The Divining Wand

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From: Readers/Friends
To: TDW Authors/Friends

Holiday Greetings!

December 29, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Reader's Holiday Greetings


[During this Season of giving and sharing, The Divining Wand’s readers would like to thank their authors/friends for this past year and wish them Holiday Greetings. The next few weeks will feature universal as well as personal nods to writers who share with us throughout the year. Happy Holidays!]

Kindness Is Always In

Alicia Bessette, author of Simply from Scratch, is a sweetheart. After being introduced to her here at The Divining Wand, I so enjoyed getting to know her through her writing and through the lovely characters in her novel.

In addition to writing, Alicia and her husband, author Matthew Quick, have the Quest for Kindness, a blog devoted to stories of kindness. I love the spirit of that, and I was moved to write my own story there about kindness. I visit the web site frequently and am always, always uplifted and gratified by the stories I read there.

The Quest for Kindness and the characters Alicia Bessette creates are a breath of fresh air in a world with so much snark, disdain, and sarcasm. Thank goodness for such lightness and brightness of spirit.

I wish Alicia all the best of kindnesses throughout the new year.

Keetha DePriest Mosley

Fan Mail: An Author’s Most Memorable Reward

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

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

Here are several responses:

~ Alicia Bessette (Simply from Scratch):

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

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

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

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

~ Allie Larkin (Stay):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Therese explains:

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

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

Please click the above link for more details.

* * * * *

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

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

Presenting Debutante Alicia Bessette
and Simply from Scratch

August 02, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books


Throughout the year she’s watched, applauded, supported her fellow 2010 Class Members dance across the ballroom floor to launch their books and celebrate with tours/signings. However this Thursday, August 5, 2010 it’s Debutante Alicia Bessette’s turn to take a bow when her first novel, Simply from Scratch, appears in local bookstores and ships from online retailers.

Of course, truth be told, this book is not Alicia’s first published “composition.” As a self-trained musician, she’s been playing the piano since childhood and her original solo piano pieces can be heard on radio stations around the world. Reservoir, the first CD, was released in 2002 and the most recent, Orchard, received a nomination for the 2009 “grassroots grammies.” For more about Alicia’s music please visit, Alicia Bessette pianist/composer.

Yet in her Wednesday posts at The Debutante Ball, Alicia rarely mentioned music except for a brief nod, such as this, in the September 2, 2009 post, In which Ms. Wednesday introduces herself, and her book!. Here’s what she shared in that first post:

1. I’m married to my college sweetheart, novelist Matthew Quick. In 2004, with the shared goal of becoming full-time novelists, we quit our jobs, sold our house, and moved in with my parents. Five years later, Matt and I are on our own, back in the Philly area, publishing novels and doing everything we can to continue living the dream.

2. I can’t wait to be reunited with my piano, which is very quietly waiting in what was my parents’ dining room in Massachusetts. What caused the separation? More on that in future posts.

3. Does it have something (anything) to do with France? Or dogs? Movies? Music, of any kind? Yoga? Travel? If so, I’m probably very interested!

In that same post the new Debutante also offered a brief synopsis of her novel:

I once heard an inspiring piece of writing advice: “Write the book only you can write.”

That was my aim with my debut novel, Simply from Scratch—to create a story that’s bighearted, accessible, and totally, authentically me.

A week after Hurricane Katrina, I was hired at a regional newspaper, The Landmark, in my hometown of Holden, Massachusetts. For months my colleagues and I wrote about volunteers from our area helping the people of New Orleans. That spirit of community outreach inspired Simply from Scratch. I asked myself, What would happen if one of those Massachusetts volunteers didn’t return? And the book grew from that question.

Simply from Scratch is peopled with lively small-town heroes. You’ll meet a chainsaw artist in her seventies. (Because really, isn’t it time American literature boasted a strong, chainsaw-wielding older woman?) And you’ll meet Ingrid, a young girl scheming to get to know world-famous TV chef Polly Pinch, coquettish star of a hit cooking show. You’ll meet other characters too.

Marisa de los Santos, bestselling author of Love Walked In offered early praise:

“This story of a young widow edging warily back into the world is full of vivid characters and grace. Imbued with hope but blessedly lacking in sentimentality, it is a fresh, stirring take on the devastation of grief and the holiness of friendship.”

And the buzz of anticipation for the book began.

While more Praise is offered, the REAL treat is an Excerpt of Simply from Scratch Chapter 1 in its entirety!

That first chapter introduces many of the storyline’s characters, while leaving the reader with a variety of unanswered questions. It’s not meant to confuse but to pique interest as the author deftly withholds telling backstory details all at once. Instead she scatters bits of information like breadcrumbs to keep the reader following and engaged.

On the other hand, there may be one character who “knows” almost everything from the start. In response to an interview question (posed by a chain bookstore in Germany) — What is the role of the non-human character, the greyhound, Captain Ahab? –, Alicia answered in the July 21, 2010 post, Knowing things:

Greyhounds are a little bit odd. They’re different than other dogs. Their affection is subtle; their presence is calm and cool; and they have many quirks (they rarely sit, for example).

Like her dog, the grieving narrator of Simply from Scratch is a little … different! An artist, Zell “feels” the world more intensely than most people. She’s got her fair share of quirks too: talking to Ahab in pirate-speak; composing emails to Nick, her deceased husband. Captain Ahab’s reserved yet quirky personality underscores that of Zell.

Many people who feel a bond with animals will tell you that animals know things. They know when their people are hurting. They know when there’s celebration in the air.

Captain Ahab joins literature’s many animal characters that serve to remind us of intuition, of inner-knowing, of keen perception. In the very first scene of Simply from Scratch, Ahab looks on as Zell discovers a present hidden in her oven, a gift Nick intended to give to her. Not emotionally ready to open it, Zell hides the present away, until the end of the book.

But I think part of her knows all along what’s in that box. Some readers might know it, too.”

Knowing what’s in the box (I didn’t) or any other of these characters’ unspoken truths doesn’t matter. In fact it’s part of the enjoyment of getting to know the town that Alicia has created. A cross between two brilliantly written TV shows, “Northern Exposure” and “Men in Trees,” Simply from Scratch offers a comfort zone despite having grief, guilt, and a general feeling of indecision exist within its pages. Yet even as Zell mourns — as does everyone else –, there is hope. Why? Well they all must deal with the loss of a husband or friend and start over, simply from scratch.

Charming, thoughtful, and heartfelt, this debut novel gathers seemingly unrelated, significant details together to create a tale that’s both tender and true. But how did the author transform fictional quirky characters and events into what could pass for a realistic human interest story? Alicia explains:

I’m not sure how they all came together. When you’re working on a book, you devote so many hours and an unthinkable amount of thought (!) to it. After a while, all the random little pieces of your story — events, details, characters and what they want — all these things start to synthesize, start to make even more sense than you realized. I hesitate to use the word “magic” in conjunction with the writing process, and I don’t want to sound flaky … and yet, I do believe that when you’re writing, you’re in a very receptive state, and at some point, subconscious takes over, or some kind of inner awareness — perhaps the magic of creation? — and it guides you in drawing connections.

Simply from Scratch connects on all levels, including the double entendre of its title. Alicia Bessette’s “magic of creation” is present on every page and in every character, none of whom you will soon forget. Treat yourself to this warm-hearted novel and enjoy!

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Alicia Bessette’s Simply from Scratch in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, August 4, 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 Alicia Bessette on
Gladys Knight and the Pips and Me

July 27, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[When Alicia Bessette (Simply from Scratch coming August 5, 2010) responded to the Revealing Q&A of, “What are your 5 favorite songs,” she said:

For someone who craves music like it’s oxygen, answering this question is impossible. Impossible! Instead, could I offer some songs off the “soundtrack” to Simply From Scratch? They’re all performed by Gladys Knight and the Pips:
“Didn’t You Know (You’d Have To Cry Sometime)”
“Every Little Bit Hurts”
“Every Beat of My Heart”
“All I Need Is Time”
“Neither One of Us (Wants to be the First to Say Goodbye)”
For more information on the connection between Simply From Scratch and songs by Gladys Knight and the Pips, please visit The Divining Wand on Tuesday, July 27, and read my guest post.

Today is the day and Alicia is true to her word.]

Gladys Knight and the Pips and Me

Matt and I both believe in singing in the car. A few winters ago, we were on our way to a friends’ house in Pennsylvania, driving up I-95, singing along to a new soul mix Matt had made for his iPod. We belted out tunes by Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Marvin Gaye.

Then a song came on that I’d never heard before. Though I wasn’t familiar with any Gladys Knight and the Pips songs besides “Midnight Train To Georgia,” I recognized her velvety voice. She was singing, “Why, why don’t you make me the woman you go home to, and not the one you leave behind? Not the one that’s left to cry, and die?” And the Pips echoed her, “Why, why?”

So pleading, so spurned.

Just like something I had written that morning: a passage about a woman who missed her deceased husband so much that she stood back and watched her kitchen nearly burn to the ground around her. I didn’t know it then, but that scene would eventually become the first scene of Simply From Scratch⎯and that grieving woman would become my narrator, Zell, short for Rose-Ellen.

In the car, Matt hummed along, drumming his thumbs on the steering wheel as Gladys promised, “Total acceptance is all you’ll get. Knowing this you won’t ever regret finding yourself homeward bound.”

Matt glanced over at me. “Are you crying?”

I looked out my window, at the trees whizzing by. “Shut up.”

“You’re totally crying.”

“It’s a sad song, okay?”

He reached over and squeezed my hand. “That’s why I love you.”

I told him about the scene I’d written that morning: the firefighters tromping through Zell’s house to douse the flames; the friends who came to check on her; her nine-year-old neighbor, who announced her desire to become a celebrity chef; and Ahab, Zell’s greyhound, stalwart witness to everything.

The song ended. Matt pushed repeat and quoted Robert Frost: “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” We listened to “Make Me The Woman You Come Home To” again. I got teary again, and then we both laughed as I tried to reapply my mascara without jabbing myself in the eyeballs.

The next day I downloaded about twenty-five songs by Gladys Knight and the Pips and grouped them together in a special mix on my iPod. Almost all breakup songs, but their sentiments paralleled Zell’s whirlwind emotions: Didn’t you know you’d have to cry sometime? Every little bit hurts. Every beat of my heart. All I need is time. Letter full of tears. Neither one of us wants to be the first to say goodbye. It should have been me.

And on and on.

The songs are about pain, loneliness, unfairness⎯all things lamented by the brokenhearted.

All things lamented by grieving widows, too.

I listened to those songs exclusively while I wrote Simply From Scratch. One day I was in the grocery story and heard “Midnight Train To Georgia.” My response was Pavlovian: I stopped my cart in the middle of the cereal aisle to scribble a new scene on the back of my grocery list, using a box of Puffins as a writing surface. The line, “I’d rather live in his world than live without him in mine” spoke directly to the heart of Zell’s grief.

And yet, Simply From Scratch isn’t about grief. It’s about moving on. Like the music that ushered my writing process, the book contains joy as well as sadness, friendship to make solitude bearable, small good moments to balance out the dark ones.

Zell listens to Gladys Knight and the Pips when she draws her medical illustrations. She’s got her own particular bittersweet reasons for loving that great music. Doesn’t everybody?

* * * * *

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Claire Cook’s Seven Year Switch in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Claire Cook and Seven Year Switch. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, July 28, 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.

The Revealing of Alicia Bessette

July 22, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

Alicia Bessette may well have one of the most highly anticipated debuts of the season with Simply From Scratch being released on August 5, 2010. And critical praise from these bestselling authors only heightens the excitement. Consider:

“A love-letter of a novel. There’s enough warmth here to fill your house on the coldest night. You’ll wish you knew these people, this world.”
—Justin Cronin, bestselling author of The Passage

“This story of a young widow edging warily back into the world is full of vivid characters and grace. Imbued with hope but blessedly lacking in sentimentality, it is a fresh, stirring take on the devastation of grief and the holiness of friendship.” 
—Marisa de los Santos, bestselling author of Love Walked In

“In her wise and delightfully fresh debut, Alicia Bessette has composed a tender song that rises through the clouds of loss and grief until it bursts into a joyous celebration of the human heart. To read this story is to embrace life.”
—Beth Hoffman, bestselling author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

Also this debut novel, recently released in Germany as Weiss der Himmel von dir, is on the Spiegel Bestseller list!

The Divining Wand has scheduled a full presentation/review of Simply From Scratch for Monday, August 2, 2010 yet — in the meantime — let’s meet the author through her “official” bio:

Alicia Bessette was born and raised in central Massachusetts and graduated from La Salle University in Philadelphia. A pianist and freelance writer, she and her husband, novelist Matthew Quick, live near Philadelphia with their adopted racing greyhound, Stella. Simply From Scratch is Alicia’s first novel.

And now here is Alicia revealed:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: Appreciation for beauty and humor. Willingness to engage.

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: Listen, try, take the high road. Taped to my desk is the quote, “What we play is life,” attributed to Louis Armstrong.

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: World peace (which for me includes the protection of beautiful places and the creatures living there).

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: Crowds and hospitals are tied for number one. A close second: moths.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: Southern France. Land of my ancestors! I’ve never been.

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: Nobody really stands out, actually. I suppose I can relate in some small way to quite a few figures.

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: Someone I know: Matt; someone I don’t know: Greg Mortensen

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases
A: I have a bit of a dirty mouth, but I’m trying to clean it.

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: Cooking without needing to follow a recipe. Also, being able to sing and play piano at the same time.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: I’ve made some major life choices that were unpopular, but intensely right for me.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: I’m sensitive.

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: I’m sensitive.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: Not living abroad for a semester in college. I hope to have my semester abroad yet.

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: I’d love to be a very large, soaring bird (provided I could eat vegetarian). Or, it would be cool to be the Loch Ness monster. I’m kind of obsessed with the Loch Ness monster.

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: A physical trait? My scar from open heart surgery, which I had as a child to correct a valve defect.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Anne Shirley, Amber Appleton, and Maude (from Harold and Maude).

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Heath Ledger’s Joker.

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: I admire Hannah Teter and her charity work.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: Snobbery. And stickers on fruit.

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: Hiking mountains, playing piano, meditating, reading, watching movies, being outside, and listening to beautiful music (especially live).

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Concert pianist or large animal veterinarian. Wildlife photographer would be cool too.

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Sincerity, artistry, humanity.

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

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: For someone who craves music like it’s oxygen, answering this question is impossible. Impossible! Instead, could I offer some songs off the “soundtrack” to Simply From Scratch? They’re all performed by Gladys Knight and the Pips:
“Didn’t You Know (You’d Have To Cry Sometime)”
“Every Little Bit Hurts”
“Every Beat of My Heart”
“All I Need Is Time”
“Neither One of Us (Wants to be the First to Say Goodbye)”
For more information on the connection between Simply From Scratch and songs by Gladys Knight and the Pips, please visit the Divining Wand on Tuesday, July 27, and read my guest post.

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: Again: Impossible! I’d say three very formative books were Anne of Green Gables, Annie John, and She’s Come Undone. L.M. Montgomery gave me a love of headstrong, imaginative, earnest heroines. Jamaica Kindcaid taught me about verbs’ power and the potential potency of sensory details. And Wally Lamb’s writing is a lesson in creating fully realized, original characters, while building suspense and sympathy on every page.

I love Robert Cormier. Susan Cooper’s books are totally satisfying. I always dig Justin Cronin and Agatha Christie. Nevada Barr mysteries are awesome. The Art of Racing In The Rain made my heart swell. So did The Corrections and The Lovely Bones and Life of Pi. My favorite five fantastical novels are Watership Down, The Hobbit, A Wrinkle In Time, Frankenstein, and Dracula. I love to read far and wide!

To become even better acquainted with lovely, thoughtful and most talented Alicia Bessette, please follow her on Twitter and become a friend/fan on Facebook.

* * * * *

Announcement: The winners of Lauren Baratz-Logsted’s The Education of Bet are: Marcie Turner and Helen Joy. Congratulations.

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

AND

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Keetha DePriest Mosley’s Culinary Kudzu and one copy of More Culinary Kudzu in a random drawing to two separate individuals who comment only on this specific post, Keeth DePriest Mosley and Culinary Kudzu(s). Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Friday, July 23, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Monday’s post. If you enter, please return Monday to possibly claim your book.

What If….Therese Walsh, Holly LeCraw, and Alicia Bessette?

July 15, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites

What a day — or more — for a daydream in the summer heat of July. In fact it feels like the perfect time to wonder “what if” The Divining Wand possessed magical powers and could grant authors, who create their own magic with “what if,” the following two questions:

Based only on their writing, what author would you want to be?

AND

If given the opportunity to have written ONE book in your lifetime, what would that title be?

~ Therese Walsh (The Last Will of Moira Leahy in Hardcover, The Last Will of Moira Leahy coming in Trade Paperback on August 3, 2010, also chosen as a TARGET BREAKOUT BOOK):

“Ray Bradbury. He’s simply brilliant.”

“The Wizard of Oz is a fantastical story with iconic characters. It’s inspired a classic film, unique spin-off novels, and even a Broadway play. Not to mention the millions of Halloween costumes…”

~ Holly LeCraw (The Swimming Pool):

“I’d want to be Virginia Woolf, and I’d want to have written To the Lighthouse.”

~ Alicia Bessette (Simply from Scratch coming August 5, 2010):

“LM Montgomery & Le Petit Prince.”

* * * * *

What Better Season for Turning These Pages

July 01, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Books in Review

On March 4, 2010 The Divining Wand’s post presented, Our Authors’ Spring/Summer Book Releases. Now, at the July 4th mid-summer break, let’s review those books you may have missed and belong in your TBR tote bag.

MARCH

Presenting Debutante Sarah Pekkanen and The Opposite of Me

Jenny Gardiner and Winging It

APRIL

Kristy Kiernan and Between Friends

Holly LeCraw and The Swimming Pool

Matthew Quick and SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR

MAY

Lauren Baratz-Logsted and Marcia’s Madness

Meredith Cole and Dead in the Water

Presenting Debutante Joëlle Anthony and Restoring Harmony

Barrie Summy and I So Don’t Do Makeup

Presenting Debutante Emily Wiinslow and The Whole World

JUNE

Allison Winn Scotch and The One That I Want

Tish Cohen and The Truth About Delilah Blue

Allie Larkin and Stay

Carey Goldbergy, Beth Jones, and Pamela Ferdinand with Three Wishes

Trish Ryan and A Maze of Grace

Robin Antalek and The Summer We Fell Apart

Of course there are more books to come, including Alicia Bessette’s Simply from Scratch debuting on August 5th and Kristina Riggle (Real Life & Liars) second novel The Life You’ve Imagined releasing August 17th. Yet for a lazy, hazy holiday break, there’s more than enough great reading here. Enjoy!

* * * * *

Announcement: The winners of Robin Antalek’s The Summer We Fell Apart are Keetha and Jenny.

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

More Blogs Favored by Our Authors

June 24, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

How about learning more of the enlightening, entertaining blogs that our authors favor on a daily basis? You might enjoy following along with:

Alicia Bessette (Simply from Scratch coming August 5, 2010):

~ The Divining Wand – http://thediviningwand.com

~ The Debutante Ball! – http://www.thedebutanteball.com

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

~ LOL Cats – http://icanhascheezburger.com/

~ LOL Dogs – http://ihasahotdog.com/

~ I love food sites, this is one of my favorite baking sites. What this woman can do with cake is amazing. http://www.bakerella.com/

~ Yarn Harlot. Knitting is a hobby so this is fun place to troll
http://www.yarnharlot.ca/blog/

~ It Made My Day People write in with something they saw/did etc that made their day.
http://itmademyday.com/

Holly LeCraw (The Swimming Pool)

~ The Rejectionist – http://www.therejectionist.com/

~ The Intern – http://internspills.blogspot.com/

~ The Forest for the Trees – http://betsylerner.wordpress.com/

~ Facebook – http://www.facebook.com

~ The Divining Wand – http://thediviningwand.com

Randy Susan Meyers (The Murderer’s Daughters):

~ Pimp My Novel – http://pimpmynovel.blogspot.com/

~ Betsy Lerner’s Forest for the Trees –
http://betsylerner.wordpress.com/

~ Beyond The Margins (truth in advertising, I am one of the 12 writers on the one) –
http://beyondthemargins.com/

~ Writer Unboxed – http://writerunboxed.com/

~ STET – http://rick.wordpress.com/

Sarah Pekkanen (The Opposite of Me)

~ Writer Unboxed – http://www.writerunboxed.com

~ Ask Allison –
http://www.allisonwinn.com/ask-allison

~ A Moment of Jen –
http://www.jenniferweiner.blogspot.com

~ Murderati – http://www.murderati.com

~ A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing –
http://www.jakonrath.blogspot.com

Ivy Pochoda (The Art of Disappearing)

~ – http://www.htmlgiant.com

~ The Millions – http://www.themillions.com

~ The Rumpus – http://therumpus.net

~ FU, Penguin – www.fupenguin.com (my favorite)

Therese Walsh (The Last Will of Moira Leahy)

~ Writer Unboxed (naturally!) –
http://writerunboxed.com/

~ A Writer Afoot –
http://www.barbarasamuel.com/blog/

~ ArtsJournal: Daily Arts News –
http://www.artsjournal.com/

~ Flickr Most Interesting Photos –
http://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days/

~ ScienceDaily – http://www.sciencedaily.com/

* * * * *

Eve Brown-Waite has a new Book Trailer out for the paperback edition of First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria: How A Peace Corps Poster Boy Won My Heart and A Third World Adventure Changed My Life.

Eve says:

“People are loving it (the book), laughing and learning a bit about this great big world of ours. Plus, 10% of all my royalties go to CARE International to fight malaria in Africa.


* * * * *

Announcement: The winner of Trish Ryan’s A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances is Elizabeth@LongToLove.

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

Our Authors Journey, IV

June 17, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

Beginning with a late January post, The Divining Wand has revealed how its successful authors have traveled their personal road to publication. And now the remaining five answer the questions of how they handled rejection and what kept them going to reach their destination?

Alicia Bessette (Simply from Scratch coming August 5, 2010):

“Years passed between the day I really got serious about writing, and the day I signed a publishing contract. There is no general time-line for when you “should” have something published. Everyone’s on her own path. It takes some writers decades to achieve publication.

“During the submissions process, I became very familiar with rejection. What kept me going? A husband who believes in me, and an inner refusal to quit. Too, I surrounded myself with positive people who made me feel as though I was bound to succeed. And I tried to avoid negative people whose comments, questions, or attitudes made me second-guess myself.”

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

“I’ve been very lucky. Very lucky. My first book was nonfiction and I sold it myself, getting a publisher only after a handful of rejections. My first novel was sold about 4 months after it went on submission. That is remarkably fast. However, it didn’t feel that way at the time, and the novel was rejected by about a dozen publishers. As those rejections were coming in, it felt awful. I started to lose hope. I am a Gemini so I feel uniquely qualified to be on submission. Half of me has complete faith that I will be successful and the other half completely believes I’m a big fat failure. What kept me going is the optimistic half of me. That and my agent’s belief in me, and my husband and my friends.”

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

“The answer to this question depends on when you want to start the clock ticking. I always wanted to write and my parents have one of my earliest “works” dating back to second grade. If we use that as the starting point then it took me a looooooong time. If we start from the time I finished Unpredictable, it took me about five months to find an agent and about six months with her between revisions and when I sold. Once I sold it was two years before the book came out. This is my way of pointing out that writing makes a lousy get rich quick plan.

“Rejection is a part of the publication process. When writers gather they show off their rejection scars like old war veterans. My approach to rejection was to feel sorry for myself for a maximum of 24 hours and then pull up my big girl panties and move forward. There is a saying that the difference between an unpublished writer and a published writer is perseverance. Rejection was just the world’s way of trying to figure out how serious I was about this publication plan.”

Judy Merrill Larsen (All the Numbers):

“From the day I wrote the first sentence of my first draft, to the day my book was available in stores was almost exactly 7 years. I learned to have a very thick skin to deal with the rejections (teaching high school and having kids had already helped me with that!), and I even learned to use the rejections as inspiration to keep going, to get it right. My friends and family also helped, encouraging me every step of the way. And I also knew that giving up simply wasn’t an option–this mattered, my story mattered, and I had to keep going.”

Maud Carol Markson (When We Get Home, Looking After Pigeon):

“How long did it take before you finally got published? And how did you handle rejection, what kept you going? My first novel got published very quickly, but then it took me twenty years until my next novel was published. I handled rejection by getting very involved in other endeavors– not simply seeing myself as a writer.”

* * * * *

Have you heard?

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

The Mother of All Giveaways

On her Wednesday, June 16, 2010 blog post, Allison writes:

“Yes, I use those words intentionally. Because today, I wanted to give shout-outs to some women writers (okay, they’re not all mothers) who have in some way been kind or helpful to me throughout my career, and well, throughout certain times of my life. Writing is a very solitary endeavor, but thanks to some of my friends, I always feel like I have a wide network of support. All of these women are generous – with blurbs, with advice, with open ears when we just need to complain, and just as importantly, all of them have (relatively) new books out. 🙂 And I’m grateful for them, not just for their brilliant words that go onto the page, but for their friendship.

SO.

Here’s the deal:

To enter the contest, click over to my Facebook page, where this contest is announced. Click “like,” on the giveaway or leave a comment underneath the announcement. You’ll be entered. Just like that. I’ll leave it open until Friday at 3pm EST, when I’ll choose the winners, each of whom will receive one of the fabulous books listed below. Oh, and did I mention that each copy will be signed? Yes, the lovely ladies will be sending their autograph too.

Here are the goods that you’ll be up to win:” (Scroll down.)

* * * * *

Announcement: The winner of Three Wishes by Carey Goldberg, Beth Jones, and Pamela Ferdinand is Stacey.

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

The Facts and Factors of A Novel’s Word Count, I

April 22, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Q&A

A recent question posted on The Divining Wand’s Q & A page sounded simple enough and an overwhelming number of authors responded to answer:

Here’s another question for your authors: What is the word count of most of their novels?

I know that we here all sorts of estimates of what a novel should be, 70,000 to 100,000 words. But what is the actual count for the novels featured here, and do your authors think about word count as they’re writing?

Jessica Barksdale Inclan (Being With Him, Intimate Beings, The Beautiful Being):

“Great question (I can’t wait to see all the answers). My latest manuscript Swimming Lessons is 75,656. But some of mine go up 10 109,000. the shortest was 65,000 or so.”

Emily Winslow (The Whole World coming May 25, 2010):

“THE WHOLE WORLD was about 80k when I submitted it, and about 90k after editing. (I know for most writers, editing involves taking away. I write sparely, and am more likely to add scenes in editing.) I’m very conscious of word count as I write. I generally break it down to a certain number of words for each chapter, and sometimes even scene. I don’t force conforming to that goal, but it helps me keep a sense of proportion as I craft the whole.”

Jenny Gardiner (Sleeping with Ward Cleaver, Winging It: Twenty Years of Caring for a Vengeful Bird Determined to Kill Me):

“I’d say for commercial fiction around 90K words is good. Used to be they wanted lots of words but with publication costs, etc, over the past few years it’s been downsized–in fact something w/ 100K words or more would definitely give an editor/agent pause.

“I’m not sure about YA fiction but I’m thinking 45 – 60K (I’m sure YA authors can tell you more precisely).”

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

“My biggest advice for word count is to write your book and then when it is done figure out where you are in terms of word count. My two YA novels (What Would Emma Do? and Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood) have been around 65k words. My adult title, Unpredictable was just under 80k words and the middle grade I am writing now will come in at about 27k words.

“The only thought I give to word count when I’m writing is measuring my progress. I have set weekly word count goals based on a rough idea of the estimated length of the book, otherwise I ignore word count until I’m done.”

Therese Fowler (Souvenir, Reunion):

“Word count “requirements” (I use the term loosely because there are always exceptions) vary by genre. I write mainstream/women’s fiction, aiming, as I write, for about 100k-115k words–which, if I’ve done my job, means I’ll have produced a layered, complex story with subplots in place. My first drafts tend to be pretty complete, but not every writer works that way. Some like to put down a fast “sketch” and then go back in to fill things out. I’m not saying that my first drafts don’t need a fair amount of revision, just that the word count doesn’t change dramatically from one draft to the next.”

Alicia Bessettte (Simply from Scratch coming August 5, 2010):

“I’m very word-count oriented, thanks to my magazine/newspaper background. Whenever I get a freelance assignment, my first question is, How many words?

“As I wrote Simply From Scratch, I stayed conscious of my goal of 80,000 words, give or take 5,000. My agent later told me 80,000 words is the perfect length for upmarket women’s fiction.

“A previous, unpublished fantasy novel I wrote was less than 60,000 words, and several agents told me that was far too short for the adult fantasy genre. Each genre seems to have what is generally considered an ideal length. But then again, there are notable exceptions. The Harry Potter books are often singled out as exceptions, because they’re longer than average children’s books.

“I’m curious to know whether other novelists keep word count in mind as they write, or if it’s more of an editing goal.”

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

“My word count for Orange Mint and Honey was something like 76,000 and for Children of the Water 81,000. I absolutely think about word count as I’m writing. It’s definitely helpful. One way it’s helpful is if parts of the book that should carry a lot of weight are much briefer than other parts. Or if you have more than one POV character that should have equal weight in the story, are their word counts about the same? ”

Robert Gregory Browne (Kill Her Again, etc. and Down Among the Dead Men coming May 25, 2010):

“My typical word count is about 100,000 to 125,000 words. And yes, I do think about word count because I’m contractually obligated to turn in a book at that length. Word count differs, however, depending on the editor and how he or she actually counts the words. Some still use the old method of 250 words a page, while others rely on computer count, which seems to be the trend these days. I consider this less accurate because it doesn’t take into consideration the space on each page, the way old method does.”

Meg Waite Clayton (The Wednesday Sisters):

“The Wednesday Sisters is about 93,000 words. And yes, it’s something I keep an eye on. When I was writing the first draft of my new one, The Four Ms. Bradwells (Ballantine, March 2011), I celebrated the halfway point at 40,000 words. At 80,000 I began to panic as the end was nowhere in site. At 120,000… And the complete first draft was 140,000 – yikes! My contract with Random House contemplates a novel of approximately 100,000 words. The final version – just put into production last week – is a bit longer than that, but closer far closer to it than to 140,000. I like to think I shoot for 80,000 words, although obviously I miss the mark on a regular basis.”

Tish Cohen (Town House, Inside Out Girl, Little Black Lies YA, The Truth About Delilah Blue coming June 8, 2010):

“I never think about word count. Nor have I had a single editor bring it up. The Truth About Delilah Blue likely runs about 90,000 words or about 450 book pages– the longest of my books so far.”

Katie Alender (Bad Girls Don’t Die YA):

“I write YA, and my first book was about 68,000, which seems to put me just on the longer side. My next book will be a few thousand words more. Some authors don’t think about wordcount at all, but I use it to gauge my progress and make sure I’m getting enough work done–typically on a first draft, I shoot for 2,000 words a day (and come out at about 1200-1600 most days).”

Robin Antalek (The Summer We Fell Apart):

“Word count is one of those things that is in the back of my mind — but not something I’m aware of until the manuscript is finished and my computer gives me the number. The Summer We Fell Apart comes in at 115,103 words give or take and that final word count was based upon when I thought the novel was done — not some magic number I thought I needed to reach. When I was writing more short stories and submitting them — I was more aware of not exceeding a certain number since some journal requirements are fairly specific — and I have a tendency to cram a novel’s worth of information into a short story. Writing novels gave me the luxury of writing long and I suppose, given my word count on Summer, you could say I embraced it.”

To be continued…