The Divining Wand

Discovering authors beyond their pages…
Subscribe

Archive for June, 2011

Summer’s TBR Lists, II

June 09, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites, Q&A

A-h-h summer, how do we love thee for HOT, lazy days — the perfect reason to relax and get lost in a book? And, since summer book lists are currently being published, The Divining Wand decided to ask its authors:

What’s on your summer “must/want to read” list?

This week the following writers replied:

~ Joëlle Anthony (Restoring Harmony YA):

“As for books, I’m anxiously awaiting Nova Ren Suma’s new book, IMAGINARY GIRLS. And Deb Caletti has a new book out, STAY.”

~Julie Buxbaum (After You, The Opposite of Love):

“I cannot wait for Laura Dave’s THE FIRST HUSBAND.”

~Ann Wertz Garvin (On Maggie’s Watch):

“My reading list:
Laura Ryder’s Masterpiece – Jane Hamilton
Once Upon A Time There Was You- Elizabeth Berg
The Red Thread – Ann Hood
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption – Laura Hillenbrand
Bossypants – Tina Fey”

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

“My TBR pile looks a little heavy right now: Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro; Moll Flanders by Defoe; Candide by Voltaire; Middlemarch by Eliot; Crossing the Safety by Stegner; Disgrace by Coetzee.”

~Kate Ledger (Remedies):

“That list seems to get longer every week. There are so many great books out there. I’m currently reading a lot of books about medicine and the lives of doctors as research for the novel I’m writing now. But two I’m looking forward to for pure intrigue and the love of the journey are: Randy Susan Meyers’s novel about a family surviving domestic violence, The Murderer’s Daughters, and Mitchell James Kaplan’s novel set during the Spanish Inquisition, By Fire, By Water.”

~Meg Mitchell Moore (The Arrivals):

“Can’t wait to read for these new releases: The Bird Sisters, The Kitchen Daughter, The Art of Forgetting and The Violets of March. Also so excited for Kate Atkinson’s Started Early, Took My Dog and for a long time now I’ve been meaning to read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Oh, and Townie by Andre Dubus III. And of course the newest Elin Hilderbrand novel, Silver Girl. I’ll be first in line for that one.”

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

“I can’t wait to read LORD OF MISRULE, the National Book Award winner Jaimy Gordon who lives here in West Michigan. I was lucky enough to meet her — she’s charming, funny and down-to-earth — and the book sounds amazing. My autographed copy is tempting me right now, but I have some library books in the queue first…”

To be continued….

* * * * *

Announcement: The winners of From Bad to Cursed by Katie Alender are Eileen and Jessica Stanton. Congratulations.

Please email diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and your book will be pre-ordered to be sent out next week.

The Revealing of Tawna Fenske

June 08, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

Considering Tawna Fenske’s diverse background and double entendre humor, it’s not unexpected that her debut novel — Making Waves being released on August 1, 2011 — would prove a guilty reading pleasure.

For Making Waves is the first in a trio of quirky romantic comedies from Sourcebooks, Inc. with the second book, Believe it or Not due out January 2012, followed by Let It Breathe in August 2012.

In a one sentence descriptive tease of Making Waves, it’s noted:
A high-seas heist wasn’t part of their unemployment plan.

Last week at Book Expo America 2011 Advanced Reader Copies of the novel were made available for reviewers and publishers. Although that technically means reviews are not yet available….Trisha Leigh, a YA writer and longtime Twitter pal of Tawna’s, did provide this high praise after literally snagging a BEA display copy:

trishaleighKC Trisha Leigh
@tawnafenske “Man. I REALLY want to read that one.” She ran off & came back with one. I’m 35pgs in and fanning myself 😉 25 May

Translation: It’s HOT in more ways than one!

The Divining Wand has scheduled a presentation/review of Making Waves for Monday, June 20, 2011 however, in the meantime, let’s meet the author through her “official” bio:

A third-generation Oregonian who can peel and eat a banana with her toes, Tawna Fenske has traveled a winding career path from journalist to English teacher in Venezuela to marketing geek. She’s the author of the popular daily blog “Don’t Pet Me, I’m Writing” and a member of Romance Writers of America. Her debut novel, MAKING WAVES, hits shelves August 2011 as the first in a trio of quirky romantic comedies from Sourcebooks, Inc.

Now it’s time to really get to know Tawna, upclose and revealing:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: I can always find a reason to laugh.

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: Don’t take life – or yourself – too seriously.

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: This is a family-friendly blog, right? I’m a romance author. I think it’s best if I don’t answer this question.

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: I am absolutely, positively petrified of needles. That’s not entirely true – I can handle things like shots or piercings, but I can’t handle blood draws or IVs. I guess it’s more accurate to say I have some sort of weird vascular phobia. I’ve been known to hyperventilate, throw up, pee, scream obscenities, and throw punches when faced with a blood draw. It’s possible I’ve done all of those things simultaneously.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: On a warm, sandy beach with a cabana boy rubbing me with suntan oil and another cabana boy feeding me bites of fresh pineapple.

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: I don’t know about “identifying,” since I’m not vain enough to imply that I have anything in common with the genius of Lucille Ball, but I certainly admire everything she did to pave the way for women in comedy.

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: Is it cheating if I name my parents? They’re sort of one person anyway. My parents met in sixth grade and have been ridiculously, deliriously in love for over four decades. There’s no better inspiration for romance novels than that.

Q; What are your most overused words or phrases
A: In writing, I seem to have characters who do a lot of eyebrow raising and sighing. I have to go back and search each manuscript to make sure I haven’t overdone it. In real life, I’m not sure I have any overused words or phrases, but I certainly do laugh a lot.

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: I would like to learn to juggle, play the harmonica, and parallel park without cursing. It would be even cooler if I could do all three things at once.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: Learning to tie a cherry stem in a knot with my tongue.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: I’m too easily distracted. While trying to come up with a clever answer for this question, I managed to check my email four times, refill my ice water, text message a dirty joke to a friend, and clean an eye-booger off the cat’s face.

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: If we’re talking physical attributes, I’ve been told I have a nice smile. Well, that’s probably not the part of me that generates the most comments, but that’s the one I’m admitting in this interview. If we’re talking personality traits, it’s probably my ability to make people laugh. I’ve always been something of a class clown, so it’s probably good I write romantic comedy instead of tragic literary fiction.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: I don’t tend to regret much in life. Even the really dumb things I’ve done (and there have been plenty) generally turn out to be good learning experiences.

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: The mirror in the men’s locker room at Daniel Craig’s gym.

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: I’ve been told I talk too fast. And walk too fast. And do a lot of things too fast.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Besides writing romantic comedy, I also love reading it. Jennifer Crusie is one of my favorites, and I’ll admit I’m madly in love with Phin Tucker from Welcome to Temptation.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Author Chelsea Cain (a fellow Oregonian) writes a terrific series of thrillers starring female serial killer Gretchen Lowell. The books are so beautifully twisted, and Gretchen divinely disturbing.

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: I grew up in a family of sports nuts, so you’d think I could manage to come up with the name of a single famous athlete. Nope. I’m drawing a blank here. I lack the attention span to watch sports, and I lack the athletic prowess to participate in them.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
Grouchy, moody, whiny, or mean people. Is that one peeve or four?

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: I’ve worked in marketing/public relations for most of my adult life, which essentially means I’m a professional cheerleader. I currently work part-time as the communications manager for the tourism bureau of the most amazing town on the planet, Bend, Oregon. I get paid to do things like go snowshoeing or beer tasting or mountain biking and write about it, or take journalists out for swanky dinners and walking tours of the city. I love my job. I’d probably do it even if they didn’t pay me.

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: I’ve always wanted to write product descriptions for adult catalogs. You’re sorry you asked now, aren’t you?

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Sense of humor, empathy, and a nice butt.

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: I should preface this by saying friends tease me for being a neurotically healthy eater 99% of the time, but there is no food on earth I love more than the McDonald’s Egg McMuffin.

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: This changes weekly, but at the moment:
“Highway Song,” by What Bird
“The Last Resort,” by The Eagles
“Private Universe,” by Crowded House
“Sex on Fire,” by Kings of Leon
“This is Where,” by the Wailin’ Jennys

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: Yet another list that changes regularly, but some staples:
Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver
Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut
The Gospel Accord.

ing to Sydney Welles by Susi Rajah

Smart, savvy, and honestly sweet, Tawna Fenske has the ability to brighten anyone’s day. Visit her blog, Don’t Pet Me, I’m Writing, follow her on Twitter, and friend her on Facebook.

* * * * *

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of From Bad to Cursed by Katie Alender in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Katie Alender and From Bad to Cursed. 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 Elise Allen on YA = Your Age

June 07, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

[A few days ago the entry on my desktop calendar read: “Years do not make age.” __George Sand. And, in today’s guest post, Elise Allen — debuting with her YA novel, Populazzi on August 1, 2011 — serendipitously proves the truth of that quote.]

YA= Your Age

Okay, maybe not your age specifically. I don’t know how old you are, and I swear I’m not trying to wheedle it out of you. I do want to talk about why YA (specifically Populazzi, for this post, though this is a favorite topic of mine and I’d love to talk about it in more sweeping terms another time) is relevant to people of all ages, and that was the best acronym I could make.

Here’s what starts Populazzi‘s back-cover summary:

Cara always wished she could be one of those girls: confident, self-possessed, and never at a loss for the perfect thing to say. A girl at the very top of the popularity tower. One of the Populazzi.

I wrote that about a 16-year-old girl about to start a whole new school full of people she never met. I could just as easily have been writing about myself, last week, walking solo into a “networking” party where I knew no one. Or about my 90-year-old grandmother last year, moving into an assisted living facility where all the social groups seemed set in stone.

Sure, there’s a difference. My grandmother and I both have a stronger sense of ourselves than we did at sixteen, and once you’re out of high school the “Tower” isn’t as stratified – the pecking order isn’t usually as distinct or as seemingly inflexible. (At least not socially – there’s an argument that one’s career is also a popularity tower, with the most successful people occupying the hallowed role of Supreme Populazzi.)

Still, each time we enter a new situation with new people, most of us get that familiar feeling of butterflies, and hear the echo of that chant we recited while we stared at ourselves in the mirror before heading off to school the first day of the year: “I hope they like me. I hope they accept me. I hope I can be one of them.”

I have a big birthday coming up on July 6th. We won’t discuss how big, though in my Q and A with Larramie I did mention I had my first driver’s license in the 80’s, so there’s math to be done. I’ve been discussing this birthday with a lot of my friends from high school and college, because we’re all knocking it down one by one. Surprisingly, we all agree that we’re more excited than freaked out, mainly because we feel like now more than ever, we have a solid grasp on who we are and what we want.

Sure, we all have our issues we’re working on and want to change, but at core we’re entering the decade happier and more confident than any other year. We are who we are, and if who we are doesn’t work for some people… hey, that’s okay.

And yet… there are still those situations. The call from my friend in a panic before her daughter’s birthday party, worried what the other moms will think. The text from another friend on an adventure trip with a tour group of strangers: “They’ve all bonded except me!” My own silence as I stand around before boot camp starts and I can’t think of anything to say to the other people.

You don’t have to be the main character’s age to love YA. If you’ve ever been there, you remember those feelings of self-doubt and uncertainty, combined with the overwhelming desire to be seen, recognized, and loved for who you really are; and no matter how far you’ve come, you still feel their shadows sometimes. A great YA story will resonate for the same reason a “grownup” story does: the characters are fleshed-out and real, and it rings emotionally true. That’s something we can all appreciate at any age.

* * * * *

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of From Bad to Cursed by Katie Alender in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Katie Alender and From Bad to Cursed. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, June 8, 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.

Katie Alender and From Bad to Cursed

June 06, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books

When Katie Alender wrote her debut YA novel Bad Girls Don’t Die as a stand alone book, she tied it up with a relatively happy ending. In fact two years ago, this presentation/review — Presenting Debutante Katie Alender and Bad Girls Don’t Die — noted:

It’s a book about strong teenage females who have their own problems and find their own solutions, doing so without being dependent and reliant on males. The author’s heroine, Alexis, figures out that she has the strength and intelligence to not only fight her own battles but to be victorious…not that it’s easy, of course.

And concludes with:

Yet as innocent as it is scary, the author’s empathetic writing comes down to trusting and protecting the people we care about most.

Since those words hold true and always will, how does the author manage to untie the bow of a happy ending and create even greater problems in the second book of the series, Bad Girls Don’t Die: From Bad to Cursed releasing next Tuesday, June 14, 2011?

Actually there was a realistic and simple solution as Katie explains:

“This series is all about Alexis’s arc—who she is at the beginning of the first book, how she transforms, and who she is at the end of the third book. The first book, to me, was about trust and openness.

“This book is about compassion—or the consequences of a lack of compassion. Alexis came out of the first book assuming Kasey [her younger sister] was just kind of weak and maybe a little foolish. In this book, she realizes that everyone can stumble and make mistakes. And she also realizes that people can be stronger than you give them credit for.”

Those thoughts then evolved into this From Bad to Cursed synopsis:

Alexis Warren is totally the last girl you’d expect to sell her soul.

She already has everything she needs—an adorable boyfriend, the perfect best friend, and a little sister who’s finally recovering after being possessed by an evil spirit. She’s is thrilled and relieved when her sister joins a club; new friends are just what Kasey needs.

So, yeah, it’s a little strange how fast the girls in the Sunshine Club go from dorky and antisocial to gorgeous and popular… but playing with the paranormal is what got Kasey locked up last year—she must know better than to mess with the dark side again… right?

Um, not so much. Soon Alexis learns that the girls have pledged an oath to a seemingly benevolent spirit named Aralt. Not trusting Kasey to fix the situation herself, Alexis and her best friend Megan decide to investigate by joining the club. Alexis trades in her pink hair and punky clothes for a mainstream look, and quickly finds herself reveling in her newfound elegance and success.

Faster than you can say “J. Crew,” Alexis has forgotten why she joined in the first place. Surely it wasn’t to destroy Aralt… why would she hurt someone who gives her so much—and asks for so little in return?

Although this novel can be gory and “gooey,” its true horror comes from Aralt’s supernatural curse/blessing. Given the opportunity to be perfect, to be successful, to be golden might tempt anyone at any age, but how acquiescent would a teenage girl be? And, while Alexis still maintains most of the mental strength she possessed in the first book, her emotional convictions falter now.

Even more diabolically delicious is the adult character — also “charmed” by Aralt’s oath. She may, in fact, remind readers of any number of real life people seemingly leading a golden life. Have those “fortunate” ones — who have it all — made a pact? Perhaps. Yet they too do crumble and fall….even harder than most.

Katie understands how self-destructive this can be, saying:

“I think a lot of people sell their souls for success—look at men like Bernie Madoff, whose own son committed suicide out of shame and despair. In every industry you’ll find people willing to trade tiny pieces of their humanity for success and recognition. The sad thing is, they do it of their own accord.”

Which is why she shares her feelings through writings and speech:

“One thing I try to emphasize if I’m talking to teens or aspiring writers is that you can’t go by the world’s definition of success. Look at all of the wealthy, beautiful, famous people whose lives end up in ruins. It’s so easy to be tempted by what someone else has—but often those people are trapped in miserable existences. Money, fame, Oscars, Pulitzers—none of it means anything if you can’t look yourself in the eye every morning.”

Without giving away any *spoilers*, Alexis does find it difficult to look herself in the eye every morning. For, in this book, the character’s healthy self-confidence has been replaced by over-confidence based on building herself up by belittling others. Yes she’s earned success, but she’s a teenager who is still growing and in need of understanding her own weaknesses. Despite Aralt’s “gifts,” Alexis is far from perfect. However, once she recognizes her mistakes, can she be strong enough to correct them to save herself, her sister, and others?

Hmm, that answer may be obvious by knowing there’s a book three. Still that doesn’t diminish the thrill and fun of the heart-pounding From Bad to Cursed and its message of compassion. Alexis must learn to understand what her sister really needs, rather then judging and deciding for her. Next Tuesday, June 14th in bookstores/online retailers, her lonely, frightening, and chillingly profound journey begins. It’s a great, entertaining read. Enjoy….with compassion!

* * * * *

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of From Bad to Cursed by Katie Alender 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, June 8, 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.

Summer’s TBR Lists

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

Summertime and the living is easy. Fish are jumping and the books are piled high. A-h-h yes, summer is the best season for a reason to relax and get lost in a book. And, since summer book lists are currently being named and made, The Divining Wand decided to ask its authors:

What’s on your summer “must/want to read” list?

This week the following writers replied:

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

“I always feel like I’m playing catch up on my reading. There’s a few books that I’ve had on my to be read list, and I hope I get to them before summer. I’ve been wanting to read the new Kate Atkinson LEFT EARLY, TOOK MY DOG ever since I read her WHEN WILL THERE BE GOOD NEWS?. And I’ve been very interested to read ROOM by Emma Donoghue ever since I hear the premise. I also always have my eyes and ears open for news of Debutante Ball (past and present) books coming out. I’ve never been disappointed by the talented Debs!”

~Tanya Egan Gibson (How to Buy a Love of Reading):

“My spring/summer must-read list includes Kim Culbertson’s INSTRUCTIONS FOR A BROKEN HEART, Therese Fowler’s EXPOSURE, Will Allison’s LONG DRIVE HOME, Rebecca Rasmussen’s THE BIRD SISTERS, and Meg Waite Clayton’s THE FOUR MS. BRADWELLS (I know it’s already out, but I’m behind on the stack of books I want to read!).”

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

“I want to read River Jordan’s new book about praying for strangers; Swallow the Ocean by Laura Flynn; and Stacy Schiff’s biography of Cleopatra.”

~Holly LeCraw (The Swimming Pool):

“I am getting into the classics–I mean really. I just read Oedipus Rex for the first time and was blown away. Next is The Iliad and Odyssey. Ridiculous that I have a supposedly top-notch education and am still so ignorant. Other more modern authors in the to-read pile: Nicholson Baker, Paul Auster, David Grossman.”

~Kristina McMorris (Letters From Home):

“Now between deadlines, with research texts set aside, I’m excited to finally tackle my towering TBR pile! A sample of the novels in my shiny stack are Caroline Leavitt’s Pictures of You, Sarah’s Jio’s The Violets of March, Sarah Pekkanen’s Skipping a Beat, and Ruta Sepetys’s Between Shades of Gray.”

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

“Summer brings a new Jennifer Weiner book and her latest is called “Then
Came You.” I’m also a huge fan of Elin Hildebrand and will be eagerly awaiting “Silver Girl.” I love diving into juicy, thoughtful beach reads like these!”

~Lori Roy (Bent Road):

“Rebecca (currently reading) – Daphne du Maurier
Fall of Giants – Ken Follett
Mr. Peanut – Adam Ross
Fighting in the Shade – Sterling Watson
A Visit From the Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan”

To be continued….

* * * * *

Announcement: The winner of The Art of Forgetting by Camille Noe Pagán is Kristan. Congratulations.

Please email diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and your book will be pre-ordered to be sent out next week.

The Revealing of Elise Allen

June 01, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

Having earned success as a busy, popular, collaborative writer, Elise Allen is preparing to launch her solo career as a novelist with her YA book, Populazzi coming August 1, 2011. But first Elise will savor her two Daytime Emmy Nominations for being a writer of Dinosaur Train — the PBS animated show.

Then it will be all about her book, Populazzi, focusing on many an adolescent’s wishful thinking of:

WHAT WOULD YOU DO if you had the chance to erase your past and reinvent yourself as the person you’ve always wanted to be?

Here’s early praise:

“Fresh, funny, and sometimes wrenching, Populazzi nails what it’s like to try and find yourself while navigating the crazy world of high school. I loved it.” –Hilary Duff

“Populazzi is a smart, fun, and energetic ride through the twisting hallways of high school popularity.” –Deb Caletti, author of The Six Rules of Maybe

“Hilarious, psychologically chewy, downright Machiavellian, and heartfelt in all the most satisfying ways. Populazzi had me blazing through pages. Elise Allen rocks!” –Matthew Quick, author of Sorta Like a Rock Star and The Silver Linings Playbook

“Populazzi is a fresh, fun peek behind the popularity curtain. If you ever wanted to fit in, wondered how to climb the popularity ladder, or needed how to figure out which guy was the best for you- then you’ll love this book. Elise Allen is a welcome new voice in YA fiction and Populazzi is destined to climb the best seller lists.” –Eileen Cook, Author of The Education of Hailey Kendrick, Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood, and What Would Emma Do?

The Divining has scheduled a presentation/review of Populazzi for Monday, June 13, 2011. But, in the meantime, let’s meet the author through her “official” bio:

Though Elise Allen hails from Philadelphia (home of Tastykakes, the best soft pretzels ever, and her beloved Philadelphia Eagles), she resides in Los Angeles, where it never has the audacity to snow. Elise has a wildly eclectic writing career, including that run the gamut from Cosby to Dinosaur Train. She recently fulfilled one of her many life’s ambitions by writing for the Muppets. She is Hilary Duff’s co-author for the book ELIXIR, and looks forward to the release of her first solo YA novel, POPULAZZI.

She lives in L.A. with her husband, daughter, and insatiable food-hound of a dog, Riley.

Duly impressed? Of course. But getting to know Elise, upclose and personal, is even better:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: Laugh-out-loud funny, surrounded by love and creative chaos.

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: I will totally pay for my child’s therapy bills.

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness? A: Living in the moment and feeling perfectly at home in my own skin… ideally while swimming in the ocean in Hawaii with my husband and daughter.

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: Anything bad happening to my daughter.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: I mentioned Hawaii, right? Specifically, the Kapalua Bay Hotel, where my husband proposed and where we went for our honeymoon. But since that hotel has been torn down, I’ll choose Napili Kai Resort, right next door.

Close second? Disneyland.

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: Walt Disney – the good parts, not the hideous anti-semitic parts. Jim Henson as well, and both for the same reasons. These two men had boundless dreams and imaginations, but both knew that wasn’t enough – they had to put in the legwork to make those dreams come true. Both did, and both also knew you can’t make things happen on your own. They pulled together teams of incredibly creative and talented people, all of whom worked together to make the impossible a reality.

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: Fozzie Bear! He’s funny, he’s constantly coming up with new ideas and throwing himself into them headfirst, and no matter how many times he’s knocked down, he always jumps up laughing and ready for more.

What do you mean he’s not a living person? Of course he is! He’s Fozzie Bear!!!

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases?
A: “awesome,” “highly entertaining” and/or “highly amusing”, and the one that would make Stephen King loathe me, “cool.”

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: I’ve said it before on TDW, and I stand by it – I totally want that Hermione Granger trick of doubling up on time so I could get more done in every day. Barring that, I’d really love to surf. I managed all of ten seconds on the board once, but it was a seriously magical ten seconds.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: I’d say my daughter, but I can’t take credit for her. I swear she came out incredible, and I just stand back in awe and hope I don’t screw her up too horribly. I’m very happy with my career and where it’s going, but big-picture, my greatest achievement was being smart enough to recognize how incredible my husband is, and not screw up the relationship in its early days, when I was very young and tragically inept about these things.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: LOL – I just went through a mental laundry list! I think my worst mistakes happen because I can beat myself up to the point of self-indulgence, where I’m so irritated at myself that I’m no longer seeing what’s really around me. When that happens, I’ll close off or lash out, neither of which are things I want to do, and I’m not proud when I do.

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: I feel like no matter what happens, I can find the funny in it. I can relate the worst experiences in my life as the best stories, and it’s not because I’m sugar-coating – I’ll find the fun and enjoy the ride, even when it’s bumpy.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: Bad parenting moments – those times I’m feeling cranky or tired or self-critical and I say something to my daughter in the wrong tone of voice and I see her reaction and I want to turn back time immediately.

Did I mention I’m totally paying her therapy bills when she’s older?

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: At the risk of sounding very Gilderoy Lockhart, I have no desire to be anything but myself. I’m flawed in a zillion ways – maybe two zillion – but I wouldn’t trade my experience for anyone (or anything) else’s. Maybe I’d wish to be me, further along in my journey of evolution, but then I’d miss all the bumps and scrapes along the way, and the bumps and scrapes are badges of honor.

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: Big curly hair! You should have seen me in the ‘80’s. I blew it out every day. I didn’t blow it straight… I blew it out. My first driver’s license picture is nothing but giant hair and lip gloss.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Thursday Next from the Jasper Fforde series. She’s smart, self-possessed, has a wickedly dry sense of humor, and she hangs with fictional characters for a living. What’s not to love?

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Dr. Heinz Doofenschmirtz from Phineas and Ferb. GENIUS!!!! I can’t even express how much I adore him. I got to meet Dan Povenmire recently (show creator and voice of Doofenschmirtz) and I completely geeked out on him. To his credit, he was very gracious, and even tossed me a “Curse you, Perry the Platypus!!!!”

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: DONOVAN MCNABB!!!!! I’m a HUGE Philadelphia Eagles fan, and while Donovan is no longer with the team, he had an amazing run, and from all accounts is a genuinely good-hearted human being. As for what I’d say to him, I’d thank him profusely for everything he did, then ideally settle in for hours of stories about what it was like for him to quarterback the greatest football team ever.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: You know in the dishwasher, those little grates for the silverware? My husband likes to push them up and out of the way, loading the silverware into the baskets in bulk, while I’m obsessed with using the grates and putting each piece of silverware into its own little puzzle slot. If I open the dishwasher and see the silverware in his way, I’ll actually spend the time to take the silverware out, put the grating in place, and drop each piece of silverware into its properly cradled spot.

For a woman who is at heart a raving slob, this is madness; so I don’t say anything about the compulsion, I just do it.

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: I’m most satisfied when I’m doing something physically challenging outdoors, like a tough hike, a long bike ride, or a long run.

That… or going to Disneyland.

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Is it dorky to say I’m already doing it? I guess the fantasy part is that I want to be so successful at what I do that I can get into Disneyland’s Club 33 anytime I want. (Club 33, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a super-secret club/restaurant in the middle of New Orleans Square. You pretty much have to be a huge muckety-muck or know someone to get in. Friends have gotten me in twice, and it’s AWESOME!)

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Compassion, generosity of spirit, 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: I think fresh strawberries! It’s strawberry season, and I keep hitting the farmer’s markets and buying more because they’re so good! I might be addicted – I’ve been eating close to an entire flat of strawberries a day. But I’m not sick of them yet, so I could probably handle them for the rest of my days.

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: How do I narrow it down to five???? Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart, Elton John and Kiki Dee; Only the Good Die Young, Billy Joel; That’s Rock and Roll, Shaun Cassidy (uh-huh, I SO just threw down Shaun Cassidy); Amazing, George Michael; Rio, Duran Duran

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: Again, you’re killing me with the narrowing down to five! From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E. L. Konigsburg; The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams; The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde; Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott; The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell

Thoughtfully creative, generous, and fun — with energy to spare –, Elise Allen is definitely an author to watch, read, and follow on Twitter and become a fan of on Facebook.

* * * * *

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of The Art of Forgetting by Camille Noe Pagán in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Camille Noe Pagán and The Art of Forgetting. 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.