television “fame” as well, as Lisa explains:


AliVincentBelieve It! Be It! by Ali Vincent.

Are you a fan of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser?” I confess to be and was thrilled to discover that Ali Vincent — the first woman to win the title — had written a book. Believe It, Be It chronicles Ali’s life starting with her rocky childhood, her rebellious teenage years, and on into her thirties where she admits that she was “just kind of letting life happen to me — I didn’t feel worthy of wanting anything more for myself.”

Ali credits her mother for convincing her to try out for the show and how that one decision completely changed her life. It’s true that Ali’s writing is primarily about about life on and off the weight loss ranch, including how she has managed to keep the weight off and find joy in her life. The book is also full of helpful information, including recipes, for readers looking to lose weight. Yet it’s Ali’s change of thinking, her motivation and determination to solve her problem that might be applied to any other situation.

Recommendation: If you need to be inspired, read Believe It, Be It!

This author will be interviewed Tuesday, November 17th at 9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. on It’s Your Health radio.

Michael TuckerFamily Meals: Coming Together to Care for an Aging Parent by Michael Tucker

Likely best known for his role from the 80’s series “L.A. Law”, Michael Tucker — married to fellow cast mate, Jill Eikenberry, — hadbeen enjoying the early years of retirement in a beautiful 350-year-old stone farmhouse in the central Italian province of Umbria. As we all know too well, life is what happens while we are making other plans and there were other plans for Michael and Jill. When Jill’s mother’s second husband passed away and she was at a loss to cope, the couple decided to leave their dream home to help Jill’s mother cope and go on…but not alone.

From that decision comes a beautiful, heartfelt story of a family coming together to help an elderly parent. Not only are Jill and Michael helping Lora, but so are their children, Alison and Max. Family Meals is a heartwarming and engaging memoir that explores the meaning of family. The serious issues that come along with caring for an aging parent are written about with warmth and sensitivity. It’s uplifting to see the love that blooms in times that are challenging. It’s a wonderful book.

My advice: Almost everyone could benefit by reading this book.

This author will be interviewed Tuesday, November 17th at 10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. on It’s Your Health radio.

However remember that all programs are archived and available for listening at your convenience.

A Muse by Another Name….

November 12, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

Ah, the Muse returns or does s/he? Having asked the following authors to describe their inspiration — either in physical appearance or otherwise — you’ll discover their muses are known by many names.

Alicia Bessette (All Come Home coming in August 2010):

“Music is my most influential muse. And absolutely everything inspires me to write. Sunshine, flavors, funerals. Live performances of any kind, overheard conversations. Apple-picking, sitting in a darkened movie theater, running my hand along silk scarves that hang in a clothing store. My next-door neighbor, who sings along to Sonny & Cher at the top of his lungs and leaves carrots and cups of water for the orphaned rabbit living under his back steps … I could go on and on.”

Therese Fowler (Souvenir, Reunion):

“I love this question, because it reminds me that writers are so diverse in what motivates and inspires them. There is a romantic ideal that presumes we all have muses, but as you know, that’s not always the case–and may not even be the case often. Of all the writers I know, only a few have ever mentioned a personified muse.

“Inspiration, though: we all have that! Mine is based in nature: human nature primarily, and then the natural world. It’s the concert of those two forces that compels me to observe, select, and then set down my stories onto paper.

“When I’m feeling unmotivated, I know I simply need to get outdoors and let my mind relax and become receptive again.”

Jenny Gardiner (Sleeping with Ward Cleaver, Winging It: Twenty Years of Caring for a Vengeful Bird Determined to Kill Me coming March 16, 2010):

“My muse…hmmm. I actually joked to a friend a few weeks ago that my Muse was lying in a gutter, bloodied and battered. And then about ten minutes later I came up with a really fun book idea, so so much for badmouthing my Muse! I suppose I’m not very poetic but I’ve never really tried to sense my muse, though I will say that I get inspired and have to stop everything to brainstorm. So I guess my muse sweeps in unannounced, a sort of grande dame who trails perfume and wears gaudy jewelry and dresses in elegant evening gowns even for casual occasions.

“I suppose I am driven to write just as a mathematician is driven to calculate. It’s what I do, what I love and what feels most comfortable. Just as I feel most at-home curled up in sweats with no make-up, I feel right where I belong curled up with my laptop taking what’s been swirling in my head and making it come to life on the page.”

Trish Ryan (He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Love, and Happily Ever After, A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances coming in June):

“At first, inspiration comes to me in the form of a thought that doesn’t seem like something I’d come up with on my own. An Idea will flash across my brain, connecting things–bits from an article I’ve read, something I see on TV, a funny quirk my dog develops–in a way I hadn’t thought of before. I’m like a magpie sometimes, collecting shiny new ideas. If I’m on my game when they arrive–which isn’t always; I’ve lost quite a few–I grab my lap top or a pen & paper. When I follow these trails, I’m always amazed by what I have when I’m done.

“After that, the inspiration comes from stubbornness: I want to finish what I’ve started. No one wants to publish my strange assortment of unrelated paragraphs, so I have to connect the dots.

“I’m pretty spiritual, so I pray a lot when I write. But it’s not one of those things where God tells me what to type. It’s more that I ask Him for more ideas, and to keep me from writing something I’ll regret later. So far, my books have been non-fiction, which means I’m writing about other people who probably don’t have a public venue to tell their side of the story. So I pray for help being fair, and to add humor when my first tendency is to be sarcastic. I wrote my first book before Facebook and Twitter were so popular–now that I’m reconnecting with people I knew in high school, college, law school, etc. (and even one ex-boyfriend I wrote about in the book) I’m REALLY glad I didn’t publish my first draft!”

Therese Walsh (The Last Will of Moira Leahy):

“I abide by Barbara Samuel’s girls-in-the-basement philosophy: There are many muses, and each has a different personality and inspires in a different way; some are wise, some crafty or poetic or bitchy. I love them all.”

The Revealing of Wendy Tokunaga

November 11, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

Wendy Tokunaga debuted two years ago with her highly praised novel, Midori By Moonlight. In this writing, the author told a tale based on her personal “experience in studying the Japanese language and culture; living, working and playing in Japan; and her cross-cultural marriage.” Yet her main theme and character focused on why some people feel the need to trade in their native culture for a new one.

In less than two weeks the writer’s second novel, Love in Translation, will be released with a similar theme but a very different setting. A full presentation of Love in Translation is scheduled to appear here on Monday, November 23rd, but until then let’s read beyond this website bio:

Born in San Francisco, Wendy has lived her whole life in the San Francisco Bay Area (except for a stint in Tokyo in the 1980s). She lives with her Osaka-born surfer-dude husband, Manabu Tokunaga, several virtual West Highland white terriers, and a champagne-sable Burmese cat dubbed Meow in a house that is a ten-minute walk from the Pacific Ocean.

Instead it’s time to reveal Wendy Tokunaga — a most creative, multi-talented individual:

Q: How would you describe your current life in 8 words?
A: Writing Marketing Writing Marketing Writing Marketing Writing Marketing

Q: What is your motto or maxim?A: Never, never give up.

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: A good bottle of wine and a great dinner out with my husband.

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: The power of fear itself.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: Depending on my mood either Shinjuku Station in Tokyo or Makawao, Maui.

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: Miep Gies

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: Tap dancing

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: A toss-up between getting my novels published and returning to school to get my MFA in Writing.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: My lack of interest in housework.

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: My lack of interest in housework.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: Je ne regrette rien!

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: A contented cat.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Winnie-the-Pooh (A. A. Milne version)

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
Q: Duchess the Cat in “Babe”

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: Hideki Matsui – Sushi o tabe ni ikimasen ka? (Shall we go eat some sushi?)

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: People writing “loose” when they mean “lose.”

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Real estate agent with my own show on HGTV.

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Sincerity, a sense of humor, and good time management skills.

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Sushi!

Q: Who are some of your favorite musicians?
A: Bill Charlap (jazz pianist), Kelly Clarkson, Booty Luv, Allison Iraheta, Manabu Tokunaga.

Q: What are some of your favorite novels you’ve read recently?
A: Oh! A Mystery of Mono no Aware by Todd Shimoda; No One You Know by Michelle Richmond; American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld; How to Be Lost by Amanda Eyre Ward.

Charmingly, complex, get to know Wendy Tokunaga even better by following her on Twitter or become a friend on Facebook.