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Archive for April, 2011

New ebooks from TDW Authors

April 28, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: ebooks

Although so many print books are releasing this winter/spring season, The Divining Wand also has authors offering new selections for Kindle readers. Please consider the following that could be yours in a minute.

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Dee DeTarsio (The Scent of Jade [Kindle Edition]) is at her best with a second novel, The Kitchen Shrink.

From TV writer Dee DeTarsio, a new novel featuring the humor, vulnerability, honesty and flaws of a suburban heroine…

If your life is a mess, your house could probably use a makeover, too. Welcome to the behind-the-scenes world of reality TV in The Kitchen Shrink:

“My kids smoke dope, my ex is one,
I said ‘nope’ when I wanted to run…
Into your arms…And feel your lucky charms…”

When did Lisby Shaw’s life turn into a country music song? Probably when her best friend signed her up for the debut of the new reality TV show, The Kitchen Shrink, for the ultimate life and home makeover! Unable to squirm out of this “it will be fun” opportunity, Lisby tries to juggle her upstairs-behind-the-scenes-life with her downstairs-in-front-of-the-camera persona, where everything she says and does can and will be used against her.

Hopefully, the show doesn’t find out about her fling with that hunky carpenter. Or that she and her friend smoked hootch she found in her daughter’s room. Lisby cannot believe what a freak show her life has become. At least no one knows about her crush on Sam, Sam, the Cameraman…

Lisby tries to find her way as the TV cameras capture her every move, zooming in on drama with her kids, her ex, her mom and her best friend. Stay tuned for Lisby’s extreme close-up as she becomes a jilted laughingstock on national TV. All is lost…or is it?

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Karen McQuestion (A Scattered Life, Easily Amused, Celia and the Fairies for ages 7 – 11) released two YA novels, Favorite and Life on Hold, on April 1, 2011.

Five years have passed since Angie Favorite’s mother, Laura, disappeared without a trace, and Angie still hasn’t recovered. Sure, things look normal on the surface—she goes to school, works her summer job, and argues with her older brother Jason—but she can’t shake the feeling that Laura didn’t leave by choice. Angie’s dad does the best he can, but his work as a musician keeps him on the road and away from home, where it’s up to Angie’s grandmother to keep an eye on the kids. She can’t be with them all the time, though, and she can’t help Angie when she is snatched from a mall parking lot by Scott Bittner. The girl narrowly escapes, and Bittner is arrested, but he takes his life in jail before he can offer an explanation for his crime. When his mother contacts Angie, begging forgiveness on her son’s behalf, the girl agrees to meet with her in hopes of finding answers to the seemingly random attack. But when she arrives at the massive Bittner estate, she is overcome by an unshakeable sense of foreboding….

Fifteen-year-old Rae Maddox’s mom, Gina, is a big fan of fresh starts. Gina thinks of them as an adventure, but for Rae, each move is just one more friend lost, one more chance to feel like an outsider. But when they arrive in Wisconsin, Gina promises to stay put until Rae graduates. Cautiously optimistic, she wades into the social whirl at Whitman High School, making a few friends and even earning a chance at love. But when the vice principal pairs her with fellow newbie Allison Daly, Rae’s tentative happiness is jeopardized. It seems Allison was orphaned after her parents died in a suspicious house fire, leaving their daughter to bounce between relatives’ homes. When a sleepover at Rae’s house goes terribly wrong, Rae sees a troubling side of Allison—and learns a few secrets about her own mother in the process. Suddenly Rae is at risk of losing everything and everyone she cares about—unless she steps up and takes charge of her life once and for all.

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Wendy Nelson Tokunaga’s (Midori By Moonlight, Love in Translation) first e-book, Marriage in Translation: Foreign Wife, Japanese Husband, debuted on Kindle a few weeks ago.

Read interviews with 14 Western women who speak candidly about the challenges in making cross-cultural marriages work both inside and outside Japan, and the joys and frustrations of adapting to a different culture.

Please note that 50 percent of proceeds for the month of April go to Japan Relief and there are still three days to purchase the ebook while making a contribution.

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Announcement: The winners of The Violets of March by Sarah Jio are Kaye and Janel. Congratulations!

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

The Revealing of Laura Dave

April 27, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

Laura Dave, highly acclaimed for her first two novels [with the most intriguing titles] — The Divorce Party and London Is the Best City in America –, offers readers her latest book, The First Husband in bookstores on May 12, 2011.

In a one sentence synopsis, The First Husband is described as: A savvy, page-turning novel about a woman torn between her husband and the man she thought she’d marry.

And the novel has garnered this early praise:

“Dave presents an inspiring account of a woman who ceases her external travels to become her own compass. I have more insight into my own life after reading this book, and I thank Laura Dave for that gift.”—Connie Kalter, Publishers Weekly

“Positively shines with wisdom and intelligence. What truly sets Dave apart is her ability to convey the contradictions and imperfections, the inherent impossibility of true love, and yet somehow still make you believe in it.”
Jonathan Tropper, New York Times Bestselling author of This is Where I Leave You

“In an honest and heart-felt tale, Laura Dave masterfully explores the big questions: should you have said yes? Waited? Answered that call you ignored? Filled with sparkling wit and pithy observation, The First Husband is everything I love about contemporary women’s fiction.”
Jen Lancaster, New York Times Bestselling author of Bitter is the New Black and My Fair Lazy

“For anyone who wonders if she has found ‘the one’, The First Husband is a wonderfully witty novel about love and loss, and about how to find a happy home. I loved every moment, every page, and you will too.”
Allison Winn Scotch, New York Times Bestselling author of The One That I Want and Time of my Life

The Divining Wand has scheduled a presentation/review of The First Husband for Monday, May 9, 2011 however, in the meantime, let’s meet the author through her “official” bio:

Laura Dave is the author of the novels The Divorce Party and London is the Best City in America. She is also a journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Glamour, and NPR’s All Things Considered, among others. Her first novel was optioned for film by Reese Witherspoon and her second novel was optioned for film by Jennifer Aniston. A New York native, she now lives in Los Angeles.

And now it’s time to get to know Laura, upclose and personal:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: Happy, busy, blessedly full of family and friends

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: Just breathe!

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: My family being happy and healthy.

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: My mother is southern, and scared me away from ever answering that question. Don’t test the universe!

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: Exactly where I am. Truly.

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: Such a good question, and one I can best answer by altering it a bit. A person I most admire? Jane Austen.

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

Q; What are your most overused words or phrases?
A: “Oh no!”

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: I’d love to be able to dance. I mean really, really dance.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: I take care of the people I love, and I do my best to live a life I love.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: I worry. (And when I’m not worrying, I worry about that.)

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: I am very loving.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: No regrets. Not allowed.

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: I’m working on that answer being me. It’s still a work in progress though.

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: I’m pretty much always wearing a gray sweater. I rotate among five or six of them—one more cozy and soft than the next. I am getting married in the fall, and I’m fairly certain one of them will make an appearance at the wedding.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Clarissa Dalloway, Mrs. Dalloway

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Whoever the ‘bad guy’ is that I’m currently writing about. And finding a way to make him good.

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: Funny enough, I used to write freelance pieces for ESPN the Magazine. And I got to meet many amazing athletes who I admire.

Nowadays, I’d like to meet the starting lineup on the Philadelphia Phillies. And tell them to “please win!” so my house stays peaceful!

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: Mean people.

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: Cooking. Or spending the morning at the farmer’s market, picking out what I’m cooking that night.

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Being a novelist still feels like a great fantasy to me!

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Humor, Goodness, openness.

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Salad. I know that’s the world’s most boring answer, but I love a salad! But before I seem too good, cheese would be a very close second.

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: I love music so much, it’s hard to pick just 5. But I made a playlist for The New York Times when The Divorce Party came out.

That’s a good place to start!

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: Slouching Toward Bethlehem, The Great Gatsby, Pride and Prejudice, The Feast of Love, and whatever I’m just starting for the first time.

Multi-talented, unique, and engaging, Laura Dave is a terrific author to follow on Twitter and become a friend of on Facebook.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of The Violets of March by Sarah Jio in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Presenting Debutante Sarah Jio and The Violets of March. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is tonight at 7:00 p.m. EDT 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 Therese Fowler on
Coincidences and Connections

April 26, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[In life — and including the sometimes difficult to understand word of publishing — there are those events/experiences that make one believe. In today’s guest post, Therese Fowler (Souvenir, Reunion) shares the unexpected, favorable events surrounding her latest novel, Exposure, in bookstores next Tuesday, May 3, 2011.]

On Coincidences and Connections

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Exposure, my third novel, is a book that seems to have been meant to be. My cynical side (yes, I have one) says that’s a dopey thing to claim. My spiritual side (yes, I have one of those, too) says otherwise. So I’ll let you be the judge. Here’s the evidence:

Due to scheduling matters, in early 2009 my publisher pushed the publication date of my next book from 2010 to 2011, which stretched my deadline as well. That summer (’09), I was hard at work on the book I’d thought would be my third when my son was arrested for what’s come to be called a “sexting” crime—in his case a misdemeanor charge, but one that had potentially very serious consequences. The issues surrounding his arrest troubled me so much that they inspired a new story idea, a kind of modern Romeo and Juliet tale. Because of that extended deadline, I was able to set aside the book I’d been writing and write the story that became Exposure instead.

A year later, when Exposure was done and being sent out for author endorsements (aka “blurbs”), I had some time on my hands, so I succumbed to peer pressure and joined Twitter. I was just getting familiar with the site when I saw a friend’s re-tweet of Jennifer Weiner’s tweet about the New York Times reviewing a debut novel Jen said she “might actually want to read.” (This was a slam against the Times, not debuts.) I read the review, thought the book sounded fabulous, and re-tweeted. That tweet included the book’s author, Eleanor Brown, who then sent me a message to thank me and say she was a fan of mine! A day or two later, I realized that her novel and mine had a connection: Shakespeare. On a whim, knowing she was on book tour and probably way too busy to read and possibly endorse Exposure, I asked anyway. She said she’d try—and she did, and her fabulous quote now graces the back cover!

Around that time, a bound manuscript of Exposure that included the cover art was sitting on my literary agent’s kitchen counter when her twenty-one-year-old daughter came home during holiday break from college. The cover caught her daughter’s eye—especially the image of the girl. She said, “Hey, that’s Emily!” Emily: a good friend who is a model and actress and whose image just happened to be the exact right one chosen by the Ballantine Books publishing team for a novel soon to be published by Emily’s friend’s mother’s client (me).

On March 26th, about a week before finished copies of Exposure would be sent out for media review and feature coverage, the Times ran this front-page article about teens and sexting. My first job as an author is to simply tell a compelling story the best way I can so that readers feel they’ve gotten their time and/or money’s worth. But I’d hoped that Exposure, which is a cautionary tale, might also help prevent future crises for other families. I never imagined it would land at the very moment the issue got “hot.”

What happens now? Now the book goes out into the world to be whatever it will be. Que sera, sera. Will there be other happy or interesting coincidences? I’ll be waiting to see.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this last interesting connection: four years ago, a generous blogger who loves books and was interested in emerging authors began visiting the blog I used to write. I was about to see my first novel, Souvenir, released in the UK, seven months ahead of its North American release. That blogger bought UK copies of my book for herself and a few other eager readers, then blogged about and reviewed the book, an act that led me to dub her “an author’s fairy godmother.” Today I come to you via her remarkable website, The Divining Wand.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of The Violets of March by Sarah Jio in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Presenting Debutante Sarah Jio and The Violets of March. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, April 27, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

Presenting Debutante Sarah Jio and
The Violets of March

April 25, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books


Lovely, dreamy, calming, and hopeful are all words that best describe Debutante Sarah Jio’s first novel, The Violets of March, being released tomorrow, April 26, 2011.

Although a love story, the romance of the book is first found in a diary revealing a mystery of star-crossed lovers from 1943. Rather than time travel, the novel follows a time-bending exploration until the past and present convene to answer where the characters came from, who they are now, and what they will be. In fact those are similar questions that gave the author her idea for the book. Writing in the February 10, 2011 Debutante Ball post, Deb Sarah on the 1940’s Print That (Partially) Inspired Her Novel, she explained:

“I’d been mulling novel ideas for a while, but nothing had jumped out at me. My eyes darted around the room until they stopped at an iconic photograph my sister had hanging on her wall—the one of a sailor and his lady locked in a kiss after the second world war. Everyone’s seen this image, of course, and it certainly wasn’t anything new to me, and yet on that pre-Christmas afternoon, I let my mind consider what the real story might be behind the photo. Who was the sailor? The young woman? What was their story? And while my novel didn’t end up having anything to do with a sailor and his lover or their fated kiss, it did set my brain on an interesting trajectory of thinking about the 1940s, the war, interrupted love, second chances and more.”

One major part of the “more” was including the mystery/diary. It was simply where Sarah’s mind went with this story, though she admits: “I love books with a mysterious element, and I knew that to grab readers (and me, as I wrote) the book needed mystery to solve.”

And then the author added the final element of Bainbridge Island. It’s a special place for Sarah who grew up just a few miles away, over the bridge, in Poulsbo, Washington, and spent happy times on the shores of Bainbridge. Believing the island has a mystical, alluring quality, she knew it was the perfect setting for the novel.

And after watching this video you’ll likely agree.

(If the video doesn’t appear on your monitor, please view it here.)

Is the island beckoning, along with the praise?

Here’s a synopsis for The Violets of March:

A heartbroken woman stumbles upon a diary and steps into the life of its anonymous author.

In her twenties, Emily Wilson was on top of the world: she had a bestselling novel, a husband plucked from the pages of GQ, and a one-way ticket to happily ever after.

Ten years later, the tide has turned on Emily’s good fortune. So when her great-aunt Bee invites her to spend the month of March on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, Emily accepts, longing to be healed by the sea. Researching her next book, Emily discovers a red velvet diary, dated 1943, whose contents reveal startling connections to her own life.

A mesmerizing debut with an idyllic setting and intriguing dual story line, The Violets of March announces Sarah Jio as a writer to watch.

Now for an Excerpt? Actually there is only a brief tease that can be found in The Debutante Ball’s February 17, 2011 post, Deb Sarah Shares a Love Letter from The Violets of March.

Sarah Jio’s natural talent is being able to infuse chemistry into her writing and her main character, Emily, is the most notable example. Although newly divorced, Emily is more shell-shocked than whiny and possesses enough common sense to realize that something has been missing in her life. In other words, though emotionally devastated, she comes across as an adult who knows healing must take place before moving forward. Also there’s not a “blame game” to wade through as Emily’s unfortunate circumstances rally her to leave the past behind by growing and challenging herself in new ways.

However the irony is that to leave her past behind Emily feels compelled to delve into the lives of those found within the diary’s pages. Were they real or fiction? If real, what happened to them? And are they connected to Emily and her family?

Readers are once again reminded of how much of the present is shaped by the past and how resolving such issues comes through reconciliation. Sarah further explains:

“Without giving away too much of the story, I, myself, am really fascinated with the concept of reconciliation. So many of us have people—friends, family, co-workers from the past—who we need to reconcile with to move forward and to bring peace to our lives. And I used the humble wood violets in the story as a symbol of reconciliation and redemption.”

Indeed, when the Bainbridge Island violets bloom out of season, their mystical presence is meant to heal. That is their power and that is the beauty this debut author captures in her tale. With only words, Sarah transports readers to this island of the past and the present that offers compelling hope for the future. Why? Because of the book’s message: Love is timeless.

Redbook magazine declares Violets “engrossing” and chooses as a must-read in their May issue!

This literary Fairy Godmother declares: I am not a true love story fan/reader, nor do I often cry. But Sarah Jio casts a spell in her novel (the only explanation) and The Violets of March not only captured my heart, I cried….for joy.

Now listen to the island calling you.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of The Violets of March by Sarah Jio 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, April 27, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

Go-to Writing Books, V

April 21, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites, Profiles, Q&A

Before, during and after a work-in-progress, a published/debut author has likely read more than a few books on the art and craft of writing. Whether it’s for motivation or inspiration, favorites must exist to be read and reread — including fiction and poetry — whenever the need arises. With this thought in mind, The Divining Wand asked its authors:

What books do you keep nearby or go back to as you’re working?

And, for the final week of this question, the following authors replied:

~Eleanor Brown (The Weird Sisters):

“Stephen King’s On Writing to remind me why I do what I do, and anything by Maeve Binchy to remind me how to create loveably flawed characters and keep multiple plotlines going.”

~Eileen Cook (The Education of Hailey Kendrick YA, Unpredictable, What Would Emma Do? YA, Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood YA, and Fourth Grade Fairy ages 9 – 11):

“My favorite writing books include: Save the Cat by Blake Synder, On Writing by Stephen King and Elements of Story by John Truby.”

~Beth Hoffman (Saving CeeCee Honeycutt):

“WORDS THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE by Robert Greenman.”

~Allie Larkin (Stay):

“Sometimes, it helps to check back with BIRD BY BIRD by Anne Lamott, to remind myself to trust my process and listen to my characters.”

~Judy Merrill Larsen (All the Numbers):

“I’ve recently become a fan of Donald Maass’ THE FIRE IN FICTION. I also like John Dufesne’s THE LIE THAT TELLS A TRUTH, and of course Anne Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD. For sheer inspiration, I look to poetry.”

~Karen McQuestion (A Scattered Life, Easily Amused coming September 21, 2010, and Celia and the Fairies for ages 7 – 11, and Favorite YA):

“I love Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey. I use it to brainstorm plot points when I write myself into a corner, I also periodically reread Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird and Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.”

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

“Lately I always have Claire Messud’s THE EMPEROR’S CHILDREN and Elizabeth Strout’s OLIVE KITTERIDGE near me. Within reaching distance, for sure. Any page of either of those books contains too many gems to count. Also Alice Munro. If I am writing away from home and don’t have access to my books sometimes I’ll just pull up any Alice Munro excerpt online and be so struck by the beauty and exactness of her descriptions that I am humbled and inspired to keep writing. ”

~Keetha DePriest Mosley [formerly Reed] (Culinary Kudzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing Up Southern, More Culinary Kudzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing Up Southern:

“I keep a Childcraft dictionary on my desk. Santa brought it the Christmas I was seven years old. Sometimes I thumb through it, enjoying the feel of the slick pages. Any time I open that dictionary, I’m taken back to the way I felt when I was a child looking at it: words were so much fun.”

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

“My bible is Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell. I go through it with each book, scribbling notes and plot points in the margins. It’s fun to go back, now that I’m working on my third book, and see how the process evolved for the first two! I also really like Writing the Breakout Novel by James Scott Bell, On Writing by Steven King, and Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott. I have stacks of books on writing but those are the ones I always come back to. As for what I read when I’m writing, I zip through thrillers! ”

~Ivy Pochoda (The Art of Disappearing):

“Carson McCullers’ “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” is almost always on my desk. James Woods’ “How Fiction Works,” because James Woods’ is both THE MAN and a genius and a great drummer. David Gates’ “Preston Falls” because he doesn’t mince words or suffer gilded lilies.”

~Kristina Riggle (Real Life & Liars and The Life You’ve Imagined, and The Things We Didn’t Say coming June 28, 2011):

“I love to read and re-read THE GREAT GATSBY and BIRD BY BIRD, though my copy of the latter is currently loaned out. I may turn that loan into a gift and just buy myself a new one. I miss it.”

~Emily Winslow (The Whole World):

“For the book I’m currently working on, math text books and a volume of Nabokov short stories.”

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Announcement: The winner of The Four Ms. Bradwells by Meg Waite Clayton is Jane Cook. Congratulations!

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

The Revealing of Therese Fowler

April 20, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

Therese Fowler (Souvenir, Reunion) — respected and loved for her novels about choices and consequences, mistakes, misapprehensions, redemption, and love in all its forms — takes her storytelling to a new level with Exposure releasing May 3, 2011.

In a one sentence description: Exposure is a ripped-from-the-headlines story of intense young love and a nightmarish legal maelstrom that threatens to destroy two families.

And fellow authors offer this glowing, early praise:

“Complex, gripping, and rich with emotion, Fowler’s 21st-century Romeo and Juliet beautifully blends modern day drama with carefully drawn examinations of family, loyalty, honesty, and the power of love.” – Eleanor Brown, New York Times bestselling author of The Weird Sisters

“Provocative, timely, and compelling, Therese Fowler’s Exposure will leave book clubs talking for hours.” – Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters and The Four Ms. Bradwells

“Headlines rarely reveal the truth. Exposure does. I truly couldn’t put it down.” –Randy Susan Meyers, author of The Murderer’s Daughters

The Divining Wand has scheduled a presentation/review of Exposure for Monday, May 2, 2011 but, for the moment, let’s meet the author through her “official” bio:

Therese Fowler is the author of SOUVENIR, REUNION, and EXPOSURE (coming in May ’11). She has worked in the U.S. Civil Service and in retail management, lived in the Philippines, sold real estate, earned a B.A. in sociology, sold used cars, was a substitute teacher, returned to school for her MFA in creative writing, and taught college undergrads about literature and fiction-writing — roughly in that order. With books published in nine languages and sold world-wide, Therese writes full-time from her home in Wake Forest, NC, which she shares with her husband, four amiable cats, and four nearly grown-up sons.

Now it’s time to get to to know the real Therese, upclose and personal:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: Rough start, leading to good fortune and optimism.

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: “Each moment, only once.”

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: Knowing my children are happy.

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: That my children become seriously ill or injured.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: Snorkeling around Tahiti.

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: I’ve always thought I was Laura Ingalls in a past life.

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: Hard to pin this one down, but Steven Spielberg is pretty darn impressive…

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases?
A: Please pass the salt. Can I have extra lime in that?

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: Painting as beautifully as Scott Mattlin does.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: Raising my sons to happy adulthood (so far!)

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: I worry too much about things over which I have no control.

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: I care deeply. Which is also sometimes a flaw.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: Not getting started on a writing career sooner.

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

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: You’d have to ask someone else.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: I have a soft spot for Rhett Butler.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: See above.

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: Crash Davis, and I’d invite him over for a drink.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: Seeing apostrophes where they don’t belong.

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: Getting outdoors–to walk, run, sun, hike, putter in the flower beds, or just stretch out on the porch and read!

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Singing.

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Patience, warmth, honesty.

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Popcorn with browned butter, salt, and Parmesan cheese.

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: Impossible to answer definitively, but here are five that come to mind:
Permanent-David Cook
Somebody to Love-Freddie Mercury
Mississippi-Train
Dust in the Wind-Kansas
The Trouble with Love is-Kelly Clarkson

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: Again, this varies, but here are five that come to mind easily:
Bel Canto-Ann Patchett
Snow Falling on Cedars-David Guterson
Lolita-Vladimir Nabokov
Pride and Prejudice-Jane Austen
The Thorn Birds-Colleen McCullough

Extremely popular and down-to-earth, Therese is adored by her friends and fans. Become both on Facebook!

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away a copy of The Four Ms. Bradwells by Meg Waite Clayton in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Meg Waite Clayton and The Four Ms. Bradwells. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is tonight at 7:00 p.m. EDT 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 Sarah Jio — From Journalist to Novelist

April 19, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Although there are some born storytellers who become novelists, most novelists come from varied backgrounds that have inspired their storytelling. In today’s guest post, debut author Sarah Jio shares how being a journalist has fueled her creativity with enough ideas to write one novel, The Violets of March (coming April 26, 2011), and more.]

From Journalist to Novelist

As my first book, The Violets of March, makes its way into the world, I’ll tell you, honestly, that I’m a ball of nerves: excited, happy, elated, nervous, anxious, hopeful, and the like. (And if you came over to my house right now, you’d see me pacing the floors (with a newborn baby in my arms!) and checking Amazon sales rankings and my Blackberry for email updates a little too frequently.) But I think the biggest emotion I feel today is a sense of joy. Not every person can say they love what they do for a living, and although the writing life isn’t a perfect career, it’s perfect for me, and I’m so grateful to be able to do what I love.

I’ve been writing for magazines for the majority of my career, and while I’ll probably continue forever (I’m a huge magazine junkie, and I love reporting on fun new topics for all the big newsstand glossies—Glamour, Real Simple, Redbook, Health, etc.), I’ve found a new home in fiction, and I plan (and hope) to stay a while. Fiction fulfills me in a way that no other writing work has. I have never felt more passionate, engaged, and challenged in my work as I have been when I sit down to write a story. I also love the freeing feeling of being able to make things up (believe me, after 12 years wearing a journalist hat, this is pretty cool!).

And, just like with magazines, the thing I also love most about fiction is the idea-development process. Nowadays, editors assign me the majority of my articles, but when I was just starting out, I was always coming up with new story ideas and pitching them constantly. And now, I find that all that work sharpening my brain to think creatively about story ideas has parlayed into successful book ideas. Consequently, I think of book ideas all the time, and I find it so much fun. (Just today, I got a great idea for a new book—in the shower!). While a lot of these ideas go nowhere, many have stuck. I’ve already written, and sold, my second book, THE BUNGLAOW, which will be published by Penguin (Plume) in April of 2012. And, I’m a quarter of the way through my third book, which I’m so ridiculously excited about, I can’t wait to tell you about it—and everyone else. As soon as I can, believe me, I’ll be shouting it out from the rooftops. This story has really grabbed onto my heart, and my hope is that it will have the same effect on readers.

But, today, I’m thinking about Violets. I’m sending it out into the world, and hopeful that it resonates with readers in the way it resonated with me as I wrote it. No matter what the future holds, I’m just so happy to be here at this place.

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Announcements: For those who have been wanting and waiting to read Holly LeCraw’s stunning debut novel, The Swimming Pool, it’s being released today in Trade Paperback. And for those who may have missed reading about this debut last year, here’s the presentation/review.

Also today Eileen Cook (The Education of Hailey Kendrick YA, Unpredictable, What Would Emma Do? YA, Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood YA) debuts with Fourth Grade Fairy for ages 9 – 11.

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away a copy of The Four Ms. Bradwells by Meg Waite Clayton in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Meg Waite Clayton and The Four Ms. Bradwells. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

Meg Waite Clayton and The Four Ms. Bradwells

April 18, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books


National bestselling author Meg Waite Clayton (The Wednesday Sisters) had a dream of becoming a novelist but — not knowing how to achieve that career — she went to college to become a doctor and emerged from academia seven years later as a corporate lawyer. Truth and dreams have a way of being recognized though. They did for Meg and they also did for her characters in The Four Ms. Bradwells.

Intelligent, insightful, and issue-complicated, the story is an ode to the author’s law school friends and the University of Michigan Law School itself. The combination of the two helped her discover and explore the strengths she needed to face the challenges of being a women in a restricted, male-dominated professional world thirty years ago. Have things changed? Well that’s the basis for the novel which asks the intriguing question: What would happen if four women told the truth about their lives?

These women/friends answer as the storyline evolves into the novel’s synopsis:

Mia, Laney, Betts, and Ginger, best friends since law school, have reunited for a long weekend as Betts awaits Senate confirmation of her appointment to the Supreme Court. Nicknamed “the Ms. Bradwells” during their first class at the University of Michigan Law School in 1979—when only three women had ever served full Senate terms and none had been appointed to the Court—the four have supported one another through life’s challenges: marriages and divorces, births and deaths, career setbacks and triumphs large and small. Betts was, and still is, the Funny One. Ginger, the Rebel. Laney, the Good Girl. And Mia, the Savant.

But when the Senate hearings uncover a deeply buried skeleton in the friends’ collective closet, the Ms. Bradwells retreat to a summer house on the Chesapeake Bay, where they find themselves reliving a much darker period in their past—one that stirs up secrets they’ve kept for, and from, one another, and could change their lives forever.

Once again, Meg Waite Clayton writes inspiringly about the complex circumstances facing women and the heartfelt friendships that hold them together. Insightful and affecting, The Four Ms. Bradwells is also a captivating tale of how far people will go to protect the ones they love.

There is critical and popular Praise for the Literary Guild Book Club Fiction Selection
/Mystery Guild Selection as well as an Excerpt of Part I, introducing Mia and her perspective of the present.

Alternating the narration from the first person voices of Mia, Betts, Ginger, and Laney, their personal stories are told in flashbacks colored by the individual’s truths. Some are secrets, guilty evasions, and personal jealousies harbored over the decades. In other words, exactly what one would expect from real life friendships that holds together by a silent bond of loyalty, trust, and love.

The author acknowledges that secrets are a central theme of the novel and she further explains:

“I suppose the thing about secrets is that we often keep them out of shame. And the things that shame us often shouldn’t. They’re often things that are not our fault—and yet they’re also often things that we will be judged for, consciously or not. Or failures that we and others can learn from if we’re willing to examine what happened. Is there a message in that? I suppose that if more of us shared our secrets we might see how common life’s challenges are. But it takes a brave person to come forward.”

Are all the four Ms. Bradwells brave enough to disclose their secrets from thirty years ago in order to save Betts’ Supreme Court Nomination from the skeleton of their past? They buried it back then, however — as the adage promises: The truth will out.

Although Meg Waite Clayton’s characters are strong, independent, and seemingly successful — a journalist, a lawyer turned poet, a senator, a potential Supreme Court Justice — they share the same vulnerabilities as anyone else. For example, each one has had issues with their mother and, now, with their daughters. And, while these friends have survived and succeeded, there remains a nagging doubt if they have achieved what was expected of them.

Complete with storylines of sexual harassment, unreported rape, gay ex-husbands, fellow woman-envy, and even Anita Hill versus Clarence Thomas, The Four Ms. Bradwells is a thought-provoking novel with heart. Yes there is also a mysterious death (no spoilers here) but its suspicious cause serves as a means to tighten the present friendships. The four Ms. Bradwells do tell their truth and, if you’re looking for an honest, reflective book about what it means to be a friend, Meg Waite Clayton has written a “must read.” Enjoy!

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away a copy of The Four Ms. Bradwells by Meg Waite Clayton 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, April 20, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

Go-to Writing Books, IV

April 14, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites, Profiles, Q&A

Before, during and after a work-in-progress, a published/debut author has likely read more than a few books on the art and craft of writing. Whether it’s for motivation or inspiration, favorites must exist to be read and reread — including fiction and poetry — whenever the need arises. With this thought in mind, The Divining Wand asked its authors:

What books do you keep nearby or go back to as you’re working?

And this week the following authors replied:

~Stacey Ballis (Good Enough to Eat, The Spinster Sisters, Room for Improvement, the rest in Bibliography):

“Anne LaMott’s Bird by Bird. That always can motivate me.”

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

“I always keep the previous book in my series close by to make sure that I’m not writing something inconsistent in the new book. It’s sometimes hard to keep all the characters (and all their idiosyncrasies straight).”

~Tawna Fenske (Making Waves coming August 2011):

“I am desperately in love with books by romantic comedy goddesses Jennifer Crusie, Lani Diane Rich, Janet Evanovich, and Kristan Higgins. I wouldn’t mind having any of those authors’ careers someday, but for now I will settle for stalking them and reading their books over and over.”

~Kate Ledger (Remedies):

‘As I was writing REMEDIES, at least for one stretch, the books nearby were Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, Saul Bellow’s Seize the Day, Philip Roth’s American Pastoral–all of which struck me as a certain kind of writing: muscular and assertive and also straightforward. Some mornings, when I first sat down, I would dip into one of them, reread a small section, and remind myself that the key to it all is telling the story. And then I would get to work.”

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

“There are a few novels I re-read or dip into as a reminder of great writing, including Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux, especially for voice, anything by Rosellen Brown to reacquaint myself fusing character and story, Margot Livesy for the elegance of her prose, and Steven King for a reminder of page-turning plot.”

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

“Strunk & White.”

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

“I have 21 (!) books on my desk that are necessary guides as I work through my current project. These books aren’t craft-related; they’re specific to this manuscript. The books I’ve used most this week: Rolling Nowhere: Riding the Rails with America ’s Hoboes by Ted Conover, and Hopping Freight Trains in America by Duffy Littlejohn.”

To be continued….

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Announcement: The winner of The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry is Sara Mitchell. Congratulations!

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

The Revealing of Sarah Jio

April 13, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

Journalist and blogger Sarah Jio turns her attention to writing friction with the debut novel, The Violets of March coming April 26, 2011.

In an intriguing one sentence, the book is described: A heartbroken woman stumbles upon a diary and steps into the life of its anonymous author.

And the early Praise is impressive:

“Mix a love story, history, and a mystery and what takes root? THE VIOLETS OF MARCH, a novel that reminds us how the past comes back to haunt us, and packs a few great surprises for the reader along the way. “—Jodi Picoult, author of Sing You Home & House Rules

“The Violets of March is a captivating first bloom of a novel, with tangled roots, budding relationships and plenty of twists and turns. Sarah Jio is one talented writer!” —Claire Cook, bestselling author of Must Love Dogs and Seven Year Switch

“An enchanting story of love, betrayal, and the discovery of an old diary that mysteriously links the past to the present. The Violets of March is a delightful debut.” —Beth Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

The Divining Wand has scheduled a presentation/review of The Violets of March for Monday, April 25, 2011 but, in the meantime, lets meet the author through her “official” bio:

A Seattle-based writer and the health and fitness blogger for Glamour.com, Sarah has contributed to major magazines including O, The Oprah Magazine, Woman’s Day, Cooking Light, Glamour, SELF, Real Simple, Redbook, Fitness, Marie Claire, Hallmark magazine, Seventeen, Health, Bon Appetit, Gourmet, The Seattle Times, and many others. She has also appeared as a commentator on NPR’s Morning Edition. Sarah has a degree in journalism and writes about topics that include food, nutrition, health, entertaining, travel, diet/weight loss, beauty, fitness, shopping, psychology, and beyond. Sarah is married, with three little boys, and a rascally golden retriever named Paisley who steals socks.

And now for an upclose look at who Sarah IS:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: Caffeinated. Chaotic. Creative. Happy. Hopeful. Fun. Healthy. Sleep-deprived.

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: Right now at this stage in my life juggling work with motherhood, it all boils down to ‘keep it simple.’ I have three little boys (2, 4 and an infant born weeks ago) and I’ve learned that keeping things simple directly correlates to my happiness level.

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: A happy home filled with my healthy little boys. All I can ask for! And, I’d add to that: Something on the horizon (anything) to look forward to. I love thinking ahead to the next thing—keeps me going and engaged!

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: The death of one of my children (oh I’m getting weepy just thinking of it!). And, rodents!

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: Right here at home in Seattle. I’m a homebody! But, next up: Paris, with my husband. I was there by myself in 2006 for a cooking class, and I kept thinking, ‘why am I here in the city of love without the man I love?!’

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: That’s a tough one, but I like to think I identify with other female authors from the past, especially those that began their writing careers by publishing magazine stories, like L.M. Montgomery, of the famed Anne of Green Gable series (a fave of mine!). I’ve been reading biographies of Montgomery and I see so much of myself in her early years—her curiosity and imagination, her love of getting stories published in magazines, her drive to write as a career and a hobby. She definitely had the same spark and fire for writing that I do. It would be so fun to go back in time to meet her—just not during the winter. The Prince Edward Island winters were unbelievably harsh! Oh, and I think if I’d been a young woman in the 1920’s I would have been a flapper all the way.

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: Too many to list. I could name dozens of public figures, but I’d say that when it comes right down to it, I admire my grandmother so much (VIOLETS is dedicated to her, Antoinette, and also my late maternal grandmother, Cecelia). She and my late grandfather, were huge supporters of my early “writing,” and encouraged me to keep at it.

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases?
A: Oh too many to count—and many of them are the made-up, baby-talk words my boys have coined over the years. Rent-raunch anyone? That would be “restaurant.”

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: Singing. I wish I could hold a tune. In another life, I’d like to be a jazz singer and pianist. I’m a huge fan of jazz—old and new.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: My three sons! Carson, Russell and Colby. And I have a Tiffany charm bracelet that my husband got me with each of their names on little charms. I feel proud every time I look at it—and them.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: My work-a-holic tendencies. This has fueled my career, but it’s also meant little rest/peace at times in my life. I’m working on finding more balance so I don’t work on weekends as much as I have in the past. My husband and boys are always nagging me to get out of my office and join them for family fun!

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: Oh I feel like I’m giving myself a compliment here, which isn’t my intention, but I think I’m generally a very friendly person, and I hope that people feel a sense of warmth when in my presence. I probably don’t get it right all the time, but I tend to be like my dad: outgoing, talkative and—hopefully—outwardly focused. I think one of the best skills to hone is learning to be genuinely interested in others. It sounds so simple, but so many people struggle with this. My dad has it down, and I hope I’ve inherited the trait!

Q: What do you regret most?
A: Oh dear, this could easily become a confessional booth, but I’d bore you! At present, I have few major regrets (thank goodness for that!), but I do wish I didn’t get that Poodle-esq perm in the 5th grade. Good grief, what was I thinking?

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: I’d love to have the skills of a pastry chef. I’m a huge fan of cooking, and do fairly well with baking, but to be able to make fancy pastries? I would love to have those skills!

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: Maybe my curiosity? I have a degree in journalism and have been writing for magazines for 10+ years, so I’m naturally driven to ask a lot of questions and get right to the heart of a matter.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Off the top of my head, probably Anne, of Anne of Green Gables (you have to love that spirited redhead!). I used to be such an Anne fan—I even had an Anne of Green Gables cookbook as a girl. True story.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Well, when I was a child, I was pretty fascinated by Cruella de Ville in “101 Dalmatians!” I also think that Nellie from “Little House on the Prairie” was a pretty terrific “mean girl.”

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: I played tennis as a child and teen, and there was a time when I really and truly wanted to grow up to be just like Jennifer Capriati, the teen tennis sensation of the 80’s/90’s. I think it would be fun to meet her, though I’m not sure what I’d say—maybe I’d confess that she used to be my idol and that I also tried to style my hair like hers. Oh dear, the memories.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: Wearing shoes in the home. We have a no-shoes policy in our house (as annoying as it is to some of my best pals—but they understand!)–I just can’t stand the idea of tracking in mud, dirt, germs and whatever was stepped on in the public restroom into the house! Yuck!

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: Mothering! But sometimes it makes me really crazy, too. Like today, when my 2 year old dumped orange juice on his brother’s head.

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Again, probably a jazz singer/pianist like Diana Krall (I’m a huge fan!). But I’d get stage fright and it would be a huge flop. Better stick with writing.

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Integrity. Loyalty. Kindness.

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Simple pasta dishes with lots of veggies and Parmesan!

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: So hard to answer this one, as I have so many, but I’ll share the five fave songs that were a huge part of my writing of THE VIOLETS OF MARCH—songs that inspired so many scenes:
*Toshiko by Jessica Williams (a gorgeous piano ballad which is also the backdrop to my book trailer!)
*Until (a song written by Sting, but I adore the versions by Connie Evingson and Stefon Harris)
*Where I Stood, by Missy Higgs (such a thought-provoking and gorgeous song)
*Body and Soul, by Billie Holiday (this song is a personal favorite and also one that was of great importance to the characters in my book)
*The Waters of March, by Susannah McCorkle (this song INSPIRED my book, which—a little history—was originally titled “The Waters of March,” but got a name change before publication!)

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: The list is constantly evolving and changes with the seasons, but these ones definitely come to mind: “The Secret Garden” (such fond memories reading as a child!); “The Little House on the Prairie” series (I loved being in Laura’s world!) and the “Anne of Green Gables” books; Maeve Binchy’s books (too many to list—I love her magical story-telling); “Years of Grace” (the 1931 Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel that I read while working with my editor on THE VIOLETS OF MARCH); and most recently “Sarah’s Key,” a book that really moved me.

Talented, creative, and almost ready for anything, Sarah Jio is a debut author to follow on Twitter and become a friend/fan of on Facebook.

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