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Archive for June, 2010

Carey Goldberg, Beth Jones, and
Pamela Ferdinand with Three Wishes

June 14, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books


Although its title and description may sound like a fairy tale, the collaborative memoir, Three Wishes:A True Story of Good Friends, Crushing Heartbreak, and Astonishing Luck on Our Way to Love and Motherhood by Carey Goldberg, Beth Jones, and Pamela Ferdinand, is a 21st century non-fiction account of how anything is possible through traditional hope and love.

Once upon a time — ten years ago — these three successful, connected, savvy journalists began to realize a personal deadline was looming. Their careers had made headlines while relationships had been “cut” for limited time/space/interest. Although single and approaching forty, they still dreamed of “having it all”….or, at least, one baby.

Three Wishes tells the story of of these three friends who transformed their lives when they decided to take control in making motherhood happen.

Here, in Video form, is the book’s backstory:

Then the Three Wishes synopsis:

Carey, Beth, and Pam had succeeded at work but failed at romance, and each resolved to have a baby before time ran out. Just one problem: no men.

Carey took the first bold step towards single motherhood, searching anonymous donor banks until she found the perfect match. What she found was not a father in a vial, but a sort of magic potion. She met a man, fell in love, and got pregnant the old-fashioned way.

She passed the vials to Beth, and it happened again. Beth met man, Beth got pregnant. Beth passed the vials to Pam, and the magic struck again. There were setbacks and disappointments, but three women became three families, reveling in the shared joy of love, friendship, and never losing hope.

The Reviews are glowing and Three Wishes was selected as a “TOME OF THE BRAVE” Pick for the June issue of Oprah’s O! Magazine.

When Pamela Ferdinand contacted me to offer a Q&A interview or the opportunity to review this triple memoir, how could I resist what sounded perfect for The Divining Wand? Yet ARCS were piled high and the site’s posts booked solid with new releases/debuts. So before even reading the book, I was introduced to Carey, Beth, and Pamela (live) during their April 21st interview on TODAY. Please take this opportunity to meet them, too, by Launching the Video.

Would you like to browse through the book? That wish can be granted as well:

What good fortune all this information is available about the authors and their book, yet what about actual storytelling?

With each author having her own compelling and complicated experiences to tell, they take turns in sharing their journeys to motherhood in alternating chapters. Carey leads off by being the first to seek wish fulfillment by purchasing the vials of donor sperm, Beth follows, and then Pamela. Each voice is as unique as their personal circumstances along with their individual timelines. For, remember, Carey has already made her decision to opt for single parenthood via medical technology or has she?

Because when Carey meets the man who will eventually become the father of her children and her husband, that’s when wishing only for a child turns into wanting much more. True, she does use one vial of donor sperm, but the procedure is unsuccessful. Seven vials remain but now there’s a man in her life and, even if he doesn’t want to commit to being a father…perhaps a donor?

Yes all three women meet their match but even the best relationships are messy and oh so vulnerable. In fact it’s the sheer candidness of sharing everything the authors and their mates live through that makes Three Wishes most impressive. How did they manage to reveal such personal and intimate details of their lives? I asked Pamela and she replied: “It wasn’t easy to share all those details, but we felt an obligation to do so — as journalists who asked such personal details of other people; as women who want to encourage other women to be able to share their experiences; and as authors who feel the most interesting stories are the most honest ones.”

Three Wishes is much more than a book about choosing motherhood as a single woman. Instead it relates what can happen when a wish becomes a goal in life as opposed to an unspoken breath blowing out birthday candles. If by definition “a dream is a wish your heart makes,” then — in order to make it real — you need to share it with others. By opening your heart, you’ll be opening that wish to possibilities, suggestions, support, alternatives, and the unexpected. As Pamela wrote in her post, Guest Pamela Ferdinand Makes A Wish?:

“I fell in love only when my heart was open wider than ever because, in accepting the sperm, I had accepted the possibilities of a non-traditional route to motherhood and family. Of a non-linear life, when anything could happen, in any order.”

Three Wishes:A True Story of Good Friends, Crushing Heartbreak, and Astonishing Luck on Our Way to Love and Motherhood is for anyone who believes that, while miracles do happen and wishes are granted, most of what one yearns for requires time, extreme effort, and heartfelt strength. If you want to be reminded, inspired, or simply awed by those truths, please read how Carey Goldberg, Beth Jones, and Pamela Ferdinand created their own magic to produce three wishes.

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away a copy of the triple memoir Three Wishes by Carey Goldberg, Beth Jones, and Pamela Ferdinand 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, June 16, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to possibly claim your book.

Our Authors Journey, IIII

June 10, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

Ever since the week of March 29th The Divining Wand’s posts have been filled with success. New/debut book releases can be found on these pages, fulfilling dreams for authors and rewarding enjoyment for readers….with more yet to come. However it’s a fact that “getting published” doesn’t just happen. Instead the road to publication is a journey down a rather unpaved path.

How do some travel this area better than others? Four more of our successful, published authors answer the questions of how they handled rejection and what kept them going to reach their destination?

Meredith Cole (Posed for Murder, Dead in the Water):

“The publishing process is long–even for overnight sensations. And it’s not for the feint of heart, so you’ll have to be patient. It took me about a year and a half to write a book that I thought was pretty good. I started looking for an agent. Then I joined a writing group that brought me back down to earth. It was going to take a lot of fixing to make it decent. But I had an even better plot idea for the same characters. So I wrote my second book in about a year which became POSED FOR MURDER. I entered it in the SMP/Malice Domestic Best Traditional First Mystery competition, and had to wait 9 months to hear. Meanwhile, I continued looking for an agent and wrote a screenplay. Then I found out I won. But it was another almost two years before my book came out. It took a lot of patience, but I also realized that only one person (granted, an editor or agent) needs to fall in love with your book. You just have to find that person.

“If you do not love to write, don’t become a writer. That doesn’t mean that some days writing feels painful, but something inside you must drive you to continue. You have to believe it will happen and inspire yourself to continue. The only way to guarantee that you don’t get published is to give up.”

Ivy Pochoda (The Art of Disappearing):

“I submitted my book to ten agents and eight accepted it. Then my agent submitted it to twenty publishers and I received twenty rejections. I decided to rewrite the book and finally it sold. It took a year and a half. I never entertained the notion that my novel wouldn’t get published. I just kept going, started writing a new book. And when I began my new book, the original novel sold!”

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

“I was writing for magazines before I wrote fiction, so my path has been littered with rejection for years. 🙂 That said, I wrote a manuscript that got me agent representation but that said agent couldn’t sell. After writing what would eventually go on to be my debut novel, said agent also told me that “it would be doing my career more harm than good,” to go out with that novel, and we promptly parted ways. I found new representation within weeks, and we got four offers on the book a few weeks later. So…all in? From the beginning of my agent search to selling that second manuscript? Hmmm, I’m not sure, but I’d say about a year, a year and a half.”

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

“I started writing novels seriously in around 1994 and didn’t get my book deal until 2006, so that’s a dozen years. And my “debut” novel was the fifth novel I’d written. Several things kept me going. I can’t not write so there is no way I would have stopped. And as I took classes and consulted with teachers about my writing I began to garner more ‘“positive”’ rejections from agents and this showed me I was at least getting somewhere. Supportive writer friends also were a comfort and inspiration.”

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Announcement: The winners of Tish Cohen’s The Truth About Delilah Blue are Rebecca and Wendy Kinsey.

AND

Keetha is the winner of Allie Larkin’s Stay.

Congratulations! Please email: diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address, and the book(s) will be sent out promptly.

The Revealing of Trish Ryan

June 09, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

Trish Ryan closed her debut memoir, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Love, and Happily Ever After, after exchanging wedding vows with “Mr. Right.” But rather than that being the end of her journey of self-discovery through the help of faith/beliefs, it was only the beginning as the authors recounts in A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances to be released June 22, 2010.

The popular Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, shares her praise for this second memoir:

“Trish Ryan is the rare writer who can range from the deepest questions of the soul to hilarious moments of everyday life. Most striking is her honesty about her struggles – with her faith and her penchant for Ann Taylor clothes, with her marriage and her weight. This engaging account of a spiritual journey will resonate with readers of all backgrounds.”

The Divining Wand has scheduled a presentation/review of A Maze of Grace for Monday, June 21, 2010 but today let’s meet Trish through her “official” bio:

TRISH RYAN lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband, Steve, and their genetically improbable mixed-breed dog.

And now, in what she described as “fun,” Trish reveals her true self:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: Unexpected, hopeful, ridiculous, hilarious, sparkly, fun, adventurous, candid.

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: “Things tend to get done.” (From my law school friend Jon, who napped while the rest of us studied, came to exams in his bathrobe, and—to my eternal consternation—ended up with the same GPA as me.)

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: When life exceeds my expectations.

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: Heights. My career as a high school gymnast was a sad and funny thing to behold.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: Cambridge in early summer is rather beautiful, so right here. Maybe outside under a tree, instead of in my office.

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: This sounds preposterous, but ever since I was a little girl I’ve been fascinated by Harriet Tubman. She was so brave, and did impossible things with some regularity. At the end of my life if I’ve done something even a little bit along those lines, that would be great.

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: My husband, Steve. Nothing phases him, and he’s incredibly awesome and consistent. The three favorite personal qualities I describe below? All him.

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases?
A: I have a love/hate relationship with adverbs. Whenever I need to cut my word count in a manuscript, I do a search for “ly.”

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: I would love to be hospitable—to know instinctually how to welcome people and take good care of them, to enjoy food and cooking. I’m so focused on people and conversations that you can sit in my living room for four days before I even think to offer you a beverage.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: I was a state champion baton twirler when I was 12. That combined all the words I listed above to describe my life (Unexpected, hopeful, ridiculous, hilarious, sparkly, fun, adventurous, candid) much more than anything I might say about passing the bar exam or writing 2 books.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: Discouragement. If I’m not careful, I can see all the things that could go wrong with every dream or plan.

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: Being encouraging (Oh, the irony!) When I’m on my game, I have a lot of faith for impossible things, despite seeing what could go wrong.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: Not staying in touch with certain friends from different phases of my life.

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: For a day, I’d be the President of the United States. I like to know how things work—people, organizations, systems—so as a former poli sci major, it would be incredibly cool to understand the Presidency from the inside.

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: I laugh a lot. Everyone in my family has a great sense of humor, and finding a way to laugh is our default response to almost everything.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: When I was little, I loved this collection of books about a girl named Trixie Belden who solved mysteries with her friend Honey. I’m not sure why they had porn star names, but those girls were awesome.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Cat Woman.

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: This was the toughest question! I love sports, so presenting me with a pretend opportunity to meet a favorite athlete sent me into a tizzy ☺ In the end, though, I realized that I’d LOVE to have a conversation with Billy Jean King. She did so many amazing things in her years as a player, but what I really love is that she has ongoing vision for how to move her sport forward. Her life is only partly defined by her years as an athlete. So I’d ask her how she maintains vision and energy to keep pushing forward.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: Being late.

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: I do a lot of speaking about spirituality & relationships. That’s really fun because my romantic past was such a complete disaster that EVERYONE feels more hopeful once they’ve heard that things worked out okay for me.

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Choreographer/judge on So You Think You Can Dance.

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Consistency, Honesty, Humor

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
Baloney sandwiches…with mayo, mustard, American cheese, and cucumber. So delicious.

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: Around the Sun by Ryanhood
Happy Ending by Sugarland
Rock & Roll Heaven’s Gate by The Indigo Girls
The Long Way Around by The Dixie Chicks
Help Me Believe by Nichole Nordeman

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: I’ll stick with non-fiction here, because that’s what I write:
Truth & Beauty by Ann Patchett
Redeemed by Heather King
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
The Woman at the Washington Zoo by Marjorie Williams

Trish Ryan is an example of grace by being warm, funny, wise and incredibly human. To become even better acquainted, follow her on Twitter and visit her blog, Trish’s Dishes.

* * * * *

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away a copy of Allie Larkin’s Stay in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Allie Larkin and Stay. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is tonight, June 9, 2010 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.

AND

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Tish Cohen’s The Truth About Delilah Blue in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Tish Cohen and The Truth About Delilah Blue. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is tonight, June 9, 2010 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.

Allie Larkin and Stay

June 08, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books, Debuts


On Thursday June 10, 2010, Allie Larkin becomes a debut author when her women’s fiction novel, STAY, appears in bookstores and ships from online retailers.

However this book and its author hold many surprises, the first of which is: Allie didn’t always want to be a writer. It’s true that she has always been a reader, even while struggling with Attention Deficit Disorder that went undiagnosed until she was eighteen. Being a writer felt too big of a “focus” challenge and instead Allie chose to study theater in college, leaving after two years to “find herself.” When she returned to school ten years ago to study Communications, her professors noticed her writing talent and it was only then that Allie started writing fiction.

Another revelation is that Stay began as a writing exercise for an advanced fiction class in 2002. From there, it turned into a 50-page short story about two best friends, Van and Janie, having a conversation about Van’s messy love life over coffee at Starbucks. Sent out to a prestigious literary magazine, it was rejected, filed away, and dragged out a few years later for a writing group Allie had been invited to join. Taking a fresh look at her work, she wondered: “How did this start?” “What happened five years before this?” And, about six months later, Allie Larkin realized she was writing a novel. In her own words:

“There’s only about one page of material from the original story that made it into STAY. But Van and Janie are still there, and through the writing and revising process, they evolved into characters I love like old friends. It turned into a puzzle. I wanted to tell the right story for my characters, and the fact that the characters mattered so much to me kept me going.”

As for the identity of that adorable “book cover dog,” he IS Allie’s own beloved Argo, although she is quick to note that wasn’t the original plan. But when finding a stock photo of a black German Shepherd didn’t prove easy, over 1,000 pictures of Argo were taken and sent off to Dutton for the art designer to work her magic. And the novelist’s reaction:

“Since Argo was such a huge part of writing STAY, having him on the cover just feels perfect. Not only was he the inspiration for Van’s dog, Joe, but he was my writing buddy.”

Now that you’re well-informed on the backstory and side stories of Stay, here is the synopsis:

Savannah “Van” Leone has loved Peter since the day they met. The problem is, Peter has loved Van’s best friend, Janie, since the moment they met. And now they’re walking down the aisle, with Van standing nearby in a Halloween orange bridesmaid dress, her smile as hollow as a jack-o-lantern. After the wedding, Van drowns her sorrows in Kool Aid-vodka cocktails and reruns of Rin-Tin-Tin, and does what any woman in her situation would do: She buys a German Shepherd over the internet.

The pocket-sized puppy Van is expecting turns out to be a clumsy, hundred-pound beast that only responds to Slovakian. Van is at the end of her rope—until she realizes that this quirky giant may be the only living being who will always be loyal to her, no matter what. And thus begins a friendship that will alter Van’s life in ways she never imagined.

Joe leads Van to Dr. Alex Brandt, a rugged vet with floppy blond hair and winning smile. But just as things are starting to heat up, the newlyweds return from their honeymoon, forcing Van to decide just how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to have everything she ever wanted. Warm and witty, poignant and funny, Stay marks the arrival of an irresistible new voice.

Read the “irresistible new voice” in the excerpt of Stay: Chapter One.

And view its charming Book Trailer:

With words of praise from literary critics and spotlighted in the June 7th issue of People Magazine Great Reads for Animal Lovers section, the real surprise of Allie’s novel is that it’s NOT even close to the standard chicklit fare. And, while all the differences could be listed, the “clincher” is that Van isn’t looking for a man…rather she’ll be happy with “man’s best friend.”

There’s a special place in my heart for debut authors and — during as well as after reading the Advanced Uncorrected Proofs sent by Dutton — Allie Larkin had more than staked her claim. As a gifted storyteller who writes of the serious and amusing facts of life, she delivers both with a realistic wallop. With her voice unique, her writing flawless, and her themes profound, how — I wondered — can this be her first novel?

What I do know, though, is the prestigious literary magazine that rejected Allie’s short story included a personal note saying she had “something special” here and “to keep working on it.” She eventually took that advice, creating an insightful, genuinely bittersweet look at the messiness of life.

Much of that messiness comes from love and this debut author explains her feelings on the subject and how she incorporated it into the book:

“I am fascinated by the complicated ways people love each other and how that affects the choices they make. That’s what I set out to explore in STAY. We can love without being in love. We can be in love without having the ability to act on it. We can love our friends like family, and we can love our dogs like family too. And the feelings that aren’t clear cut or easily understood are just as valid and important as the ones that are.

“Joe’s love is relatively uncomplicated compared to all of Van’s other relationships. Dogs are amazing, because their sense of loyalty, their enthusiasm for the simplest of things, and their ability to love unconditionally is inspiring and contagious. The spark of the idea to give Van a dog came to me while I was raking leaves in the backyard, but the overall concept comes from the way Argo has changed my life. Argo has made me a better, happier, more open person, and I knew giving Van a German Shepherd would do the same.”

Clever, fresh (in language too), endearingly complicated, enjoy the fun of STAY, available everywhere this Thursday.

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away a copy of Allie Larkin’s Stay 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, June 9, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to possibly claim your book.

AND

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Tish Cohen’s The Truth About Delilah Blue in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Tish Cohen and The Truth About Delilah Blue. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to possibly claim your book.

Tish Cohen and The Truth About Delilah Blue

June 07, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books

From the book’s front cover:

“A beautifully written, finely wrought, race-to-the-end novel about finding your family,
finding a life and finding yourself. Tish Cohen is the next great thing in women’s fiction.”
__Allison Winn Scotch, New York Times bestselling author of
The One That I Want and Time of My Life

The multi-talented, insightful Tish Cohen (Town House, Inside Out Girl, Little Black Lies YA) offers readers a coming-of-age, coming-to terms book tomorrow — June 8, 2010 –, with her third adult novel, The Truth About Delilah Blue. It’s true that the title character is only twenty, yet how many individuals, of any age, suddenly learn and must attempt to maturely cope with the fact that they were once a child on a milk carton deemed MISSING?

Although that alone would be an amazing “what if” for a storyline, it was not the basic idea for The Truth. Rather the inspiration came from the author’s father’s back surgery as explained in the December 1, 2009 blog post, The Truth About Delilah Blue:

“I’m very excited about my next book for adults, I wrote it over a period of about two years and it was inspired, but has nothing to do with, by my father’s back surgery. My single father lives out in California, my youngest brother lives in Vancouver and my sister, other brother and I live in the northeast. So when Dad announced he needed someone to care for him for two weeks post-op, it was no simple feat to decide who could up and go. Turned out Michael, the youngest, was able to transport his work down south and be there for our dad. We were never going to leave Dad to himself, if it hadn’t been Michael, my sister or I would have pulled our kids out of school and hopped on a plane.

Our dad is lucky, he has four kids who care, but the experience got me thinking: what happens when the aging parent had wronged his children or child in the past? How would that child react when the parent is vulnerable and a reversal of roles becomes real? So here was the seed for a story. All I needed to do was think up a paternal act that could not only be proven later in my heroine’s life, but would be irrevocable, unspeakable, and unforgivable.

This one terrible act, a dozen years in the past, became the basis for THE TRUTH ABOUT DELILAH BLUE.” Please read more.

Tish’s post then evolved into the following synopsis:

What if you woke up one day to learn that you were a child on a milk carton?

Lila Mack, formerly known as Delilah Blue Lovett, has always felt like an outsider ever since she moved from the gingerbread community of Cabbagetown, Toronto to Los Angeles with her father when she was eight-years-old. Now twenty and still struggling to find her way in life, she longs to become an artist like her long-lost mother, but unable to pay for classes she does something quite daring. She takes a job as an art model, posing nude for a classroom full of students so she can learn from the professor—a decision that lifts the veil of her once insular world.

Anxiety over exposing her body is the least of Lila’s worries when her father starts to become disoriented and forgetful, signs of early-onset Alzheimer’s. At the same time, her mother re-enters the scene, bringing secrets about the past that will change their lives. Suddenly, nearly everything Lila knows about herself is a lie, and she has no idea who to trust—her free-spirited mother whom she always believed abandoned the family, or her adoring father, who has begun his descent into senility and is either unable or unwilling to give her answers. Lila realizes neither parent is what he/she seems and the only one she can really rely on is the most broken person of all—herself.

The Truth About Delilah Blue showcases Cohen’s talent for finding the humor and heart in the most dysfunctional of families as she tackles the subject of parental abduction and the themes of abandonment, trust, healing and forgiveness.

Anyone who has read Town House, Inside Out Girl, or even Little Black Lies knows Tish’s affinity for creating quirky, problematic-to-society, main characters and shaping them into unique, believable individuals, deserving of respect and understanding. However, in this novel, the author allows Delilah to be the stronger, more put-together one who must deal with quirky, dysfunctional parents and friends. It’s not that Delilah Blue lacks insecurities, confusion about her own identity, and definite trust issues. Of course she does. But, in knowing the main character intimately, her mix of optimism, pessimism, and indecision make perfect sense. So much so that I did not read the Uncorrected Proof sent by Harper Perennial, instead I inhabited Delilah Blue and discovered the truth when she did.

Indeed Tish Cohen tells the story THAT personally, realizing it was what she had to do:

“To have the guts to look to my past, my childhood, for what unsettles me most. What really scares me. Because this emotion is exactly what my new book needs.”

Exposing such raw emotions could have made this story dark, instead it is brave and realistically glorious. After reading the post, Guest Tish Cohen on Honest Choices, one knows that the author would not permit anything less from herself or Delilah.

The Truth About Delilah Blue is exactly as Allison Winn Scotch describes it…and more. For this novel is a captivating “must read” about true self-discovery, acceptance and moving forward.

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Tish Cohen’s The Truth About Delilah Blue 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, June 9, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to possibly claim your book.

Guest Pamela Ferdinand Makes A Wish?

June 03, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Pamela Ferdinand is a co-author with Beth Jones and Carey Goldberg of the triple memoir Three Wishes: A True Story of Good Friends, Crushing Heartbreak, and Astonishing Luck on Our Way to Love and Motherhood. This amazing account of real life magic already has been seen on and in: The Today Show, The New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, WGN Chicago, WGBH Boston Greater Boston, WNYC The Takeaway, iVillage, The Boston Globe…. Yet, in today’s guest post, Pamela writes about taking control of life, rather than merely wishing for what she desired.]

Wish. So often that word conjures the idea of a genie in a bottle instead of taking destiny into one’s own hands. As a single working woman nearing 40 who wanted both love and family, I could have used a genie. I felt like I was running out of time after falling for men who either couldn’t or wouldn’t commit to me. But as much as I hoped one would show up before my biology gave out, I couldn’t count on it. I couldn’t just close my eyes and wish.

Instead, I discovered a different kind of magic in the process of transforming my life by accepting it as it was, figuring out what I truly wanted, and allowing my friends to support me, as I had supported them. It was a moment when wishes became actions, when desires became decisions, and when I stopped waiting for life to happen to me and tried to create what I wanted my life to be.

My path to wish fulfillment began when my friend Carey, alone at age 39, had purchased vials of anonymous donor sperm but never used them. She met her future husband and father of her children the very day those vials arrived at her clinic. She passed them on to our friend Beth, also on the verge of 40. Beth had expected she would have a family with her husband, but they divorced, and she decided to become a single mother. As she prepared to use Donor 8282’s sperm, Beth met her match, and together they had a child.

By the time Beth offered me the vials, I also was fully prepared to be a single mother, one way or another. I had considered the necessary resources, role models, and emotional support I thought my child and I would need. I had seen my gynecologist and spoken to my family. No sooner had I accepted the sperm from my friend than I met my love on an observatory rooftop. Today my fiance and I have a daughter.

I didn’t jump into this romantic relationship like a lifeboat because I was suddenly scared to enter single motherhood. Having a child on my own was not necessarily my first choice, but that does not mean I considered it a lesser choice. As a woman journalist who once assumed I could Have It All, and then didn’t, I took the time to think about what I really, truly desired. What I could not live without. To other women, it could be so many things that are meaningful in life, things too numerous to mention. But for me, it was a child.

I fell in love only when my heart was open wider than ever because, in accepting the sperm, I had accepted the possibilities of a non-traditional route to motherhood and family. Of a non-linear life, when anything could happen, in any order. For me, having the sperm not only severed the ties between romance and reproduction, and all the pressures that entailed, but it also represented taking control of my life. Even if there were no guarantees.

Being offered the sperm also reminded me of the power of friendship in making wishes come true. It’s far easier to create the life you want if the people around you genuinely want you to succeed and provide the emotional and psychological succor — and in this case, the actual means — to pursue it. With Carey’s help, then Beth’s, I did more than make a wish. I granted it.

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Announcement: The winner of Allison Winn Scotch’s The One That I Want is Heather Larson. Congratulations! Please email: diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and the book will be sent out promptly.

Guest Allie Larkin’s Messy Friends & Messy Characters

June 02, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Today’s guest post features Allie Larkin debut author of Stay coming out next Thursday, June 10, 2010.

The book has earned both literary praise:

“A charming debut…. Smart and with emotional depth, this is a cut above.” Kirkus Reviews

“Larkin debuts with a funny and touching story about love, loss, and dog ownership.” Publishers Weekly

And commercial recognition:

“Feel-good debut novel…” People Magazine

For Stay, as Allie explains, is about unconditional love at its messiest best.]

My friend Lady is my messy friend. She is the person I can call when I’m laughing or crying so hard that no one on the planet would ever be able to understand a single word coming out of my mouth. She’s the friend I can have over without vacuuming and shoving dirty laundry into closets first. She’s seen me when I’m crabby, she’s seen me when I’m sick, she’s talked me through broken hearts, failure, and self-doubt, and she’s celebrated with me through new love, great successes, and total joy. I’ve done the same for her.

Everyone is messy. The type of mess can vary greatly from person to person, but somewhere in every person lurks a big old tangled mess of something. Some people’s internal mess keeps them obsessed about external perfection. If you compulsively need to vacuum your house three times a day, your house might be spotless, but your need to vacuum is your mess. Some people hide it better than others, but hiding the mess comes at the cost of intimacy and connection.

I love Lady even more because of the messy times. I love her because I’ve seen her at her best and at her not so best. I know the nuances of her little quirks and flaws, the same way she knows mine. There’s an intimacy to that kind of honesty in friendship.

I love that kind of honesty in characters, too. Pippi Longstocking is headstrong and sloppy, and has little regard for social convention. Anne from Green Gables was stubborn and had a habit of saying things she should have confined to her thoughts. Bridget Jones won our sympathies over diet failures and costume mishaps. I think these characters stay in our hearts because they are flawed like real people, and they’d make excellent messy friends. Pippi would not be concerned about the dog hair on your couch. Anne would get worked up with you about your latest injustice. And Bridget would cry along, if your heart were breaking. We wouldn’t feel the same way about them if they were perfect girls with perfect houses and perfect clothes and hair that didn’t even frizz in the middle of a monsoon. If Pippi were a well-behaved child who always followed rules and remembered to say please and thank you, there wouldn’t even be a story, and there certainly wouldn’t be a horse on the front porch.

When I wrote STAY, I knew I didn’t want Van to be a perfect girl. I wanted readers to see her disorganized home, her less than stellar eating habits, and the way she runs her mouth a little too much. I didn’t want her to be someone you wished you were. I wanted her to be someone you felt like you were friends with. She’ll let you put your feet on the furniture. She won’t think any less of you for eating an entire carton of ice cream by yourself. She doesn’t have the energy to notice if your shirt has clues as to what you had for lunch down the front of it, because she’s too busy worrying if you’ll notice the coffee stains on her jeans. And she won’t judge you for your drunken indiscretion with that guy you met at that bar, as long as you don’t judge her for accidentally buying a 100 pound German Shepherd from Slovakia off the Internet.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Allison Winn Scotch’s The One That I Want in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Allison Winn Scotch and The One That I Want. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is tonight, June 2, 2010 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.

Guest Tish Cohen on Honest Choices

June 01, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[In today’s guest post the always lovely and ever prolific Tish Cohen (Town House, Inside Out Girl, Little Black Lies YA) talks honestly about the choices she made to get where she is…. Her third adult novel, The Truth About Delilah Blue, will be released next Tuesday, June 8, 2010 and The Divining Wand has scheduled a presentation/review of the book next Monday, June 7, 2010.

And now, without further ado, here’s Tish.]

During my childhood, not many days passed during which I was without a pencil, a crayon, a magic marker, or a pen. If you’d asked me back then what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d likely have replied, “an artist.” Okay, full disclosure, if you’d asked me before age five, I’d have said, “a collie.” And there were a few summers I might have said farmer or figure skater or owner of shiny horses or a ballet dancer with really muscular calves. But mostly I saw my future self as either a cartoonist or an eccentric painter who splashes color across enormous canvases on the floor of her weathered barn—much like Delilah in THE TRUTH ABOUT DELILAH BLUE, my newest novel for adults.

I was a loner of a kid, so books were a huge part of my life, but rather than contemplate writing them (that was for special people), I simply became each heroine and spent my days wishing I was her, then pulled out another sheet of paper and drew Snoopy in yet another position atop his dog house.

The day I knew I was on the wrong track came early and I ignored it. I’d finished a rendition of Snoopy that made me so proud I drew a fancy frame around it in black marker. I sat there, on the floor of my closet, and knew to my toes that what I was good at, art-wise, was not creating art of my own, but copying the work of other artists and taping it to my bedroom walls. As I sat there knowing this, I knew something else. That I was supposed to write a story about what I’d drawn—and THAT was my real path. This I knew much further than my toes. I knew this to the basement. To the ground beneath the basement.

Yet I ignored it. That day and for the next eighteen years.

I did pursue art after a wrong turn for business school, and did wind up with a fairly successful painting business where I painted dusk skies with clouds and swallows in people’s dressing rooms, and frescoes in front entryways. I was reasonably good at what I did, but to become the artist who sold canvases in galleries I would have to be better than reasonably good.

And I wasn’t.

I was working as an editor by this time, and already knew I loved playing with words as much as I loved playing with graphite and plaster and acrylic paint. There was a point where I reached a split in the road. I knew I had to choose. I made a list of the pros and cons of each career and imagined myself at ninety-nine, sitting in my rocker, looking back upon my life. Which life made me happier?

I didn’t know.

It wasn’t until I tried writing fiction for the first time (until that point my writing had been for a third-world development agency, or in the form of autobiographical essays I’d sold to newspapers) that I knew. Fiction not only made me happiest, it came to me more easily than art. It came to me as my own creation, rather than a something that had been done before and I could only replicate. I thought about this as I wrote THE TRUTH ABOUT DELILAH BLUE. Delilah is rabid in her passion for painting, willing to model nude, even, to fund her choice. And even as this decision ruins life as she knows it, it is a thing she must do.

I learned back then the importance of honesty in my choices. It wasn’t until I took a good look at myself that I found a career that liked me back.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Allison Winn Scotch’s The One That I Want in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Allison Winn Scotch and The One That I Want. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to possibly claim your book.