The Divining Wand

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Archive for April, 2012

Interview with Joëlle Anthony on
The Right & the Real

April 26, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Books, Interviews

[Happy Book Birthday to Joëlle Anthony’s (Restoring Harmony) second YA novel, The Right & the Real, celebrating its publication today.

Once again Joëlle tells an entertaining, edge-of-the-seat story, of girl power….with the help of terrific secondary characters. For those who may have missed the synopsis in Picture the Book: The Right & the Real, the book can be described in this lead sentence: Kicked out of her home for refusing to join a cult, 17-year-old Jamie must find a way to survive on her own.

Being a reader/fan of YA, the author knows her audience and offers a terrific adventure complete with a love story too. In the following interview though, Joëlle provides more background to the storyline and her philosophy on life as well.]

TDW: Restoring Harmony was a successful dystopian novel but now you’re back in the present with The Right & the Real, is there any reason other than that’s where the storyline worked best?

J. A.: I never set out to write a dystopian, it just caught a wave. A bit of luck on my part, really. With Restoring Harmony, my plan was to tell a story set after an economic collapse, and to do that, I had to set it in the future somewhat. I’ve always considered myself a contemporary YA writer.

TDW: Where did the idea for The Right & the Real come from, what’s the backstory?

J. A.: I’m from Portland and I used to see the sort of motels around that are in the book. I couldn’t go past them without wondering who lived in them. I actually came up with one of the other characters in R&R, LaVon, several years ago when I was working on a book that I’ve since abandoned. I always liked him and when I was looking for a new book idea after Restoring Harmony, he kept saying, “Choose me!” so I thought about who might live in a motel next door to him, and why she might be there.

TDW: In both novels the plot spotlights fighting against control and oppression to gain freedom and independence. Is this a personal cause?

J. A.: I hope it is for everybody! Actually, I think it’s more that I really want to create young characters who are strong and determined. It’s almost my obligation or responsibility. If kids are going to read my books, I want them to feel empowered, like they could be in that situation and handle it, even if they aren’t equipped for it now. It’s more about doing the right thing than fighting anyone.

TDW: Is your idyllic life on the island in B.C. a way to live as freely as possible?

J. A.: Living on such an idyllic island is both a reflection of living my beliefs, and also, a little bit of me sticking my head in the sand. I know that the rest of Canada and the world is not the way it is here, and on a larger level, I worry about that. But on a local level, I do what I can to make this part of the world better. I don’t like the idea of fighting unless you have to, so I try to live here, in a responsible, peaceful way, so that I’m happy and also so I have as little negative impact on the Earth as I can.

TDW: Your protagonists have both been intelligent, strong-willed young adults who are not blind to romance, how do you balance the romantic element and still maintain the character’s independence?

J. A.: I am a total romantic, and I’m not sure I even knew it until people started calling RH a romance! However, it’s important to me that it’s one element of any story I tell, not the whole story. There are places for complete romances, but my writing is not that place. I think we all love romance to some degree, and I can use that in my writing to show my character growing – dumping the wrong guy, standing up for the right one, being on her own if that’s what’s necessary. It has to be one facet of the story, not the be all and end all. The other thing that’s important to me is for the guys to act like guys. My husband watches over them to make sure they don’t do anything too girly!

TDW: Your writing also contains wonderful pacing and believable action, does this come from your theatre background? Do these scenes play out in your mind?

J. A.: I can definitely see every scene as if it were a movie. These movies play in my head all the time when I’m writing. I do think this comes from my theatre background, but it’s hard to say for sure to what extent because I don’t see much separation between writing and theatre/acting. It’s all just part of me. There is a certain amount of scene structure that I learned while studying directing, and I think that helps me create visual scenes.

TDW: Your secondary characters could be stars in their own right and I appreciate how fully developed they are, yet how do you manage to give them that much life in such limited appearances?

J. A.: It’s very nice to hear you say that because secondary characters are my biggest challenge! When I write a first draft, everyone except my main character tends to simply prop up the story. I always mean to make the supporting cast fantastically rounded from the beginning to save myself some work, but it never happens. Once I have a draft, I go back and combine characters, cut others, and try to find ways to use small characters again later in the story. After I’ve done that, I spend time with each one, figuring out what they want in each scene, and in their lives, their likes and dislikes, even what they look like.

I read recently, and I’m sorry I don’t recall where, that every character in every book thinks that the author is telling their story, that they are the most important character in it. As I work on each one, I try to keep that in mind. It really helps.

TDW: Besides being entertained, what would you like readers to take away from R&R?

J. A.: Mostly, I just want them to be entertained. Actually, that’s all I want. A good story can teach you what you need to know, but I consider that a bonus. Some books you read for information, some you read to change your life, and some you read so that you can be sucked into the narrative. That’s what I aim to write…books that grab you and don’t let you go. I like books that make you wonder afterward what you would do if that happened to you. Like my mentors, Nevil Shute and John Rowe Townsend, I’m just trying to tell a good story.

Indeed Joëlle Anthony tells an excellent story and you can discover that by reading The Right & the Real available now.

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of The Right & the Real by Joëlle Anthony– in a random drawing — to anyone who leaves a comment on this post by 11:59 p.m. EDT tonight! The winner will be notified by email tomorrow.

The Revealing of Julie Schumacher

April 25, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

Novelist, essayist/short story writer, Julie Schumacher (complete listing of author’s books) writes for both children and adults. In her latest YA novel The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls releasing on May 8, 2012, the storyline of meaningful literature and mother-daughter relationships easily crosses over into adult fiction. As the author explains:

“No matter what I start writing about, I end up gravitating toward a particular emotional territory: family relationships, characters who are drawn toward one another but don’t get along, off-beat interactions or misunderstandings, unrealized desires. Those motifs work just as well and can be at least as satisfying in YA literature as in literature for adults.”

However, when described in one sentence, The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls is: A book about books and reading.

The Synopsis:

I’m Adrienne Haus, survivor of a mother-daughter book club. Most of us didn’t want to join. My mother signed me up because I was stuck at home all summer, with my knee in a brace. CeeCee’s parents forced her to join after cancelling her Paris trip because she bashed up their car. The members of “The Unbearable Book Club,” CeeCee, Jill, Wallis, and I, were all going into eleventh grade A.P. English. But we weren’t friends. We were literary prisoners, sweating, reading classics, and hanging out at the pool. If you want to find out how membership in a book club can end up with a person being dead, you can probably look us up under mother-daughter literary catastrophe. Or open this book and read my essay, which I’ll turn in when I go back to school.

To sample Adienne’s essay, please read Chapters 1 and 2 of the novel. It’s both delightful, and thoughtful, earning — [Starred Review], Kirkus Reviews: 
“The characters, especially the four girls, sparkle…. Smart and insightful.”

The Divining Wand has scheduled a return visit from Julie Schumacher on Tuesday, May 8, 2012 but — for today — let’s meet the author through her “official” bio:

Julie Schumacher grew up in Wilmington, Delaware and graduated from Oberlin College and Cornell University. Her first published story, “Reunion,” written to fulfill an undergraduate writing assignment (“tell a family tale”) was reprinted in The Best American Short Stories 1983. Subsequent stories were published in The Atlantic, MS, Minnesota Monthly, and Prize Stories: The O.Henry Awards 1990 and 1996. Her first novel, The Body Is Water, was published by Soho Press in 1995 and was an ALA Notable Book of the Year and a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award and the Minnesota Book Award. It was published in translation in Germany, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Israel, Greece, and Korea. Her other books include a short story collection, An Explanation for Chaos, and five books for younger readers: The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls (2012), Black Box (2008), The Book of One Hundred Truths (2006), The Chain Letter (2005), and Grass Angel (2004), all from Delacorte. Ms. Schumacher lives in St. Paul and is a faculty member in the Creative Writing Program and the Department of English at the University of Minnesota.

And now the opportunity to get to know Julie upclose and personal:

Q. How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A. Reading and writing whenever possible. Family. Students. Friends.

Q. What is your motto or maxim?
A. Be kind. Work hard.

Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?
A. Reading a good book in front of a fire, on a snowy afternoon by a window, accompanied by drowsy felines.

Q. What’s your greatest fear?
A. I don’t care for arachnids.

Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A. In a hillside writing studio above Lake Como, in Bellagio, Italy.

Q. With whom in history do you most identify?
A. I feel I should have an impressive answer to this: Joan of Arc or Elizabeth the 1st…. But a lot of impressive historical figures lived dramatic and not very happy lives. So I guess I’d rather identify with an anonymous, comfortable woman in a tidy house – a person time has forgotten.

Q. Which living person do you most admire?
A. Anyone who overcomes adversity and is willing to talk to others about doing the same.

Q. What are your most overused words or phrases?
A. “Yeah, right” is a favorite. And I have to cross the phrase “some kind of” and “a sort of” out of everything I write. *Eschew verbal clutter.*

Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A. Musical ability. I want to sit down at the piano and sound like Mozart, without even trying. Or open my mouth and hear Etta James’s voice booming out of me.

Q. What is your greatest achievement?
A. Raising children and teaching and writing books – all in the same lifetime.

Q. What’s your greatest flaw?
A. I can be stingy; and I am a skillful liar.

Q. What’s your best quality?
A. Empathy. Writers need to be able to imagine themselves in the lives and situations of others.

Q. What do you regret most?
A. I have plenty of regrets; thankfully, most of them are small. The larger ones involve selfishness or small-mindedness directed toward other people.

Q. If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A. For a day, or even an afternoon, I’d like to be the fastest person on the planet. (On foot, that is – not in a car.)

Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?
A. I have what some people think is an odd sense of humor.

Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A. The colonel in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s No One Writes to the Colonel.

Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A. She’s not all that villainous, but: Mrs. Medlock in The Secret Garden.

Q. If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A. I’d meet Billie Jean King and tell her, “Thank you for beating Bobby Riggs.”

Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?
A. The use of “lay” for “lie,” as in “I’m going to lay down and rest.” That’s like nails on a chalkboard to me.

Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A. Reading. I also like typing – preferably on the springy keyboard of an IBM Selectric typewriter.

Q. What’s your fantasy profession?
A. Writing.

Q. What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A. Candor. Humor. Kindness.

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

Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?
A. I can’t think of five favorite songs. I am fickle and fairly simple minded when it comes to music.

Q. What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A. Middlemarch. Northanger Abbey. One Hundred Years of Solitude. Anna Karenina. The Professor’s House.

To learn more about Julie Schumacher, please visit her website, like her on Facebook, and put The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls on your TBR list, It’s available for Pre-order now.

Laura Dave: Why I Write

April 24, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Last May, Laura Dave’s (The Divorce Party, London Is the Best City in America) third novel The First Husband (see presentation/review) was published and described as: “A fresh, funny take on the search for a soulmate.” —People.

It’s also brilliant, witty, and poignant yet the best news about the novel is that today it comes out as a paperback! Both the content and the flow of Laura’s writing are so natural that one might stop occasionally and wonder how does she capture that effortless magic? In today’s guest post, the author describes the simple (and successful) reason for why she writes.]

Why I Write

I write because I love to read.

Can it be that simple? Maybe yes, and maybe no. In thinking about the reasons I write, there are so many answers that immediately came to mind. Writing helps me answer questions, it is my primary way of reaching new understandings, it provides me a sense of joy, and it has (long before I did it professionally) helped me figure out my place in the world.

All of those answers are true. But the most true answer is the first one. I write because I love to read. I have loved to read since I was too young to even know what I was reading. For me, writing is the natural extension of reading. It is the other side of the same conversation about what makes our narratives feel special—the unique ways we experience joy, work through relationships and figure out what we want our lives to be. Writing is another way to experience stories, another way to share them.

While working on my novel The First Husband, I often returned to the notebook I’ve kept since I was in High School—which is really a testament to my love of reading. It is a notebook of quotes and ideas from things I’ve read that touched me. Things that I didn’t want to forget. Ideas that came from a variety of reading sources: favorite novels and biographies and memoirs and plays and poetry collections. Bad magazines and beautiful story collections. All the words that stuck with me, like only music or words can.

In thinking about why I write, I opened it again to look through it. One of my favorite quotes (a very apropos one!) popping out at me immediately.

“Keep in mind that the only person to write for is yourself. Tell the story you most desperately want to read.” – Susan Isaacs

And as I start looking through some of the others—Ernest Hemmingway’s advice on writing (“write one true sentence”); Toni Morrison’s thoughts on love (“He can’t value you more than you value yourself”); W.S. Merwin’s thoughts on dreams (“We are asleep with compasses in our hands.”)—I get that familiar desire to sit down and start telling a new story. Or get back to figuring out an old one.

Reading does that. Which is why, when I’m stuck, when I don’t know how to finish a sentence or a chapter or how to begin one, I’ll throw my books down from the bookshelf and sit on the carpet with ten books and have a little reading party. Just to remind myself that reading and writing is a messy, wonderful business.

And that I write because it is.

For more from Laura Dave, please follow her on Twitter, become a friend of on Facebook and enjoy The First Husband available in paperback today!

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of The First Husband by Laura Dave — in a random drawing — to anyone who leaves a comment on this post by 11:59 p.m. EDT tonight! The winner will be notified by email tomorrow.

Picture the Book: The Right & the Real

April 18, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Book Trailers

Successful YA novelist Joëlle Anthony (Restoring Harmony) returns to bookstore shelves on April 26th with her second book The Right & the Real.

With another bright, brave, and bold teenage heroine, the author tells the tale of how easily life can spin out of control and how difficult it can be to do what’s right.

Kicked out of her home for refusing to join a cult, 17-year-old Jamie must find a way to survive on her own.

Jamie should have known something was off about the church of the Right and the Real from the start, especially when the Teacher claimed he wasn’t just an ordinary spiritual leader, but Jesus Christ, himself. But she was too taken by Josh, the eldest son of one of the church’s disciples, and his all-American good looks. Josh is the most popular boy at school too, and the first boy outside the drama geeks to give Jamie a second look. But getting her Dad involved in a cult was not part of the plan when she started dating Josh. Neither was her dad’s marriage to the fanatic Mira, or getting kicked out, or seeing Josh in secret because the church has deemed her persona non grata.

Jamie’s life has completely fallen apart. Finding her way back won’t be easy, but when her Dad gets himself into serious trouble, will Jamie be ready to rescue him, and maybe even forgive him?

The Right & the Real Advanced Praise:

“Fast pacing and a strong first-person narrative voice combine to make this coming-of-age story a harrowing page-turner.” – PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY

“Nail biting tension and a plot that just won’t quit. The Right & the Real is a romance with attitude and a romp with heart.” – Tim Wynne-Jones, award-winning author of The Uninvited and the critically acclaimed, Blink & Caution

“The Right & the Real has everything a reader could want: a gutsy heroine, romance, betrayal, and a pace that will keep you reading late into the night. Anthony’s character shows us what it takes to survive in a gritty urban landscape when all you have are some unlikely allies, your own wits, and belief in your future.” – Eileen Cook, author of The Education of Hailey Kendrick and Unraveling Isobel

However Joëlle knows that, since a picture is worth a thousand words, the following Book Trailer could well be priceless for gaining attention.

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

The Divining Wand has scheduled an interview with Joëlle Anthony for Thursday, April 26th — release day for The Right & the Real, available for Pre-order now.

Picture the Book: Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure

April 17, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Book Trailers

If the book title, Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure, sounds familiar there’s a good reason. For on March 14, 2011, the presentation/review — Suzanne Anderson and Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure — appeared here as the author’s first ebook. And, although it was a well-written story, Suzanne wasn’t satisfied and knew she could improve on her work.

Truth be told, Suzanne Anderson did much more than rewrite. She chose a new cover, published the new Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure in paperback and Kindle Edition, and also created a Book Trailer to capture her revision.

Why? First there was the luxury of being able to do so with an ebook and foremost there was her personal need for a “do-over.” Suzanne explains the differences in the novel:

“Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure, in its original form, was quite a bit different from the book I recently published in some important ways:

First it was written in the First Person Point of View, which gave it a much more intimate feel, which as it turns out, was the right POV for a story about a family experiencing the most terrifying moments of war.

Second, it was actually set in Budapest, Hungary during World War Two, not in the fictional other-world it was thinly disguised as.

And finally, it had a spiritual element that explored a particular element of religious faith that has always perplexed me….the challenge of believing in something we cannot see.

Here’s the synopsis:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for…

Hungary’s fragile alliance with Germany kept Natalie, a renowned children’s book author, and her family out of harm’s way for most of the war. Now as the Führer’s desperation grows during the waning years of the conflict, so does its threat. Natalie’s younger sister, Ilona, married a Jewish man, putting both her and her young daughter, Mila, in peril; Natalie’s twin sister, Anna, is losing her already tenuous hold on reality. As the streets of Budapest thrum with the pounding boots of Nazi soldiers, danger creeps to the doorstep where Natalie shields them all.

Ilona and her husband take the last two tickets to safety for themselves, abandoning Natalie to protect Anna and Mila from the encroaching danger. Anna’s paranoid explosion at a university where was once a professor, sparked by delusions over an imagined love triangle, threatens their only other chance for escape. Ultimately, Natalie is presented with a choice no one should ever have to make; which of her family will she save?

An inspirational story of faith and family, strength and weakness, and the ultimate triumph of love over hate. Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure demonstrates the power of faith to light even the most harrowing darkness.

… faith is the evidence of things not seen.

The book/ebook has garnered enthusiastic readers as well as the the following critical praise:

“A study in character development, Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure is a mesmerizing historical fiction for WWII readers. Highly recommended!” ~ The Kindle Book Review

Yet Suzanne also wanted a Book Trailer to reflect the feel of the era that held a personal significance, echoing her own European ancestry. Mixing the style a Pathé newsreel and sweeping musical score, the author worked with Three Moon Bay to picture her book of emotional, historical fiction and truth.

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

This book now embodies Suzanne Anderson’s faith and belief in herself. The new Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure in paperback and Kindle Edition is a hauntingly impressive first novel with its story’s unique spiritual — yet universal — feel. The author took control over this book, allowing her characters to do the same with their lives. For those who both believe and wonder at the power of faith, this is your book.

Allison Winn Scotch: Why I Write

April 11, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[In her profile on Twitter, Allison Winn Scotch (The One That I Want, Time of My Life, and The Department of Lost and Found) describes herself as: Novelist, NY Times bestseller, celeb profiler, goldfish killer, dog walker, tantrum negotiator, ass-kicker, pop culture junkie, superwoman. Soon the author will be adding screenwriter as yet another role but first she’ll take time out to celebrate the release of her fourth novel, The Song Remains the Same, tomorrow.

Many fans first met Allison on the popular, long-running blog, Ask Allison, where she generously answers writing and publishing related questions. Yet, when asked why she personally writes, the author confessed never having put those thoughts into words until now.]

Why I Write

Why do I write? I’m not sure that I’ve ever asked myself this question before, or if I have, I’ve never fully answered it because it is too big, too encompassing to really get my brain around. I write for so many reasons, it’s hard to pinpoint them, to hold them down and say, “aha, this is what compels me.”

But after much consideration, here are a few reasons why I put words onto a blank page and hope that, many months and many pages later, they turn into something magical:

1. I write because writing for me, is a way to connect with others. One of the best parts of being a writer is hearing from readers, when they take a moment out of their busy lives to shoot you an email and say, “The story you told is also my story,” or “The characters you drew are similar to the characters in my own life,” or anything that lets me know that we’re all part of this big collective experience together. As a reader, I read books that touch upon themes or issues that I’m dealing with in my own life, and as a writer, I try to honor that honesty: that we’re all mucking our way through together, and that a lot of times, just knowing this – that we’re not alone – can help us make our way.

2. I write because, well, I really love words. Looking back on it, I was always the kid who would use ten words to write a five word sentence. I loved adjectives, descriptions, synonyms, idioms. I was the girlfriend who gave those movie-worthy speeches while in the midst of a break-up, not because they made any difference, but because I really loved the way that I could string words together. 🙂 Seriously. I think the same is true of my writing: I can write a lot of awful sentences, but when you craft that really, really, really good one, well, it’s nirvana.

3. I write because it is catharsis. I often say that if I weren’t a writer, I’d be an actress. There is something really therapeutic about spending time in someone else’s head, at least for me, whether that is writing a character or saying a character’s dialogue, as an actress would. When I’m writing, I honestly forget about wherever I am in my real life – I lose minutes, hours to the page, and in those minutes and hours, I really step outside my own life. Now, don’t get me wrong, my own life is pretty great. But in that time I spend on my manuscript, I’m able to pour out whatever quirks or issues I might be wrestling with onto my own characters, and a lot of times, I emerge wiser, calmer, happier. It’s my personal therapy session, just without the couch and the therapist’s bill.

4. I write because I love it. How lucky am I that I get to spend my days creating something from nothing, creating fictional lives and people and places and calamities and resolutions? I am so, so lucky, and not a day goes by that I don’t realize this. Sure, some of the bad days are dreary, but mostly, this career is heaven, and I love nearly everything about it. That may really be why I write – simply, because I love it. That I then have people to read my work is just the cherry on top.

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In refreshing details from the post, Picture the Book: The Song Remains the Same, this a novel that asks:

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

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, these glorious critical reviews need to be repeated too:

“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

“Scotch has drawn a fully three-dimensional heroine in Nell, and the story’s pacing perfectly mirrors the protagonist’s increasing rate of self-discovery. Scotch peppers her chapters with a number of pop-culture and musical references, giving the story a modern and lively feel. With shades of Sophie Kinsella’s Remember Me? (2008) and Liane Moriarty’s What Alice Forgot (2011), this novel is a breezy yet introspective examination of one woman’s newfound history.” –Booklist

“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

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 tells a story of survival filled with courage and hope in discovering one’s truth.

However what Allison also does is keep the reader wondering who this woman truly is. All that is known of Nell is what Nell knows of herself, initially based primarily on “facts” from family and friends. Yet do others always share the same perspective or speak the entire truth? That, in itself, creates a fascinating, cautionary tale of choosing who to trust.

Highly recommended, The Song Remains the Same is a novel of emotional substance that will likely cause you to reflect as well as be entertained. And that’s the best in a book….enjoy!

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of The Song Remains the Same by Allison Winn Scotch — in a random drawing — to anyone who leaves a comment on this post by 11:59 p.m. EDT tonight! The winner will be notified by email tomorrow.

Sarah Pekkanen: Why I Write

April 10, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Considered one of Atria Books’ rising stars, internationally bestselling author Sarah Pekkanen (Skipping a Beat and The Opposite of Me) promises to add to her success with a third novel, These Girls, releasing today in bookstores and online retailers.

There are fortunate individual born knowing what they want in life and having the talent to do just that. In today’s guest post, Sarah explains that’s why she write.]

Why I Write

I write because, even though it can be frustrating and ego-crushing and difficult, not writing would be so much worse. I write because it can be magical and uplifting and nurturing, too. I write because it’s what I’ve wanted to do ever since I was a little girl.

Writing has always been a part of my life, except for one dark period in my early thirties. My husband and I had two young boys by then, and I’d left my job as a features writer for The Baltimore Sun newspaper to stay home with them. I’d imagined I’d be able to free-lance for the paper, but the type of stories I did for The Sun – like racing to catch a plane the day of the Columbine school shootings, and locating and interviewing a boy who transformed from the class clown into an unlikely hero who saved dozens of lives – had suddenly become impossible for me to cover. I felt completely adrift; I’ve often described the sensation as similar to discovering my best friend had moved away without leaving a forwarding address or phone number.

Then one night, I began to type fiction. The words poured out of me, like water gushing from a garden hose once a kink in its middle is untangled. I wrote and wrote and wrote, and discovered something incredible: As much as I’d loved being a reporter, I enjoyed fiction even more.

Nowadays, if I’m away from my laptop too long, I feel itchy. I write a novel every year, along with a short story, newspaper reviews and articles, and a regular magazine column. There’s rarely a day when I’m not writing. It’s completely addictive: the more I write, the more I want to write. The thing that thrills me the most about writing fiction is that there’s always room for improvement – I can toil away at this craft for decades, and still have so much room to learn and grow.

I also write because it connects me to people. I adore going on Facebook, and interacting with readers and learning about their lives. I love popping onto Twitter and exchanging jokes with folks I’ve never met. And I love being able to interview real people about their jobs and lives, then weave those details into my novels. For example, for THESE GIRLS, a magazine staffer snuck me into the New York headquarters of a glossy women’s magazine and gave me a behind-the-scenes tour that was fascinating. Much of what I observed that day made it into THESE GIRLS.

I write because I’m lucky enough to have found the job of my dreams, and I can’t ever imagine letting it go!

* * * * *

Family secrets may shape us all, but it’s the rich, complicated layers of friendship that can save us.

That one sentence describes Sarah Pekkanen’s most compelling, true-to-life novel yet tells the story of three very different women as they navigate the complications of careers and love—and find the lifeline they need in each other.

And critics praise:

“A fun and engaging romp…Pekkanen’s authorial voice is sweetly snappy, the plot is character-driven, and the book ends satisfactorily without tying up every loose end. Fans of Sophie Kinsella and Jennifer Close will enjoy this refreshingly introspective, sharply realistic, and tenderly humorous novel.” —Booklist

“Pekkanen’s characters are sympathetic and familiar, and readers are likely to identify with aspects of each protagonist. Fans of Jennifer Weiner, Sarah Dessen, Liza Palmer, and Emily Giffin will strongly appreciate this smart novel by a rising star in women’s fiction.” —Library Journal

Now “picture the book” as the author talks to six sets of best friends about the healing power of female friendships.

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

Sarah loves social media and can be followed on Twitter and friend(ed) on Facebook. And for your reading enjoyment, These Girls is available right now!

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of These Girls by Sarah Pekkanen — in a random drawing — to anyone who leaves a comment on this post by 11:59 p.m. EDT tonight! The winner will be notified by email tomorrow.

The Beginning of Spring’s Coming Attractions

April 05, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Advance News

Next week spring releases begin to bloom with two favorite authors.

Tuesday, April 10th: Sarah Pekkanen (Skipping a Beat and The Opposite of Me) and her third novel, These Girls appear here to be followed by….

Wednesday, April 11th: Allison Winn Scotch (The One That I Want, Time of My Life, and The Department of Lost and Found) will be at TDW on the eve of publication for The Song Remains the Same.

Watch for both guest appearances and the Book Giveaways.

Happy Holiday Weekend!

Randy Susan Meyers: Why I Write

April 04, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Although it’s been well over a year since Randy Susan Meyers debuted with her international bestselling novel The Murderer’s Daughters (see presentation/review), her writing continues to inform/enlighten in Beyond The Margins — a multi-writer blog, a sounding board, a daily dose of essays on the craft of writing — and The Huffington Post.

In today’s guest post, the author explains the need to share emotional truth in all her writing and also provides a glimpse of a second novel to be published in January 2013.]

Why I Write

When I was a kid, nothing was better than listening to my Aunt Thelma’s stories. She’d take humiliating awful situations and transform them into eye-popping, comic-tragic tales. Her pain was our gain.

Stories bang around my head and crowd my mind. I’m stuffed with ‘what if’ and ‘why did s/he do that?’ As a child, I made twice-weekly trips to the library. Writers were gods to me, purveyors of that which I needed for sustenance. Food. Shelter. Books. Those were my life’s priorities.

As an adult, I still feel that way. I’m constantly foraging for books that offer glimpses into a character’s psyche, that go deep enough to make me part of the choir, saying, “Oh yeah, me too, tell it, writer. True that, uh huh.”

As a writer, I’ve learned that reaching deep isn’t always comfortable. (My daughters will read this! My husband will think I’m portraying him!) And, honestly, there is a place on my shelf for soothing books. Sometimes I want a comfort read, a total escape, a warm place to rest. But my favorite books, the ones I return to time and again, are those gritty enough to have emotional truth (which is very different than the truth of events.) Thus, I work to write with a knife held to my own throat, so that my work will hold as much emotional truth as possible.

Do writers of dreadful happenings all come from dysfunctional families? I wrote a book that begins with two sisters who witness their father murder their mother and goes on to explore the myriad ways this event shapes their lives. Did my father kill my mother?

No. But he tried, and my sister and I were there. My sister let him in (after being told ‘don’t open the door for your father’) and somewhere in the background I stood, a silent four-year-old. Did that shape my work? I’m quite certain it did. Even though it is only the first chapter that holds my family DNA, the ongoing emotional tenor and the themes are all ripples from my past: invisibility, abandonment, neglect—much that was drawn on.

My next book, coming out in January 2013, The Comfort of Lies tells the story of three women connected by one small child: one gave birth to her, one’s husband fathered her, and one adopted her. The year their lives collide, they’re forced to make decisions about the child, their marriages, and face the damages of infidelity.

Did I give a child up for adoption? No. Did I adopt a child? No. But I struggled with issues of infidelity in ways that allowed The Comfort of Lies to come alive in my mind (and hopefully on paper.)

How does this happen, this weaving of truth and imagination? Does it always happen? One wouldn’t know without x-raying each writer’s past, but it’s a question I wonder about when reading my favorite books. What was that writer tapping into when they brought such depth to the page? Can a wrenching book be written without the writer taking a visit to their depths?

For me, writing transmogrifies fact into fiction, and thus, soothes my soul.

I used to play a song for my daughters, from Free to Be You and Me that swore that crying got the sad out of you. That’s kind of what writing does for me—it gets the sad, the mad, and the glad out of me.

Writing calms me. Writing excites me. Writing sorts out my world.

And writing lets me tell stories. Just like Aunt Thelma.

* * * * *

Enjoy much more of Randy on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Peter Golden: Why I Write

April 03, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Peter Golden — journalist, historian, and biographer — realizes his dream come true today with the release of his debut novel Comeback Love.

Although it may have taken years for this honest and realistic love story to be written and published, Comeback Love is a book to be treasured. For, as curious as this fairy godmother usually is about discovering the backstory, where or how the characters were developed, the novel’s message, and how much of the storyline might be autobiographical, I realized I did NOT want to know the answers to this book. Being pulled into pages where everyone and everything felt and looked (the descriptive writing is memorably vivid) genuine is more than enough. And how refreshing to read about a relationship that is based on the individuals involved as opposed to events that drive their story. Simply put, this debut is a “keeper.”

Whether working as a journalist, historian, biographer or novelist, who better to ask “Why I Write” than Peter Golden?]

Why I Write

Time moves, and I find myself, frequently against my will, moving right along with it. I’m a different husband than I used to be, a different father, and a different writer. Where my family is concerned, I’m different because in so many ways, large and small, what your loved ones need from you changes with the passing years. Yet I’m a different writer because the reasons I write have shifted, leaving me to marvel at how naive I once was and, I’m happy to say, how dedicated I have remained to the craft.

As a young teenager, long before I began writing seriously, it occurred to me that I had only one life and writing would enable me to enter worlds that were closed off to me—from pitching in a World Series at Yankee Stadium to residing in eighteenth-century Williamsburg or serving as your newly elected president.

By the end of college, I was familiar with Henry David Thoreau’s observation that most people wind up mired in quiet desperation, and since I was philosophically opposed to sustained misery, I started writing on a daily schedule. Thanks to the enchanting gift the young possess for self-deception, I soon convinced myself that writing was an effective method for bending reality in my preferred direction. Absolutely ridiculous, I know. And in my case, absolutely true.

Less than ten years later, I was earning a living by writing, and I knew that I was lucky to go to an office in my own house and pay my bills by doing work I enjoyed. Still, money, like love, is usually something you think about only if you don’t have enough, and although by my thirties I felt relatively secure in my career, on occasion I asked myself why I got up every morning to face a blank page.

Honestly, I’m not sure I had a good answer to that question back then.

Now, after writing almost every day of my life for over thirty-five years, here is what I discovered: nothing, other than the joys of family and friends, gives me more pleasure than writing a sentence that informs me emotionally or intellectually. Of course, I hope others are touched or informed by that sentence. But if not, at least I tried.

And I wrote the sentence.

* * * * *

Like Nicholas Sparks and Robert James Waller, first-time novelist Peter Golden knows how to write the kind of nostalgic fiction that men and women alike fall for. In Comeback Love, a universal story about lost love, he offers an evocative debut that begins in the tumultuous 1960s and ends in the feverish thrill of present-day New York City. 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, sharpwitted med student he couldn’t imagine living without. Moving between past and present, the book 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.

Please listen and picture this poignant and nostalgic book.

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

Much more about Peter Golden can be found on his website, by following him on Twitter and becoming a friend on Facebook. And remember highly recommended Comeback Love is available at your local bookstore and online retailers today!

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Comeback Love by Peter Golden — in a random drawing — to anyone who leaves a comment on this post by 11:59 p.m. EST tonight! The winner will be notified by email on Wednesday..