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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.

Summer’s TBR Lists, V

June 23, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites, Q&A

Thank goodness for summer and its lazy, hazy days of being carried away by a book. Reaching out to discover what our authors/friends would be reading, The Divining Wand asked them:

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

And, in this final wrap-up post, the following writers replied:

~Elise Allen (Populazzi YA coming August 1, 2011):

“The next book I can’t wait to get my hands on is Allen Zadoff’s My Life, The Theater, and Other Tragedies. I recently finished his Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have, and I adored it. He also has a memoir coming out called “Hungry” that I’m… well… hungry to read.

“Big picture though, I have to admit that the book looming over my future doesn’t come out until October: Rick Riordan’s Son of Neptune. My daughter and I devoured every book in the Percy Jackson series so far (and let’s be honest, the “new” series is not a new series — it’s a wonderful continuation of the same series), and we’ve been counting down the months until the next installment. Four more months to go!!!!”

~Robin Antalek (The Summer We Fell Apart):

“Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood, some books by Sue Miller, whom I’ve never read, The Local News by Miriam Gershow, Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt, The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer.”

~Tawna Fenske (Making Waves coming August 2, 2011):

“My reading tastes vary widely, but there’s something about summertime that makes me want to read something fun, frothy, and sexy. The book club I’ve belonged to for 10+ years even makes a special effort to read at least one “summer smut” offering during the warm months. I adore author Victoria Dahl’s sexy, funny contemporary romances and look forward to her string of new releases starting in September. I’m also looking forward to attending Romance Writers of America (RWA) Nationals in June/July so I can scope out all the upcoming releases!”

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

“The moment I can I plan to read Meg Wolitzer’s new book: THE UNCOUPLING. Also, on my catch-up list is CLEOPATRA by Stacy Schiff, MALCOLM X: A LIFE OF REINVENTION by Manning Marable, FAITH: A NOVEL, by Jennifer Haighand SO MUCH FOR THAT by Lionel Shriver. Hmm…I better get some beach books in here.”

~Ivy Pochoda (The Art of Disappearing):

“Hmmm….so very much.

Barry Hannah’s “Long, Last, Happy”
TC Boyle’s “When the Killing’s Done”
I also want to read “The Pale King” this summer by David Foster Wallace

And I’m also planning to reread the four Sherlock Holmes novellas.”

~Allison Winn Scotch (The One That I Want, Time of My Life, and The Department of Lost and Found):

“I have so many books that I’m looking forward to – Elin Hilderbrand’s Silver Girl, Laura Dave’s The First Husband, Courtney Sullivan’s Maine, Gwendolen Gross’s The Orphan Sister, Meg Mitchell Moore’s The Arrivals…it feels like there’s an amazing wealth of smart writing for women these days, and it’s all culminating this summer. There’s also Diana Spechler’s Skinny, which I read an advance copy of, and truly adored.”

~Melissa Senate (The Love Goddess’ Cooking School, The Mosts YA, The Secret of Joy, the rest in Bibliography):

“SO many. My little “‘check out this book'” notebook is full of great sounding books that I can’t wait to laze around with this summer. One in particular: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.”

~Leah Stewart (Husband and Wife, The Myth of You and Me, Body of a Girl):

“Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood, some books by Sue Miller, whom I’ve never read, The Local News by Miriam Gershow, Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt, The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer.”

~Wendy Tokunaga (Midori By Moonlight, Love in Translatio , and ebook, Marriage in Translation: Foreign Wife, Japanese Husband [Kindle Edition]):

“I’m looking forward to reading “Bossypants” by Tina Fey who I think is one of the sharpest writers around these days. Also “French Lessons” a new novel from Ellen Sussman that I think comes out this July.”

* * * * *

Announcement: The winners of Making Waves by Tawna Fenske are Julie Mann, Charlene Ross, and Monica B.W.. Congratulations!

Please email diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and your book will be Pre-ordered to be sent on its release of August 1, 2011.

AND

Announcement: The winners of A Pug’s Tale by Alison Pace are Sunny and Jane Cook. Congratulations!

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

Summer’s TBR Lists, IV and
Alison Pace’s A Pug’s Tale

June 22, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites, Book Presentations, Books, Q&A

It’s officially summer — time for relaxing and getting lost in those TBR books. While other summer book lists were being compiled and published, The Divining Wand decided to offer its own lists by asking our authors:

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

This week the following writers replied:

~Katie Alender (Bad Girls Don’t Die YA, and Bad Girls Don’t Die: From Bad to Cursed):

“Unfortunately, a lot of what was on my spring ‘”must read”‘ list has made it through the spring unread (d’oh) and therefore will be joining me this summer. I’m looking forward to Myra McEntire’s “Hourglass,” which came out in May, and Carrie Ryan’s “The Dark and Hollow Places” which was released in March. Also Megan McCafferty’s “Bumped”, released at the end of April. Plus, of course, all the great books I bought recently but haven’t gotten to yet–“Cryer’s Cross,” by Lisa McMann, “Will Grayson, Will Grayson” by John Green and David Levithan, “Please Ignore Vera Dietz” by A.S. King, and “Recovery Road” by Blake Nelson.”

~Eleanor Brown (The Weird Sisters):

“I’m not a big re-reader, but summer means re-reading to me, so I’ll be diving into some of my old favorites: Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, The Stand by Stephen King, Evening Class by Maeve Binchy, and The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy. I always find comfort and inspiration in those books!”

~Laura Dave (The First Husband The Divorce Party, London Is the Best City in America):

“I’m about to delve into an advanced copy of J. Courtney Sullivan’s new novel, Maine. And have been wanting to read Laura Munson’s, This Is Not The Story You Think It Is.”

~Jael McHenry (The Kitchen Daughter):

“Oh, so many books! For starters, Sarah Jio’s The Violets of March, Camille Noe Pagan’s The Art of Forgetting, and Meg Mitchell Moore’s The Arrivals. And there’s a new book out in Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series, so I definitely want to pick that up. I have a tradition of buying those for my mom’s birthday, and sneakily reading them before I give them to her.”

~Camille Noe Pagan (The Art of Forgetting):

“My TBR pile includes Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From The Goon Squad and Sarah Henry’s Learning To Swim. I’m also eagerly awaiting some of this spring and summer’s new releases–Jael McHenry’s The Kitchen Daughter, Rebecca Rasmussen’s The Bird Sisters and Claire Cook’s latest, Best Staged Plans. (I could go on and on!)”

~Emily Winslow (The Whole World):

“Right now I get to read the new Sophie Hannah psychological suspense novel in draft form, which won’t be coming out to the general public for another year. Lucky me!”

* * * * *

And now a BONUS book for your summer reading pleasure!

Essayist/novelist Alison Pace has followed her highly successful novel, Pug Hill, with the June 7th release of A Pug’s Tale.

This critical Praise describes another wonderful, dog lover’s adventure:

“A charming mystery-lite with abundant personality.”Publishers Weekly

“Pace is the alpha writer of feel-good, girl-in-the-city-with-dog novels….a winningly affectionate tribute to art, love, New York City, and pugs.” Booklist

Here is the synopsis:

There are pugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art!

Hope McNeill has worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for years, but this is the first time she’s been able to bring along her pug, Max. (Officially at least. Previously she’s had to smuggle him in inside her tote bag.)

The occasion: a special “Pug Night” party in honor of a deep-pocketed donor. Max and his friends are having a ball stalking the hors d’oeuvres and getting rambunctious, and making Hope wonder if this is also the last time she gets to bring Max to the museum.

But when a prized painting goes missing, the Met needs Hope’s–and Max’s–help. In her quest for the culprit, Hope searches for answers with an enigmatic detective, a larger-than-life society heiress, a lady with a shih tzu in a stroller, and her arguably intuitive canine. With luck, she’ll find some inspiration on her trips to Pug Hill before the investigation starts going downhill…

Now read an Excerpt: Chapter One.

And a vlog of Alison talking about A Pug’s Tale:

(If the video isn’t visible on your monitor, please view it here.

To contact Alison online, follow her on Twitter and friend her on Facebook.

Despite this abbreviated book presentation, please know that A Pug’s Tale is smart, wry, and delightfully fun. Best of all, though, it’s a story on intrigue and unconditional friendship….a perfect addition for your summer TBR list!

* * * * *

Book Giveaway: To celebrate summer The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of A Pug’s Tale by Alison Pace in a random drawing of comments left only on this post and ONLY until tonight at 7:00 p.m. EDT. If you enter, please return tomorrow when the winners will be announced.

AND

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away three copies of Making Waves by Tawna Fenske in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Presenting Debutante Tawna Fenske and Making Waves. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, June 22, 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, III

June 16, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites, Q&A

With so many terrific books vying for attention, summer is the best season for a reason to relax and get lost in a new release or old favorite. And, since summer book lists are currently being published, The Divining Wand decided to ask its authors:

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

This week the following writers replied:

~Carleen Brice (Orange Mint and Honey, Children of the Waters):

“PYM by Mat Johnson
SILVER SPARROW by Tayari Jones
THE WEIRD SISTERS by Eleanor Brown
THE FOUR MS. BRADWELLS by Meg Waite Clayton
THE RINGER by Jenny Shank
THE FULL MATILDA by David Haynes

And if I could recommend a book I’ve already read that’s coming out this month: IF SONS THEN HEIRS by Lorene Cary. LOVED it!”

~Eileen Cook (The Education of Hailey Kendrick YA, Unpredictable, What Would Emma Do? YA, Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood YA, and Fourth Grade Fairy ages 9 -11, Wishes for Beginners ages 9 – 11 coming June 14, 2011, and Gnome Invasion ages 9 – 11 coming August 16, 2011):

“My to- be read list is always long. A few I’m looking forward to include, Sister by Rosamund Lupton, Bumped by Megan McCafferty, Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen and The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

Populazzi by Elise Allen. I had a chance to read an advance copy of this and LOVED it!”

~James King (Bill Warrington’s Last Chance):

‘“A Visit From the Good Squad,” the new translation of “Madame Bovary” by Lydia Davis, “To the End of the Land” by David Grossman, “Skippy Dies” by Paul Murray

“The Pull of Gravity,” by Gae Polisner. (It’s a YA book.)”

~Judy Merrill Larsen (All the Numbers):

“Oh, my goodness. There are too too many. EXPOSURE by Therese Fowler. THE FOUR MRS. BRADWELLS by Meg Waite Clayton. MRS. TOM THUMB by Melanie Benjamin. Not to mention the tottering TBR pile I already have next to my bed. And, anything about Italy I can get my hands on in preparation for my first visit there in September.”

~Caroline Leavtitt (Pictures of You, Girls in Trouble, Coming Back to Me, the rest in Bibliography):

“I’m urging everyone to read Dawn Tripp’s Game of Secrets”.

~Lauren Baratz-Logsted (most recent The Twin’s Daughter YA, and middle grade addition The Sisters Eight Book 6: Petal’s Problems, The Education of Bet YA, Crazy Beautiful YA, Sisters 8 series Book 5: Marcia’s Madness):

“Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand. Ever since I discovered her Nantucket-based novels last year they’ve defined summer for me.”

~Therese Walsh (The Last Will of Moira Leahy):

“So many books, but here are a few on my must-read list. Many aren’t out until the summer.
In a Treacherous Court by Michelle Diener

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Things We Didn’t Say by Kristina Riggle

The Girl Who Would Speak for the Dead by Paul Elwork

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

Happy reading!”

To be continued….

* * * * *

Announcement: The winners of Populazzi by Elise Allen are Dee and Sarrah. Congratulations!

Please email diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and your book will be Pre-ordered to be sent on its release of August 1, 2011.

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.

* * * * *

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.

Summer’s TBR Lists, II

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

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

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

This week the following writers replied:

~ Joëlle Anthony (Restoring Harmony YA):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Kate Ledger (Remedies):

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

~Meg Mitchell Moore (The Arrivals):

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

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

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

To be continued….

* * * * *

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

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

The Revealing of Tawna Fenske

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ing to Sydney Welles by Susi Rajah

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

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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.