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Trish Ryan and A Maze of Grace

June 21, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books


Memoirist/Essayist Trish Ryan took readers along on her quest to find “Mr. Right” in her debut memoir, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Love, and Happily Ever After, and tomorrow — June 22, 2010 — she continues to share her life’s journey in A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances.

The idea for chronicling the continuation of the author’s now five years of married life came at the insistence of a friend who never realized that daily wedded experiences could be “Great!” Yet that’s how things “by some crazy miracle” seemed to end up for Trish and Steve. And so she shares their ups and downs as encouragement, noting in a disclaimer: “I’m under no illusion that Steve and I have mastered some “‘spiritual”‘ right way to do life.” However, by asking for God’s input in places they’ve been stuck has provided ideas, suggestions and alternatives to their personal struggles including: infertility, depression, body image, and sex.

Yes Trish talks to God, even about THAT subject. Now for those unfamiliar with He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, please don’t raise your eyebrows. Because the first book is “the story of how a new-age dabbler turned to Jesus for relationship advice and ended up with a “‘happily-ever-after'” husband and a newfound Christian faith.” Considering God offered her sound, practical, and miraculous advice back then, it’s only natural for this author to keep asking for and following His guidance.

Yet to share even more of herself… In the Monday, May 17, 2010 blog post, Good News from Publishers Weekly, Trish admits her relief and joy by writing:

“I just saw the Publishers Weekly review for A MAZE OF GRACE. And it’s fabulous!!! I’m shaking right now, all teared up & soggy. I hadn’t realized how nervous I was about this until I read the review (and then re-read it six or seven times). The relief is unbelievable.

“Here’s why: MAZE was a tough book to write. It’s super-personal, even more so than HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOT. It’s real and raw and (in a few places) heartbreaking, even for me. But it’s also–like me–fun and funny, and a little absurd. Which was a weird balance in the midst of the process. Not to mention that life while I was writing was rather tumultuous, and my editors and I were adding and deleting scenes right up until the very last moment. By the time the book was finalized, I’d sort of lost touch with whether it was “good” or not, in the big-picture sort of way: Was it entertaining and encouraging…and something you’d want to give to all your friends? I hoped (and I certainly prayed) so. I’m tearfully grateful to report that he folks at Publishers Weekly say yes:

Ryan (He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not) returns with another spiritual memoir, bringing back her trademark wit, humor, and honesty. Her first book portrayed her journey toward love after a promise to take Jesus seriously; this sequel chronicles her spiritual and romantic life during the first five years of her marriage. Each chapter focuses on a unique struggle or revelation, from the joys and challenges of marriage to body image and politics; as a result, the book reads more like a compilation of short essays or long blog entries rather than one continuous narrative. Most admirably, Ryan, currently part of the pastoral staff of Vineyard Church, is able to present herself as a believing Christian who recognizes that spirituality can be both simple and complex, a universal experience that can be felt in an infinite number of ways. Ryan does not evangelize, instead humbly and humorously offering her own experience for interpretation. Readers of all faiths can enjoy this memoir for its humanity and its honest exploration of relationships and religion, showing how those two things can often intertwine. __Publishers Weekly

And, of course, there’s this praise:

“Trish Ryan is the rare writer who can range from the deepest questions of the soul to hilarious moments of everyday life…This engaging account of a spiritual journey will resonate with readers of all backgrounds.”
–Gretchen Rubin, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness Project

Interested? Well now you can Browse Inside This Book.

Having read He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not and then following Trish’s life through her blog posts, I appreciated the Advance Reading Copy that Hachette Book Group sent. A Maze of Grace does not disappoint. In fact Publishers Weekly “got it” so right…and more.

Perhaps the book’s appeal is simply Trish. She is both honest and brave in revealing her faith, confusion, opinions and less than sterling homemaking attempts at cooking and cleaning. Yet she tries to find the right way or method.

Her talks with God are most impressive because — though a gentle, loving Father — He doesn’t allow Trish to whine or take the easy way out of a situation. While you may not believe and agree with His teachings or wonder why an intelligent adult woman — complete with a law degree — would believe and abide by seemingly archaic traditions, the fact IS that the author DOES. And she takes full responsibility for that course of faith.

This memoir begins after Trish and Steve’s wedding reception and follows in chronological order through their first few months of the “Honeymoon period.” After that it is a maze of dealing with “life happens.” However, through it all, there is communication with God and between each other. Also there is love.

In reading the post, Guest Trish Ryan on Your Life, Starring You!, you learn that the author doesn’t see herself as the main character in her books, instead “LOVE is the main character — that urge inside of us that keeps us looking and hoping for romantic partnership….” After reading both books, I disagree. Love could be considered the main characters in Trish’s books however it is SELF LOVE — the need within all of us to like ourselves, to be the best of ourselves, and to accept ourselves…that’s what the writer really finds along her way. And everyone can benefit from a good measure of that love found in A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances and in our own lives.

IMPORTANT: Trish Ryan is offering a BOGOF plan until 11:59 p.m. tonight!

Here’s her plan:

“Buy a copy of A Maze of Grace before the official launch date of tomorrow, June 22nd.

Send a copy of your receipt (scanned store receipts count, too) to Trishryanonline AT gmail.com. Include your mailing address (no worries…I won’t use for any other purposes) and I’ll send you a FREE copy of my first book, HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOT.”

Source: TRISH’S DISHES’ Tuesday, June 15, 2010 post, BOGOF.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away a copy of Trish Ryan’s latest memoir, A Maze of Grace in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is Wednesday, June 23, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to possibly claim your book.

Guest Trish Ryan on Your Life, Starring You!

June 15, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Trish Ryan (He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Love, and Happily Ever After), — like many recent featured authors — admits to having a messy but interesting life. Ever likable, vulnerable, and oh so human, Trish shares both the joys and blahs of her first five years of marriage in A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances to be released on June 22, 2010.]

Your Life, Starring You!
Thoughts on being the main character

Larramie asked if I’d blog about what it’s like to be the main character in my own books. Her question caught me off guard—I’d never thought about it in those terms.

You’d think it would take a surreal combination of determination and hubris to believe that your life is sufficiently unique and wonderful to keep people turning the pages of not just one, but two memoirs. But truth be told, not even I think my story is all that unique and/or wonderful. Just the opposite, in fact. Until fairly recently, it—and I—was a complete disaster. But here’s the thing: In the midst of my struggles, I always knew I wasn’t the only person out there wrestling with big questions: What is love? How do I get it/give it/absorb enough of it to keep going? Does God play a role? How much is my responsibility? How can I make better choices if I can’t think of any options other than what I’ve already tried? What if self-help doesn’t help? My books are about my search for answers.

I spent my twenties and early thirties in a dizzying try/fail cycle of dating that might be unique if only for it’s breadth and scope. I married so badly that I had to run away to escape. The police were involved on more than one occasion. At some level, I had to admit that not only were my strategies not working, I was out of ideas of new things to try.

The answer to this dilemma surprised me. It was spiritual, and way outside my comfort zone. That surprise—with the good results that followed—made up my first book, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Hope, and Happily Ever After. I thought that other women in my shoes (the ones who hear Stevie Nicks sing, I climbed a mountain and I turned around and think, “That’s the story of my life…”) might find it encouraging to have another option to consider, and comforted that the door hasn’t closed on Happily Ever After…It’s still out there, still possible.

My second book is about looking at these same questions from the other side of the alter, as a newlywed struggling to imagine a marriage better than the warnings I saw in books and magazines. Our culture makes you feel like a special little flower when you’re a bride, but the moment you’re back from your honeymoon, the fantasy wilts. No one tells you how awesome your new life will be; they warn you. You hear the phrase, “The honeymoon is over” muttered in low, dire tones. I didn’t think I was the only wife out there hoping that more was possible, and thus Book #2, A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances, came to be.

So perhaps my answer to Larramie’s question is that I don’t see myself as the main character in my books. As hokey as it sounds, I think LOVE is the main character—that urge inside of us that keeps us looking and hoping for romantic partnership far beyond the point when the more reasonable choice would be to give up, buy a cat and a condo, and find a few new hobbies. Most of us want more than pets and hobbies. As the band Sugarland puts it, “From the beginning, we’re all looking for a happy ending…” My books are about this process.

Thanks, Larramie, for getting me thinking about this question! And blog readers, let me ask you: How do you feel about being the main character in YOUR story? Would you re-write the script? Does your plot need a twist? Are you at the place where all hope is lost (which is, according to writing tradition across genres, ALWAYS when the hero arrives…)? Consider sharing in the comments below. You might not be the only one wrestling with these questions.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away a copy of the triple memoir Three Wishes by Carey Goldberg, Beth Jones, and Pamela Ferdinand in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Carey Goldberg, Beth Jones, and Pamela Ferdinand with Three Wishes. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to possibly claim your book.

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The Divining Wand celebrates its first anniversary today. After one year and 219 posts, the site has grown, evolved, and is successfully connecting authors and readers beyond book pages.

Thank you authors/friends/readers, all!
Larramie

The Revealing of Trish Ryan

June 09, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

Trish Ryan closed her debut memoir, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Love, and Happily Ever After, after exchanging wedding vows with “Mr. Right.” But rather than that being the end of her journey of self-discovery through the help of faith/beliefs, it was only the beginning as the authors recounts in A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances to be released June 22, 2010.

The popular Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, shares her praise for this second memoir:

“Trish Ryan is the rare writer who can range from the deepest questions of the soul to hilarious moments of everyday life. Most striking is her honesty about her struggles – with her faith and her penchant for Ann Taylor clothes, with her marriage and her weight. This engaging account of a spiritual journey will resonate with readers of all backgrounds.”

The Divining Wand has scheduled a presentation/review of A Maze of Grace for Monday, June 21, 2010 but today let’s meet Trish through her “official” bio:

TRISH RYAN lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband, Steve, and their genetically improbable mixed-breed dog.

And now, in what she described as “fun,” Trish reveals her true self:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: Unexpected, hopeful, ridiculous, hilarious, sparkly, fun, adventurous, candid.

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: “Things tend to get done.” (From my law school friend Jon, who napped while the rest of us studied, came to exams in his bathrobe, and—to my eternal consternation—ended up with the same GPA as me.)

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: When life exceeds my expectations.

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: Heights. My career as a high school gymnast was a sad and funny thing to behold.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: Cambridge in early summer is rather beautiful, so right here. Maybe outside under a tree, instead of in my office.

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: This sounds preposterous, but ever since I was a little girl I’ve been fascinated by Harriet Tubman. She was so brave, and did impossible things with some regularity. At the end of my life if I’ve done something even a little bit along those lines, that would be great.

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: My husband, Steve. Nothing phases him, and he’s incredibly awesome and consistent. The three favorite personal qualities I describe below? All him.

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases?
A: I have a love/hate relationship with adverbs. Whenever I need to cut my word count in a manuscript, I do a search for “ly.”

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: I would love to be hospitable—to know instinctually how to welcome people and take good care of them, to enjoy food and cooking. I’m so focused on people and conversations that you can sit in my living room for four days before I even think to offer you a beverage.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: I was a state champion baton twirler when I was 12. That combined all the words I listed above to describe my life (Unexpected, hopeful, ridiculous, hilarious, sparkly, fun, adventurous, candid) much more than anything I might say about passing the bar exam or writing 2 books.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: Discouragement. If I’m not careful, I can see all the things that could go wrong with every dream or plan.

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: Being encouraging (Oh, the irony!) When I’m on my game, I have a lot of faith for impossible things, despite seeing what could go wrong.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: Not staying in touch with certain friends from different phases of my life.

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: For a day, I’d be the President of the United States. I like to know how things work—people, organizations, systems—so as a former poli sci major, it would be incredibly cool to understand the Presidency from the inside.

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: I laugh a lot. Everyone in my family has a great sense of humor, and finding a way to laugh is our default response to almost everything.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: When I was little, I loved this collection of books about a girl named Trixie Belden who solved mysteries with her friend Honey. I’m not sure why they had porn star names, but those girls were awesome.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Cat Woman.

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: This was the toughest question! I love sports, so presenting me with a pretend opportunity to meet a favorite athlete sent me into a tizzy ☺ In the end, though, I realized that I’d LOVE to have a conversation with Billy Jean King. She did so many amazing things in her years as a player, but what I really love is that she has ongoing vision for how to move her sport forward. Her life is only partly defined by her years as an athlete. So I’d ask her how she maintains vision and energy to keep pushing forward.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: Being late.

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: I do a lot of speaking about spirituality & relationships. That’s really fun because my romantic past was such a complete disaster that EVERYONE feels more hopeful once they’ve heard that things worked out okay for me.

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Choreographer/judge on So You Think You Can Dance.

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Consistency, Honesty, Humor

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
Baloney sandwiches…with mayo, mustard, American cheese, and cucumber. So delicious.

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: Around the Sun by Ryanhood
Happy Ending by Sugarland
Rock & Roll Heaven’s Gate by The Indigo Girls
The Long Way Around by The Dixie Chicks
Help Me Believe by Nichole Nordeman

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: I’ll stick with non-fiction here, because that’s what I write:
Truth & Beauty by Ann Patchett
Redeemed by Heather King
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
The Woman at the Washington Zoo by Marjorie Williams

Trish Ryan is an example of grace by being warm, funny, wise and incredibly human. To become even better acquainted, follow her on Twitter and visit her blog, Trish’s Dishes.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away a copy of Allie Larkin’s Stay in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Allie Larkin and Stay. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is tonight, June 9, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in tomorrow’s post. If you enter, please return tomorrow to possibly claim your book.

AND

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Tish Cohen’s The Truth About Delilah Blue in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Tish Cohen and The Truth About Delilah Blue. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is tonight, June 9, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in tomorrow’s post. If you enter, please return tomorrow to possibly claim your book.