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Archive for March, 2010

Jenny Gardiner and Winging It

March 15, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books

WINGINGITbn

When Jenny Gardiner debuted with her novel, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver, she wrote a funny yet heartfelt story of being married and staying in love for the long haul. Now tomorrow — March 16, 2010 — with the release of her second book,Winging It: Twenty Years of Caring for a Vengeful Bird Determined to Kill Me, the author proves how committed she is to long hauls in any relationship.

In last week’s guest post, How Jenny Gardiner Copes with Parrot-hood, it was explained that Graycie had been a Christmas gift that would keep on giving…entertaining moments in exchange for a great deal of patient care:

“Graycie, a too-smart-for-our-own-good African Gray parrot, came to our family from the wild, a Christmas gift from a relative living in Zaire 20 years ago. Graycie arrived on our doorstep–with a temporary stop in parrot prison (quarantine)–in good health but bad temperament. The first few years were arduous, as she was ferocious, snapping and growling at us when we got near. Who could blame her? Poor thing was chopped down from a tree and separated from her parents, stuffed into a crate with a hundred other terrified baby birds, and left to survive with little food or water.

“Had I anything to say in the matter, I would have nixed owning a contraband bird from the get-go (back then most parrots ended up in the U.S. this way; shortly thereafter such means of parrot acquisition were banned). Nevertheless, I was determined to make the best of the situation, despite the fact that she arrived on the heels of the birth of our first child. I was having enough trouble dealing with the demands of a small human who needed my attention all day and night, so was ill-prepared to welcome a bird into the home who expected that and then some.”

As one might imagine, after almost twenty years of living with a wild gray parrot, there are stories to tell. Some tales have become legendary and shared with family and friends, while still others have been written about in Jenny’s local newspaper column. And, since this “pet” has become the focus of everyone’s interest, the writer thought it would be fun to do a book about Graycie.

In fact Jenny even admits to a “funny” backstory of where and why she began the writing:

“YEARS ago, I was sitting in a bat mitzvah, and becoming really antsy as a captive audience to a language I couldn’t remotely understand. So while sitting there for 3-1/2 arduous hours (it was a high holiday so they had an extra long service with it), I pulled out a notebook and pen and HANDWROTE four chapters of what would eventually become this book…”

And that book, Winging It, is described in this synopsis:

A hilarious and poignant cautionary tale about two very different types of creatures, thrown together by fate, who learn to make the best of a challenging situation — feather by feather.

Like many new bird owners, Jenny and Scott Gardiner hoped for a smart, talkative, friendly companion. Instead, as they took on the unexpected task of raising a curmudgeonly wild African gray parrot and a newborn, they learned an important lesson: parrothood is way harder than parenthood.

A gift from Scott’s brother who was living in Zaire, Graycie arrived scrawny, pissed-off, and missing a lot of her feathers — definitely not the Polly-wants-a-cracker type the Gardiners anticipated. Every day became a constant game of chicken with a bird that would do anything to ruffle their feathers. The old adage about not biting the hand that feeds you — literally — never applied to Graycie.

But Jenny and Scott learned to adapt as the family grew to three children, a menagerie of dogs and cats, and, of course, Graycie. In this laugh-out-loud funny and touching memoir, Jenny vividly shares the many hazards of parrot ownership, from the endless avian latrine duty and the joyful day the bird learned to mimic the sound of the smoke detector, to the multiple ways a beak can pierce human flesh. Graycie is a court jester, a karaoke partner, an unusual audio record of their family history, and, at times, a nemesis. But most of all, she has taught the family volumes about tolerance, going with the flow, and realizing that you can no sooner make your child fit into a mold than you can turn a wild parrot into a docile house pet. Winging It is an utterly engrossing reminder of the importance of patience, loyalty, and humor when it comes to dealing with even the most unpleasant members of the family.

*****

Now read an excerpt, Chapter 1.

Then watch and listen to the author discuss her memoir:

And how about some words from Graycie herself. WARNING: For those with dogs, cats, or small children around, it would be wise to turn down your volume before watching the video, Cats Away, Graycie Will Sneeze.

Sounds a bit like a jungle in the Gardiner household, doesn’t it? And there may be moments while reading the book when you shake your head, thinking “How in the world do they stand this?” However no pet (or human) is perfect even if domesticated and Graycie is not, BUT she is part of a family.

Winging It introduces the reader to that family as Jenny’s writing opens the door to her home. It’s warm, loving, and chaotic thanks to children, dogs, a cat, and Graycie. Still, within a few chapters, it turns into a natural way of life — one filled with respect, understanding, patience and good humor.

Jenny will be the first to tell you that her book is a cautionary tale. Library Journal agrees, stating: “Gardiner’s memoir proves that the hope of having a model pet (or child) is usually not realistic. It will speak to animal lovers and offer fair warning to anyone considering the 40-year-plus commitment of owning a parrot.” And, given that Easter is fast approaching, please think twice about those “cute” chicks, ducks, and bunnies as gifts.

Gift Graycie was fortunate that her recipients had huge hearts as well as a sense of adventure. For living with this wild parrot has been (and will likely continue to be) one adventure after another. And that translates into TRUTH: Winging It: Twenty Years of Caring for a Vengeful Bird Determined to Kill Me is heartwarming, eye-opening, and refreshingly informative. Allow this book to fly into your hands without concern for Graycie’s sharp beak and claws. Jenny has her “vengeful” bird under control!

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Jenny Gardiner’s memoir, Winging it, in a random drawing of all comments left on this post. The deadline is Wednesday, March 17th at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in Thursday’s post.

Our Authors’ Go-To Writing Books, I

March 11, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Q&A

When the following thoughtful question was posted on The Divining Wand’s Q & A page — rather than select a few authors to answer this query –, it was sent out to everyone.

I wondered, what do your authors read in the way of writing books? Do they have favorites they refer to again and again? Do they read the classics like, Bird by Bird, or Writing Down the Bones, or do they favor books on craft like, Save the Cat?

Reading (and writing) minds want to know!

As might be expected there were duplicates mentioned, however the authors’ overall choices are impressive for any writer’s library:

Jessica Barksdale Inclan (Being With Him, Intimate Beings, The Beautiful Being):

“I am sure you will get a slew of the best book titles, but my true fav is the Scene Book by Sandra Scofield — wonderful for fiction and narrative writers of all kinds.”

Sarah Pekkanen (The Opposite of Me):

“I have my writing bibles up on my website under the “Writers I Love Link” and I also did a piece for NPR’s “All Things considered” on the 3 books that helped me learn to write a book – it’s on the main page of my website.”

Lauren Baratz-Logsted (most recent Crazy Beautiful YA, Sisters 8 series with Book 5: Marcia’s Madness coming May 3, 2010):

“My favorites over the Years: Forest from the Trees, Betsy Lerner; On Writing, Stephen King; The Mythic Journey, Christopher Vogler; The Art of Dramatic Writing, Lajos Egri.”

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

“I might be in the minority here, but I never read books about writing. Instead, I learn by critically reading other writers’ novels and essays and memoirs. If I like something I say, “‘Now … what makes this work so well?” And if I don’t like it I say, “Now … why didn’t this work? What’s wrong with it?'” But writing books per se? Nah.”

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

“I’ve never been that big on books about writing, although I’ve read a few – Bird by Bird comes to mind. However, I like craft books. Ones that tell me what to do, like how to plot a mystery or write comedy or edit the first five pages. My favourite one, and the only one I really turn to over and over, is Donald Maas’ workbook that accompanies his book WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL. While I don’t have dreams of being the next Dan Brown, this book and workbook has taught me so much about the craft of writing. And I use some of his exercises when I teach writing too. It’s a must-have for every writer’s library, if you ask me. No matter what your genre or aspirations.”

Therese Fowler (Souvenir, Reunion)

“My personal go-to books are the following:

By John Gardner: On Becoming a Novelist and The Art of Fiction
Stephen King’s On Writing
Janet Burroway’s Writing Fiction (the best instructional book I’ve found)
Robert Olen Butler & Janet Burroway’s From Where You Dream

Each fills a different need. Gardner’s books are a bit dated, but his clear-eyed assessments and advice have always spoken to me.”

Maud Carol Markson (When We Get Home, Looking After Pigeon)

“Stephen King has a wonderful book, On Writing. But for me — the best way to learn about writing is to read (over and over again) the books that I love. I try to absorb what these writers have done with characters, dialogue, plot, voice, etc. Then I write and write and write.”

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

“Loved Bird by Bird and Stephen King’s On Writing. I think Save the Cat is a fabulous book that anyone who is putting pen to paper to tell a story should
read. Blake Snyder was a wonderful, smart, and generous person who shared so much great
information for anyone and everyone. I was so sad that we lost him so young. And really bummed because he was to blurb my book and I know it would have been a lovely one.”

To be continued…

Announcement: The winners of Sarah Pekkanen’s debut novel, The Opposite of Me, are Janel and Kristen. Congratulations! Please send your mailing address to diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com and I’ll get the books to you as soon as possible. Thank you for playing everyone.

The Revealing of Ad Hudler

March 10, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

AdHudlerWhile many of our authors are preparing for their latest releases — followed by book tours of signings/speakings –, others are hard at work — writing. Ad Hudler (Man of the House, All This Belongs to Me, Househusband) is happily busy with the latter as he reports: “I’m hot on the tails of a humorous memoir right now….words are just SPILLING out of me!!”

When naming her 5 favorite books of all time Jenny Gardiner revealed: “Lately I’ve really enjoyed reading Ad Hudler— his novel Househusband is so very well-written and so very insightful, I just enjoyed that read.”

The New York Post claims: “Hudler’s newest novel is ‘”Required Reading.” And the Omaha World-Herald: “Hudler is a master storyteller.”

Who is Ad Hudler? Well, according to his “official” bio:

Ad Hudler is a novelist, essayist, stay-at-home dad and small-space landscaper who frequently gets into trouble for the things he writes and says.

Aha, it’s time now to reveal the the real Ad:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: Angst-ridden stay-at-home dad writing books

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: If you want excellence (over mediocrity) you must actively pursue it. Excellence doesn’t find you – you find it. … (Sounds like one of those horrible inspiration posters, doesn’t it?)

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: An inner peace that comes from two things: Knowing that you have nothing to fear and knowing that you no longer have to pretend anything. You can truly be who you are and know that everyone around you won’t care.

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: That something horrible will happen to my daughter or wife.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be
A: Honestly, right where I am: In my house, overlooking the bay, surrounded by big leafy oaks and tropical foliage.

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: Theodore Roosevelt. He didn’t like who he was as a young man, so he went on a tear to reinvent himself. NOTE TO READER: Watch for my coming memoir! It’s all about this.

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: My wife. Seriously. She is one of the finest people I’ve ever met: diplomatic, kind, loving, and driven.

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases?
A: “Bite me!” “Mitchell! I am NOT a piece of furniture.” (to the cat)

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: I’d like to know how to play the guitar and harmonica. I’d also like to be fluent in Spanish. Oh … and I’d like to learn silent-suffering. Not very good at that.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: My tiramisu! … Seriously, I know it sounds cliché, but … my daughter. She’s just a swell human being.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw
A: Holy crap, where do I start? I’m impatient, I’m judgmental, I blow my nose into dirty socks.

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: I’m a helluva good cook. And I can fill a room with energy like you’ve never seen. I also am very good at picking excellent produce, especially perfectly ripe mangoes.

Q: What do you regret most
A: Nope. Not going there. Way too many things to mention, and they’re big ones.
But I do regret breaking into my piggy bank as a child and using the money to go buy a blow-up swimming pool. I then buried the piggy bank in the back yard. (It’s under the mulberry tree, Mom.)

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: My cat. Oh, he has such a marvelous life. Eat, sleep, lay in the sun. But, hmmm, cats can’t read, so maybe it wouldn’t be so nice after all!

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: My baldness and my size: I’m 6.3, 230 pounds.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Holden Caulfield

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Holden Caulfield

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: Ummmm, I’m not sure I know of any athletes. Hmmmm. Joe Namath? Is he still alive? Dorothy Hamel?

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: They’re all related to driving: Driving slow in the left-hand lane. And driving while talking on the cell phone. I will honk at you and wave my finger if I see you doing the latter.

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: Reading, of course. And cooking. Museums of any kind. And laughing and drinking gin-and-tonics with good friends AFTER 5 o’clock.

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Well, I like being a writer, but I’d also like to do what my character, Linc Menner, did in “Househusband”: I’d like to be the go-to landscaper for the rich and famous of Hollywood. Seriously. I think it would be a hoot.

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: My refusal to lower my standards. My fierceness. My work ethic.

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Tiramisu. Just kidding….uhhh….I think a Vietnamese dish called bun, which is rice noodles and grilled meats and bean sprouts and fresh cilantro and some hot chilis with lime and fish sauce. Very hearty but also refreshing, and lots of tastes and textures.

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: Oh, Lord, I have terrible taste in music. I’m a child of the late seventies and eighties – need I say more? Let me just admit right here and now that any time I hear Debbie Boone sing “You Light up My Life,” I turn up the radio. And I’ll kick your ass if you make fun of me for it!

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: You can see my complete list on the author page of my website: AdHudler.com… but here are five: Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul, Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner, How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellen. And, honestly, the Bible. I may not agree with everything in it, but it’s filled with great stories and awesome characters.

What delightful, charming and laugh-out-loud fun. For much more of Ad, follow him on Twitter, become a friend on Facebook, and read his blog, Ad Libbing!

*****

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand will be giving away two copies of The Opposite of Me in a random drawing. Simply leave a comment on this post — by the deadline of tonight, March 10, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EST — and you’ll be entered in the contest. The winners will be announced in tomorrow’s post.

How Jenny Gardiner Copes with Parrot-hood

March 09, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Next week Tuesday, March 16, 2010, Jenny Gardiner (Sleeping with Ward Cleaver) will watch her second book, Winging It: Twenty Years of Caring for a Vengeful Bird Determined to Kill Me land on bookstore shelves. It’s the tale of parrot-hood and, in this guest blog, the author introduces us to her feathered charge.]

My parrot wants me dead. She hates me. Proof is the triangular chunk of flesh now missing from both the front and back of my thumb, testament to the dangers of a beak that’s as powerful as an industrial metal-stamping die.

It seems where I’ve met with moderate success in parenthood–i.e. maintaining the upper hand in the relationship–I’ve failed miserably in parrot-hood.

Parrot-hood, you ask? Yes, in my case, that would be the state in which one must sustain a parrot.

Graycie, a too-smart-for-our-own-good African Gray parrot, came to our family from the wild, a Christmas gift from a relative living in Zaire 20 years ago. Graycie arrived on our doorstep–with a temporary stop in parrot prison (quarantine)–in good health but bad temperament. The first few years were arduous, as she was ferocious, snapping and growling at us when we got near. Who could blame her? Poor thing was chopped down from a tree and separated from her parents, stuffed into a crate with a hundred other terrified baby birds, and left to survive with little food or water.

Had I anything to say in the matter, I would have nixed owning a contraband bird from the get-go (back then most parrots ended up in the U.S. this way; shortly thereafter such means of parrot acquisition were banned). Nevertheless, I was determined to make the best of the situation, despite the fact that she arrived on the heels of the birth of our first child. I was having enough trouble dealing with the demands of a small human who needed my attention all day and night, so was ill-prepared to welcome a bird into the home who expected that and then some.

To some extent, Graycie’s redeemed herself over the years. She’s become quite the talker: she puts my kids in time-outs when they get sassy, yells at the dog when she tries to eat her, and answers the phone in my husband’s voice. Ditto his burps and sneezes. Recently when I used a broom to nudge her back onto the cage from the floor, she pecked at my feet and the broom while repeatedly saying, “Hello gray chicken!”

For a while Graycie became somewhat nice. She let us hold her, sometimes even stroke her feathers. Unfortunately she’d scoot up my arm and perch behind my neck, precariously close to that vital jugular vein and far too inclined to poop on my back, so I didn’t make a habit of such visits. Maybe that angered her.

My friend is convinced Graycie needs a boyfriend. She is a teenager, after all. I’m convinced she needs anger management therapy. Perhaps, though, she is really a he and is tired of being called a girl (back when we got her, the only way to determine a bird’s gender was surgically, so we just guessed at it).

Whatever it is, I know this: what she wants most is to wound me. Often. When I clear the paper from beneath the cage, she races down to attack me, and gleefully rips my hair out. When I reach to open the perch on top, she’s there before I complete the job, straining as far as her body can reach in order to take a chomp my way. When she sneaks off the cage on her frequent surreptitious walkabouts, she attacks my ankles and feet as I try to catch her and return her to home base. I’m the first to admit I can’t quite control her.

When I glance at her, she just gazes back with a cold, black stare that says, “You know I could snap your finger in half easier than you could break a Lorna Doone in two, beyatch.” And she means it. The old adage about not biting the hand that feeds you must’ve slipped right on past her.

So much for the parental guilt ploys, the “all that I’ve done for you over the years” nonsense. And in her case, all I’ve done over the years for her is plenty. For example: hydro-therapy and beak-fed antibiotics, three times daily for weeks on end, repeated every couple of months for years, due to the bird’s propensity to fall off the perch and bust open her breast bone (hence the name Graycie). Death-defying claw-and-flight feather-trimmings (don’t ask). And, of course, the bi-weekly cage washings.

I try to remind myself that I’m helping a fellow creature in need. But I know that to her, it doesn’t really matter. Because it seems that the only thing that would make Graycie happy is if she finally succeeded in maiming or dismembering me, leaving me to die in a bloodied puddle on the living room floor.

I used to have a sexy Brazilian neighbor named Carolina who made Charo-like catcalls at Graycie while shaking her booty before the bird. Graycie was smitten and allowed Carolina to not just pet, but actually fondle her. She’d scoop her up in her hands, giving kissie-kisses, lip-to-beak, making smoochy noises that churned my stomach. Like some green-eyed parent whose child prefers the babsyitter, I was wistful that Graycie chose Carolina over me, despite all I did for her. If I tried to put my lip to the bird, you’d soon recognize me as the one with no lips.

Now I wonder if Carolina had it right all along: she was simply a hot-blooded female (albeit the wrong species) coming on to a possibly male parrot and appealing to his/her more prurient interests. Maybe Graycie is a boy after all, and simply hates me for reinforcing misinformation…In which case, anyone know a sexy 20-something parrot looking for love in all the wrong places? If so, you know where to find me. Most likely in the ER, getting stitched up, or in the pharmacy, stocking up on Band-aids and antibacterial ointment. And maybe a little arsenic.

*****

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand will be giving away two copies of The Opposite of Me in a random drawing. Simply leave a comment on this post — by the deadline of Wednesday, March 10, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EST — and you’ll be entered in the contest. The winners will be announced in Thursday’s post.

Presenting Debutante Sarah Pekkanen and The Opposite of Me

March 08, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books, Debs

OPPOSITEbn

From the book’s front cover:

“Fresh and funny and satisfying. A terrific book about
sisters that actually made me laugh out loud.”
—JENNIFER WEINER
#1 bestselling author of In Her Shoes and Best Friends Forever


*****

When Sarah Pekkanen (The Debutante Ball Class of 2010) introduced herself in the September 1, 2009 post, So nice to meet you!, she told a bit of her own life backstory before ending with these thoughts:

“I can’t tell you how honored I am to be a part of this sisterhood, and how awed I am by all the Debs that have gone before me. They’ve set the bar very, very high. I’ll do my best not to drag it down too much!”

Well, for those who may not know what happened last Wednesday, March 3rd, the Jennifer Weiner PRE-ORDER Book Giveaway was an Internet phenomenon (with sales for our Deb’s novel going far above Jen’s early recorded numbers) and that means tomorrow Sarah will officially debut as a bestselling author for The Opposite of Me!

Now how high has the bar been raised? And was this all pre-planned?

On her Facebook page, Sarah commented:

“I’ll be forever grateful to Jennifer Weiner for turning me into a bestselling author yesterday, a week before my debut even came out! Jen is the new Oprah!”

So how did it happen?

“Jen and I have the same editor, but this was all Jen’s idea – not our publisher’s at all! We’ve never even met, but Jen read an early copy of my book and has been following its progress. She just really wants to support other authors because she remembers what it was like to have her debut.”

A lovely and generous act of kindness more than jump-starts Sarah’s career as a novelist, yet it’s the book’s story that truly matters. Let’s take a look at what created such Praise (on the left sidebar) for The Opposite of Me.

Although the author detailed her thoughts for the storyline in this guest post — Sarah Pekkanen: In Her Own Words — she also offers a more concise backstory:

“As for getting my ideas, I’m intrigued by the notion of identity. How is it that we get assigned certain roles in our family – like the drama queen, the smart one, the funny one, the pretty one, even if those roles aren’t exactly right? I spun that idea around in my head for awhile and it eventually turned into the plot of my book.”‘

While many novels begin with “what if?,” The Opposite of Me began with “whys” about identity and sisters that evolved into this synopsis:

Twenty-nine-year-old Lindsey Rose has, for as long as she can remember, lived in the shadow of her ravishingly beautiful fraternal twin sister, Alex. Determined to get noticed, Lindsey is finally on the cusp of being named VP creative director of an elite New York advertising agency, after years of eighty-plus-hour weeks, migraines, and profound loneliness. But during the course of one devastating night, Lindsey’s carefully constructed life implodes. Humiliated, she flees the glitter of Manhattan and retreats to the time warp of her parents’ Maryland home. As her sister plans her lavish wedding to her Prince Charming, Lindsey struggles to maintain her identity as the smart, responsible twin while she furtively tries to piece her career back together. But things get more complicated when a long-held family secret is unleashed that forces both sisters to reconsider who they are and who they are meant to be.

In reality, Deb Sarah has two brothers and three sons — no sister(s) in her immediate family –, however she’s always wondered what it would be like to have a sister and fascinated by the rich, complex relationships her friends had with their sisters. When it came time to write The Opposite of Me, she allowed the relationship between Lindsey and Alex to be “as messy and loving and complicated and competitive as possible.”

And why not include those complexities because — after all — the bottom line to this story is family. In fact that’s where Sarah’s strength and warmth come from, simply read her December 1, 2009 post, Deb Sarah’s dayjobs to fully understand.

Also, to read more of Sarah’s writing, here’s the excerpt of Chapter 1 from The Opposite of Me.

As far back as October there was good buzz about this novel which The Divining Wand received in November and read in December. Yes it was a definite holiday treat since Sarah — with her natural gift for writing and engaging voice — told a refreshing tale of two young women searching for their identities. Sisters/twins, seemingly different yet nonetheless the same, are at a crossroads in life. Rather than rely on and share with each other, they take the avoidance path and create a refreshing, believable story. Seriously who among the closest of sisters shares everything and then to be a twin…well you too would want your own identity and personal role in the world, wouldn’t you?!

With vivid description, thoughtful insight, and clever narrative, Deb Sarah elevates contemporary women’s fiction to another level. The Opposite of Me is both smart and fun. Or, as Courier Mail (Australia ) proclaims: “…it’s a winner!”

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand will be giving away two copies of The Opposite of Me in a random drawing. Simply leave a comment on this post — by the deadline of Wednesday, March 10, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EST — and you’ll be entered in the contest. The winners will be announced in Thursday’s post.

Our Authors’ Spring/Summer Book Releases

March 04, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Advance News, Books

Have you heard, new books are coming? That’s been my refrain throughout the winter but it’s only the truth. And the new releases begin appearing next Tuesday when Sarah Pekkanen (hmm, ever heard of her?) debuts with The Opposite of Me.

Rather than tell of all the others, let me show you what will soon be in bookstores as well as here on The Divining Wand.

March 9, 2010:
TOPoM
Sarah Pekkanen debuts with The Opposite of Me

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

April 6, 2010:
Kristy Kiernan (Catching Genius, Matters of Faith) gifts us with her third novel, Between Friends.BFsm

Holly LeCraw debuts with The Swimming Pool.TSWMPs

May 3, 2010:Lauren Baratz-Logsted (most recent Crazy Beautiful YA, Sisters 8 series) adds to the SISTERS 8 with with Book 5: Marcia’s Madness.MAMAD

May 11, 2010:
Meredith Cole (Posed for Murder) gives us more chills with her second mystery, Dead in the Water.DItWsm

Barrie Summy (I So Don’t Do Mysteries, I So Don’t Do Spooky) has yet another detective case for preteens with I So Don’t Do Makeup Ages 9 – 12.ISODDMAKE

May 13, 2010:
Joëlle Anthony debuts with Restoring Harmony YA.RESHAR

May 25, 2010:

Emily Winslow debuts with The Whole World.TWHWORLDsm

Thaisa Frank (A Brief History in Camouflage, Sleeping in Velvet) offers a gem with Heiddegger’s Glasses.HEIDGLAS

June 1, 2010:
Allison Winn Scotch (The Department of Lost and Found, Time of My Life) assures us that her third novel is The One That I Want.TOTIWsm

June 8, 2010:
TRUDELBLUTish Cohen (Town House, Inside Out Girl, Little Black Lies YA) tells The Truth About Delilah Blue.

June 22, 2010:
Trish Ryan (He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Love, and Happily Ever After) shares more of her life with A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances.AMAZEGRACE

July 12, 2010:
Lauren Baratz-Logsted (most recent Crazy Beautiful YA, Sisters 8 series with Book 5: Marcia’s Madness) returns to YA with The Education of Bet.TEDoB

August 5, 2010:
Alicia Bessette debuts with Simply from Scratch.SIMSCR

August 17, 2010:
Kristina Riggle (Real Life & Liars) promises another “a la Anne Tyler” novel with The Life You’ve Imagined.

All of these authors will be revealed and their books presented, in addition to a few surprises. Remember, it begins this Monday with The Opposite of Me!

[Note: This information will be archived on the Debuts page.]

Sarah Pekkanen: In Her Own Words

March 03, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

Debutante Sarah Pekkanen — of The Debutante Ball — becomes a novelist next Tuesday, Mach 9, 2010, with the launch of The Opposite of Me.

To celebrate this first-time event, #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Weiner is offering a free, autographed copy of one of her books to anyone who pre-orders The Opposite of Me today – Wednesday, March 3! Please check Jen’s March 1, 2010 post for details (which are simple to follow).

And Sarah has put together a raffle with cool prizes like a camcorder and MAC cosmetics for the same folks who pre-order today. To recap: Buy a copy of the book today, get a free, signed Jen Weiner blockbuster book AND a chance to win a cool raffle prize. Details about the raffle are on Sarah’s March 1, 2010 post.

Having read The Opposite of Me, this Fairy Godmother highly recommends pre-ordering a book that you’ll want to read because — among other reasons — this early praise:

“Fresh, appealing… the story is by turns funny and poignant.”- Booklist

“Pekkanen’s involving debut… is an honest examination of the limits we place on ourselves, with well-drawn female characters.”- Kirkus

“Fresh and funny and satisfying. A terrific book about sisters that actually made me laugh out loud.”- Jennifer Weiner, #1 New York Times bestselling author

And now here is Sarah.

When Thoughts Become a Novel

I’m a big fan of The Divining Wand, so I’m thrilled to be guest posting today to talk about my debut novel, The Opposite of Me. It’s the story of twin sisters who are complete opposites – or so they think. When people learn the premise, the first thing they ask me is whether I’m a twin. Nope; in fact, I don’t even have a sister. But I’ve always been intrigued by the complex relationships my friends have with their sisters, so I tried to make the relationship of my main characters, Lindsey and Alex, as juicy and competitive and loving and tangled as possible.

I’ve heard about twins who are so close that they create their own language, and can feel each other’s pain from miles away – but I wondered what would happen to twins who were completely different. What if two sisters had nothing in common, but were constantly being compared? How would that shape their relationship?

I also think it’s very common in families for children to get certain labels, either spoken or unspoken – like the “pretty sister,” the “smart one,” the “drama queen,” or the “peacemaker.” I’ve always been curious about how those labels are formed – are they really a true reflection of who we are inside? It’s interesting to me that we can go out into the world and re-invent oursevles as adults, yet when we go home to visit our families, they still see us through the lens our childhood roles. And sometimes, despite our best efforts, we get dragged kicking and screaming back into those roles!
So I took both of those notions and spun them around in my mind for a while before they turned into the premise of my novel. The intersection of those themes – sisterhood and identity – is the heart of my novel. And the funny thing is, in writing it, I developed a new identity of my own: novelist.

When I started my book, I was a stay-at-home Mom, spending my days cutting the crusts off sandwiches and chaperoning school field trips. But I’ve always dreamed of writing a novel, so I began bringing my laptop with me whenever I went. I even wrote some of The Opposite of Me at Chuck E. Cheese (I used to work in loud newsrooms so I find background noise oddly comforting). It was my own secret project – the little bit of “me”- that wasn’t consumed by taking care of my family.

Next Tuesday is my debut day, and I’m going to go into a bookstore to find my novel on the shelf and just stare at it. In my purse, I’m going to carry the letter I wrote on Raggedy Ann stationery to a New York publisher long ago, asking when my book called “Miscellaneous Tales and Poems” would be published. It’s my favorite reminder that dreams really do come true.

***********

Please visit next Monday for The Divining Wand’s presentation/review of The Opposite of Me and do Pre-order now!

The Revealing of Jenny Gardiner

March 02, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

JennyGTwo years ago Jenny Gardiner debuted with the wickedly funny Sleeping with Ward Cleaver a “romantic” novel for those married awhile and, on Tuesday, March 16, 2010, she returns with her second book, Winging It: Twenty Years of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Determined to Kill Me. Described as, “A hilarious and poignant cautionary tale about two very different types of creatures, thrown together by fate, who learn to make the best of a challenging situation — feather by feather,” Winging It will be presented/reviewed by The Divining Wand on Monday, March 15, 2010. However, as is tradition, let’s get to know this author from her official bio:

“Jenny Gardiner is the author of the novel Sleeping with Ward Cleaver. Her writing has appeared in Ladies Home Journal, the Washington Post, and NPR’s Day to Day, and she has a column of humorous slice-of-life essays that runs in the Charlottesville, VA Daily Progress. Jenny lives in central Virginia with her husband, three kids, two dogs, one cat, and, of course, a gregarious parrot.”

And now here is Jenny revealed:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: How’s this: Three kids, two dogs, cat, parrot and husband

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: I actually do have a motto. I make my kids crazy with it. I am always telling them “It’ll all come out in the wash.” Not to be confused with my maxim, which is “Peace, love, togetherness. Yadda yadda yadda.”

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: Everyone’s getting along, no bills to be paid.

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: Believe it or not, my greatest fear growing up was tsunamis. Yes, a child of middle American, not a shoreline within a ten-hour drive. Now, I don’t know. That’s hard to pinpoint. But probably external forces so out of my control so
something I try to not think about. If I watched the news, I’d be scared of my own shadow, so I do avoid the news.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: Without doubt, I would be stretched out on catamaran soaking in the sun with family and friends in the British Virgin Islands. Close second would be anywhere in Italy. Close third would be on safari in Africa.

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: Sheesh. In all of history. That’s tough question. I’ll have to get back to you on that because I’m
drawing a blank!

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: Hmm…off the top of my head, I really admire Michelle Obama. I think she is a role model that young girls should aspire to–intelligence, elegance, dignity, and great grace.

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases?
A: “Like,” “Uh,” “Um,” “It’ funny, but.” All of which I am guilty of overusing to death!

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: I would love to be artist. To be able to see something and render it on paper would be so very cool. I would also love to be fluent in several languages.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: My children.

Q:What’s your greatest flaw?
A: I seem to be incapable of sticking to a diet for more than twelve minutes. I’m also guilty of impatience, and disorganization.

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: I think I’m very friendly.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: Oh, I don’t know. I don’t like to dwell on what-if’s. I can’t really think of anything I regret.

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: It might be interesting to be an elephant for a day. Oh, wait, maybe a panda bear! Or a polar bear. As long as I went into it with a full belly and didn’t have to eat baby seals or mass volumes of bamboo leaves or baobob leaves LOL

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: I often crack jokes about anything and everything. Sometimes to a fault.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Holden Caulfield

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: I never like the villains. I have a strong sense of right and wrong so I don’t care for the bad guys.

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: Sheesh. Maybe Tiger Woods and just smack him upside the head and ask him “What the hell were you thinking, you idiot???”

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: Seriously? I hate pee on toilet seats. Is that crass? (yes, another of my flaws, I tend to be honest even if it involves being crass!).

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A:I love spending time with my family. Or if you really forced me, I’d suck it up and enjoy a massage, daily…

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: I’m doing it. Now if only it was financially rewarding enough to allow me to continue doing it without having to seek another job, which is on the horizon with our second child going into college…

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Honesty, kindness, consideration.

Q: If you could eat only
one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: OMG, hands down it would be my mom’s banana cream pie. And maybe then I would finally, finally, finally be sick of it.

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: Ack, such pressure! I have so many thousands of songs on my iPod…Let me think what I always love to hear…

Everything by Michael Buble; Extraordinary by Mandy Moore; Daughters by John Mayer; Don’t Let Him Steal Your Heart Away by Phil Collins; Meeting Across the River by Bruce Springsteen

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: In God We Trust All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd; Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger. Those two always stay in the top two. The other three are always in flux, depending on what I’m reading and what’s stuck with me. Lately I’ve really enjoyed reading Ad Hudler— his novel House Husband is so very well-written and so very insightful, I just enjoyed that read. Books that make me laugh: Jonathan Tropper’s Everything Changes and Bob Flaherty’s Puff.

There are far, far too many books to list them all and I feel terrible I’m not putting all of my friend’s books on the list!

Yes, Jenny is funny, sassy, and very friendly. Enjoy more of her company by becoming a follower on Twitter and/or a friend on Facebook.

For Your Heath and Well-Being

March 01, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Health

HEALTHOur reading recommendations switch today from fiction to fact as Lisa Davis (founder, director, host, etc., of It’s Your Health, the radio program “dedicated to providing strategies for healthier living”) offers two books that detail options for life.

The first is about the choices in giving birth, while the second enables choosing to enjoy the deliciously craved food of life. Please note that the first program will air this Thursday, March 4th, from 9:30 – 9:50 a.m., and the second author interview is scheduled for next Tuesday, March, 9th at 9:30 – 9:45 a.m.

And now here’s to Your Health and Well-Being:

*****

BestBirthYour Best Birth: Know All Your Options, Discover the Natural Choices, and Take Back the Birth Experience by Ricki Lake, Abby Epstein

Are you expecting or know someone who is? Then this may be the book for you! Former talk show host Ricki Lake, also executive producer of the documentary “The Business of Being Born” (which is a “must see”), collaborates with Abby Epstein, the film’s director, to provide women with as much information as possible in choosing their personal best birth method.

Your Best Birth is devoted to helping mothers “explore the full spectrum of choices you have in giving birth.” The authors define a “best birth” as “one where you feel empowered because you know all your options and are confident in the decisions you have made about your birth.” In fact they state, “we believe that you can place the health and well-being of your newborn as your highest priority and still have an optimal, empowering experience that is right for you both – whether that is in your bed, in your bathtub, in a hospital room, or on an operating table.”

Written in a conversational tone, Ricki and Abby infuse the facts with a warm and personal feeling — as if you were sitting in a café chatting with them about birth options. Some of the issues covered are: knowing your options, midwives, doulas, epidurals, c-sections, and more.

Recommendation: This is a worthwhile, quick read filled with useful resources. I wish I had this book when I was expecting. It’s terrific!

These authors’ taped interview will air on Thursday, March 4th, at 9:30 – 9:50 a.m. on It’s Your Health radio.

Fattening I Can’t Believe It’s Not Fattening!: Over 150 Ridiculously Easy Recipes for the Super Busy by Devin Alexander

Devin Alexander has more than her share of impressive credits. She’s a professionally trained chef, caterer, and former chef of the hit reality TV show, “The Biggest Loser;” the host of the show, “Healthy Decadence with Devin Alexander” on FIT TV; and the author of “The Most Decadent Diet Ever!,” “Fast Food Fix,” and the New York Times bestsellers, “The Biggest Loser Cookbook” and “The Biggest Loser Family Cookbook.”

And now her latest book, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Fattening!, is another winner. Why? Very simply, Devin takes America’s passion for favorite, fattening foods and turns them into them healthy and low-calorie recipes. However what’s different about this book is the emphasis on getting out of your kitchen in a flash. Devin, in essence, tackles the all-too-easy “take-out” behavior by giving busy people what they want at home. Understanding that people have cravings and want to eat foods with flavor, the author creates delicious dishes without added fat and calories. There are over 150 step-by-step, quick, easy, and non-fattening recipes and over 50 color photographs. In addition, 70% of the super quick recipes can be made with all-natural or organic ingredients.

Advice: My daughter loved the PB&J Oatmeal and I loved the fully loaded burrito pocket. So, pick up Devin’s book and get cookin!

This author will be interviewed on Thursday, March 4th, at 9:30 – 9:45 a.m. on It’s Your Health radio.

As always, please remember that all programs are archived and available for listening at your convenience.