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Fan Mail: An Author’s Most Memorable Reward

August 05, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites, Contests

Meeting and greeting their readers at book signings/speakings, book clubs, or through a random encounter is a thrill for any author, yet what usually makes the most lasting and satisfying impression? Reading fan mail, of course! To know their work has successfully reached out to affect someone…well, that’s why writers write. And, with that in mind, The Divining Wand asked its authors: What’s been your best/most memorable fan mail?

Here are several responses:

~ Alicia Bessette (Simply from Scratch):

“I got my first official fan mail just recently, from a bookstore employee in Massachusetts, who thanked me for “‘finding the true souls” of my characters. I love that.

Another nice fan mail came from a bookstore employee in Germany, who wrote, “‘The right Book for an evening for two: my couch and me.'”

~ Eileen Cook (Unpredictable, What Would Emma Do? YA and Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood YA):

“I love hearing from readers! Writing is such a solitary occupation that it seems like magic to hear from someone and realize that people (non friends and family!) are reading your books. I think my favorite letter came from a reader who said “‘you write teens so well, it’s like you were one once.'” I love that line.”

~ Allie Larkin (Stay):

“I’ve been so lucky to get a lot of email, tweets, and Facebook posts with photos of people’s dogs with their copy of STAY, and I absolutely love it. It’s such a gift to get a peek into the lives of the people who read my book and I feel honored to get to see their best friends.”

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

“I’ve received a number of heartbreaking letters from women who’ve been victims of domestic violence. The saddest was from an Australian women whose sister was killed by her husband, who was making a bid to see the two little girls left behind. I hope I was able to give her the help she needed, in regards to places she could turn for help.

“While the letters are sad, I am also heartened by the help many women have felt by seeing a version of their story in print. One father wrote to ‘friend’ me on Facebook, hoping I would be a person who could understand the pain of losing a daughter to domestic violence.

“The more these stories are out there, the more attention I hope they will receive.”

~Wendy Tokunaga (Midori By Moonlight, Love in Translation):

“A Japanese woman wrote to me and said that my novel ‘”Midori by Moonlight”‘ was so much like her real life that she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry as she read it.”

~ Therese Walsh (The Last Will of Moira Leahy now in Trade Paperback and also chosen as a TARGET Breakout Book):

“Most memorable fan mail: I was told that Last Will of Moira Leahy helped 
someone in a dark hour who had been having suicidal thoughts. I also learned 
that Last Will was the last story read by a terminally ill woman who’d been
 having trouble finding a book to capture her interest. Her daughter said her 
mother finished LWML and “‘loved it.'” Isn’t that what it’s all about?”

Attention: Have you heard that Therese Walsh is celebrating The Last Will of Moira Leahy’s trade paperback release with A Big, Fat 51-Author (102 Book) “My Sister and Me” Contest – THE OFFICIAL RULES, THE OFFICIAL LIST?

Therese explains:

I’m thrilled to be able to kick off this mega “My Sister and Me” contest in conjunction with the trade paperback release of The Last Will of Moira Leahy.

There are 51 authors participating, and there will be more than 51 winners. Each winner will receive TWO copies of one of the books listed below–one to keep and one to share with a sister or friend. The contest will close 8/10 at midnight EST.

Please click the above link for more details.

* * * * *

Announcement: The winner of Alicia Bessette’s debut novel, Simply from Scratch, is Bailey. Congratulations!

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

Support Women’s Fiction and We All Win

January 12, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Contests, Movies, News

[Since The Divining Wand’s purpose is to help readers get to know authors beyond their pages, Carleen Brice is today’s guest blogger with exciting news to share. Please welcome Carleen.]

It was a dream come true when Lifetime Movie Network (LMN) optioned my debut novel, Orange Mint and Honey. A dream made even bigger when they actually made the movie! I understand that something like only 5% of books that get optioned ever become movies.

There’s only one tiny little hitch. They changed the title. The movie is called “Sins of the Mother” and it will air Sunday, February 7th. It stars Jill Scott (“No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency”) and Nicole Beharie (“American Violet”) in a story about how a recovering alcoholic and her daughter work through their difficult past.

I was lucky enough to visit the set during one of the biggest scenes in the movie. (I was even an extra!) They do a fantastic job!

To help call awareness to the book on which the movie is based, I’m holding a contest.

Get your book club members and friends together for a watch party. Send me a jpeg of your party (that I can post online) and you’ll have a chance to win a gift basket filled with:
Autographed women’s fiction titles from me and some of my writer friends (including Connie Briscoe, Donna Hill, Therese Fowler, Bettye Griffin, Lynne Griffin, Marisa de los Santos, and others!)
Jill Scott CD
I heart black author coffee mug
I heart book club buttons (for everyone in your book club)
Orange, mint & honey treats and other goodies

I am so honored and grateful that so many authors agreed to participate and help me out. Even if you choose not to enter this contest, please do check out the works of the contributing writers. There are some great books here!

“Sins of the Mother” airs against the Super Bowl. I know lots of women watch football, especially the Super Bowl. But I’m hoping that this year maybe you’ll skip the Super Bowl and tune in to LMN. The higher the ratings for this movie, the higher the chances are you’ll see more of the work from women writers you enjoy.
Note: Please make sure you have LMN, not just Lifetime. LMN is a separate channel from the Lifetime channel.

Please visit my website or the “Sins of the Mother” based on Orange Mint and Honey Facebook event page for more details. Or if you’re on Goodreads, you can go here.

*****

Book Giveaway: For a chance to win a copy of Melanie Benjamin’s Alice I Have Been, please leave a comment on this post by 7:00 p.m. EST Wednesday, January 13, 2010. The winner — chosen from a random drawing — will be announced here in Thursday’s post.

Book Trailer, Giveaways, and an Honorary Chair

October 06, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Book Trailers, Contests, News

Fall, it’s brimming with energy as are our authors — some of whom already have new ventures to share.

Wendy Tokunaga (Midori by Moonlight) whose second novel, Love in Translation, will be released November 24, 2009, premieres the Book Trailer and notes Advance Praise for Love in Translation:

“A delightful novel about love, identity, and what it means to be adrift in a strange land. This story of a search has an Alice in Wonderland vibe; when Celeste climbs down the rabbit hole, one can’t help but follow along.”–Michelle Richmond, New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Fog

“An amusing story of one woman’s quest for her father and the improbable path of love.”—Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters

Debutante Joëlle Anthony (Restoring Harmony YA coming May 13, 2010) is delighted to announce a new feature on her website: Wild Card Wednesdays. Join her for author interviews, guest blogs, and book giveaways. This week Sara Zarr will be Joëlle’s guest author.

Katie Alender (Bad Girls Don’t Die) celebrates fall with an October contest time!. Here’s a chance to win a signed copy of Bad Girls Don’t Die as well as some custom-made stuff!

Although Katie is a talented writer, using of the word “stuff” — to describe her handmade items — is far too modest.

Just look at the stuff given to September’s Contest winner:
katiebag
So do visit, read the contest rules and enter before 12:01 a.m. PDT this Saturday, October 10th.

We all know the power of words, but when Kristy Kiernan (Catching Genius, Between Friends coming April 6, 2010) wrote Matters of Faith it’s doubtful that she even realized the significant awareness she was casting on food allergies. Yet this November 14th, in Tampa, Florida, Kristy will serve as the Honorary Chair for The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network Walk for Food Allergy Congratulations, Kristy!

[Note: Two copies of Little Black Lies are being given away this week. Please leave a comment on Tish Cohen’s Little Black Lies between now and Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m. EDT to be eligible for the random drawings. The two winners will be announced here in Thursday’s post.]

Amy MacKinnon’s Tethered, Again

August 12, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Contests

Tetheredbn
On this day last summer, Amy MacKinnon debuted with her suspenseful and haunting novel, Tethered, while yesterday brought the release of Tethered in paperback edition. This is good news for all readers seeking an unforgettable book. It’s also another tribute to Amy’s long journey to publication. Throughout her well documented journey, she shared both her self-doubt about readers’ desire to accept the story’s dark subject matter and her dedication to remember the “forgotten children” who silently die of abuse or neglect.

Fortunately she chose the latter by taking the following stance:

“My theme is, and always will be, faith.

”My faith is a tenuous thing. I had it once, and have longed for it ever since. It’s difficult to navigate the dark passages of life without believing there is some higher power at work, that there exists order where we see only randomness and chaos. My novel began with a question: How could an undertaker perform her work if she didn’t believe in God? I layered into that premise another question I struggle with daily: Why do children need to suffer, to die?”

And this is the novel’s synopsis:

“Clara Marsh is an undertaker who doesn’t believe in God. She spends her solitary life among the dead, preparing their last baths and bidding them farewell with a bouquet from her own garden. Her carefully structured life shifts when she discovers a neglected little girl, Trecie, playing in the funeral parlor, desperate for a friend.

“It changes even more when Detective Mike Sullivan starts questioning her again about a body she prepared three years ago, an unidentified girl found murdered in a nearby strip of woods. Unclaimed by family, the community christened her Precious Doe. When Clara and Mike learn Trecie may be involved with the same people who killed Precious Doe, Clara must choose between the stead-fast existence of loneliness and the perils of binding one’s life to another.”

I read Tethered well over a year ago and time has not diminished this powerful human story and my concise review remains the same:

The writing is brutally/achingly gorgeous, the experience of living the story is vividly intense, and the amazing bond you’ll feel for the characters well past The End is extraordinarily fulfilling. In other words, Tethered is for everyone who seeks a remarkable novel…you shall see!

If you’d like to read my full presentation, please see: Amy MacKinnon and Tethered

As much as Tethered exposes the raw ugliness of the world, it is also beautiful and brimming with hope. Do pick up a copy and/or leave a comment for a chance to win the novel in a random drawing. Due to technical difficulties and a neighborhood power outage, this post was delayed in being uploaded and will remain up through SUNDAY afternoon (August 16th) until 7:00 pm EDT and the winner will be announced in Monday’s post.

And the Winners Are…

August 06, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Contests

After three days of three posts presenting three new book releases, the time has come to announce the three winners. And they are:

Jill who receives Mia King’s Table Manners

Kristan who receives Allison Winn Scotch’s Time of My Life

Terri who receives Lara Zieln’s Donut Days

Jill, Kristan, and Terri, please email me with your snail mail addresses at: diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com

Thank you all for playing and please continue to visit for one never knows which author and book The Divining Wand will feature next.

Also, if you’d like to try your luck, there are three other contests currently underway.

The first is Mia King’s and runs until August 31, 2009. Please read Mia’s details carefully:

“I am giving away a signed copy of each of my books, a special edition ceramic GOOD THINGS wall/desk plaque that says ‘”Live Simple,'” something delectable to eat and/or drink (TBD by Mia), plus author goodies and swag. The contest runs from August 4 to August 31 11:59 pm HST, and people just need to leave a comment on the August 4th blog post to qualify. The zinger is that people who leave a review for TABLE MANNERS on amazon.com and/or bn.com during the contest period (and leave a comment with their review in the body of the comment and where they posted it) will get not one but ten entries (twenty if they post at both sites), dramatically increasing their chances to win. Open to readers everywhere (must be 18 years or older, but you could live in Timbuktu and qualify!).”

Katie Alender announces Happy Wednesday! New Contest Time! where you can win a signed copy her YA debut novel, Bad Girls Don’t Die, and a custom tote bag made just for you by this crafty author. The deadline for this contest is next Friday, August 14th at 11:59 pm Pacific time.

And What Women Write has a book giveaway for Jamie Ford’s Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet with the deadline being midnight CST tonight.

Happy summer weekend…stay cool!

Lara Zielin Offers Up Donut Days

August 05, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Contests

DonDaysbn
For many today may feel like one of those “dog days of summer,” but on the eve of her debut as a YA novelist Lara Zielin is only thinking Donut Days. Yummy title, isn’t it? And how appropriate that it comes from someone who grew up in Eau Claire (French for “clear water”), Wisconsin and thought that “’clear water’ in French was Evian.”

Yes Lara is an engaging, witty and charming young woman who radiates enthusiasm and a visit to her website will confirm her fun-loving nature. As a self-described “writer on the verge of…something,” she loves her day job as the editor of LSAmagazine, a University of Michigan alumni magazine. It provides her opportunities to meet wonderful people, discuss cutting-edge research, visit interesting locations — and then go and write all about it. Michigan is not the author’s alma mater (that would be Carleton College ‘98), yet she bleeds blue!

Sound as though Lara Zielin is confidence personified? Ah, it wasn’t always that way, and thus her inspiration for writing in the YA genre as she explains:

“Middle school and high school weren’t always easy for me, so I often turned to books to escape. The challenges I faced, coupled with the books I read, left a significant emotional imprint on my heart. And that’s why I think writing YA has always been my first love — because I can remember how being a teen can be so crappy one minute, and then so amazing the next. It sounds like a terrible cliché, but having books with characters I could identify with really helped me feel less lonely, and that I wasn’t the only teenager who had ever struggled with things like friendship, love, and acceptance.”

It’s not surprising then to learn that the backstory of the novel, along with the theme/message, is – according to Lara — semi-autobiographical:

“I wrote DONUT DAYS based off my own personal experiences in the evangelical church, but the issues Emma faces in DONUT DAYS transcend any particular denomination. Many teens have doubts about what they’re being asked to believe in a variety of contexts, church being just one among many. My great hope is that DONUT DAYS encourages teens to thoughtfully question what they believe, and why, and to remember that even if people suck, that doesn’t necessarily mean that faith (or God) sucks, too.”

Here’s a brief synopsis:

DONUT DAYS’ main character, Emma Goiner, has a lot going on. Her best friend’s not speaking to her, a boy she’s known all her life is suddenly smokin’ hot, she’s at a camp-out for the opening of a donut shop, and oh yes—her evangelical pastor parents may lose their church. And that’s just this weekend. Suddenly, sixteen-year-old Emma has to make some serious choices: creationism or evolution, faith or freedom, Harley bikers or Frodo wannabes, and of course, cruller or glazed.

And then a wonderful literary trade journal review:

DONUT DAYS

“In this spirited—and, in an offbeat, somewhat irreverent way, spiritual—offering, readers meet Emma, who, despite the fact that both her parents are ministers at an evangelical church, finds her desire to feel the power of God in a direct and immediate way continually frustrated. Emma’s relationship with God becomes even more troubled when a wealthy church member challenges Emma’s mother’s right to preach based on her gender. Add to this the terrible fight that Emma has had with her best friend Nat, her budding relationship with the son of the man who instigated the church trouble and her attempt to get around her parents’ decision that she attend a Christian college by winning a scholarship contest for the best article on the Crispy Dream donut camp, and complications abound. The whimsical plot stretches credulity in places, as does the virtuousness of Emma’s crush, Jake, who never flinches in his loyalty to Emma, but Zielin’s lighthearted yet substantive portrayals of Emma’s struggles with God, family and friendship ring absolutely true.”_Kirkus Reviews

Tomorrow Lara will celebrate the publication of Donut Days and you can too by purchasing this fun but thoughtful read. In fact there’s not a better way to introduce a teen to a new author/friend. Lara Zielin’s career is just beginning, with her second novel, PROMGATE, tentatively due in summer 2011. She admits: “It feels like a long time away but I know the editing process will eat up a lot of that time, and the book will be here before I know it!” And to understand exactly what this author means, merely watch her video, Editing Letter.

Congratulations Lara, may your success be sweet!

To win a FREE copy of Donut Days, simply leave a comment and you’ll be entered in the contest. The deadline is 11:00 pm EDT tonight when a random drawing will be held and the winner announced in tomorrow’s post.

Here’s Time of My Life, Again

August 04, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Contests

ToMLsm
Our lives are filled with “what if’s” and “givens,” the latter being an event destined to happen. And, after reading the ARC of Time of My Life a year and a half ago, I knew its success was a “given.” Allison Winn Scotch had touched a universal memory nerve – that chord of imagination our mind plays for us whenever we may not be having the time of our lives.

And yet the truth of this novel answers not “would we go back” but “could we go back” to take that second chance and get it right this time? After all everything can turn on a dime, especially when trying to perfect the past.

If you wish to read a much more detailed account of the book, please read my presentation post, Allison Winn Scotch and Time of My Life, from October 6, 2008. However for a concise summation, here’s my “official” review:

Time of My Life may be initially thought of, chosen and read for its “what if” fantasy, yet the story is actually grounded in diverse and discomforting universal issues that are not limited to marrying the right man. Writing in a strong, confident and smart voice, Allison Winn Scotch is in total control of her protagonist’s indecisiveness and this is what gives the book a well-earned reality check mark. Whatever time of life you may be in, this novel is a reminder that the past holds the lure of potential but the present is where all things are created possible for the future. A most entertaining and thoughtful read, you’ll enjoy the escape into second chances.

*******

The trade paperback edition of Time of My Life is available in bookstores and online today. There’s also a copy available here for anyone to win in the book giveaway contest. Just leave a comment and you’ll be entered in the random drawing with the winner to be announced on Thursday.

Wherever, whenever, how ever…do get this NYT Bestselling* novel to enjoy the time of your life!

*The answer is “Yes,” the NYT Bestseller List was a major part of the given. 😉

Mia King and Table Manners

August 03, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Contests, News

TabManbn
Two and a half years ago Mia King debuted as a novelist with Good Things and immediately had fans wanting more of her heroine Deidre McIntosh’s story. Writing in a style that made Deidre’s life and environment oh so real, the author — after publication of her second novel Sweet Life — turned her attention back to Deidre, her friends and even Marla. Indeed she discovered there was much more story to tell and, better yet, this book (although a sequel) could easily stand on its own. Of course you can judge for yourself when Table Manners appears for purchase in bookstores and online tomorrow.

However visit the author’s website now and read Mia’s synopsis:

“I am so excited about TABLE MANNERS, which is a selection of the Doubleday, Literary Guild, Rhapsody, and Book of the Month Club book clubs. It’s a book with generous servings of food and friendship, with wonderful recipes from prominent chefs and foodies from Seattle to Paris. You’ll meet the ever-resourceful lifestyle maven Deidre McIntosh, who has a knack for getting back up when life knocks her down. At 41, she’s created a new life for herself and has a wonderful relationship with Kevin Johnson, one of Seattle’s most eligible and sexy bachelors. Creative, energetic and loving, Deidre is the person people go to whenever they need a helping hand.

“But when her branded line of baked goods runs into trouble and an ex-fiancée shows up intent on finagling her way back into Kevin’s life, it’s Deidre who needs help. On top of that, the two people she can count on the most—Lindsey Miller and her best friend William Sen—have crises of their own and are relying on her to see them through.

“I hope you’ll read TABLE MANNERS and see how tenacious and creative Deidre can be while making room for the things—and people—that matter most. I know you’ll be cheering for her as much as I do!”

Now here’s an Excerpt from Table Manners.

In the First Review for Table Manners: Four Stars, Romantic Times, Sandra Garcia-Myers wrote:

“In this the follow-up to Good Things, Deidre McIntosh must figure out the right ingredients to make the recipe for her life work. As she does this, King provides a feast for the imagination, since much of the plot revolves around food. There’s no real doubt that this will end with a happily ever after, but the reader will enjoy getting there. There’s a treat at the end, where several mouthwatering recipes await.”

And Food Loves Writing’s post, Take it with you, of July 17, 2009, says:

“The literary version of a romantic comedy … as engrossing as any chick flick.”

Although these reviews are both positive and true, there’s much more than food and a seemingly light-hearted storyline to Table Manners. In fact, to Mia’s credit, she deals with serious and timely issues in this women’s fiction novel including: the current economy; women’s health; gay rights; single parenthood; trust in a relationship; the repercussions of sibling rivalry and the ultimate goal of believing in one’s self. Perhaps that she does so without over-the-top maudlin scenarios – along with the promise of “happily ever after” ending – creates the feeling that this is just a “fun” read. And it is, along with being filled with a substantive message.

In the author’s own words, the novel revolves around: “Food, friendship, and family. Also, that everyone has a story, that nothing is set in stone, and that anything is possible. People can change, for better or for worse, but I believe that it’s always an evolution towards something better. TABLE MANNERS reminds us how much joy exists and everyone can get a share no matter what their situation.”

Could it be that this savvy writer – who is also a wife, mother of three, homeschooling parent, business owner and writing teacher – understands that a spoonful of sugar helps one face and deal with reality? If Mia does, she’s provided Table Manners readers with her trademark recipes (fortified with sugar and healthy ingredients too) from prominent chefs, chocolatiers, restaurateurs and food bloggers from Washington state and Paris.

Table Manners is meant to be enjoyed on several levels, so indulge in reuniting or getting to know Mia King’s characters. And, once you’ve reached The End, go beyond her novel’s pages and discover those delicious recipes…what a treat!

For anyone wishing to win a copy of Table Manner, just leave a comment as your entry to the contest. A random drawing will be held with the winner to be announced in Thursday’s post.

[Note: Mia King was one of the six Founder Debs of The Debutante Ball’s Class of 2007 and yesterday The Debutantes of 2010 were announced.

Congratulations to: Joelle Anthony, RESTORING HARMONY (YA, Putnam, May 2010); Alicia Bessette, ALL COME HOME (book club fiction, Dutton, August 2010); Maria Garcia-Kalb, 101 WAYS TO TORTURE YOUR HUSBAND (chick-lit humor, Adams Media, January 2010); Sarah Pekkanen, THE OPPOSITE OF ME (women’s fiction, Atria Books, March 2010); and Emily Winslow, THE WHOLE WORLD (literary/mystery, Bantam Dell, May 2010).

The outgoing Deb Class of 2009 promises: “These debut authors and their books represent a variety of categories and genres, and most importantly, authors with clear, smart voices that will resonate with the Debutante Ball’s readers.”

Their waltzing (aka weekly blogging) begins the week of August 31st, yet it is hoped that this Fairy Godmother can meet up with them on the Red Carpet the week prior to their formal bows and introduce them here. TRUST: There isn’t a better way to discover authors beyond their pages than at The Debutante Ball! And this year daily attendance will be even easier now that there is a Twitter feed, where you’ll find each day’s, along with Deb news highlights. Please click here to follow!]

Coming Attractions

July 30, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Books, Contests, Site Info

As promised, all the pages on this site soon will be filled to serve their purpose. Some — like Book Presentations — have been created naturally by applicable posts, however please either click on the link, Debuts, or the Debuts Tab and you’ll find a much more specific, ever-changing page. Divided into Debut Novels and New Releases (by already published authors), this page, complete with cover art and publication dates, should be your guide as to coming literary attractions. And, within a week or two of publication, books will be transferred to the Recently Released page in order to announce what’s forthcoming.

Next Tuesday, August 4th, offers the publication of Mia King’s Table Manners, Allison Winn Scotch’s Time of My Life (Paperback edition and, then on Thursday, August 6th, Lara Zielin’s debut YA Novel, Donut Days. All three books will be presented here and to honor this trifecta one copy of each book will be given away in a random drawing to those who comment.

Since I’ve never done a book giveaway, this is indeed a special occasion! Hope to see you Monday when you’ll learn about Table Manners.

Books That Made Our Authors, Authors

July 29, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Contests, Profiles

In whatever one chooses to do in life, there’s usually a catalyst or defining moment when a career and/or life’s direction becomes a given. And, working on that premise, it would be reasonable to wonder what one book had most influenced our authors’ careers. So they were asked and the following take us beyond their pages:

EILEEN COOK (Unpredictable, What Would Emma Do? (YA))

“One book? Yikes. I’m not sure I can narrow it down to one. Without a doubt the biggest influence on my choice to be a writer was that my parents were huge readers. Our house was always over flowing with books. We always talked about what we were reading and I grew up having an insatiable desire to consume more and more books. I always knew that I wanted to be one of those people who got to make them up. What power! To be able to create your own world, populate it with whomever you want and to choose the ending.”

[Eileen recently heard that CBC Radio One listed What Would Emma Do? as one of their summer book recommendations.]

KRISTY KIERNAN (Catching Genius,Matters of Faith)

“Wow, that’s pretty tough. I can’t pick. I was such a voracious reader. I finished one and picked up the next. I read so many, so quickly, they ALL influenced my life and my career, the good ones, the awful ones, the ones I recall and the ones I’ve long forgotten.”

JUDY MERRILL LARSEN (All the Numbers)

“To Kill a Mockingbird is at the top of my list–the first time I read it I realized books could matter in a way I’d never understood before. It led me to want to be an English teacher (which I did for 15 years) and also made me want to create characters and stories that readers would fall in love with. And of course, as an English teacher, I got to fall in love with so many other writers and books–and what I found was that I’m really drawn to voice in a book–and characters and stories that capture a specific time and/or place. The classics are good for that!”

LAUREN BARATZ-LOGSTED (Crazy Beautiful)

“After Many a Summer Dies the Swan, Aldous Huxley. It was significant because it was given to me by my eighth-grade English teacher, the same man who first gave me the idea that I had stories to write that others might want to hear.”

ALLISON WINN SCOTCH (The Department of Lost and Found, Time of My Life)

“Well, my life is probably too big of a question to answer, but my career, I’m going to have to say Good Grief by Lolly Winston. I was piddling around with fiction, writing it, but not necessarily writing it well, when an editor friend referred me to this book. She said, “Read this. THIS is what you could be writing. THIS is how you craft a good book that you are capable of.” I read it, and not only was it and is it to this day one of my all-time favorites, but a light bulb clicked on – ah yes, this IS how you write a good book. I understood what Winston had done (not to take away from what she did, because as I said, I LOVED it) and how she did it in a way that I hadn’t before, and it really inspired me. I sat down and shortly thereafter wrote my debut novel, The Department of Lost and Found.”

Therese Walsh (The Last Will of Moira Leahy)

“I can’t name any one book that changed the trajectory of my life as a writer, but many influenced me. My favorite book is The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger; it taught me what it meant to take risks, to write beautifully, and that a novel is capable of evoking great swells of emotion. My second favorite book is probably The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime; again, it provided a great example of taking risks with the narrative, but it was also just brilliantly written. I have great admiration for both works and their authors. (And there are many more books I could talk about!)”

Also Therese and co-founder Kathleen Bolton of Writer Uboxed announced in yesterday’s post, On your mark, get set…CONTEST!, which runs through next Tuesday, August 4th. This requires you to become unboxed and submit as many hilarious analogies as possible for a chance to win a treasure of literary goodies. Play and have fun…