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Archive for the ‘Profiles’

The Revealing of Sarah Pinneo

February 23, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

Journalist and author of The Ski House Cookbook, Sarah Pinneo turned her sights to fiction and recently became a debut novelist with the January 31, 2012 release of Julia’s Child.

The book has been described as:

A delectable comedy for every woman who’s ever wondered if buying that six-dollar box of organic crackers makes her a hero or a sucker.

JULIA’S CHILD is a warmhearted, laugh-out-loud story about motherhood’s choices: organic vs. local, paper vs. plastic, staying at home vs. risking it all.

Sound good? The critical reviewers thought so too:

“Pinneo skewers the cult of the child with an insider’s eye. A witty, well-plotted fiction debut.”
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

Peppered with real recipes and the kind of convincing details expected from a food writer. [A] foodie take on I Don’t Know How She Does It.
KIRKUS REVIEWS

Pinneo, a cookbook author who used to work on Wall Street, has seamlessly blended her two interests into this cute fiction debut. Well written, well paced, and very absorbing.
LIBRARY JOURNAL

The Divining Wand has scheduled a return visit from Sarah Pinneo on Wednesday, March 7th however — for today — let’s meet the author through her “official” bio:

Sarah Pinneo worked in finance for more than a decade before making the transition from breadwinner to bread baker. Sarah writes about food and sustainability for lifestyle publications including The Boston Globe Magazine and Edible Communities. She has lived in Grand Rapids, MI, New York City, Ludlow, VT and now Hanover, NH, where the occasional moose or bear wanders through her yard.

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

Q. How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A. Writing, feeding others, laundry, errands, coffee, writing. Wine.

Q. What is your motto or maxim?
A. “An established writer is a beginner who didn’t give up.” Note the vast difference between this and my mother’s motto: “There is a special place in heaven for women with tidy linen closets.” I hope she’s wrong.

Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?
A. To paraphrase Barbara Kingsolver, a perfect day is one where I work on a novel, I cook something delicious and I play with my kids.

Q. What’s your greatest fear?
A. I have many, and each one of them will eventually become the basis for a novel. My own life has been very lucky, so it is only in answering this question that I’m able to come up with novel plots.

Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A. That is a very apt question, because late February in New Hampshire is not ideal. Were I whisked away to a sunny location right now, perhaps Costa Rica, I wouldn’t fight it.

Q. With whom in history do you most identify?
A. That’s a tough one to answer, because it is difficult to discern which historical figure had the tallest laundry pile. Whichever she was, I am her spiritual sister.

Q. Which living person do you most admire?
A. Anyone who can thrive on five hours of sleep per night.

Q. What are your most overused words or phrases?
A. Actually, I most frequently abuse punctuation. I’m a serial overuser of ellipses…and also emdashes—don’t you think?

Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A. I would love to be able to sit patiently through meetings. Or fly.

Q. What is your greatest achievement?
A. I prefer to assume that I haven’t met it yet. But leaving Wall Street was a big decision, and I’m proud of my choice.

Q. What’s your greatest flaw?
A. I always want to plan everything six steps in advance. I have trouble living in the moment.

Q. What’s your best quality?
A. I’m very good at planning things six steps in advance.

Q. What do you regret most?
A. I regret worrying. My mother always told me that worrying isn’t productive, and she’s right. But how to stop?

Q. If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A. I would like to be a child again. I didn’t properly appreciate the freedom of it.

Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?
A. In the dictionary under “type A personality” there’s a picture of me.

Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A. Lily in The House of Mirth.

Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A. Willoughby in Pride & Prejudice.

Q. If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A. I’m not sure I can even name more than three athletes. Perhaps I should have listed this under my greatest flaw.

Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?
A. These days I have a lot of trouble with children who don’t behave in the car.

Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A. I love crafting, even though I’m not very good at it. I do knit a mean dinosaur, with little spines down his tail.

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

Q. What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A. Loyalty, humor, empathy

Q. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A. Excellent bagels with cream cheese

Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?
A. I refuse to answer on the grounds that my ‘80s music habit will incriminate me.

Q. What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A. House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, Zodiac by Neal Stephenson, Seventh Heaven by Alice Hoffman, Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen and Sick Puppy by Carl Hiaasen

Enjoy more of the engaging, entertaining, new novelist Sarah Pinneo by following her on Twitter, becoming a friend on Facebook, and reading Julia’s Child….yes, it has recipes!

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Announcement: The winners of Eileen Cook’s ebook Do or Di are: Dee, Alicia Marie, and Patti D. Congratulations! Please email diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your download emailing address and you’ll receive a copy.

AND

The winner of Seré Prince Halverson’s The Underside of Joy is: Aimee. Congratulations! Please email diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and the book will be sent out promptly.

Also, to answer Carl’s question about subscribing to this blog: Please check the upper right hand corner where “Subscribe” is featured, click that link, then choose your options. Thank you all!

The Revealing of Seré Prince Halverson

February 09, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

According to debut novelist, Seré Prince Halverson: “I became a writer because I loved to write, and I was blessed with an utter lack of any other talent.”

If true, what a gift the author’s one talent is as it shines through her recently released The Underside of Joy. A one sentence description of the book notes:

Set against the backdrop of Redwood forests and shimmering vineyards, Seré Prince Halverson’s compelling debut tells the story of two women, bound by an unspeakable loss, who each claims to be the mother of the same two children.

Deservedly earned glowing praise:

“Halverson’s gloriously down-to-earth novel is so pitch perfect that as readers reluctantly reach the last page, wanting more, they will have to take it on faith that this really is her first fiction.”–Library Journal, Starred Review

“…As she mines the family secrets her characters hold close and how those affect their relationships with one another, Halverson proves she’s a wordsmith and a storyteller to keep an eye on.”–Bookpage, Fiction Top Pick

“A poignant debut about mothers, secrets and sacrifices…Halverson avoids sentimentality, aiming for higher ground in this lucid and graceful examination of the dangers and blessings of familial bonds.”–Kirkus Reviews

“Halverson paints a lovely picture of small-town life and intimate family drama…Nuanced characters and lack of cliché make for a winning debut.”–Publishers Weekly

“Halverson’s debut novel marks her as a strong new voice in women’s fiction…this would make an excellent book-club choice.”–Booklist

The Divining Wand has scheduled a return visit from Seré Prince Halverson on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 but — in the meantime — let’s meet the author through her “official” bio….in her own words.

I am from a lot of places, but I now live in Northern California and it feels like home. I worked for 20 years as a freelance copywriter while I wrote fiction and raised kids. My husband and I have four grown children. I’m a mom and a stepmom, and I have a mom and a stepmom. The Underside of Joy is my debut novel.

Piqued your interest? Let’s get to know Seré even better:

Q. How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A. This crazy plot finally seems to be working.

Q. What is your motto or maxim?
A. Never, never, never, never give up. (Via my dear friend Elle Newmark, via Winston Churchill)

Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?
A. I don’t think the most genuine happiness is perfect. Hence, the title of my book! That said, my yellow Lab, Stuart, seems to experience pure, perfect happiness when chasing a tennis ball. And I feel something close to it when watching him.

Q. What’s your greatest fear?
A. The same as any mother’s fear.

Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A. I love many different places, but I feel most at home right here in the writing studio my husband and family recently built for me, overlooking a forest and vineyard.

Q. With whom in history do you most identify?
A. I enjoy reading journals and biographies of writers. No matter their gender, or the time period, I can almost always identify with some aspect of their lives and struggles. John Steinbeck’s Journal of a Novel, for one.

Q. Which living person do you most admire?
A. I stand in awe of teachers.

Q. What are your most overused words or phrases?
A. Just, Very, Um, So, Wonderful. I know! Really? Really! And then a couple of the four-letter variety, which I just really should stop saying.

Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A. Oh, to be able to sing and to speak several languages! My novel will be published in 13 languages, and I’m thrilled because that’s the closest I’ll ever come to being multi-lingual.

Q. What is your greatest achievement?
A. The Underside of Joy. And my kids. (I don’t think I “achieved” them, but I’m very proud of them.)

Q. What’s your greatest flaw?
A. Disorganization: My purse, my closet, my desk, my computer, my mind. My kitchen cupboards, however, aren’t bad. I have no idea why they’ve escaped the madness.

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

Q. What do you regret most?
A. That I wasn’t able to publish my novel before my dad died. He would have gotten such a kick out of this.

Q. If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A. I like being me, even though it can be, shall we say, challenging.

Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?
A. I don’t think there’s any one thing…but I do smile a lot.

Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A. Cal/Calliope in Middlesex

Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A. The Grinch. I know that’s not very literary sounding, but he’s my favorite.

Q. If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A. Joe Montana. “Hi Joe, you look just like my husband’s Joe Montana Christmas tree ornament. Are you up for surprising your biggest fan?”

Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?
A. The toilet seat thing. Left up afterward or down during and—ugh—wet afterward. Come on, guys. And drivers who tail too closely, especially on dark, rainy, twisty roads with deer crossing signs posted everywhere. Back off. And please click down your brights. Thank you very much.

Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A. Reading or going for a walk.

Q. What’s your fantasy profession?
A. Other than being a novelist? Singer/Songwriter

Q. What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A. Honesty, compassion, and a sense of humor.

Q. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A. Dungeness crab. Fortunately, my husband likes to go crabbing. That’s if you mean only one ingredient. If you mean one type of food, I’d say sushi. I get serious, debilitating sushi cravings.

Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?
A. Five is an impossible number. I have so many favorite songs. I might have to slip in an extra and hope you don’t notice.
2,000 Miles by The Pretenders
This Must be the Place by Shawn Colvin (Talking Heads cover)
Closer to Fine by Indigo Girls (Almost anything by the Indigo Girls.)
Anchorage by Michelle Shocked
I Hope That I Don’t Fall in Love with You by Tom Waits
Circle Game by Joni Mitchell

Q. What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A. Again, only five? You use the word “five” loosely, right?
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (When I was nine, I went to Green Gables, the home where L.M. Montgomery wrote, and I bought the book in the gift shop and still have it.)
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The Boys of My Youth by Jo Ann Beard

Genuinely warm and wonderfully honest, Seré is a gorgeous storyteller. Discover more of these truths by becoming a friend on Facebook, visit her blog Who Moved My Buddha?, sample an excerpt from the book’s Chapter One, and then continue reading The Underside of Joy.

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Announcement: The winner of Eleanor Brown’s The Weird Sisters is: Janel. Congratulations! Please email diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address.

AND

The winner of Julianna Baggott’s PURE is: Candice. Congratulations! Please email diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address.

The Revealing of Erika Liodice

January 26, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

Author Erika Liodice dreams, creates to succeed, and inspires others to do the same. With passion and determination, she became a debut novelist in late November, 2011 when her first novel Empty Arms was published as an ebook in Kindle and NOOK Book editions. And only last week Empty Arms was released in paperback. One might say that Erika’s arms now hold her dream come true.

The story is based on a life built on secrets, half truths, evasion, and lies. Not exactly a reader’s choice for a tender, warm-hearted selection, yet the ebook has garnered 5 ***** ratings and the following praise:

“Empty Arms is a compelling novel about haunting secrets, risk and consequence, and one woman’s journey to build a future out of the scattered ashes of her past. A beautiful debut.” ~ Therese Walsh, author of THE LAST WILL OF MOIRA LEAHY

The Synopsis:

Catharine Chase’s entire life is built on a secret. In 1972, at the tender age of sixteen, she got pregnant. An embarrassment to her parents, Catharine was exiled to a maternity home to carry out her pregnancy far away from the watchful eyes of their tight-knit community. What they didn’t tell her is that she wouldn’t be allowed to keep her baby.

With her daughter’s screams still echoing in her ears, the medical staff told Catharine she’d move on with her life and have more children, they promised she’d forget. But they were wrong. Catharine never forgot Emily. And when she and her husband, Paul, learn that they can’t have children, she risks her job, her marriage, and her family’s reputation in a desperate attempt to find the daughter she never wanted to give away and reclaim her only chance to be a mother.

The Divining Wand has scheduled a visit from Erika on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 however — between now and then — let’s meet the author through her “official” bio:

Erika Liodice is an award-winning blogger and founder of the inspirational blog, Beyond the Gray, where she shares her journey to publication while encouraging readers to reach for their own dreams. She is a book reviewer at Reader Unboxed and a contributor to Writer Unboxed, The Savvy Explorer, and Lehigh Valley InSite. Empty Arms is her first novel.

And now it’s time to get to know Erika at her upclose and revealing best.

Q. How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A. Chasing my dreams, inspiring others to chase theirs.

Q. What is your motto or maxim?
A. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” -Confucius

Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?
A. Sipping wine with my husband on a sunny afternoon overlooking a body of water.

Q. What’s your greatest fear?
A. Losing my husband. He’s my best friend; I couldn’t live without him.

Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A. On a tropical island basking in sunshine.

Q. With whom in history do you most identify?
A. Henry David Thoreau because I derive much of my inspiration from “sauntering in nature”, I spend a good deal of time pondering my purpose here, and I love to travel. Plus, like Thoreau, I spent many years working at passionless day jobs in order to support my writing dream.

Q. Which living person do you most admire?
A. Jodi Picoult because she writes about tough topics that challenge my beliefs and change the way I look at things.

Q. What are your most overused words or phrases?
A. In my writing it’s: my stomach tightens. I was horrified when I realized how much my protagonist’s stomach was tightening! Fortunately, I discovered this during the editing phase and was able to correct it.

Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A. To speak many languages fluently. English is my native language and I studied Spanish for 11 years, but I would love to know a few more so I can converse with all of the interesting people I meet during my travels.

Q. What is your greatest achievement?
A. Building a life that I absolutely love.

Q. What’s your greatest flaw?
A. Over-committing myself.

Q. What’s your best quality?
A. I put my heart and soul into everything I do.

Q. What do you regret most?
A. Not going to art school.

Q. If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A. Sometimes I think it would be fun to be the sun because I’d always be warm and I’d get to travel around the world every day.

Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?
A. I think people immediately notice that I’m tall and blonde, but I hope they also notice that I have a big heart and love to laugh.

Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A. I’ve loved Nancy Drew since I was a little girl. The Nancy I grew up with was multi-talented, self-reliant, clever, and fearless. She was great role model and I loved getting lost in her adventures.

Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A. I love to hate Miranda Priestley from The Devil Wears Prada. She’s so evil, but I also sort of wish she’d let me borrow her clothes.

Q. If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A. Bethany Hamilton (the surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack). I’d like to tell her that I don’t know how she ever got back in the water but that I admire her determined spirit, positive attitude, and commitment to her passion.

Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?
A. When people complain about things that are within their control.

Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A. Being my husband’s wife. Too sappy? Okay, bargain hunting on Craigslist.

Q. What’s your fantasy profession?
A. Professional vacationer.

Q. What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A. Good sense of humor, honesty, and kindness.

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

Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?
A. 1) “The Scientist” by Coldplay, 2) “Innocente” by Delerium, 3) “In the Waiting Line” by Zero 7, 4) “Blindfold” by Morcheeba, and 5) “La Femme Parallel” by Thievery Corporation.

Q. What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A. 1) The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, 2) The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks, 3) The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, 4) The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve, and 5) The Last Summer (of You and Me) by Ann Brashares.

Erika Liodice is writing her dream life by working hard as well as playing hard so why not join her by being a follower on Twitter, becoming a friend on Facebook, and reading Empty Arms!

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Book Giveaway: And the winner of Sarah McCoy’s The Baker’s Daughter is: Jennifer Downing. Congratulations! Please email diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with the delivery address (home or email download) and your choice of book format.

The Revealing of Sarah McCoy

January 17, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

Author Sarah McCoy (The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico) draws upon the unlikely connection between her past (Germany) and present (El Paso, Texas) residences to create the historical novel, The Baker’s Daughter available next Tuesday, January 24th.

Here are a few selections of glowing praise for the book:

“A beautiful, heart-breaking gem of a novel written just the way I like them, with the past coming back to haunt the present, endearing heroines and a sunny, hopeful ending. You’ll wolf it up in one delicious gulp.”
–Tatiana de Rosnay, international bestselling author of Sarah’s Key and A Secret Kept

“A sensitive, multilayered novel, this is a moving examination of the effect war and the politics of exclusion, have on the human heart.”–Amanda Hodgkinson, New York Times bestselling author of 22 Brittania Road

“A haunting and beautiful story… Spanning sixty years, and taking on forms of human cruelty and indifference ranging from the Nazis to modern-day immigration reform, McCoy forces us to examine the choices we make. I was riveted from start to finish.”
– J. Courtney Sullivan, New York Times bestselling author of Commencement and Maine

The Divining Wand has scheduled a visit from Sarah McCoy on Wednesday, March 14, 2012 but — for now — let’s meet the author through her “official” bio:

SARAH McCOY is author of the novel, The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico. She has taught English 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 calls Virginia home but presently lives with her husband and dog, Gilbert, in El Paso, Texas. The Baker’s Daughter is her second novel. She is currently working on her next.

Interesting background, don’t you think? Well then it’s time for the following upclose and personal Q&A with Sarah to know her even better.

Q. How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A. My God, I can’t do it in 8 words! I’m the lady who gets cut off by people’s answering machines. Please stay tuned: Still a work in progress. How’s that? Or Hold on tight: I’m just getting started, y’all! Does ‘y’all’ count as one word?

Q. What is your motto or maxim?
A. Everything has a purpose. Hold tight. Have faith. Keep watch. Miracles are a breath away.

Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?
A. I believe “perfect happiness” exists in every moment. We just have to open our eyes and look to find it. Even in the midst of terrible tragedy or great personal struggle, there’s the laughter of a child or the bloom of a flower. Reminders that perfect happiness is more constant and eternal than our pain.

Q. What’s your greatest fear?
A. I’m not sure I have a greatest so much as a bunch of little fears that stand on each other’s shoulders until they look like a giant. They range from developed, strong demons to skinny, weak ones: fear of failure; burrowing animals; fear of rejection; nightmares where my teeth fall out; having my privacy invaded; fear that my dog will run into a scorpion or tarantula or rattlesnake in the backyard; worry over the safekeeping of my family and loved ones scattered so far from me; packing anxiety when traveling; fear that my husband won’t ever know the depth of my love for him… Big and small stuff I can’t control no matter how I try.

Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A. Home. Wherever that might be at the time. Home is where my husband is, where my writing desk stands, where my puppy sleeps. Don’t get me wrong, I love traveling, but part of the great appeal is the homecoming, snuggling into the quiet of my house and recounting the excitement of where I’ve just been. When I’m home, I’m happiest.

Q. With whom in history do you most identify?
A. Oh, I identify with different individuals at various points in my life journey so I’d be hard pressed to pick just one. Recently, I was in Santa Fe and took a tour of the Georgia O’Keefe Museum. I felt such a kinship to her: her passion for her art and struggle to make a way in the industry; her relationship with her husband and her work; her love for unusual spaces that whispered vibrant stories; her appreciation for the power of femininity.

Q. Which living person do you most admire?
A. On a personal level, my mother, Eleane. I know it’s cliché but every day she never fails to be superwoman. She reminds me that love is transformative and not even the stars are out of reach. She reminds me that there is a higher power and we, a high calling.
In the writing world, Toni Morrison absolutely blows my mind. I want her to be my fairy godmother, sprinkle me with her blessings, and let me sit in her presence. As well, my dearest friend Sheri Reynolds is such a force of love and support in my life. I’ll never be able to fully tell her how much I cherish her.

Q. What are your most overused words or phrases?
A. “Just.” I don’t know why I just can’t seem to get just out of my dialogue. I have to comb it out of my writing. It makes the prose drag. I blame my Virginian roots.

Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A. Being able to lean forward and touch my toes. I know, nearly everyone on the planet has this talent and I don’t. It’s been a lifelong frustration starting with the Sit-and-Reach Test in elementary gym class. Either my arms or too short or my legs are too long, but something is off.

Q. What is your greatest achievement?
A. Writing and publishing my novels.

Q. What’s your greatest flaw?
A. Being a perfectionist, Type-A, control freak.

Q. What’s your best quality?
A. Once I trust and consider a person a true friend, I brandish my sword to champion and defend that person. Faithful till death.

Q. What do you regret most?
A. Too often taking out my perfectionist, Type-A, control freak-dom on my husband.

Q. If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A. Can I cop out of this question by saying I’m just fine being who and what I am? I’ve never subscribed to the “grass is always greener” philosophy. If my grass isn’t green, I assume the neighbor’s probably isn’t either. I’ll stick with what I got.

Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?
A. Are we talking physicality or personality? If we’re going with physicality then I’d say my height. People who meet me in person are always surprised by my short stature. My husband calls me his wee pocket pixie. My grandmother is about 5’ tall. My great grandmother was 4’11’’. These are the trees from which I come.

Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A. Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables. She reigns supreme in my imagination.

Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A. Briony from Atonement. Though technically not a villain, she’s the complex heroine that points a wrongful finger and sets tragedy in motion. You want to hate her, but you love her because she made a mistake. One terrible, youthful mistake, and haven’t we all made one or two of those? Such a great character.

Q. If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A. I’ll admit, I’m not much on the sports celebrities. I guess I’d pick Nadia Comaneci. I was a gymnast in my youth, and she was my ultimate. I’d ask her if she wanted to grab a cup of tea. Nothing brilliant. Now my second choice would be Landon Donovan. I’d want to meet him so I could brag to my husband, an ex-college soccer player who is absolutely obsessed with the sport.

Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?
A. People who talk about nothing (the weather, the light fixtures, the salt and pepper shakers on the table—you get the picture) in an attempt to fill every moment of sweet silence.

Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A. This is a difficult question because I don’t fancy anything as much as writing. Hmm. I’m going to go out on a limb here: according to my friend Jenna Blum, I could make a mean nickel as a gift wrapper. I do love putting together pretty packages.

Q. What’s your fantasy profession?
A. Exactly what I’m doing: writing novels. I’m living my fantasy and pinch myself every day.

Q. What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A. 1) Loyalty, 2) Authenticity, 3) Independence

Q. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A. Up until this Christmas, I would’ve said crab, but I learned you can have too much of a good thing after a week of seafood binging while back east… Shoot, who am I kidding? The answer is still king crab legs!

Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?
A. 1) “Stardust” by Nat King Cole, 2) “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas” by Johnny Mathis, 3) “Anne’s Theme” by Hagood Hardy for the film Anne of Green Gables, 4) “You Don’t Own Me” by Lesley Gore, and 5) “Amazing Grace.” (Yeah, it’s an eclectic list. Each one moves me powerfully in a different way.)

Q. What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A. While I have a plethora of books I consider favorites, I’ll go with five plucked from my “fundamentals” list: 1) Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, 2) Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare, 3) The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 4) Nine Days Queen by Karleen Bradford, 5) The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Note: Austen’s Pride and Prejudice should be in there too.

Genuine, insightful, and most thoughtful/appreciative, Sarah has a great deal to share. You can join her on Goodreads, follow her on Twitter, and become a friend/fan on Facebook.

Also, since The Baker’s Daughter becomes available in bookstores next week, you might want to “see” the author on her Book Tour.

For an extra bonus, enjoy the novel’s Prelude and Chapters One – Three.

The Further Revealing of Kristina Riggle

June 15, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

On June 15, 2009 the presentation/review of Kristina Riggle‘s debut novel Real Life & Liars launched The Divining Wand and last summer she graced this site again with The Life You’ve Imagined. Now, with a critically acclaimed reputation and an ever-growing fanbase, this author/friend returns with her third book, Things We Didn’t Say available June 28, 2011.

Described in one sentence, Things We Didn’t Say is: A story of a frayed blended family about to come undone completely when a teen-age son goes missing.

And the early Praise follows:

“The historic home in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where most of the book is set, takes on the presence of another character, while the constrained time period adds to the intimate feel of this absorbing novel about a blended family.”

-Booklist



“An involving portrayal of the obstacles confronting today’s families.”

- Publishers Weekly



“Riggle paints with exquisite care a not-so-pretty picture of modern life, when running away can seem like the only option if it promises just a little bit of freedom.”

Library Journal



“Don’t open the first page of this novel unless you’re prepared to sacrifice all other commitments for the next 48 hours or so! This is Riggle’s best yet. Compelling, believable, and full of delicious twists, this story will forever change how you relate to strangers, friends, and even family—reminding you that everyone you meet might be carrying her own secret struggles.”

– Katrina Kittle, author of The Blessings of the Animals and The Kindness of Strangers



“In this moving and captivating novel, Kristina Riggle explores with depth and honesty the question of how we define a family, and the myriad ways we all seek to shed our difficult pasts. Things We Didn’t Say is impossible to put down, and even harder to let go of.”

– Julie Buxbaum, author of The Opposite of Love and After You

The Divining Wand has scheduled a presentation/review of Things We Didn’t Say for Monday, June 27, 2011 but, until then, let’s read an updated version of the author’s “official” bio:

Kristina Riggle lives and writes in West Michigan. Her debut novel, Real Life & Liars, was praised by Publishers Weekly for its “humorous and humane storytelling” and by Booklist as “a moving and accomplished first novel.” The book was a Target “Breakout” pick and a “Great Lakes, Great Reads” selection by the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association. The Life You’ve Imagined was honored as an “IndieNext Notable” book by independent booksellers.

Kristina has published short stories in the Cimarron Review, Literary Mama, Espresso Fiction, and elsewhere. She is also a freelance journalist writing primarily for The Grand Rapids Press, and co-editor for fiction at Literary Mama. Kristina was a full-time newspaper reporter for seven years before turning her attention to creative writing and freelancing. As well as writing, she enjoys reading, yoga, dabbling in (very) amateur musical theatre, and spending lots of time with her husband, two kids and dog.

And, now, here’s another opportunity to get to know the real Kristina:

Q: What would you choose as the theme song of your life?
A: “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” from Sound of Music because I’m stubborn with a Pollyanna streak believing in dreams that come true, etc. And I have a weakness for showtunes.

Q: Possible pseudonym?
A; My name IS a pseudonym. Riggle is my maiden name. I used to not like it — it sounds so funny — but now I’m attached to it. Plus it has given rise to a series of hilarious nicknames: The Riggler, Riglette, Wiggle, Wriggle, and this last one I shall choose if I ever do roller derby: Big Rig.

Q: Name three “bests” of being a published author.
A: Fan mail, meeting readers, and seeing my books on bookstore and library shelves.

Q: Favorite book release season of the year?
A: Summer, because mine always come out in the summer… Really, “season” is something I don’t think much about. I’ll buy books any day, any weather.

Q: If given the opportunity, which reality show would you be on?
A:Project Runway so I could meet Tim Gunn. Too bad I can’t sew for beans.

Q: Favorite childhood fairy tale?
A: I don’t remember being much interested in fairy tales as a kid, but I do remember my little sister nagging me to drive her to Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” when it was out in theaters. I grudgingly agreed, and loved the movie! I left humming the songs and loving the bookworm Belle heroine, and my sister was like, “Eh, it was okay.” Still love that movie.

Q: What U.S. city would you like to visit that you haven’t been to yet?
A:Tie between San Francisco and New Orleans.

Q: Your reward after a day of writing?
A: Another day of writing! I do like shiraz and dark chocolate if I want to reward myself after a very productive (and/or stressful) week.

Q: What 3 personal qualities are LEAST important to you?
A: Vanity, avarice, laziness.

Q: An author quote that inspires you?
A: I have such a quote in a typewriter-shaped picture frame next to my computer. The frame was a gift for my thirtieth birthday with the suggestion I put an inspirational quote in it. “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” (Richard Bach.) At the time I was an amateur. Now I’m not.

Q: Where do you like to read?
A: I mostly read in bed before turning out the light but if I could have my preference, I’d read in the sunshine in a lawn chair. I don’t get much “laze in the sun” time, though.

Q: Book or ebook reader?
A: Real book. I’m not an e-reader hater, but I have yet to see one which can “turn pages” well enough to keep up with my fast reading, and also be read in bright sunlight. Plus, I can drop my book in the bath or get sand all over it and it’s no big deal.

Q: Growing up, who was your teen idol? You mean, who did I crush on?
A: Jon Bon Jovi. And he still looks good!

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
A: I wish I could be more like Mira, the heroine of my first novel, and not give a damn what people think. I even edited that sentence just now to make it less profane, for fear of offending. I’m so hopelessly nice sometimes I even annoy myself.

Q: Must love dogs and/or cats?
A: This is how my husband knows I love him. I gave up cats forever to marry him, and now we own a dog.

Q: Which author – past or present – would you have chosen as a mentor?
A: My literary idols are Elizabeth Berg and Anne Tyler.

Q: What book did you fake reading?
A: Never! Faking that you know something when you don’t is the quickest route to sitcom-level hijinks as you try to bluff your way through conversation. I am sheepish about never having read certain books, though. Like The Old Man and the Sea.

Q: What is your favorite scent?
A: Campfire smoke. To me it means peace, quiet and calm.

Q: What is your favorite movie adaptation of a novel?
A: Tie between Sideways and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Q: Name two books you always give or recommend, knowing they’ll be loved?
A: I’ve loaned out both Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott and Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler and have had to replace them because they never came home!

Q: What are (a few) five of your favorite things?
A: 1) My kids’ laughter.
2) Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries.
3) Adele’s latest album.
4) Showtunes.
5) Books.

Genuine, insightful, and always entertaining, Kristina Riggle is an author to enjoy following on Twitter and becoming a friend/fan on Facebook.

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

The Revealing of Tawna Fenske

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ing to Sydney Welles by Susi Rajah

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

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

Guest Elise Allen on YA = Your Age

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

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

YA= Your Age

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of From Bad to Cursed by Katie Alender in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Katie Alender and From Bad to Cursed. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

Summer’s TBR Lists

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

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

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

This week the following writers replied:

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Holly LeCraw (The Swimming Pool):

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

~Kristina McMorris (Letters From Home):

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

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

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

~Lori Roy (Bent Road):

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

To be continued….

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

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

The Revealing of Elise Allen

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

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

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

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

Here’s early praise:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Close second? Disneyland.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That… or going to Disneyland.

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

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Compassion, generosity of spirit, and a great sense of humor.

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: I think fresh strawberries! It’s strawberry season, and I keep hitting the farmer’s markets and buying more because they’re so good! I might be addicted – I’ve been eating close to an entire flat of strawberries a day. But I’m not sick of them yet, so I could probably handle them for the rest of my days.

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

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

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

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

The Revealing of Katie Alender

May 25, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

When YA author Katie Alender debuted in April, 2009 with Bad Girls Don’t Die, it was considered a standalone novel. But its success had her publisher, Hyperion, thinking a three book series and the second book of that series — Bad Girls Don’t Die: From Bad to Cursed — releases on June 14, 2011, the third (yet untitled) will follow next summer.

In a very brief description: The BAD GIRLS DON’T DIE series is a chilling lineup of horror novels for teens.

Scary and excellent with the following honors bestowed on Book 1, BAD GIRLS DON’T DIE:

~Selected for the Tayshas Reading List of the Texas Library Association

~Available through Scholastic Book Clubs

~Named to the New York Public Library’s 2010 Stuff for the Teen Age list

Now Book 2, FROM BAD TO CURSED has already earned this Praise:

“This book made me wish I still slept with a night-light! A smart, scary ride.”
– Melissa de la Cruz, NYT bestselling author of the Blue Bloods Series

“FROM BAD TO CURSED sent a creepy, delicious chill up my spine. All I could think when I turned the last page was more, more, more!”
- Heather Brewer, NYT bestselling author of The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod Series

“In the classic tradition of Stephen King, Alender will have you sleeping with the lights on.”
- Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia, NYT Bestselling authors of the Beautiful Creatures Series

The Divining Wand has scheduled a presentation/review of From Bad to Cursed on Monday, June 6, 2011 but, in the meantime, let’s meet the author through her “official” bio:

Katie Alender is the author of the Bad Girls Don’t Die series from Disney-Hyperion. She is a graduate of the Florida State University Film School and lives in Los Angeles. When she’s not writing novels, she can usually be found in her sewing room, making things for her friends or her dog (or her friends’ dogs). She enjoys reading, eating delicious high-calorie foods, and hanging out with her husband and her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Winston.

Of course there’s so much more to Katie as she reveals:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: Always curious, always fascinated; much love; loved well.

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: My short one: Judge not lest ye be judged.

My long one is a Heinlein quote:
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
~ Robert A. Heinlein

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: Keeping one’s priorities in order and always finding something to look forward to. (I’m pretty good with part B, but still working on part A!)

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: Being actively disliked for being who I really am. (Indifference I can live with!) It has taken me many years to be content with myself, and part of that is based on the kitten-like trust I have that people respond to other people who are genuinely trying to be as real and kind as possible. There is a great deal of intolerance in the world, much of it based on a refusal to look past one’s own perception and judgment of others. And I feel that a lot of evil is rooted in that lack of compassion. It’s scary and sad to me.

Also, looking dumb in public.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: Either in a small pub in a rainy town in Ireland or in my house. If you look up “homebody” in the dictionary, I’m there.

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: I have a great admiration for CS Lewis and the way his mind worked, and the way he was always on the lookout for beauty, fascination, and meaning; and he stayed humble (at least in his writings, he did).

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: I admire any person who has a dream or a calling and follows it whole-heartedly and fearlessly, especially if doing so doesn’t involve stomping on other people.

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases
A: seriously, honestly, holy moly (in my books it’s people looking, sighing, glancing, and turning–but to be fair, we all do quite a lot of looking, glancing, and turning in our everyday lives… I’m just keeping it real)

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: I wish I had some kind of musical ability. I would love to be able to sing and play the piano. If there were elective surgery that could make you a good singer, I would get it. Just for my own amusement.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: Obviously there are the books. Other than that, I would say it’s my ability to truly enjoy 99% of people I come into contact with and to make them feel happy and appreciated.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: I can be paranoid. Also, I’m horrible at sharing food. I’m like a cavewoman. And I think sometimes I can be a smartass.

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: My ability to be interested in almost anything or anyone.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: I make it a point not to regret things that have had a profound impact on my life, because those events shaped me, for better or for worse. There have been times when I’ve been unkind to people, and I regret those times very much.

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: Hey, I gotta be me. I have to see where this train is going!

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: Gosh, I don’t really know. I don’t know how most people perceive me. I know some people think I’m funny, and some people tell me I’m very relaxed (which I find hilarious, because I feel pretty wound up most of the time).

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: I’m a big fan of Professor Snape, as he’s played by Alan Rickman in the Harry Potter movies.

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: I’m not much of a sports fan! The opportunity would probably be wasted on me. I would be interested in sitting next to a very good figure skater at a competition and having them analyze the competitors for me.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: This is going to be oddly specific. When you’re waiting for your bags at the luggage carousel, trying not to shove in too close, and clueless people come and stand directly in front of you. Like, why on earth do you think I’m standing here, for my health? Can’t we all stand five feet back and step forward when our bags are close by?

I also hate it when people abuse waiters, flight attendants–anyone you have any kind of power over. Get over yourself! Be a human being!

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: Sewing

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: If I could just keep doing what I’m currently doing, I’d be pretty happy. I’m also looking forward to being a mom (at some point–that’s not an admission of anything)!

If I had to choose something else, I’d like to be a teacher and work with tweens and teens.

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Competence, humor, and humility.

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Oh, Lordy. Can I pick something with lots of ingredients, so I can make myself different variations? How about a stew? In terms of the least offensive food, probably english muffins the way I eat them every morning–one half with butter and cinnamon-sugar, the other half with peanut butter. Or Diet Coke. Which would probably ensure that the rest of the days would pass quickly.

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: Alice in Wonderland, played by Dave Brubeck
Jolene, by Dolly Parton
Work, by Jars of Clay
Let’s Live for Today, by the Grass Roots
Romeo and Juliet, (as performed by the Killers… the original was Elvis Costello)

Q; What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: The Cloister Walk, by Kathleen Norris
Fair and Tender Ladies, by Lee Smith
Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand
Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
Pride & Prejudice, by Jane Austen

Smart, funny, and such an honest, standup individual, Katie Alender is one of the best role model for young adults. Follow her — or have your daughter, granddaughter, niece, etc. follow — on Twitter, become a fan of her Series on Facebook, and a fan on her 
Author Facebook page.

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