The Divining Wand

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Archive for May, 2010

Presenting Debutante Joëlle Anthony and Restoring Harmony

May 12, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books, Debs

While getting to know Debutante Joëlle Anthony through her Friday posts, visitors to this season’s Debutante Ball have been treated and enlightened by somewhat of a Renaissance woman. Truly it’s difficult to imagine a challenge this writer can’t resolve (in a practical or unique way) and one needs only to read her YA novel, Restoring Harmony, debuting tomorrow — May 13, 2010 — for proof positive.

Of course by introducing herself with “Deb Joëlle’s real talent is…,” expectations were set high:

“My name is Joëlle Anthony, and I’m pretty sure I was chosen to be a Deb because I know how to make butter. It’s true. You see, when I applied, there was a section on the application for ‘“other things we should know”’/ or something like that, and since I didn’t really think I should admit right then that I have trouble with commas, I decided to explain how to make butter. I am thinking that the 09 Debs read that and thought, ‘“Now there’s a well-rounded girl.”’ Or not.” More…

Her comma trouble (there’s an editor for that) became a non-issue for this superb storyteller who read an excerpt from James Kuntsler’s book, The Long Emergency, that predicted the end of oil and discussed a transition period. Joëlle’s interest wasn’t in the end of oil but of the time period where people dealt and bounced back from it.

The idea for Restoring Harmony was born from that, although Joëlle believes Mr. Kuntsler would say the world she created is much too tame.

Here’s the synopsis:

The year is 2041, and sixteen-year-old Molly McClure has lived a relatively quiet life on an isolated farming island in Canada, but when her family fears the worst may have happened to her grandparents in the US, Molly must brave the dangerous, chaotic world left after global economic collapse—one of massive oil shortages, rampant crime, and abandoned cities.

Molly is relieved to find her grandparents alive in their Portland suburb, but they’re financially ruined and practically starving. What should’ve been a quick trip turns into a full-fledged rescue mission. And when Molly witnesses something the local crime bosses wishes she hadn’t, Molly’s only way home may be to beat them at their own game. Luckily, there’s a handsome stranger who’s willing to help.

Restoring Harmony is a riveting, fast-paced dystopian tale complete with adventure and romance that readers will devour.

The critical literary reviews are glorious despite the fact that some have categorized this as a dystopian novel. For Joëlle tends to disagree by noting: I think of dystopian as some sort of natural disaster or something that happens way off in the future, in a different world. Restoring Harmony is set only thirty years from now, and is very much this world. The problems people are dealing with are mostly from economic collapse, not something wild or futuristic.”

Also one reviewer pointed out that in most dystopian novels it’s the collapse of technology that affects the characters’ daily lives, not new technology. And as this debut author says, “…that’s why I never thought of it as dystopian. It seems like things are sliding backward in RH, instead of moving forward.”

Indeed, backwards to core family values. In fact Joëlle Anthony describes her book in this one sentence: “It’s an adventure story about music, family, and food.”

And the Book Trailer — featuring musician/model Sarah Tradewell with photography by Victor Anthony — captures the storyline perfectly.

The October 16, 2009 post, Leap by Deb Joëlle, tells:

“Writing Restoring Harmony was one of the biggest chances I’ve ever taken. It is a departure from everything I’d ever written before. I had been a safe writer. I’d taken “Write what you know” to heart and never strayed from the familiar path of my own self-knowledge and life experiences. But Molly’s story is different. It’s an adventure. It required research. It made me work.”

Those words piqued my interest and remembering them long after reading The Advanced Reader Copy, I asked the author what type of research she did for this amazingly authentic adventure tale and if she ever considered changing Molly into a Michael? Her response is amazing too:

“I did actual physical research, like traveling Molly’s route. And I listened to a lot of fiddle music. I chose tunes I knew for the book, not just random fiddle tunes. Although one serendipitous thing happened as far as the tunes go. There is one in the book called Peekaboo Waltz. When I lived in Tennessee, I heard it on a CD of my husband’s and I asked him to learn it on guitar because I liked it so much, and he did. When it came time to pick a waltz for the book, I knew exactly which one to choose. What I didn’t know is that, ‘“every Western Canadian fiddle player knows the Peekaboo Waltz.”’ I sat in on a fiddle workshop with the master fiddle teacher Gordon Stobbe, and that was what he told his students. And then he taught it to them. I knew it was a traditional tune and played all over, but I didn’t know it was considered something any Western Canadian fiddler should definitely know. That was pure luck.

Also, pretty much all the gardening in the book was research. I now know a lot about gardening as we’re growing a lot of our own food, but at the time I wrote RH, I didn’t know anything about gardening.

Molly was always Molly. I do think that it’s interesting that while most children’s writers are women, a strong female character is considered noteworthy. It seems to me that as a woman, it’s my responsibility to write strong female characters. It doesn’t mean I can’t tell a story from a boy’s POV, but I do consider gender roles very carefully when writing. Like the principal of a school is so often a man, but why? Habit. That’s something I like to challenge with my writing.”

Simply put, I adored this book and Joëlle’s writing of Molly. This realistic character — imbued with enough innocence to be a 16-year old “farm girl” — is also bright, resourceful, caring, hardworking, brave and ready for anything. The truth is that the more YA novels I read, there’s more feeling of hope restored. Molly restored harmony, changing the lives of so many, by her own confident optimism and action. No supernatural powers were necessary, no gimmicks, Molly was merely being the best she could be and what a message to convey to adolescents. Or, for that matter, to anyone.

The world had changed, yet Molly only knew the good times of family, truth, and thoughtfulness. Perhaps that’s what is so compelling about this YA adventure as it takes us back to similar childhood and adolescent years.

How good to be reminded of what we had and how good of Deb Joëlle Anthony to share what our children still might recapture. Restoring Harmony, the book, can be yours tomorrow…while restoring harmony, universally, remains a work in progress.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Joëlle Anthony’s Restoring Harmony in a random drawing to anyone who comments on this post today, before the deadline of 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in tomorrow’s post. If you enter, please return tomorrow to possibly claim your book.


Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Meredith Cole’s Dead in the Water in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Meredith Cole and Dead in the Water. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is tonight at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in tomorrow’s post. If you enter, please return tomorrow to possibly claim your book.

The Revealing of Emily Winslow

May 11, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

emilywinslowEmily Winslow, waltzing around The Debutante Ball since last August 31st, will soon be introduced to the public when her literary mystery, The Whole World, debuts May 25, 2010.

Emily’s novel has been described as “a sensual and irresistible mystery and a haunting work of rich psychological insight and emotional depth.” And here are a few reasons why:

American students Polly and Liv are giddy over the accents and architecture of Cambridge University. They both fall for the same charming graduate student.

Then he disappears.

Told through five narrators whose personal obsessions limit what each of them sees, THE WHOLE WORLD is the story of the desperation and malice that take them by surprise while they’re all looking elsewhere.

The Divining Wand is scheduled to present/review The Whole World on Monday, May 24, 2010 but, in the meantime, please meet the almost author through her “official” bio:

Emily Winslow is an American in Cambridge, England. She lives in that historic city with her husband and sons in an abruptly modern house.

Now let’s get to know Emily revealed:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: Kids first, then write, love husband’s foot rubs.

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: Try.

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: Wanting what you have.

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: Something terrible happening to the kids, or to us before the kids are grown.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: Here at home.

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: Louise d’Haussonville–privileged, ambitious, flawed.

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: Too many to narrow it down.

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases
A: I say “dude” a lot.

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: Riding a bike.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: Professionally, my debut novel.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: I have lazy food habits.

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: I enjoy life.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: Habitually taking on too much.

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

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: Very loud laugh.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Terry Pratchett’s Sam Vimes.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Margaret from All Is Vanity.

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: I’m ignorant of sports.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: The way that word processing software curls apostrophes at the beginnings of words as if they were single quotes.

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: Relaxing on the couch at the end of a productive day.

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Writing! Lucky me!

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Compassion, idealism, practicality.

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

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: This question usually implies “songs you listen to” but I’m going to go ahead answer what 5 songs I most love to sing:
Embraceable You (Gershwin)
How deep is the Ocean (Berlin)
Leaning on a Lamppost (Gay)
I got rhythm (Gershwin)
I’ve got a crush on you (Gershwin)

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Columbine by David Cullen
The Real Life of Sebastian Knight by Nabokov
The whole Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
Ruth Rendell’s standalone novels

A mystery writer who can sing, act, and is an expert puzzle creator is a new author to follow on Twitter, become a fan of on Facebook, and check in on her Blog: Emily Winslow Talks to Strangers.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Meredith Cole’s Dead in the Water in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Meredith Cole and Dead in the Water. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return on Thursday to possibly claim your book.

Meredith Cole and Dead in the Water

May 10, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books

Fans of Meredith Cole and her critically acclaimed debut mysstery, Posed for Murder, can celebrate tomorrow when the author’s second novel, Dead in the Water, appears in bookstores and ships from online retailers.

For anyone still wondering the answer is “Yes,” this is another crime-solving adventure for Lydia McKenzie. Actually the author’s guest post, Meredith Cole Creates a Sleuth and a Series, revealed that and more:

“Lydia is an interesting character, an artist and photographer struggling to build a career in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She loves vintage clothes, music and spending time with her friends. In order to pay her rent and pay for her studio, she works as an administrative assistant to two private investigators.”

“The first book introduces Lydia, her private eye bosses the D’Angelos, the detective Daniel Romero and her best friend Georgia Rae. In the second book, DEAD IN THE WATER, Lydia has a boyfriend named Jack. A few readers have asked me about Romero and what’s going to happen with the two of them, so they may be disappointed when she dates someone else. But I wanted to see what Lydia was like in a relationship. She’s very independent, and I thought it would be interesting to see that side of her. I also gave her a cat, which presents its own challenges.”

Still a truly interesting amateur sleuth needs a local town or neighborhood where she not only has a home, friends and job, but a vested interest for solving crimes. Meredith found inspiration for her mystery in the vibrant arts community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She also discovered the idea for the storyline of Dead in the Water. In fact it existed right “in her own backyard:”

“When I first moved to Williamsburg, prostitutes regularly walked the waterfront. I was intrigued by the women I saw in the shadowy corners of the night. They seemed both tough and vulnerable, and I wondered what their stories were. Right before I moved there, a serial killer had been killing prostitutes in Williamsburg. He was caught and jailed, but it made the waterfront always feel really dangerous at night. And that true story was certainly an inspiration for the book.

“I also became interested in the phenomenon of women who are ‘”part-timers”‘ or who turn tricks when they need the cash, but keep it pretty secret from family. I heard a story on NPR that got the wheels turning in my head. I’ve also always been intrigued by the various programs that help women, either providing safe houses or going out to make sure they get adequate medical care. I came up with the idea of a bus that helps prostitutes, and then found out there actually is one in DC. I did some reading on it, but made the bus in DEAD IN THE WATER individual and unique.”

Then that backstory evolved into the following synopsis:

She’s in over her head… Photographer Lydia McKenzie is taking portraits of prostitutes on the waterfront of Williamsburg Brooklyn when her art project takes a deadly turn. She discovers the body of Glenda, the star of her series, floating in the East River.

Lydia ’s new boyfriend doesn’t want her to get involved in the investigation, and neither does NYPD detective Daniel Romero. But Glenda’s grieving mother begs her for help. So when the D’Angelo brothers, her bosses at the detective agency where she works as an administrative assistant, send Lydia out to the Williamsburg waterfront to catch their cousin’s cheating husband and bring back photos as evidence, she starts to do some sleuthing on the side.

When more hookers are murdered, Lydia teams up with a volunteer organization whose mission is to help women find a way off the streets. She ends up questioning her choices, her relationships, her art, and her identity—all while she runs for her life from a killer who isn’t finished with a deadly rampage.

Meredith Cole’s second novel is a thrilling adventure, boasting memorable characters and a vivid setting.

Memorable characters and vivid setting indeed! Reading the Advanced Uncorrected Proof from Minotaur Books (St. Martin’s Publishing), I easily slipped back into Lydia’s world. Her friends are colorful and artistically talented, even her new boyfriend Jack — a stockbroker and a photographer — could be considered for that category. Yet it’s Lydia who shines brighter than ever as she wears her “heart of gold” on her sleeve and becomes physically as well as emotionally vulnerable.

To give you the slightest hint of a *spoiler* would ruin your reading pleasure. However what can be told is that Meredith Cole’s directing and screenwriting background combine to make this mystery come alive, reeling through the reader’s mind.

A member of The Debutante Ball Class of 2009, Meredith wrote the telling post, Learning to Lean by Deb Meredith, in which she’s the first to admit:

“I’ve always been very independent. I need some time alone everyday to decompress (and write). I like to do things myself, and hate being told what to do.”

Life changed with marriage and motherhood and the author happily adjusted:

“Only occasionally do I fantasize about what it would be like to be a single gal again—able to run out and do whatever I want whenever I want to do it. But it’s mostly when I’m at the computer writing my Lydia McKenzie mystery series. And then I remember how lonely it is to be single, and how much I’d miss my guys. And I shut my laptop and joyfully return to my life.”

In Dead in the Water, a cat enters Lydia’s life and I asked Meredith if he was an anchor or an acknowledgement of loneliness? Her answer is somewhat sad but true:

“To be a detective is to be alone in some ways. Lydia has good friends, but she hasn’t found a real anchor in her life. Her apartment is just temporary, and so is her job. She resists commitment as much as she is attracted to it. I thought it might be interesting to give Lydia a cat because it would force her to commit to something, or make her admit that she wasn’t ready to be in a relationship with anyone, much less a cat.”

Now seriously how can you resist Lydia and her latest murder investigation? Dead in the Water — it’s a thrilling mystery with heart.

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Meredith Cole’s Dead in the Water in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return on Thursday to possibly claim your book.

Blogs Favored by Our Authors

May 06, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

Enlightening or entertaining, what type of blogs would our authors favor on a daily basis? Of course it’s a bit of both and you might enjoy following along with:

Katie Alender (Bad Girls Don’t Die YA):

~ Unclutterer –

~ Post Secret –

~ Sew, Mama, Sew! –

~ Sew at Sea, by my hilarious friend Laura –

~ Pub Rants –

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 June 22, 2010):

~ Gretchen Rubin offers a great mix of practical and personal tips that guarantee me a smile, every time I click on her blog.

~ Brilliant writing advice from a wide array of authors.

~ It’s like People Magazine with a focus on the spiritual adventures of celebs.

~ A bunch of Borders employees are trying various resolutions found in books. The one I like best is the guy going for the adult version of the President’s Physical Fitness Challenge. I didn’t know that was an option, but I want my badge!

~ One of the first blogs I followed, and still one of the funniest. I’ve met “Swishy” and she’s every bit as great in person as she is online.

~ I met Amy Julia at a writer’s conference. Her perspective on faith, family & life makes me think…and feel.

(Catching Genius, Matters of Faith and Between Friends):

~ GalleyCat (industry news)

~ Backspace (writers’ discussion board $40/year)
~ The Divining Wand (no, really!)

~ A Good Blog Is Hard To Find (southern authors rotate blogging)

~ Toastiest (personal blog of David Seidman that I used in my research for BETWEEN FRIENDS and came to care about)

Kristina Riggle (Real Life & Liars and ) The Life You’ve Imagined coming August 17, 2010):

~ Obviously, the Debutante Ball!

~ Literary Mama, where I’m co-editor for fiction, which features really exciting, fresh work by mother-writers.

~ My agent’s blog, Pub Rants.

~ GalleyCat, an industry blog which combines great information with a biting wit

And a non-writing blog, Generation Xpert, by my friend Suzanne Kart. Speaking of biting wit, she uses hers to blog about Generation X.

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

~ Backspace:

~ Book Balloon:

~ BiblioBuffet:

~ Teen Fiction Cafe:

~ Read Short Fiction:

Wendy Tokunaga (Midori By Moonlight, Love in Translation):

~ The Book Deal: An Inside View to Publishing by editor Alan Rinzler – this guy really knows his stuff.

~ Internet Movie Database (whenever I see a film, I look it up here afterwards to get the scoop on the actors, trivia, awards, etc.)

~ Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent – Nathan works for Curtis Brown and always offers useful and cutting edge info on getting an agent, the publishing industry, the editorial process, etc.

~ Yahoo News – I find this site the easiest as far as layout and content to quickly keep up with the news of the day as it changes by the minute.

~ Perez Hilton – Yes, it’s cheesy gossip, but I admire how Mario Lavendeira (aka as Perez Hilton) built a highly successful website from humble beginnings with only a laptop and an “office” at the local Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Cafe. He’s also an amusing writer.

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Announcement: The winner of The Sisters 8 Series is Susan. Congratulations! Please email with your mailing address and the books will be sent out promptly. This is definitely an occasion where I wish everyone could have won but thank you ALL for entering!

Guest Thaisa Frank: Do I Choose My Material or Does It Choose Me?

May 05, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[The profile of Thaisa Frank (A Brief History in Camouflage, Sleeping in Velvet), in last week’s Revealing Q&A, mentioned magic realism regarding her debut novel, Heidegger’s Glasses, releasing May 25, 2010. And that mention prompted Suzanne to write me with the following:

Do authors consciously choose their writing style and genre, or is it simply the only way they can write? for instance, I was really intrigued by your profile of Thaisa Frank yesterday….I would love to be able to write magic realism, as her profile mentioned to be able to create a character who disguises herself as furniture, but I’m not sure I have the imagination to pull it off.

Thaisa appreciated the question and, in today’s guest post, she answers how it worked for her when writing Heidegger’sGlasses.]

It’s always interesting to listen to questions because they make me think about other people see my work since I can never see it for the first time. Also, questions like yours, Suzanne, help me understand the way I write–in this case whether I choose a particular way of writing or whether it chooses me. So thanks for asking about whether I chose magic realism.

I think a miraculous sense of the world chose me long before I was in a position to choose. Since being a little kid I was hard-wired to see the absurdity of the world, to daydream, and to wonder about the limits of language.

But before I get into that, I would say that I don’t work in the tradition of magic realism but in the tradition of surrealism. Even though these categories are often used interchangeably there’s actually a big difference because magic realism invariably involves a community of people who believe in some magical force that exists in the world (often contact with the dead, the ability to time travel, the appearance of angels, sometimes the belief in the totemic nature of objects.)

The world of magic realism, in other words, is an extraordinary world. It’s a world where magic penetrates the ordinary. Surrealism, on the other hand, posits one absurd situation in a perfectly ordinary world. (A man wakes up transformed into a huge bug, or is accused of a crime he never committed and isn’t even named). The ordinary world is determined to proceed according to its plodding, often legalistic, ordinary laws.

A Hundred Years of Solitude, by Marquez is a good example of magic realism. People commune with the dead and can see their dreams. In The Trial, by Kafka, a man is accused of a crime he not only hasn’t committed, but which is never spelled out to him. He has nothing magic to resort to, but must appeal to the plodding legal system. This absurd situation shines a lens on the absurdity of the legal system.

Heidegger’s Glasses certainly touches upon a community that believes in the occult. But only a few characters in the book are part of that community, and the two protagonists are definitely not part of it. What becomes surreal is the premise that there are people who answer letters to the dead in an underground mine that has been converted into a romantic 19th-Century world, with a cobblestone street, gas lamps, and a canopy of sky that changes from night to day. This world is an absurd dream in the midst of a Germany’s failing war.

Without question, this world chose me. I could see the underground mine long before I knew what people were doing there. One of my favorite phrases is by Wallace Stevens from Adagia in which he says the imagination is the weather of the mind. I don’t really know what the “imagination” is. It seems to come from outside of the self, to be far beyond the world of dreams. But the point is not where it comes from. The point is that the image of the underground mine felt given to me. It was as though I discovered something that already existed.

Later, when the book fleshed out, the mine became a logical extension of carrying the Reich’s concerns to an extreme. (These extremes include a concern for record-keeping, a belief in the occult and an obsession with architecture and the 19th century.)

As is the in all my stories, I invariably discover that the particular extreme has universal resonance. In this case, the extremism isn’t just about the Reich. It shines a lens on aspects of conflict in the world today. This may be why I ended it in the 21st century. But long before I had any conceptual picture of the novel, I knew the last scene–where it was in time, who the character was, and where it took place. Paradoxically, then, the imaginative and surreal landscapes shine a lens on the ordinary world.

But I want to return to question of what the writer chooses because your question, Suzanne, made me think about a fairy-tale element in Heidegger’s Glasses.

Fairy tales are neither magic realism nor surrealism. They don’t require a belief in the supernatural. But they come from a distant past where wolves can talk and enchanted people can wake up. They create deeply shared cultural images because most of us learn them as children. They draw upon a cultural imagination and don’t require a belief in magic.

The fairy-tale element also felt like something that chose me. But once I saw this element I brought it into bolder relief, finding places and people that felt prone to enchantment.

Yet to tell you more about why I did that would be to swim in waters that are beyond language–and make up a story about why I told a story a certain way. Perhaps The Black Forest, which figures in the book, reminded me of the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel. Perhaps I felt that the character who most believes in the occult was prone to becoming enchanted. And perhaps I wanted to lift World War II further into my imagination and the reader’s imagination so we all could see it better, because imagination offers distance. Or perhaps the fairy tale is simply very deep in me.

In the course of writing this blog I realize I don’t use this element in my short stories. And it interests me that it came out in a novel.

I hope these have answered some questions about the way I work. Also–below–I’ve listed some writers who work in magic realism, surrealism–or both, as well as one writer who works with the fairy tale. Please feel free to write me at if you have questions. And, Larramie, thanks for inviting me to do this blog.

Note: Magic realism and surrealism aren’t fantasy. In fantasy one never quite forgets that one is reading make-believe. In magic realism and surrealism the reader suspends disbelief.

Magical realists:
Marquez: A Hundred Years of Solitude;
Voltaire: (New Viking Penguin Edition of Voltaire in which I have an Author’s Afterward talking about elements in Voltaire that might be helpful in understanding magic realism)
I.B. Singer: (Short Friday is a good short story collection with which to start.)
Borges: Labyrinths, Ficciones,

Both Surr:alism and Magic Realism:
Borges: Dr. Brody’s Report

Marquez: A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings
Kafka: Metamorphosis, The Trial, The Castle
Gogol: The Nose

The Fairy Tale:
Almost any collection by Angela Carter

Lord of the Rings: Tolkien
The Wizard of Earthsea: Ursula LeGuine

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[Book Giveaway:] The Divining Wand is giving away the five books of the Sisters 8 series, including the latest — Marcia’s Madness. Anyone leaving a comment on this post will be entered into a random drawing with the winner receiving ALL five books! The deadline for this giveaway is tonight at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced in tomorrow’s post.

Guest Joëlle Anthony Fiddlin’ Around

May 04, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[ Joëlle Anthony debuts next week with her YA novel, Restoring Harmony — a riveting tale of how a resourceful teen survives, and even finds romance, in a future world where no one is as they seem. To add another dimension to her main character, the author also gave her the gift of music as she explains in this guest post.]

While I’ve been a writer for a long time, it wasn’t until I moved to Tennessee to live with my then boyfriend/now husband that I was able to quit my job and focus on writing full time (about 6 years ago). Victor is a musician, and living with someone who plays guitar, mandolin, banjo, and ukulele, sings, and relishes his old vinyl record collection and turntable changed my life. Unfortunately, I did not become a great musician, but I did become an astute listener.

What was most surprising (and really shouldn’t have been) about living with a songwriter is that he didn’t sit around playing his own music every night. I’m not sure why I thought he would. I mean, at the end of the day, I don’t settle into the reading chair with Restoring Harmony, do I? Uh, no. I read other people’s books. So what happened, living with Victor, was instead of getting a personal concert of my favourite songs that he wrote each night, I got an old-time traditional music education.

While Victor’s own music is more a mix of bluesy-jazzy-Lyle-Lovett-Tom-Waits type stuff, his true love is old-time traditional music. You’re probably more familiar with bluegrass than what constitutes old-time, so I’ll give you a very rudimentary tutorial, which probably stems more from my observation, than from actual fact. Bluegrass is played FAST, the faster the better. And in a circle of musicians, they tend to move around, each taking a solo, each trying to play faster and outdo the person before them.

In old-time, it’s much more an ensemble situation. And it’s not unusual for a circle of musicians to play the same tune over and over for ten, fifteen, or even twenty minutes, the whole thing becoming something of a meditation as the energy increases and melds together, going on and on and on until the fiddler (who is essentially the leader) kicks up his or her foot indicating it’s time to take a break for a beer. There’s more singing in bluegrass too, although there are plenty of old-time songs as well. In bluegrass, the choices tends to lean towards gospel, while in old-time it’s more about killing your lover, or leaving the farm, or missing your lover who died because you left the farm and returned too late.

Anyway, the more music I had around me, the more I found it seeping into my writing. I have two manuscripts tucked away, probably never to be published, about a girl who plays old-time music on guitar and lives in a house similar to ours on the lake in TN. And as you probably know, Molly McClure, the main character in Restoring Harmony is a fiddle player.

I chose to have Molly play the fiddle for several reasons. First of all, I’d played violin as a child and so I have a bit of a feel for the instrument, even though I don’t play now. Also, it’s a portable instrument, perfect for a road-trip. Another reason is because while Victor really is only a beginner fiddler, and couldn’t help me too much on the technical aspects of fiddle playing, he did know all about the music and could assist me there. Also, some of our friends in TN are “top of the heap” fiddlers too. They would come to our house and sit on our covered porch and raise the roof with their playing, which made me want to “participate” somehow and the only way I could think of was with writing.

Molly could’ve played a mandolin. Victor plays one well and so he could’ve easily been my expert, but there’s something about fiddlin’ that is just brash and brazen and brave and so like Molly. And by making Molly a fiddler, I have experienced a most amazing thing. I’ve drawn into my life, Sarah Tradewell – Canadian teen fiddler extraordinaire. SarahFiddle Oh, and did I mention that I met her while my book was out on submission, not before I wrote it, and yet she physically looks exactly like I imagined and described Molly? The story of how we met is too long to include in this post, and many of you have heard it, but if you haven’t, check out this video.

I think what I find most amazing about Restoring Harmony is how I’ve been able to weave music through it, when only 6 years ago, I had no idea what it was like to be a musician. Living with live music truly is a gift and I hope that by incorporating it into my writing, I can inspire others to pick up instruments, share their talents, or just start listening to something they might never have listened to before.

To hear several of the tunes and songs from Restoring Harmony, performed and sung by Victor and Sarah, check out my website. I’d love to hear what you think of the music! And thanks, Larramie, for having me here.

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[Book Giveaway:] The Divining Wand is giving away the five books of the Sisters 8 series, including the latest — Marcia’s Madness. Anyone leaving a comment on this post will be entered into a random drawing with the winner receiving ALL five books! The deadline for this giveaway is Wednesday, May 5, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced in Thursday’s post.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted and Marcia’s Madness

May 03, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books


Today Lauren Baratz-Logsted (most recent Crazy Beautiful YA, The Education of Bet YA coming July 12, 2010) — along with her husband Greg Logsted (Alibi Junior High, Something Happened YA) and their daughter Jackie — add Book 5: Marcia’s Madness to the Sisters 8 Series for ages 9 – 12.

In other words this series is about a family, written by a family. Lauren told the backstory of the Sisters 8 when writing her April 6, 2010 guest post, Lauren Baratz-Logstead’s Love of Writing:

“The idea for the series about octuplets whose parents go missing one New Year’s Eve came to us in December 2006 when we were snowbound in Colorado. There was no TV where we were, and there weren’t any other children around, so what choice did we have for entertainment but to begin writing a series of books?”

And continued with:

“One thing we have strived to do with The Sisters 8, since all three of us our huge fans of Roald Dahl, we’ve tried to emulate him to the extent that we do the best to make the quirky humor work for readers of all ages in addition to the targeted audience of 6- to 10-year-olds. We hope we have succeeded.”

Please visit The Sisters 8 website to read:

The Story Begins

On New Year’s Eve, eight sisters – octuplets – wait for Mommy and Daddy to come back from the shed with more wood for the fire.

But they – Mommy and Daddy, that is – don’t. Come back. Ever.

It takes the sisters a few minutes to notice, but when they do it’s just as we would expect. Disbelief! Outrage! Despair! But then a note appears, telling the girls that each one of them has a talent and a gift. They all must find theirs to learn what happened to Mommy and Daddy.

Okay, so that’s how it begin. How does it end? Enter the world of Sisters Eight to find out…

How could any age reader resist that invitation? Yet there is more on the Sisters 8 Books page:

The Sisters 8 Series

It’s a good old-fashioned mystery with missing (or dead) parents, nosy neighbors, talking refrigerators, foul-smelling fruitcake (is there any other kind?), and even a little magic. Eight little girls, eight cats, and one big mystery—let the fun begin! Read the Series Prologue.

Judging by the enthusiastic Reviews only a young reader could write, this family of authors has a hit on their hands. It is a collaboration, though, so how does it work? According to Lauren, the process is simple:

“It all goes pretty much as it has since the beginning when we first brainstormed the general idea for a series about octuplets. We all discuss what needs to go into each book plotwise. Then, like Curious George, I sit down and begin to write. We call me The Pen. After each chapter, I read it to my other two cohorts, we discuss what needs to be changed in that chapter and add new ideas for the next chapter. Rinse and repeat until each book is completed. Oh, and after each book is completed, we go out for a celebratory lunch. These inevitably turn into editorial lunches with the other two peppering me with ideas for the next book. I beg them to stop, not wanting my head to explode, but they never listen. So yes, I do all the physical writing, which is why it’s billed as “Lauren Baratz-Logsted with Greg Logsted and Jackie Logsted,” but there’d never be any Sisters 8 without all of us. I could certainly never think up all this craziness on my own and of course the other two are authors in their own right. Greg is the author of one YA novel, Something Happened, and one middle grade novel, Alibi Junior High, while ten-year-old Jackie likes to write plays. Oh, and she’s also working on her own novel. Solo, this time.”

Charming, clever and fun, the Sisters 8 introduces Book 5: Marcia’s Madness with the following synopsis:

Wherein the fifth-born sister, Marcia, the sensible one; Marcia, the reasonable one; Marcia, the one who would never do anything crazy, begins to act in a most unusual way.

Oh my…Marcia, Marcia, Marcia! Read the First Chapter, meet the sisters, and discover why they’re concerned about Marcia.

Are you thinking summer vacation? How perfect to surprise a young reader with the five books of the Sisters 8 series. In fact, that’s exactly what The Divining Wand will do this week. Anyone leaving a comment on this post will be entered into a random drawing with the winner receiving ALL five books! The deadline for this giveaway is Wednesday, May 5, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced in Thursday’s post.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted with Greg Logsted and Jackie Logsted have created a delightful family story. It’s age-appropriate intrigue, whimsy and irony encourage and promote reading. Seriously, is there anything better than that? Remember Book 5: Marcia’s Madness is available in bookstores now.