The Divining Wand

Discovering authors beyond their pages…

Kristy Kiernan and Between Friends

March 29, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books


From the book’s front cover:
“A new star in
contemporary women’s fiction.”
__South Florida Sun-Sentinel

After debuting in April, 2007 with the award winning novel, Catching Genius, Kristy Kiernan (Matters of Faith 2008) established herself as a voice for “Everywomen” facing daily life in a complicated world. Known for her gifted storytelling of timely issues, the author offers us her third novel, Between Friends, next Tuesday, April 6, 2010.

Described as, A provocative new novel about birth, death, and the stuff in-between, this could only be a story written of friends and family — those who love you through the good, the bad, and the challenging times of life.

The challenging times? To better understand — without *spoilers* –, please read the synopsis:

There was a time when Ali Gutierrez would have been forced to give up her dreams of motherhood. But thanks to modern reproductive technology—and the gift of her best friend’s eggs—Ali is now the mother of fourteen-year-old Letty.

Now, yearning for a second child, Ali asks her best friend’s permission to use another of the frozen embryos that have been stored away, awaiting this decision. But Cora has a secret that could not only change Ali’s plans for the future, but tear apart her life right now….

In this thoughtful, complex novel, Kristy Kiernan shows us two women struggling with life-changing decisions—and explores both timely moral issues and timeless truths about the definition of family.

The subject of infertility could not be timelier or more personal, yet — in reviewing Between Friends for Ft. Meyers Magazine –, Philip K. Jason writes “It’s Complicated” and discloses when and how the author first had the idea:

“The interest in in-vitro fertilization preceded Between Friends by 10-15 years. While on a trip to Gainesville to visit a friend, Kiernan noticed ads inside public restrooms offering money to women who would sell their eggs. She wondered if the young University of Florida women who made money this way had considered the long-range consequences of their decisions.

“As with the food allergy interest [in Matters of Faith], the author had no idea that a novel would draw upon the facts she began storing away. Years later, a conversation with a friend about kidney donation led Kiernan to explore how that process worked. More time passed, and she began to wonder how the two issues might complicate one another. What if the egg donor had a disease that could be transmitted to her genetic child? Kiernan’s ‘what if’ led her to discover PKD – and then she had the building blocks for Between Friends.”

However there is more to this backstory. For, according to her website’s Frequently Asked Questions (see left sidebar), Kristy describes that her interests “come together as a rather violent and random smashing together of ideas in my mind…much like bumper cars. Every once in a while they get stuck together, and I decide they’re a novel.”

Now logically it would seem that, since Kristy is doing the smashing, she would be in control of timing. But when asked, she said:

“I don’t decide on the timing at all. I’d like to be able to say that I pay attention to rising trends or hot topics and then pluck a few ideas I have hanging around and put them together to write a novel, but the fact is, that smashing, much like a real accident, is always a surprise to me. And, again much like a real accident, once it happens, I have to deal with it. When the novel becomes a full idea in my mind, I sit down and write it. I don’t wait for a more opportune moment. And it so happens that my topics are timely, fabulous…and accidental.”

Actually it’s sheer genius because the ideas work through the author’s empathetic writing of fully drawn characters. Like Every(wo)men, they’re selfish, imperfect, and make decisions that leave readers wondering what were they thinking?

And Kristy admits this is intentional by giving her characters free rein in decision-making even when she, “…might not personally agree with the decision, but when I’m writing it, I’m not thinking like me…I’m thinking like them. And that seems to be a frighteningly easy thing for me to do.”

Although Between Friends is filled with decisions galore, there is not one issue presented as purely black or white. Instead this writer knows the gray area of life — where there are at least two sides to every situation — and she voices both (or more) by giving alternating chapters to Ali, Cora, and sometimes the third person narration of Letty. In addition there are the very real secondary characters that bring a reality check to this novel. And Kristy acknowledges: “I always try to incorporate friends into my characters’ lives. Very few people live in a vacuum, but I keep reading books that seem to concentrate only on the main characters, and it never seems very realistic to me. We all have outside influences.”

Interestingly enough, those outside influences also affect the characters’ respective choices. For the real truth of Between Friends is what might feel and appear to be a personal choice affects everyone. The fact of this overlapping, universal connection isn’t original but the author makes it so.

Kristy confirms that truth of connection by sharing: “It’s the major theme of my whole life, Larramie, as it is everyone else’s, even if they don’t think about it that way.”

Between Friends will make you aware of that message as well as much more. While the writing flows effortlessly, the dialogue echoes in one’s mind, and the details transform fiction into reality, it is impossible to read this novel. Instead you will live within the pages and remember the characters’ experiences as a personal memory between friends.

Between Friends is available for PRE-ORDER, allowing for delivery next week. Already pre-ordered? Perhaps another copy as a gift…for your friend.

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Between Friends in a random drawing of all comments left on this post. The deadline is Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return on Thursday to possibly claim your book.

Kristy Kiernan on Inconceivable Questions

March 23, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

Last month Publishers Weekly was the first to review Kristy Kiernan and her third novel, Between Friends coming April 6, 2010, and THE literary trade journal said:

Kiernan (Catching Genius, Matters of Faith) again demonstrates her ability to portray true-to-life relationships between women. Ali Gutierrez is mother to 15-year-old Letty thanks to the egg donation of her best friend, Cora. Ali wants to have another child, but first has to convince her husband, Benny, and then Cora, to endure the process one more time.

Cora, a free-spirit who’s just returned to America from a teaching excursion in Chile, has news of her own—she has a debilitating genetic kidney disease, and she’s not sure how to break the news to Ali. Meanwhile, Letty’s going through growing pains with her bad-news boyfriend, and when poor choices begin endangering her life, it takes all three of her parents—Benny, Ali, and Cora—to try to save her.

With realistic dialogue and pinpointed emotions, Kiernan paints a persuasive portrait of the bonds between mothers, daughters, and friends in this inspiring, heartbreaking tale.

Intriguing storyline? Kristy’s (early) readers thought so and, in today’s guest post, the author writes about their curious and inconceivable questions.

* * * * *

The most frequent question I get from women who’ve read BETWEEN FRIENDS is if I have dealt with fertility issues or I’ve had personal experience with in-vitro fertilization. I’m sure the fact that I don’t have children makes them even more curious, especially since all of my books have focused heavily on parent/child relationships.

Writers who don’t write women’s fiction always seem to be a bit stunned when I tell them the questions that are asked of me when I go to a speaking engagement or book club. And I’d be willing to be that James Patterson doesn’t have readers asking him if he’s tied up and sexually assaulted women in any underground bunkers.

But this kind of deeply personal exchange is exactly what I love most about the genre I write in and what I love most about my readers.

When readers get so involved in a story that they ask personal questions, it means that they felt the characters (whether they liked them or not) and the situations (whether they’re happy about them or not), were realistic enough that they think I surely must have a deep personal connection to them.

There could not possibly be a higher compliment paid to a writer.

And when friends express dismay about how personal the questions I sometimes get are, I just smile. I might not always choose to answer them, as anyone has the right to choose to not answer personal questions, but I do not consider them an intrusion on my privacy.

They are an honor, and a gift, and I hope to always field them with the dignity that they deserve.

The Revealing of Kristy Kiernan

March 17, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

KristyAlthough it’s been two years of waiting for another Kristy Kiernan (Catching Genius, Matters of Faith) book, patience will be rewarded on Tuesday, April 6, 2010 when the award-winning novelist returns to bookstore shelves and online retailers with Between Friends. As brilliant as ever, if not even better, Kristy tells a complex, provocative tale of two women facing life-altering decisions that, either way, will affect each other.

Although the author is a dear friend, my words are TRUTH. Simply read this summation of the Publishers Weekly Review of the novel:

“With realistic dialogue and pinpointed emotions, Kiernan paints a persuasive portrait of the bonds between mothers, daughters, and friends in this inspiring, heartbreaking tale.”

The Divining Wand will offer a full presentation/review of Between Friends on Monday, March 29, 2010 yet, as is tradition, let’s get to know the author from her “official” bio:

Kristy Kiernan was born in Tennessee and raised on the beaches of southwest Florida, where she still lives with her husband. Between Friends is her third novel.

And now here is Kristy revealed:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A:Warm, sunny, contemplative, musical, affectionate, smiling, sandy, wordy.

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: Beware mottos and maxims. They build unnecessary fences with pretty words.

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: Easy! Beach, book, puppy.

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: Accidently encountering totally random deadly wild animals. Sharks in the Gulf. Big cats escaped from the zoo. Water moccasins at the edge of the water.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: St. George Island.

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: I’m going to go with Martha Jane Cannery, a.k.a. “Calamity Jane.” Because by the age of 13 she could “cuss as fiercely as any man,” and was considered a “remarkable good shot.” She sounds like a lot of fun, doesn’t she?

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: There’s this woman down the street who goes for a run every single morning. Sundays. Rainy days. Christmas. I don’t know her, but I’ve named her, “That Woman Who Runs Every Single Morning,” and I find her endlessly fascinating and admirable.

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases
A: Clearly. Obviously. Evidently. Surely. Apparently. Lovely. Fabulous. Excellent. So long, sucker. (I seem to have a need to point out the obvious to people. And to compliment things. And say goodbye in inappropriate ways.)

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: I’d love to be a really good guitar player. I have a beautiful guitar, and I’ve taught myself some things, but I want lessons.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: Well, I’m still here, ain’t I?

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: I smile all the time. It has recently been brought to my attention that it is not always appropriate.

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: I smile all the time. Because I don’t really care if it’s always appropriate.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: My inability to time travel.

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: Hmmm, as far as person…I’ve finally figured out my own problems. I certainly don’t want to start all over with someone else’s. Thing? Maybe a sequoia. I’ve always wanted to be taller than 5’4″.

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: Did I mention the smile?

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Scarlett O’Hara or Micheal Corleone.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Scarlett O’Hara or Micheal Corleone.

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 could even name an athlete, much less think of something to say to them!

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: Lack of common courtesy.

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: Reading, of course!

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Career bestselling author.

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: 1) Empathy.
2) Humor.
3) Good hygiene.

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Tough one. It’s a toss-up. Either my own bb-q ribs or Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls.

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: Oh, who could possibly answer this?!
1) And It Stoned Me – Van Morrison
2) You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC
3) Here I Am (Come and Take Me) – Al Green
4) Solsbury Hill – Peter Gabriel
5) Harvest Moon – Neil Young
6) Copperline – James Taylor
Yes. That’s six. That’s how I roll.

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: No. No, no, no. The five favorite songs question very nearly killed me. I can’t do it. Five that helped shape my desire to be a writer or to continue to write, in no particular, and for various reasons, are:
1) Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
2) Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
3) A Season in Purgatory by Dominick Dunne
4) Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins
5) We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

As giving, clever, and honest — as she is literary gifted –, experience more of Kristy Kiernan by following her on Twitter and becoming a fan on Facebook.


Book Giveaway; While awaiting completion and publication of Ad’s memoir, The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Househusband in a random drawing of comments left on this post. The deadline is this evening at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced in tomorrow’s post.


Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Jenny Gardiner’s memoir, Winging it, in a random drawing of all comments left on this post. The deadline is tonight at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in tomorrow’s post.

New Novels, Book Clubs, and Contests

July 07, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: News

Debut novelist Lynne Griffin (Life Without Summer) is thrilled to announce that her next novel, SEA ESCAPE, will be published next summer by Simon & Schuster. Lynne claims that SEA ESCAPE, about a mother trapped in a silent world following a stroke, and her daughter, who becomes desperate to unravel their tangled family history before it’s too late, is a novel she was born to write.

Also this author is visiting book clubs and loving it! Please email her to arrange a visit — by phone or in person — to yours. Contact Lynne:

Rather than having a life without summer, it sounds as though this writer is experiencing a most wonderful summer!

Kristy Kiernan’s third novel, Between Friends, due out on April 6, 2010, is now available for pre-order on Amazon! It has yet to be posted on IndieBound or Barnes & Noble, but once it’s up on Amazon, those are never far behind. If you’re all about covers, here is the “official” art work.

Dismantled by Jennifer McMahon was reviewed in The New York Times Sunday Book Review on July 5th. Of course you read about this suspense novel here on its debut day!

Katie Alender is holding a contest at her website. Enter to win a signed copy of Bad Girls Don’t Die and “some other fun stuff!” The contest ends this Friday, July 10th.

And Carleen Brice with Children of the Waters is featured on Author Buzz this week. She’s also announced a Contest that will giveaway 5 FREE Copies of the novel. Enter by July 31st!