The Divining Wand

Discovering authors beyond their pages…

Archive for March, 2012

Seize a Daisy….

March 20, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Site Info

To celebrate spring The Divining Wand is seizing more than a few daisies and taking a spring break for the next two weeks. When new posts return on Tuesday, April 3rd, some weeks will feature two days of authors and their books while other weeks will offer readers/visitors the usual three.

Why? It’s simply a matter of highlighting spring releases and preparing for the overwhelming arrival of summer reading. In the meantime, seize a daisy and enjoy spring!

The Revealing of Peter Golden

March 15, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

Journalist, biographer, and historian, Peter Golden has spent a career breathing insight and life into award-winning non-fiction. Now, however, he has turned his creative talents to fiction with the novel Comeback Love to be released Tuesday, April 3, 2012.

The premise:

What would you do if you had a second chance with the one that got away?

The synopsis:

Over thirty-five years ago, Gordon Meyers, an aspiring writer with a low number in the draft lottery, packed his belongings and reluctantly drove away, leaving Glenna Rising, the sexy, sharp-witted med student he couldn’t imagine living without.
Now, decades later, Gordon is a former globetrotting consultant with a grown son, an ex-wife, and an overwhelming desire to see Glenna again. Stunned when Gordon walks into her Manhattan office, Glenna agrees to accompany him for a drink. As the two head out into the snow-swept city, they become caught up in the passions that drew them together then tore them apart, and as the evening unfolds, Gordon finally reveals the true reason for his return.

Moving between past and present, Comeback Love is a journey into the hearts of two lovers who came of age in the 1960s and is a sensual exploration of youth, regret, desire, and the bonds that mysteriously endure in the face of momentous change.

Whether focused on the past or present, this storyline and its characters ring true with honesty, depth, and universal recognition in a story of love. Ah, but there’s more praise:

“Stirring and romantic, a sweeping novel about first loves and second chances.”—Sarah Pekkanen, author of The Opposite of Me and These Girls

“An absorbing, intelligent novel about retracing one’s steps to recover what was lost, and about coming to terms with the mistakes of the past in order to rediscover a future. Peter Golden reminds us that going back is sometimes the only way to move ahead.” —Elizabeth Brundage, author of A Stranger Like You and The Doctor’s Wife

“Glenna and Gordon’s romance rises and falls with the familiar but engrossing tempo of reckless, youthful passion.” —Publishers Weekly

“Comeback Love is a heartfelt and lyrical novel. A stylishly composed, moving tale of loss and redemption.” -James Howard Kuntsler, author of The Long Emergency and World

The Divining Wand has scheduled a return visit from Peter Golden on Tuesday, April 3, 2012 but — for today — let’s meet the author through his “official” bio:

Peter Golden is an award-winning journalist, biographer, and historian. The author of several works of nonfiction, including Quiet Diplomat, about U.S. diplomacy with Israel, Comeback Love is his first novel. He lives outside Albany, New York.

And now the opportunity to get to know Peter more upclose and personal:

Q. How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A. Wife son reading writing music lucky—so far

Q. What is your motto or maxim?
A. Enjoy every day

Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?
A. Eating ice cream with no calories that also lowers cholesterol, builds muscle mass, and reduces your waist size

Q. What’s your greatest fear?
A. Losing someone I love

Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A. In my desk chair

Q. With whom in history do you most identify?
A. Crusader Rabbit

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

Q. What are your most overused words or phrases?
A. #@&$! I can say not only in English but in French, Spanish, German, Italian, Hebrew, Arabic, and Greek. In this manner I avoid overuse.

Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A. Write songs like the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Leonard Cohen.

Q. What is your greatest achievement?
A. Being a loving husband and father.

Q. What’s your greatest flaw?
A. Impatience

Q. What’s your best quality?
A. Persistence

Q. What do you regret most?
A. Any time I’ve wasted

Q. If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A. My cat, Rocky

Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?
A. I’m persistent

Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A. Superman

Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A. Hannibal Lecter

Q. If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A. Sandy Koufax: Thank you for making me believe that anything was possible.

Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?
A. Cruelty

Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A. Reading.

Q. What’s your fantasy profession?
A. Major-league pitcher

Q. What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A. Kindness, persistence, honesty

Q. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A. Ice cream sundaes

Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?
A. Hallelujah, Eight Days a Week, Come Together, Mr. Tambourine Man, It’s Alright Ma, I’m only Bleeding.

Q. What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A. Taras Bulba And Other Tales by Nikolai Gogol; The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor; Stalingrad: The Seige by Antony Beevor; A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway; The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Even with all his previous success, the very talented Peter Golden is living a lifetime dream of becoming a novelist. Share in his journey by following him on Twitter and becoming a friend on Facebook. Also, why not Pre-order Comeback Love now….you’ll be thrilled that you did.

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Announcement: The winner of Krys Lee’s Drifting House is: Carl. Congratulations! Please email diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and the book will be sent out promptly.

Sarah McCoy: Why I Write

March 14, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[In mid-January The Divining Wand had the pleasure of featuring Sarah McCoy (The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico) a week before the release of her second novel The Baker’s Daughter and before her hectic book tour. Although much was learned about the author in The Revealing of Sarah McCoy, the true core of Sarah’s heart and personality shines through in today’s guest post.]

Why I Write

It may surprise some to learn that for a greater portion of my childhood, I was a desperately shrinking violet. I hid behind my mother’s skirt at church, fretted over attending schoolmate’s birthday parties, took my Christmas presents to the farthest corner of the room to unwrap at family gatherings. Social settings made me anxious.

My mom, an elementary school teacher, administered the Myers-Briggs exam, which I was more than happy to do alone at the kitchen table. To no surprise, I scored on the far side of Introversion. I wasn’t much of a talker, but that didn’t mean I didn’t have plenty to say. I felt things— deeply. Some days I thought I might burst with glee or sadness, pride or shame, love or hate. But spoken words were never my thing. They spilled out too fast, too haphazardly, out of control with my tongue in the way. In addition, I had something of a temper. We jokingly credit my Puerto Rican-Irish heritage, which may have doomed me from the start. Where some might’ve erupted in a cathartic purging of whatever it was that weighted their spirit, I imploded, burning with tears I found hard to fully express. For years, I felt as if my mind were a great torture chamber—a water tank of emotions, only I was no Houdini.

All of that changed the day my mom put a blank page on the table and handed me a pencil with the instructions, “Write it down, Sarah. Write down what you’re feeling.”

I can still vividly see that clean, white paper and smell the newly sharpened pencil shavings.

Write it down. Write anything I wanted? I thought it might be a trick, so I wrote the word we weren’t allowed to use in the house. “I hate…” I pushed so hard on the page that the letters appeared debossed. Then I stopped to think about it. Did I really ‘hate’ or was it something else—anxiety, frustration, suffocation. I couldn’t put an exact finger to my feeling, but I knew I’d written hate just to test the page, to say what I was forbidden to speak and see how it felt. I didn’t like it.

I flipped my pencil and erased. Gone. You couldn’t do that with spoken word. Once out, it blistered reality like a smoldering match head against skin. But writing allowed me time, space, a chance to express and reexamine, to create and mold until my feelings showed themselves true.

I began again: “Once a girl named Clara lived in a little house in the dark forest…” I wrote a story, and by the end was unburdened, lighter, and eager to share what I’d written with my mom, dad, and family so they would know how I felt. So they could understand that I wasn’t mad at them. I was just this—there—in the story. I’d discovered the key to unlocking myself.

Why do I write, you ask?

Because even now, in my thirties and married, the pen is still my key. It’s the only way I know to open. I write about the things that keep me up at night. The emotions that feel so large and consuming that if I don’t write them down, I might burst. Yes, I’m no longer the shy girl. I’m comfortable speaking about my feelings and opinions; but 99 percent of the time, I’ve already written them out in my journal or my stories. I write to understand my world. I write to connect with people. I write to find and express my truth.

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Sarah McCoy is the author of THE BAKER’S DAUGHTER and THE TIME IT SNOWED IN PUERTO RICO. THE BAKER’S DAUGHTER was praised as a “beautiful heart-breaking gem of a novel” by Tatiana de Rosnay and a “thoughtful reading experience indeed” by Chris Bohjalian. It is a Doubleday/Literary Guild Book Club selection. Sarah has taught writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. The daughter of an army officer, her family was stationed in Germany during her childhood. She currently lives with her husband and dog, Gilbert, in El Paso, Texas, where she is working on her next novel.

Join Sarah on Goodreads, follow her on Twitter, and become a friend/fan on Facebook.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Drifting House by Krys Lee — in a random drawing — to anyone who leaves a comment on the post, What and Why Krys Lee Writes by 8:59 p.m. EDT tonight! The winner will be announced here tomorrow.

What and Why Krys Lee Writes

March 13, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Interviews

[A few weeks ago debut author Krys Lee (Drifting House) revealed:

Q. What is your greatest achievement?

A. Being responsible for getting a North Korean refugee to safety from the Chinese border area to South Korea will probably always remain the most important thing I’ve ever done. A distant second would be writing Drifting House, a story collection that got major publishers excited enough to begin a bidding auction between eight major publishers.

Krys indeed helped a man find freedom as the Los Angeles Times article, North Korea defector learns to trust the stranger who saved him, explains. Please take the time to read this for, by doing so, you’ll understand the amazing Krys Lee.

Those are the people — made up characters for her stories — that Krys writes about and excerpts taken from a Viking (Publisher) Q&A tell us why she writes.]

DRIFTING HOUSE is a beautiful collection of short stories that portray life in South Korea, North Korea, and as a Korean-American in the US. They depict a fractured world. Where did the stories come from: personal experience, observations, or something else? 

The stories arose from personal experiences as well as my observations and reactions toward the societies around me. Fractured is an interesting, important word for me; being animmigrant in the United States with parents who were afraid of America lends itself to a kind of fracturing. Our house was a Little Korea, and I was fascinated by the homes of American friends that I’d visit because their way of being was so culturally different. There were other, more violent and painful fractures that influenced my life and inevitably, my stories. But my sense of story is usually more Jamesian; the autobiographical impulse is buried in character and thematic obsessions rather than in the plot.

What do you think literature can reveal to us about a people or a society that reportage cannot? Do you think this is especially true in a closed society, such as North Korea? Do you think writers continue to play an important role in the political process by giving a voice to the unseen and underrepresented factions of a culture?

The best literature helps us care about the people facing the issues and problems that the news brings us. In the case of a country as secretive as North Korea, it is easy to forget that the country is made up of individuals, some who are funny, cruel, ambitious, or restless; some from divorced families, or long to travel; who, for the most part, are trying to live normal lives despite the difficulties in their society. But when literature merely tries to deliver information or push an issue, it becomes reportage rather than a vehicle. In these cases, often the characters become types, a standard issue South or North Korean rather than an individual who happens to be South or North Korean. 

It’s important for writers to give voices to those that are underrepresented in books, but what’s most important is that writers write from a need and respond to the material that feels urgent and personal. I’m suspicious of books that tackle themes or identities that don’t seem to be driven by anything more than sensationalism or timeliness, but books that give voice to the underrepresented and help us see them as individuals within the larger context of time and the historical moment that delineates our lives will always be important. 

DRIFTING HOUSE is a collection of stories. What do you like about this medium? Is there anything about it you find particularly limiting? Anything you find particularly liberating?

Stories force you to economize and think like a poet in terms of language and scene. This compression creates a challenge that I like, but for me, people carry their history with them, and that history is not just a family’s history but the history and culture of a nation; how they absorb or react to these histories interested me. Trying to get everything in without having the story’s momentum broken by back story and context was difficult. Each time I wrote a draft, well-intended students in my MFA program would say there’s seven interesting things happening in there; you need to get rid of six. Or I would be told this story would make a good novel. But there are story writers like William Trevor, Alice Munro, and John Cheever, who managed to maintain a novel’s sense of complexity and illumination without simplifying. The world is complex, and I wanted my stories to reflect that complexity or they wouldn’t feel true to me. My decision was to try and keep all seven things in each story.

Krys Lee is an important new voice in the world of fiction and the world in general. To stay updated on all her achievements be sure to follow her on Twitter, become a friend on Facebook and, by all means, read the short story collection of Drifting House.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Drifting House by Krys Lee — in a random drawing — to anyone who leaves a comment on this post by 8:59 p.m. EDT tomorrow night! The winner will be announced here on Thursday.

Picture the Book:
The Song Remains the Same

March 08, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Book Trailers, Books

“What if” Allison Winn Scotch (The One That I Want, Time of My Life, and The Department of Lost and Found) — whose writing is naturally inspired by music — crafted a novel that revolves around how deeply music affects/recalls memory? Fortunately the NYT bestselling author has done just that and her fourth novel, The Song Remains the Same will be released next month on Thursday, April 12, 2012.

Part-thriller/mystery, the book questions and answers:

Who are we without our memories? And how much of our future is defined by our past?

A brief synopsis:

One of only two survivors of a plane crash, Nell Slattery wakes in the hospital with no memory of the crash – or who she is, or was. Now she must piece together both body and mind — with the help of family and friends who have their own agendas. She filters through photos, art, music and stories, hoping something will jog her memory, and soon – in tiny bits and pieces –Nell starts remembering…
It isn’t long before she learns to question the stories presented by her mother, her sister and business partner, and her husband. In the end she will learn that forgiving betrayals small and large will be the only true path to healing herself — and to finding happiness.

And, of course, the wonderful reviews:

“Bestseller Winn Scotch sparkles in her captivating fourth novel. Readers will love Nell and won’t be able to put the book down until they know how much of her past she wants to bring into her future.”– Publishers Weekly

“Readers who appreciate women’s fiction that investigates serious themes will enjoy Scotch’s fine novel. Reading groups will find much to discuss as well.” – Library Journal

“A devastating portrait of one woman’s struggle to regain her memory. Allison Winn Scotch’s novel The Song Remains the Same takes on fascinating emotional terrain — the decision between dredging up the past, or wiping the slate clean and starting over. I can’t remember becoming so engrossed in a novel so quickly or feeling so satisfied at the end.”
– Elin Hilderbrand, bestselling author of SILVER GIRL and THE ISLAND

“Who would we be without our memories, good and bad? This funny, poignant, and absorbing page-turner raises that question and many others, about the nature of love, trust, family and friendship. I’m still thinking about the main character and her surprising journey long after I turned the final page.”
–J. Courtney Sullivan, author of COMMENCEMENT and MAINE

“From the first pages of THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME, I was hooked. Nell is a heroine you will cheer for; and long remember after finishing the book!”
– Lauren Weisberger, bestselling author of THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA

As for my truth: In THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME, Allison has written the ultimate “what if?” by wiping her heroine’s mind clean. Nell can start over and become a “fabulous me.” Yet memories cannot be erased from one’s heart, especially when music triggers emotional recall and pulls Nell back to the past in order to understand her present. Writing stronger than ever — with brilliant insight –, the author risks telling a darker story of survival filled with courage and hope in discovering one’s truth.

To further pique your interest while not divulging any *spoilers* of Nell Slattery’s story, this Fairy Godmother decided to Picture the Book through three musical videos of songs chosen by the author. The very first page of the book contains the protagonist’s playlist and can be enjoyed here. However why not be entertained by the following selections and explanations?

AWS: Joe Cocker: Have a Little Faith in Me.
This is really one that embodies the spirit of the book as a whole. There’s a reason that it’s the first song and the first musical reference that Nell hears. (And yes, I know that there’s a John Haitt version, but I didn’t think many people would know it if I opted for that version!)

(If the video is not visible on your monitor, please view it here.)

AWS: Carly Simon:Let the River Run
This song, for me, is about embracing freedom and well, letting your own river run. Again, this is a pivotal song for Nell, and I must have filtered through a hundred different options before settling on this one. It needs to be really representative of her emotional state when she first hears it, and then again, when it comes back into her life.

(If the video does not appear on your monitor, please view it here.)

AWS: Van Morrison: Into the Mystic
This song is so deeply representative of childhood and innocence that I absolutely felt compelled to include it in the book. I know that the lyrics themselves aren’t overtly about anything related to childhood, but for me and for Nell, the song really encapsulates those long summer days when you didn’t have a care in the world.

(If the video does not appear on your monitor, please view it here.)

CHAPTER ONE of The Song Remains the Same can be read now and then the book can be Pre-ordered. Enjoy….you will!

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Announcement: The winner of Sarah Pinneo’s Julia’s Child is: Keetha. Congratulations! Please email diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and the book will be sent out promptly.

Sarah Pinneo: Why I Write

March 07, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[In The Revealing of Sarah Pinneo, Sarah (The Ski House Cookbook) — debut fiction author of Julia’s Child — explained that her greatest fear(s) “will eventually become the basis for a novel.”

Is that the reason Sarah writes? Well, in today’s guest post, the novelist describes working out fears and much more. Enjoy!]

Why I Write

Writing appeals to me because it is the Rumpelstiltskin career: you spin gold from straw. Before I became a full-time writer, I worked on Wall Street, where investment was everything. Capital and money were always necessary to achieve anything.

With writing, everyone starts with the same thing: a blank page. It’s the ultimate meritocracy.

That said, I have a weakness for beautiful notebooks. I love crisp covers and tightly ruled pages, blank with expectation. I love pens which flow smoothly, and I prefer blue ink to black. I’d rather look at pens and paper than at designer shoes.

However, pretty paper is only a distraction. I might as well write on old grocery bags, as the result would probably be equivalent. The blank page is intimidating, but it’s also universal. Every book starts with one, and I don’t expect mine to be any different.

Also, I write because it’s the best way I know to work out problems. I wrote Julia’s Child because I wanted to make sense of all the noisy voices arguing about food and parenting. They surrounded me. By assigning their arguments to characters in my novel, I was able to have fun with a discourse that might, on another day, have caused me anxiety.

When I was a little girl my music teacher father used to direct a high school marching band.
He liked the music, but he didn’t enjoy the fact that he was expected to choreograph the band members marching around on the field at half time. He had a set of pawns that he’d made himself, from balsa wood. He would sit at the kitchen table–one pawn for each band member–and arrange them into formations.

That’s what I do when I’m putting together a story. I don’t literally move pawns around, but it’s effectively the same exercise. My father also used to curse at the pawns. The clearest memory I have of this exercise is how frustrated he became trying to form shapes and have everything come out even.

Novels and marching bands, unlike real life, usually have to come out even. It doesn’t always go well. But I’m so lucky to be able to try.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Julia’s Child by Sarah Pinneo — in a random drawing — to anyone who leaves a comment on this post by 8:59 p.m. EST tonight! The winner will be announced here tomorrow.

Sarah Pekkanen Interviewed By Jodi Picoult

March 06, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Interviews

[With the hope of offering something different to The Divining Wand, today’s post was submitted by Sarah Pekkanen (Skipping a Beat and The Opposite of Me) whose third novel, These Girls releases on Tuesday, April 10, 2012.

Being interviewed by NYT Bestselling author, Jodi Picoult, (most recent, LONE WOLF), was not only a thrill for Sarah, it also delves beyond a fellow author’s blurb of praise.]

Jodi Picoult interviews Sarah Pekkanen
about writing, motherhood, and the magic of female friendships…

Jodi: These Girls explores the nuances of female friendships. How hard was it to create a sense of realism between your main characters – Cate, Renee, and Abby – and how much of that came from your own personal experience in your relationships with female friends?

Sarah: Female friendships are vitally important to me, which is why I dedicated These Girls to my girlfriends, especially one I call my “frister” (a friend who turned into a sister). I’m surrounded by wonderful guys – I have two brothers and three sons – and I adore them. But female friendships nurture and uplift me, and I find them so textured and fascinating, which is why I’m drawn to writing about them. I love it that my girlfriends and I – often aided by a bottle or two of wine – can hopscotch from serious to silly to painful topics during the course of a single conversation, and end the night feeling as if we could’ve talked forever. I drew on all of those emotions while writing These Girls.

Jodi: Your main characters in this book come to reevaluate what’s important in life as they navigate the complications of careers and love. As someone with three young children, and who has enjoyed a bit of success now as a novelist, how do you prioritize what’s important in life? Has this changed as you’ve grown older?

Sarah: I knew I wanted to be a writer from the time I was a little girl. After college, I covered feature stories for The Baltimore Sun newspaper, but when my first son was born, I left that job because it required a long commute and frequent travel. And when I suddenly stopped writing, I felt as if I’d lost a crucial piece of myself. But I couldn’t figure out how to reconcile my need to write with my need to be with my children. Then one night after the kids were asleep (by then I had two young boys), I sat down in front of on my computer and began to type. The words poured out of me, and turned into my first novel, The Opposite of Me. I never forget for a moment how lucky I am to have a flexible job that I adore, and it’s fairly easy for me to work in writing time around my kids’ schedules. My family is my priority, but I know I’m a happier – and better – Mom when I’m writing, too.

Jodi: As someone who has twists in books all the time, I get asked about my endings a lot. These Girls, too, has quite a surprise in store for the reader. Did you know it would end this way before you started writing the book, or did that evolve?

Sarah: I love books that contain twists (which is one reason why I’m a big Jodi P. fan!), and I knew even before I wrote the first line of These Girls that it, like my previous two novels, would pack a big surprise at the end. I read a lot of thrillers and mysteries and sometimes I even deconstruct them, studying how an author put together pieces of the puzzle and used tension-building techniques like foreshadowing. It’s my hope that readers feel as if my books have the same page-turning quality as a thriller – but with less blood and mayhem, of course!

Jodi: What advice would you give to someone who is trying to break into writing as a career?

Sarah: Treat writing like exercise – you need to do it nearly every day to get results. For people who say they’re too busy to write a book, I’d encourage them to search for little windows of time in their day. Maybe wake up half an hour earlier than usual, or carry around a notebook and write a few paragraphs on the bus ride into work. Jodi, I remember that you and I once chatted about how we both wrote in car-pool pick-up lines outside of our kids’ schools because it was one of the few quiet times we could carve out of the day. I’d advise other writers to fight for those little snippets of time, and the page count will pile up, slowly but surely.

Jodi: What is the most bizarre fan encounter you’ve ever had?

Sarah: I love that you asked me this question, because it was the very first question I ever asked you! Years ago, I was writing a newspaper article on strange things that happen to big-name authors at booksignings, and you told me about the time someone asked if you’d ever consider writing non-fiction. You replied that it seemed daunting because one had to be meticulous about getting every single fact straight… and then you brought up James Frey, who got into trouble for making up parts of his memoir A Million Little Pieces. And a few minutes later, the librarian in charge of your booksigning brought over two audience members to meet you: James Frey’s parents. This was during the time when Oprah was eviscerating him, but you merely brought up his situation as an example and didn’t pass judgment or make a joke. I thought it was very classy, and even his parents weren’t bothered by your comment, which says a lot.

So… as for my most bizarre fan encounter, I’d have to say it was the time when my husband and I took our three kids out to dinner at a busy restaurant. One of our sons was very tired and cranky – we later learned he hadn’t eaten lunch at school that day – and while we were waiting for a table, he completely melted down, crying and whining. We quickly left, and then my two-year-old tripped and fell on the sidewalk and he started crying too. So there we were, this hot mess of a family, and suddenly a woman stopped and pointed at me and yelled, “Aren’t you Sarah Pekkanen? I love your writing!” And that remains, to this day, the first and only time I have ever been recognized in public. (And I’m still kicking myself for not answering, “No! I’m J.K. Rowling!”)

“Sarah Pekkanen’s latest celebrates the healing power of female friendship for three very different young women sharing a NYC apartment. At turns bittersweet, laugh-out-loud funny, and painfully real, you’ll wish you could move in with these girls.” —

Jodi Picoult, NYT Bestselling author of LONE WOLF and SING YOU HOME.

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Announcement: The winner of Rachel Bertsche’s MWF Seeking BFF is: Kim W.. Congratulations! Please email diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and the book will be sent out promptly.

The Revealing of Rachel Bertsche
and Why She Writes

March 01, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts, Profiles, Q&A

[Introduced in the post, Picture the Book: MWF Seeking BFF: My Year Long Search for a New Best Friend, relocated Chicago writer/editor Rachel Bertsche chronicled her search for a new, “closer in proximity” friend in MWF Seeking BFF: My Year Long Search for a New Best Friend. Due to email snafus, Rachel’s Q&A was MIA but can now be presented along with her guest post on why she writes. Yes, a double post plus a Book Giveaway and now, without further ado, here’s Rachel.]

Although Rachel Bertsche’s quest for a best friend in her new home of Chicago was personal, the author focused on a dilemma that have many searching for a new and/or another best friend.

Let’s meet this debut author through her “official” bio:

Rachel Bertsche is an author, journalist and editor in Chicago, where she lives with her husband. Her work has appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, Marie Claire, More, Teen Vogue, Seventeen, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Fitness, Women’s Health, New York, Huffington Post,, and more. Prior to leaving the office life for the comforts of working from home (and in her pajamas), Rachel was a producer for and an editor at O, The Oprah Magazine.

And now it’s time to get to really know Rachel, quite possibly even better than some of her “trial” BFF.

Q. How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A. I am at my happiest right about now.

Q. What is your motto or maxim?
A. Do one thing at a time. (Or try, at least.)

Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?
A. I’m not sure there is such a thing as perfect happiness. To me, happiness is happiness. It looks and feels different for everyone. I don’t think one type of happiness is better than another. Even in my own life, I could have two relal happy days, but they might be totally different. Maybe happiness is like porn: You know it when you see it.

Q. What’s your greatest fear?
A. Losing loved ones.

Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A. Is it so lame to say right here, where I am… which is on my couch? Yes? Ok, Sicily.

Q. With whom in history do you most identify?
A. I want to say someone super cool like Annie Oakley, but that would be a real stretch. The truth is I have no idea. I guess I feel like so many people in history went through so much so that people like me could be where we are today. So I don’t identify as much as feel really grateful.

Q. Which living person do you most admire?
A. Michelle Obama is pretty amazing.

Q. What are your most overused words or phrases?
A. When it comes to speaking: “Literally.” In my writing: “just.”

Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A. To dance!

Q. What is your greatest achievement?
A. MWF Seeking BFF. That I wrote a book at all still amazes me. That I wrote one that someone agreed to publish, and that enough people read to make it a bestseller…I’m still pinching myself.

Q. What’s your greatest flaw?
A. I’m so impatient.

Q. What’s your best quality?
A. Don’t take myself too seriously.

Q. What do you regret most?
A. Any days I should have spent with my father and didn’t.

Q. If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A. JK Rowling. I just want to know—for one day!—what it would be like to walk around with that kind of imagination.

Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?
A. My curly hair.

Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A. Neville Longbottom

Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A. A tie! Ed Rooney (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) and Regina George (Mean Girls)

Q. If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A. Michael Jordan. I’d say: “You are awesome! Also, my husband wore Air Jordans to our wedding.” Or maybe Sheryl Swoopes or Rebecca Lobo or Hope Solo. Those female athletes who have left me in awe over the years. I’d tell them that they inspire me. That when I watched them play when I was a kid (or with Hope Solo, even as an adult) I felt like I, too, could kick some ass.

Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?
A. The sound of cardboard rubbing together. Ugh.

Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A. That’s the only occupation, in some form or another, that I’ve ever had! To say editor would probably be a copout, but it’s true.

Q. What’s your fantasy profession?
A. Oh there are so many: Yoga teacher. Bookstore owner. Book editor. Pop culturist (not an actual profession, but I’d like to turn it into one). Ballerina.

Q. What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A. Sense of humor, kindness, intelligence.

Q. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A. If calories didn’t count? French fries. Otherwise, um, still french fries.

Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?
A. Trick question! Depends on the day. If you looked at my ipod now you’d think I only listen to Glee. I’m that person who no matter what song comes on, I say “ohmygosh this is my favorite song!”

Q. What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, Harry Potter series (counting the whole series as one but if I have to choose I guess Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite since that’s when the whole series changed for me), Little Women, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, Zeitoun by Dave Eggers. (Honorary mentions to A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving and AJ Jacobs’ books)

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