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Archive for March, 2011

Guest Lori Roy on Grandma’s Tarantula

March 15, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Every writer has their own distinctive voice that comes from somewhere beyond their style and develops over time. In today’s guest post, debut novelist Lori Roy (Bent Road coming March 31, 2011) explains where her [captivating] voice came from.]

Grandma’s Tarantula

I’m eight, maybe nine-years-old, and am running through Grandma’s backyard. But really it isn’t a yard. It’s all dirt—brown, loose dirt that blows in the wind—no grass. Kansas summers are dry. My hair is parted down the back, a crooked part I made myself, and tied off in two ponytails that hang over my shoulders. I wear sneakers, no socks,
because sand spurs are the only things that grow.

Two metal posts stand in Grandma’s backyard. They were once painted white but now the paint has chipped away in large chunks and the posts are stained with orange rust. Grandma’s clothesline is strung between them. The line sags when she hangs out her sheets and towels. At the base of the pole nearest the house is a hole in the ground about
the size of my fist. When I stand over the hole, I can see that it has no bottom. I might stick my hand down in it just to be sure but I don’t because Grandma says her pet tarantula lives down there.

Grandma says the tarantula comes out mostly at night because that’s when he does his hunting. The tarantula is a he. But sometimes, Grandma says, he’ll poke his head out in the daytime. He’ll hang two of his eight furry legs over the edge of his hole to sun himself. She visits with him when she hangs out her laundry.

At night, we play kick-the-can—my brother and I and the girls who live next door to Grandma. I run in a wide circle around the hole, afraid I might stumble upon that giant spider while he is scurrying about, doing his hunting. Even if it means someone beats me to base and I am “it,” I run in a wide arc to avoid that hole.

During the day, we play in the sod garage—my brother and I and the girls next door— because it’s always cooler there. Sometimes I help Grandma dump coffee grounds on her garden or spread the carrot and potato peelings that are good fertilizer and might as well not go to waste. While we work, I look for those hairy legs to tap along the rim of the hole, but I don’t ever see them. Grandma says the tarantula can feel us moving about and he won’t come out as long as we’re causing such a raucous.

It’s many years later, won’t say exactly how many, and I have a book coming out soon, my first. BENT ROAD. A few pre-publication reviews have been published, probably more by the time this is posted, and as I start to read what others have to say about my book, I’m thinking more and more about voice. My work, like all writers’ work, has a voice. It bubbled up, as my first writing instructor said it eventually would, about five years ago when I wrote the short story that led to BENT ROAD.

Now that I have this voice, I am inclined to wonder where it came from. Thinking about my Grandma’s house and that tarantula, about her garden fertilized by day-old coffee grounds and table scraps and the cool, dark garage made of sod bricks, I think my voice started to bubble up there. It started with a giant bull dog who lived down the street and daily sent me running for cover on Grandma’s concrete front porch. My voice started
with the giant mama catfish Grandpa Doc hauled out of Tuttle Creek. He kept them alive in the backyard by sticking a hose in their mouth and letting the water run through their gills. Then, after a time, he smacked their whiskered heads on the concrete sidewalk. Knocking them out is the only kind thing to do. And then he cut out their hearts and put
them in a jar of saltwater so we could watch them beat on. My voice started with the squirrel stories my father told every Christmas Eve and with the old Grandfather clock that chimed every fifteen minutes, reminding me that I wasn’t asleep yet and would be very tired at school the next day. It started with the sweet potatoes my mother made every
Christmas and Thanksgiving—brown sugar, butter, cream and cinnamon. My voice started to bubble up a long time ago.

I never saw Grandma’s tarantula. That only occurs to me now as I think back on those summers when the girls next door were my best friends. And while the bull dog who lived down the street was definitely real, I think, perhaps, my fair-haired, gardening Grandmother was pulling my leg.

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Book Giveaway: For those readers who have Kindles, The Divining Wand will honor the first 10 comments left only on this specific post, Suzanne Anderson and Mrs. Tuesday’s Departures — until Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EDT. — with a download of Suzanne Anderson’s Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure. Please include the email address used to download and the ebook will be gifted to you promptly.

Suzanne Anderson and
Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure

March 14, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books

The lovely, idyllic cover of Suzanne Anderson’s ebook debut, Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure [Kindle Edition], holds the promise of a children’s story filled with adventure. And, on one level, that hold true even though the other story told in this book within a book format provides a dramatically opposite tale.

In her ambitious, action-packed, suspenseful first novel, the author combined the following two thoughts:

1. A brilliant, talented person knowing she suffered from Alzheimer’s and would slowly lose her mind.

2. Being 1/4 Jewish in Nazi Germany was a sentence to a death camp.

And then added her personal interest in reading about WWII, particularly the city of Budapest — her maternal grandparents’ home.

The result, according to Suzanne:

“Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure originally started as a story about a family caught up in the terrors of World War II Budapest. However, I changed the particulars of the story, choosing to refer to the Nazis as the ‘Black and Reds’, and never naming the actual city but simply alluding to the fact that it was a European city. I made these changes because I wanted the story to focus on the relationships within the story, because to me that was the real point. How do the dynamics of relationships between siblings change in the face of illness? How do we react under the ultimate stressful situations? How do we express our loyalty? How far are we willing to go to save those we love?”

In answering those questions, the story evolved and is described in this synopsis:

On a cold winter morning, twin sisters race to a train station to save the life of a child who has been abandoned by her parents. Seventy years in the future, an old woman finds a package that reveals the key to the child’s safety.

So begins a race against time. Set against the backdrop of war, Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure is a tale of undying love and a mother’s betrayal. In order to survive, those left behind must make their way through a frightening landscape where the rules are constantly changing even as one sister’s loosening grip on reality threatens them all. Is their only means of escape real or a flight of one writer’s creative fantasy?

Yes, even as the other questions play out in the novel, one question remains for readers to decide. Intentionally choosing this option, Suzanne Anderson used the literary device of a book within a book not to confuse but rather offer the possibility of a hopeful ending.

Fast-paced and vividly descriptive, there is also a genuine warmth to Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure that comes from the family bond that holds the twin sisters — Kate and Lily — and their 12-year old niece, Mila, together. Through the use of flashbacks the sisters’ background and consequential sibling rivalry is told and explained. In fact, it is here that the author truly shines as she describes their father, a master of manipulation, who likely sealed their personalities and fate in adolescence. Jealousy, anger, and mistrust exist between the two now grown adults yet, despite all, the bond of love remains.

In this fluidly written book, the main message is that there are times when we are willing to risk everything for the ones we love. And Suzanne’s themes of fear, loyalty, and impossible choices — woven throughout the story — highlight that message in a believable light. The characters’ tension and terror feel as real as a successful escape appears hopeless. Still it’s the humanity of war that tends to bring forth surprising heroes.

Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure [Kindle Edition] is an exciting, entertaining, and impressive first novel with its story’s unique perspective as original as the book’s cover. Suzanne Anderson took control over her lifetime dream of writing and publishing a book by self-publishing an ebook. Its reviews have earned 4 1/2 stars and readers are (pleasantly) surprised at its universal appeal. The truth is they would like to read more. If you own a Kindle, do download this emotionally haunting story.

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[While Eleanor Brown’s The Weird Sisters remains on The New York Times Bestseller List, another TDW author’s novel is being popularly acclaimed. Sarah Pekkanen’s (The Opposite of Me) latest book, Skipping a Beat, garnered a lovely review in People Magazine (the Oscar issue) and in The Washington Post. In addition, it’s an O Magazine pick for April and Harper’s Bazaar magazine put Skipping a Beat on it’s “hot list” for March. Sarah’s novel is also a Doubleday Book Club pick. And Foreign Rights have sold in Italy and Australia. Since it went into a second printing before publication, could a third and fourth run be far behind?

Ah, there’s nothing better than a good news Monday!

Book Giveaway: For those readers who have Kindles, The Divining Wand will honor the first 10 comments left only on this specific post — until Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EDT. — with a download of Suzanne Anderson’s Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure. Please include the email address used to download and the ebook will be gifted to you promptly.

Fictional Characters as Best Friends Forever, IV

March 10, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites, Profiles, Q&A

Since a best friend forever could be made at anytime as well as any place, it’s not surprising that they even might exist within a book’s pages. True, these are merely characters yet — if only real — would be chosen as our BFF.

With this in mind The Divining Wand wondered who the authors felt bonded to, and asked:

What fictional character would you choose to be your BFF and why?

And this week’s authors replied:

~Claire Cook (Seven Year Switch, Must Love Dogs, Life’s A Beach, and the rest in Bibliography, and Best Staged Plans coming May 31, 2011):

“The protagonist of the book I’m currently writing is always my BFF. If I didn’t like her that much, I don’t think I’d bother to tell her story.”

~Kate Ledger (Remedies):

“Maybe it’s the kind of books I read, but I think I’m still looking for a fictional BFF.”

~Randy Susan Meyers ( The Murderer’s Daughters):

“Wow, I have such a love of intense and dark books I’m not sure I’d want any of the characters of my favorite books to be my best friend. Maybe Atticus Finch—who wouldn’t want him there for advice and caring? Additionally, I’d love to see the adult side of him that was hidden from Scout.”

~Sarah Pekkanen (Skipping a Beat and The Opposite of Me):

“Bridget Jones, because she’s fun, funny, and would share her chocolates and wine.”

~Kim Stagliano (All I Can Handle: I’m No Mother Teresa: A Life Raising Three Daughters with Autism):

“Goldy Schultz from the Diane Mott Davidson catering murder mysteries. She’s fun, fearless and never fails to have something delicious to share with friends. Plus she drinks gallons of coffee. We’re a perfect match! I call my middle daughter “’Miss G.’” (her name is Gianna) because that’s what Goldy’s husband Tom calls her. I like it.”

~Leah Stewart (Husband and Wife, The Myth of You and Me, Body of a Girl):

“Elizabeth Bennett, because she’s sharp and funny.”

~Therese Walsh (The Last Will of Moira Leahy):

“Pippi Longstocking because she’s the eternal child, and Harry Potter because he has access to butterbeer. I was in Orlando recently and spent part of a day at the Harry Potter park at Universal. Believe me, you want to experience butterbeer at some point in your life, described as “‘reminiscent of shortbread and butterscotch.'” The whipped-cream head on a butterbeer puts any root beer to shame. Pippi would’ve had hidden trunks full of the stuff.”

To be continued….

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Announcement: The winners of Arranged by Catherine McKenzie are Wendy Burd Kinsey and Mary Ward. Congratulations!

Please email diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and your book will be sent out promptly.

The Revealing of Lori Roy

March 09, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

Lori Roy and her debut novel Bent Road, releasing March 31, 2011, have been praised by the best and eagerly awaited by many.

This literary suspense novel is simply described as: One family’s struggle with a past never laid to rest.

Then hailed with the following three starred reviews:

“[Bent Road] will keep readers wondering right until the last page.”Kirkus (Starred Review)

“Roy’s exceptional debut novel is full of tension, complex characters, and deftly gothic overtones….Highly recommended.” Library Journal (Starred Review)

“Outstanding…engrossing….sure to make several 2011 must-read lists.”Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

And for good measure

“Rich and evocative, Lori Roy’s voice is a welcome addition to American fiction.” – Dennis Lehane, New York Times bestselling author of Mystic River and Shutter Island

The Divining Wand has scheduled a presentation/review of Bent Road for Monday, March 21, 2011 but, in the meantime, let’s meet the author through her “official” bio:

Lori Roy was born and raised in Manhattan, Kansas where she attended and graduated from Kansas State University. Her work has appeared in the Chattahoochee Review. She currently lives with her family in west central Florida. Bent Road is her first novel.

Now it’s time to get to know Lori, upclose and personal:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: Rarely predictable, never boring, much laughter, always moving.

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: As Coach Eric Taylor says, “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.”

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: A happy healthy family with a moment to sit still.

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: Harm coming to my children.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: I’m sitting poolside, drinking Slurpees with my daughter. I wouldn’t choose to be anywhere else.

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: I find this question difficult, so I’ll change it to …With in whom in history do I greatly admire? Harper Lee for the courage to write the story she wanted to write.

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: My husband.

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases
A: “Brush your teeth.” “Clean your room.” “Quit bugging your sister.”

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: A better forehand.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: Being a mother.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: Procrastination

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: My cooking abilities – just kidding.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: Wasting time being shy.

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

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: Red hair

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Atticus Finch

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Cujo

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: Rodger Federer – well done.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: I don’t like anyone messing with my baseball hat when I’m wearing one.

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

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: I’m doing it.

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Honesty, sincerity, perseverance

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Stone crab with garlic butter

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: I don’t know titles but I know them when I hear them.

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee, Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck, The Prince of Tides – Pat Conroy, Their Eyes Were Watching God-Zora Neale Hurston, The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

Gifted with amazing talent, Lori Roy is a new author to follow on Twitter and fan on
Facebook. Then you can say you knew her when….

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Catherine McKenzie’s Arranged in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Catherine McKenzie and Arranged. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is tonight at 7:00 p.m. EST with the winners to be announced here in tomorrow’s post. If you enter, please return tomorrow to see if you’re a winner.

Guest Suzanne Anderson on
Procrastinating? Do the Thing You Fear

March 08, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Putting off until tomorrow, what could be done today is a common human habit. But why do too many of those tomorrows stretch beyond weeks, months, or even years? In today’s guest post, Suzanne Anderson (Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure [Kindle Edition]) — having experienced her share of procrastination — offers a daring solution. ]

Procrastinating? Do the Thing You Fear

I have a problem with procrastination. I procrastinate about everything. Buying my first house took me fifteen years. I’m currently trying to decide between two breeds of dogs for adoption and it will probably take me a month to choose. It’s taken over my writing life as well. Now that Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure is finished, I’m mulling over two ideas. Instead of testing the waters with either project, I’ve done nothing. I thought about them a great deal, but taken action? Not so much as opening a Word document. Which is why procrastination is really so perfect: You can’t fail at something you never start.

As for the two choices, they’re both wonderful. Over the last six months I’ve become hooked by historical romances and wanted to try my hand at writing one of my own. Instead of coming up with a captivating hero and heroine, I decided that I really needed to do more research. The reality was that while I did all this busywork, I never actually created the characters or even the premise of my own historical romance. I was paralyzed by the fear that if I started I would get it all wrong and fail to create a believable period piece.

The second project under consideration is a book I wrote fourteen years ago, after my father died. I have a clear image of what I want the book to be, and yet when I consider the work of re-crafting it from its current form, I am convinced that I’m not talented enough to translate the vision in my mind to the page. Compounding the prospect of my future with the book is my past with its current incarnation. You see it’s the book that almost was. I completed the book, the manuscript was requested by a VERY prominent agent in the business, and then rejected. And then rejected again and again. My heart was broken.

A few nights ago as I unpacked the book boxes I’ve had in storage for more than the past decade, I came across numerous drafts of A Map of Heaven. Then I came across a journal entry describing the hope I felt as I waited to hear from another agent. Finally, I discovered the many, many books I subsequently bought on the craft of writing. Many is an understatement. It would be safe to say that I own at least fifty books on how to write a bestseller, create compelling characters, land an agent, and get published. I bought all of these books for the same reason I now spend hours on Facebook pretending that I am building my brand, instead of doing the one thing I really need to do.

And that’s what brought about the epiphany. I was using my indecision about which project to start as a reason not to begin either one. In the end, it doesn’t matter which project I choose. It only matters that I get started. Procrastination is a symptom of fear in all its glorious forms: fear of starting, fear of finishing, fear of failure. Originally, I thought the solution was simply to do something. Anything. But as I unpacked all those books about writing, I realized action was not enough to overcome fear. The only real antidote to procrastination is to do the one thing we fear the most. Instead of reading, blogging, or tweeting about the book I wanted to write, what I really needed to do was simply sit down and start writing.

Yes, I know it’s scary to do the thing I fear the most. But here’s the good news: once I start, I’m always amazed at how quickly my fears diminish and how rapidly my confidence grows. My new mantra is: When in doubt, do the thing I fear.

I know what that means for me, what does it mean for you?

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Catherine McKenzie’s Arranged in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Catherine McKenzie and Arranged. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, March 9, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EST with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

Catherine McKenzie and Arranged

March 07, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books

Although not the book’s subtitle, the question of WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT? appears on the front cover of Catherine McKenzie’s (Spin) second novel Arranged. And its answer is told within the pages.

With an insightful and wry perspective on modern romance, the author puts a twist on those thirtysomethings — or any age groups — looking for a home, family and marriage. Because, after all, it is finding someone/anyone to share that ultimate relationship that presents a challenge.

“Aha?!” No, Catherine admits that the idea for the novel didn’t come to her as a full-blown storyline. Instead it followed her normal creative process of gathering bits of pieces from here and there. For example she did know a few couples who had arranged marriages and, of course, what facts had been gleaned from watching The Bachelor. This information, combined with wondering who would participate in either, whirled around in her mind until it became Arranged:

Anne Blythe has a great life: a good job, good friends and a potential book deal for her first novel. When it comes to finding someone to share it with, however, she just can’t seem to get it right.

After yet another relationship ends, Anne comes across a business card for what she thinks is a dating service, and she pockets it just in case. When her best friend, Sarah, announces she’s engaged, Anne can’t help feeling envious. On an impulse, she decides to give the service a try because maybe she could use a little assistance in finding the right man. But Anne soon discovers the company isn’t a dating service; it’s an exclusive, and pricey, arranged marriage service. She initially rejects the idea, but the more she thinks about it – and the company’s success rate – the more it appeals to her. After all, arranged marriages are the norm for millions of women around the world, so why wouldn’t it work for her?

A few months later, Anne is travelling to a Mexican resort where in one short weekend she will meet and marry Jack. And against all odds, it seems to be working out – until Anne learns that Jack and the company that arranged their marriage are not what they seem at all.

Of course there is Praise for Arranged, but the real proof of what a relevant, clever, and refreshing tale this is can be found at the HarperCollinsCanada site where you’re invited to Browse Inside. Please take advantage of the publisher’s generosity for there is more to read than merely browse here.

Anne, Jack and the supporting cast of vivid characters — including friends AND family members — have a good sense of themselves and an even better sense of Anne. They’re witty, wise and believable as they try to shed light on Anne’s dating/relationship failures. However one must realize the truth for herself and this protagonist is no exception. The revelations she makes though, along the way, are both charming and confusing, supporting Catherine McKenzie’s message.

For, within the fantasy world of fiction, the author’s hope is to convey how limiting it can be to believe that there is only one person out in the world for everyone — a soulmate. Instead of predestination there are romantic choices and, for her character of Anne Blythe, there may even be an alternative method to discover that choice.

Catherine’s writing is a combination of light, funny, and profound as she tells the story of how a single woman thinks love should be as easy as a fairy tale. In other words it’s all magic, there’s no need to work at love. Except when faced with the invitation of an arranged marriage where, based on a compatibility quotient, there is allegedly no need for love. Common interests, respect, and friendship statistically create successful bonds, so what’s love got to do with it and does it even belong?

The unexpected twists of this novel are brilliant yet not surprising considering the flawed, very human characters. And — with prominent themes of loneliness, loyalty, trust, and friendship at its core — the reader can expect a tale of truth as well.

Taking on a modern day dilemma with a possible solution from an age old tradition, Catherine McKenzie offers readers a delightful experience of exploring what real love is and means. Arranged can be purchased through Amazon.ca, please do so….you will more than enjoy!

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[Eleanor Brown’s The Weird Sisters is at #14 this week on The New York Times Bestseller List. And on March 21st Eleanor begins her West Coast book tour, please check her website’s Events for details.

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Catherine McKenzie’s Arranged in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, . Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, March 9, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EST with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

Fictional Characters as Best Friends Forever, III

March 03, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites, Profiles, Q&A

At times a book offers a surprise bonus — those special characters that create an immediate personal bond and, if only real, would be chosen as our BFF.

With this in mind The Divining Wand wondered who the authors felt close to, and asked:

What fictional character would you choose to be your BFF and why?

And this week’s authors replied:

~Eleanor Brown (The Weird Sisters):

“Less than specific people, there are entire fictional worlds I’d like to live in – the dramatic romance of Diana Gabaldon’s Scotland in Outlander, the rebuilding of America in Stephen King’s The Stand, the wild sadness of the Greasers in S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, the sweeping epic future of Atlanta in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. Each of my favorite books is populated with amazing characters who live in a world too delicious to pluck just one of them from.”

~Tawna Fenske (Making Waves coming August 2011):

“I would probably choose Fred the dog from Jennifer Crusie’s ANYONE BUT YOU. I think he’d get along nicely with my menagerie of pets (two dogs, three cats) and his fondness for stealing lingerie could help me find my bras when they go missing.”

~Therese Fowler (Souvenir, Reunion, and Exposure coming May 3, 2011):

‘Ask me on a different day and I might have a different answer, but the character who comes to mind today is Linda Voss, the protagonist and narrator in Susan Isaac’s wonderful novel Shining Through. Linda’s funny and genuine and smart and loyal–and when you need her to, she’ll tell it like it is. Who doesn’t want a friend like that?”/

~Meg Mitchell Moore (The Arrivals coming May 25, 2011):

“I would like to be friends with most of the characters in Elin Hilderbrand’s novels. She *really* nails certain things about marriage, children, families in a way I very much admire.”

~Ivy Pochoda (The Art of Disappearing):

“Hal Incandenza from David Foster Wallace’s “‘Infinite Jest.'” I’m not sure Hal and I would get along so well now, but I’m sure we would have been best friends as teenagers. It takes one truly athletic nerd to appreciate another.”

~Rebecca Rasmussen (The Bird Sisters coming April 12, 2011):

“I would love to hang out for eternity with Jo March of Little Women. To me, Jo is the quintessential early feminist and, dang, she’s just so full of life and personality. Who else would say no to Laurie?”

To be continued….

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Announcement: The winners of Confessions of a Rebel Debutante by Anna Fields are Gayle Lin and Tiffany D.. Congratulations!

Please email diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and your book will be sent out promptly.

The Revealing of Suzanne Anderson

March 02, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

For the past two and a half years, Suzanne Anderson has held court at her blog, Table 1, with a contemporary perspective on cultural, literary, and political news. Of course she’s also shared a lifetime dream — that of becoming a published author.

Motivated by Karen McQuestion’s attitude and success for writing, then sharing her novels as ebooks at Amazon, Suzanne took the leap on October 1, 2010 and self-published Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure [Kindle Edition].

Here is a one sentence description of the novel: Amidst the background of World War, this is a tale of love and betrayal, of one frightening reality and a promise of safety that may only be the creation of the artist’s imagination.

And readers’ praise:

“Anderson’s book is so full of tension, dismay, fears–and hopes–that the reader is caught up and swept along in its flow, from the beautiful cover right down to its rather stunning end. A good read.” __Karl G. Larew, Ph.D.

“Ms. Anderson’s masterful use of description places the reader among the chaotic feelings of the time. The characters are real enough to jump out at you, and their powerful dialogue is not less than enthralling.” __Dana Palladino, author of the middle-grade book, The Day My Parents Became My Kids

The Divining Wand has scheduled a presentation/review of Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure for Monday, March 14, 2011 but, until then, let’s get to know the author through her “official” bio:

Suzanne Anderson was born in Fort Lauderdale, attended the University of Michigan on an athletic scholarship for swimming and then worked on Wall Street. She left the bright lights of the big city fifteen years ago and traveled the world. She now lives in the mountains of Colorado, where she pursues her dream of writing novels.

And, now, it’s time to learn more about Suzanne, upclose and personal:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: insatiable, optimistic, insecure, generous, romantic, determined, inquisitive, grateful

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: When in doubt, do something!

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: Right here, right now, with a productive writing career. (Oh, and a really alpha, sweet, love of my life, husband would be pretty terrific too!)

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: My greatest fear is not reaching my ultimate potential.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: In a hot air balloon at dawn, cruising over a herd of elephants in the Masai Mara in Kenya, with a glass of champagne in one hand and a camera in the other.

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: Everyone who has chosen to pursue their own impossible dream and made it happen.

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: My mother, who literally can make applesauce out of apples.

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases
A: I’ve been told that I often substitute ‘hmmm’ in place of real conversation.

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: To be a talented writer would be heaven

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: Leaving Wall Street in 1994 to pursue a new adventure. Best decision I ever made.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: Procrastination, I can stare out a window better than anyone!

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: Generosity.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: Buying GM stock instead of Ford when they both hit $1/share. Doh!

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: A cross between Georgette Heyer and Anne Stuart.

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: Physical? My eyes. Emotional? My laugh (it’s comes out as a very un-ladylike guffaw when I’m really happy!).

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Levin from Anna Karenina, he was the epitome of the soul searching for love.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Raskolnikov, the main character from Crime and Punishment. I suppose if murderers are villains, he would qualify.

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: As a former competitive swimmer, I’d love to go to the Olympics someday and watch the swimming competition in person.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: Mean people. Especially those who wrap hurtful comments in a smile and say, “What? I didn’t mean a thing!”

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: Travel and reading. Ultimate fantasy: taking my well-stocked Kindle reader on an around-the-world cruise.

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Bestselling author of A Map of Heaven and many, many, racy historical romance novels.

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Loyalty, integrity, and optimism….and a great sense of humor!

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Haagen Dazs Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream…breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: O Holy Night (the Christmas carol)
Ave Maria sung by Andrea Bocelli
Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings
Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 In G Major played by Yo-Yo Ma
Back in the Saddle by Aerosmith

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz series
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina
Julia Child’s My Life in France
My own as yet unpublished A Map of Heaven

With a well-versed background and “can do” ethic, Suzanne Anderson is a dreamer who not only wishes but reaches for goals. To watch how a writing career unfolds, follow her on Twitter and become a friend on Facebook.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Anna Fields’ Confessions of a Rebel Debutante in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Anna Fields and Confessions of a Rebel Debutante. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is tonigt at 7:00 p.m. EST with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

Guest Catherine McKenzie on
Can I make a book a bestseller?

March 01, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Catherine McKenzie (Arranged, Spin) had one of those “Aha” moments that Oprah frequently talks about and, also like Oprah, she decided to recommend a few books worthy of more attention. In today’s guest post, the author explains the who, why, and where of her cause and how you can help as well as benefit too.]

Can I make a book a bestseller?

Authors these days are bombarded with a constant message: social media is the place to be to sell books. Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads etc., you’ve got to be on these sites to build awareness, and awareness = book sales.

But is this one of those truisms that nobody’s verified? And how exactly is one supposed to be on all these media? If I want to sell my book should I be on Twitter all day narrating my every action? Should I merely go on once in a while when I have a big (preferably funny) thought? Do I have to thank the person who gave my book 1 star on Goodreads for buying my book and telling the world they hated it? And do I really have to accept that Facebook friend request from the man who claims he’s an author but looks like he just escaped from lockdown?

I suspect no one really knows the answers to these questions, and there’s certainly no instruction manual. So what’s an author to do? Keep your head down and keep writing, I expect. But in the meantime, I was intrigued last year by the Facebook campaign to get Betty White to host Saturday Night Live. It’s old news by now right: someone started an “I bet” group on Facebook and hey, presto, there she was cracking wise about the very people who’d got her there a few weeks later.

And this got me thinking. Was it possible to show a direct relationship between social media and book sales? Could I “bet” a bunch of people on Facebook and make a book a bestseller? Well, sure I could try. Why the hell not?

So I did. I started a group on Facebook called “I bet we can make these books bestsellers” (I call it the Author/Reader Effect for short – a riff on the Oprah Effect), and chose two books by Wyoming author Shawn Klomparens as the first test subjects. I also started a related group on Goodreads just to cover all my social networking bases (alas Twitter only has lists, not groups – so far!)

I chose Klomparen’s books, Jessica Z. and Two Years, No Rain, because they were the best books I’d read in the last six months that hadn’t gotten the attention I think they deserve. Also, I didn’t want this experiment to be about me. I was doing this in the name of science!

So, now what? Well, the Facebook group has approximately 3,450 members including authors James Frey, Tom Perrotta, Tish Cohen, Katherine Howe and Cathy Marie Buchanan. The Goodreads group has over 400 members. This year, I’ve branched out and have been adding two new books a month and run frequent giveaways to help spread the word (in fact, we’re giving away 35 books right now! This months’ books are Husband & Wife by Leah Stewart and The Wilding by Benjamin Percy). And I’m pretty sure that I’ve introduced some great authors to some great readers. But no Oprah like powers. For now.

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Reminder: Beginning today, March 1, 2011, MaNIC MoMMy is hosting March Madness Book-A-Day Giveaway! You’ll have an opportunity to win a book from one of many TDW authors as well as several other authors who may be new to you. Every day there’s a winner and, at the end of the month, a GRAND PRIZE WINNER. Interested? Please click the link for details.

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Anna Fields’ Confessions of a Rebel Debutante in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Anna Fields and Confessions of a Rebel Debutante. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EST with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.