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Eleanor Brown: Why I Write

February 07, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Books, Guest Posts

[Last January 20, 2011, Eleanor Brown debuted with her “delightful” novel The Weird Sisters (presentation/review) and, within a week, she became a New York Times bestselling author. Amazing? Well actually the story of “sibling rivalry, the power of books, and the places we decide to call home” deserved every bit of acclaim and attention.

For those who have yet to enjoy this reading experience, today is your day as The Weird Sisters is released in its paperback edition. Also Eleanor begins another Book Tour….if she’s scheduled for your hometown, treat yourself to a meeting/signing for this talented novelist who shares why she writes.]

Why I Write

Like many American girls, I spent much of middle school on the phone, chatting with my friends. It seems ridiculous now, in this age where email and texting have proven themselves much more efficient forms of communication, but I suppose that was the point. We weren’t interested in efficiency, my friends and I. We were talking things through, asking each other questions about things we liked (Duran Duran) and didn’t like (gym class), considering the possibilities of our lives: boys we might be interested in, homework assignments we had yet to tackle, plays and sports we might try out for, and the unfathomable distant future of adulthood.

In his novella, The Body, on which the movie Stand by Me was based, Stephen King’s narrator says, “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, did you?” I actually do still have friends like the ones I had when I was twelve – I even have a few of the same ones – but our friendships are not the same. The idea of having enough long, empty hours to fill with meandering conversation seems indulgent, and we have, at this point in our lives, a less pressing need to discuss Duran Duran.

But I do still find myself with the kind of questions of identity and meaning I had when I was twelve, though I am better able to articulate and label them as such. And since my friends and I cannot talk those questions through on a daily basis, I must try to work out the answers myself.

And so, I write.

When I began writing The Weird Sisters, I was turning thirty, and, in the way that those decade birthdays have, it was shaking my faith in the status quo. That question I had mused over with such idle curiosity as a teenager – what was I going to be when I grew up? – now seemed terrifying and imminent, if not woefully overdue. And so I created three sisters, split my confusion and my personality traits among them, and set out to write my way out of my precocious midlife crisis. All the things I was wondering about came out in that book: What does it mean to be an adult? Why are family roles so persistent, so impossible to change? How do you relate to your parents when you are an adult? Why do I always feel like a failure? Can you change the person you always thought you were?

Those are big questions, and I can’t say I resolved them all in the pages of The Weird Sisters, but writing that book did give me a great blessing: it forced me to spend time with each one, often more than was comfortable. I faced mistakes I’d made, people I’d hurt, the way I had been careless with my own heart, all through the problems of these fictional sisters. I held each question to the light like a gem and watched the light reflecting off it until I had considered all its facets. And if I didn’t find the answers to the questions, I do think I found peace in them.

The page has infinite patience. It lets me say ridiculous things and then retract them a moment later without judgment. It allows me to change my mind at will, to wander off on seemingly unrelated tangents and then circle back around to find the perfect thing to say. It is as broad and as narrow as I need it to be at any moment.

Someone asked me recently why I read, and my answer was instantaneous: to understand, and to connect. And I think these are the same reasons I write. In stories, as both a reader and a writer, I am trying on lives, meeting new people, learning. I am twelve, lying on the linoleum of the kitchen floor, the phone cord twisted around my finger, talking my way through the mysteries of life with my closest friends.

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ATTENTION: Please remember that Catherine McKenzie’s debut novel SPIN makes its U.S. launch today.
AND

Book Giveaway: In celebration of paperback release day for The Weird Sisters, The Divining Wand will give away one copy of the book — in a random drawing — to anyone who leaves a comment on this post by 8:59 p.m. EST tonight! The winner will be announced here on Thursday.

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.

Favorite Fictional Worlds, III

May 19, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites, Q&A

As must be known by now, Eleanor Brown’s (The Weird Sisters) alternative answer for a fictional BFF inspired TDW to ask its other authors her question:

In what fictional world/neighborhood would you like to live? And why?

This final week features responses from the following writers, including Eleanor with a new answer:

~Katie Alender (Bad Girls Don’t Die YA, and Bad Girls Don’t Die: From Bad to Cursed YA coming June 14, 2011):

“I’m too much of a pragmatist (okay, I’ll admit it… I’m a homebody/hermit) to want to stray too far from home for any extended period of time–but I wouldn’t mind spending a week with the Darcys at Pemberley! I’d also be curious to drop in on Galt’s Gulch from “Atlas Shrugged.”‘

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

“Easy — I want to live in Harry Potter’s world. I’d opt for being Hermione — the perfect mix of magic and muggle. Plus I really really want her watch that stops time and gives her extra hours in the day.”

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

“I would love to live in the world JK Rowling created. Even with the evil Voldermort around, it’d be great fun to do magic and fly and see dragons and such. Alternatively, I’d love to create a literary world half as rich as the one she created.”

~Eleanor Brown (The Weird Sisters):

“Maeve Binchy’s Dublin, with all its warm, interconnected characters and cozy homes. Optimally, I’d have Maeve herself as my tour guide, too!”

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

“I’ve always wanted to live in Narnia. One of my favorite books is A HORSE AND HIS BOY. I loved the ideas of talking animals. And although there is war there (and nasty witches, etc.), the kids and animals were seen as wise and valuable members of society. Narnia is a true Utopia where all living things are respected (since the trees themselves could tell you that they didn’t want to be cut down), and any hardships are overcome with friendly help from neighbors.”

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

“I’d like to visit several fictional worlds — and live there temporarily! Top of my list: The fictional town of Meryton in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.”

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

“I’d want to live in Oz, but unlike Dorothy, I would STAY there!”

~Jael McHenrty (The Kitchen Daughter):

“For some reason the first thing that popped into my head is that I’d want to live next door to Meg Murry’s family, from A Wrinkle in Time. Although I suppose that’s cheating since what I really want is to go on all Meg’s adventures, and meet Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, and Calvin O’Keefe… you get the idea. Basically, I want to be a Murry.”

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

“As I thought and thought on this, I realized why I was coming up blank. I am drawn to dark novels of dysfunctional families that they make me grateful to stay in my own dysfunctional world. Maybe that’s a blessing, or maybe that’s why I read them: there but for the grace of God go I, and thank God that my life isn’t that bad. Every sunny novel I read makes me incredibly jealous. I remember as a kid swooning in envy over LITTLE WOMEN and wanting to be in the bosom of that family. Another one was CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN. Having a tiny family, somehow that seemed like the height of happiness–being surrounded by 11 other siblings.”

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

“I’d like to live with the March sisters and their wonderful Marmee. I’d help Jo with the school, and Amy would teach me to paint.”

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

“When I think of a fictional world or neighborhood I go back to the books I loved as a child. And the one that comes to mind is “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I’d love to be able to stow away into a private, secret magical garden perhaps to write or just enjoy the sunshine.”

~Emily Winslow (The Whole World):

“I will now confess a guilty pleasure of my youth: Sweet Valley High novels! Okay, I wouldn’t want to *live* in Sweet Valley, but it would be a hoot to visit. I think I would be friends with Winston Egbert.”

* * * * *

Announcement: The winners of Julianna Baggott’s (Bridget Asher novel), The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted, are Janel and Jane Cook. Congratulations!

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

Go-to Writing Books, V

April 21, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites, Profiles, Q&A

Before, during and after a work-in-progress, a published/debut author has likely read more than a few books on the art and craft of writing. Whether it’s for motivation or inspiration, favorites must exist to be read and reread — including fiction and poetry — whenever the need arises. With this thought in mind, The Divining Wand asked its authors:

What books do you keep nearby or go back to as you’re working?

And, for the final week of this question, the following authors replied:

~Eleanor Brown (The Weird Sisters):

“Stephen King’s On Writing to remind me why I do what I do, and anything by Maeve Binchy to remind me how to create loveably flawed characters and keep multiple plotlines going.”

~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):

“My favorite writing books include: Save the Cat by Blake Synder, On Writing by Stephen King and Elements of Story by John Truby.”

~Beth Hoffman (Saving CeeCee Honeycutt):

“WORDS THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE by Robert Greenman.”

~Allie Larkin (Stay):

“Sometimes, it helps to check back with BIRD BY BIRD by Anne Lamott, to remind myself to trust my process and listen to my characters.”

~Judy Merrill Larsen (All the Numbers):

“I’ve recently become a fan of Donald Maass’ THE FIRE IN FICTION. I also like John Dufesne’s THE LIE THAT TELLS A TRUTH, and of course Anne Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD. For sheer inspiration, I look to poetry.”

~Karen McQuestion (A Scattered Life, Easily Amused coming September 21, 2010, and Celia and the Fairies for ages 7 – 11, and Favorite YA):

“I love Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey. I use it to brainstorm plot points when I write myself into a corner, I also periodically reread Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird and Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.”

~Meg Mitchell Moore (The Arrivals coming May 25, 2011):

“Lately I always have Claire Messud’s THE EMPEROR’S CHILDREN and Elizabeth Strout’s OLIVE KITTERIDGE near me. Within reaching distance, for sure. Any page of either of those books contains too many gems to count. Also Alice Munro. If I am writing away from home and don’t have access to my books sometimes I’ll just pull up any Alice Munro excerpt online and be so struck by the beauty and exactness of her descriptions that I am humbled and inspired to keep writing. ”

~Keetha DePriest Mosley [formerly Reed] (Culinary Kudzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing Up Southern, More Culinary Kudzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing Up Southern:

“I keep a Childcraft dictionary on my desk. Santa brought it the Christmas I was seven years old. Sometimes I thumb through it, enjoying the feel of the slick pages. Any time I open that dictionary, I’m taken back to the way I felt when I was a child looking at it: words were so much fun.”

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

“My bible is Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell. I go through it with each book, scribbling notes and plot points in the margins. It’s fun to go back, now that I’m working on my third book, and see how the process evolved for the first two! I also really like Writing the Breakout Novel by James Scott Bell, On Writing by Steven King, and Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott. I have stacks of books on writing but those are the ones I always come back to. As for what I read when I’m writing, I zip through thrillers! ”

~Ivy Pochoda (The Art of Disappearing):

“Carson McCullers’ “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” is almost always on my desk. James Woods’ “How Fiction Works,” because James Woods’ is both THE MAN and a genius and a great drummer. David Gates’ “Preston Falls” because he doesn’t mince words or suffer gilded lilies.”

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

“I love to read and re-read THE GREAT GATSBY and BIRD BY BIRD, though my copy of the latter is currently loaned out. I may turn that loan into a gift and just buy myself a new one. I miss it.”

~Emily Winslow (The Whole World):

“For the book I’m currently working on, math text books and a volume of Nabokov short stories.”

* * * * *

Announcement: The winner of The Four Ms. Bradwells by Meg Waite Clayton is Jane Cook. Congratulations!

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

Fictional Characters as Best Friends Forever, III

March 03, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites, Profiles, Q&A

At times a book offers a surprise bonus — those special characters that create an immediate personal bond and, if only real, would be chosen as our BFF.

With this in mind The Divining Wand wondered who the authors felt close to, and asked:

What fictional character would you choose to be your BFF and why?

And this week’s authors replied:

~Eleanor Brown (The Weird Sisters):

“Less than specific people, there are entire fictional worlds I’d like to live in – the dramatic romance of Diana Gabaldon’s Scotland in Outlander, the rebuilding of America in Stephen King’s The Stand, the wild sadness of the Greasers in S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, the sweeping epic future of Atlanta in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. Each of my favorite books is populated with amazing characters who live in a world too delicious to pluck just one of them from.”

~Tawna Fenske (Making Waves coming August 2011):

“I would probably choose Fred the dog from Jennifer Crusie’s ANYONE BUT YOU. I think he’d get along nicely with my menagerie of pets (two dogs, three cats) and his fondness for stealing lingerie could help me find my bras when they go missing.”

~Therese Fowler (Souvenir, Reunion, and Exposure coming May 3, 2011):

‘Ask me on a different day and I might have a different answer, but the character who comes to mind today is Linda Voss, the protagonist and narrator in Susan Isaac’s wonderful novel Shining Through. Linda’s funny and genuine and smart and loyal–and when you need her to, she’ll tell it like it is. Who doesn’t want a friend like that?”/

~Meg Mitchell Moore (The Arrivals coming May 25, 2011):

“I would like to be friends with most of the characters in Elin Hilderbrand’s novels. She *really* nails certain things about marriage, children, families in a way I very much admire.”

~Ivy Pochoda (The Art of Disappearing):

“Hal Incandenza from David Foster Wallace’s “‘Infinite Jest.'” I’m not sure Hal and I would get along so well now, but I’m sure we would have been best friends as teenagers. It takes one truly athletic nerd to appreciate another.”

~Rebecca Rasmussen (The Bird Sisters coming April 12, 2011):

“I would love to hang out for eternity with Jo March of Little Women. To me, Jo is the quintessential early feminist and, dang, she’s just so full of life and personality. Who else would say no to Laurie?”

To be continued….

* * * * *

Announcement: The winners of Confessions of a Rebel Debutante by Anna Fields are Gayle Lin and Tiffany D.. Congratulations!

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

Writing Rituals, Secrets, and Superstitions, III

January 27, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

Once again, for every writer there are intangible elements — personal habits — that allow the mind to roam and find its comfort zone when the words aren’t flowing. To take a look at what some of these practices include, The Divining Wand asked its authors:

Do you have any unusual writing rituals, secrets or superstitions that always work when all else fails?

And this week the following authors replied:

~Eleanor Brown (The Weird Sisters):

“I wish I did. When writing isn’t going well, I’m frankly likely to go play Mario Kart Wii for a while until I can bear to face the blank page again, and that’s neither terribly unusual nor terribly constructive. But one thing that does tend to work for me is going back to writing longhand. I hate it for long periods, but there’s something about the flow of pen against actual paper, even if it’s just jotting notes or writing descriptions that tends to jar things into motion for me. Sometimes I can even read what I’ve written afterwards.”

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

“Taking a break always works for me. I tell myself I will not think about the problem I’m having with my story, but I always do. Often my mind just needs to do something different in order to come back to a problem with a fresh solution.”

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

“I use music to get me in the mood–music with lyrics that fit the milieu I’m working on. Sometimes I’m so moved by the melodies and words, it’s like a space heater thawing out my writing frost. I also peruse my writing note books for observations. I have a terrible memory and writing down words I like and phrases remind me how much I like to write.”

~Kate Ledger (Remedies):

“I believe if I misspell or mistype a word, my fingers are telling me it’s the wrong word. Also, I have to begin with coffee. It just never feels right without coffee.”

~Meg Mitchell Moore (The Arrivals coming May 25, 2011):

“Music! For me it’s critical that each story or book have a song or a few songs that set the mood for the story. When I wrote THE ARRIVALS I played a lot of Amy Winehouse while I wrote. My current project has to do with two characters who are each going through some dark times and searching for some solace in unlikely places. There’s a song by Josh Ritter called “Lantern” that feels like the right song for this book. I probably play that song 10 times a day, especially when I’m trying to get into the mood of the story.”

~Sarah Pekkanen (The Opposite of Me, and Skipping a Beat coming February 22, 2010):

“Not really – just stare at the screen and don’t get distracted by laundry, opening the mail, or checking my email!”

~Lori Roy (Bent Road coming March 31, 2011):

“I have no secrets or superstitions, but I do drink green tea whenever I write, and I generally write with my feet propped up on my desk.”

To be continued….

* * * * *

Announcement: The winner of Linda Gray Sexton’s memoir Half in Love: Surviving the Legacy of Suicide is Andrea Miles Martin. Congratulations!

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

Presenting Debutante Eleanor Brown and
The Weird Sisters

January 17, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books


When Debutante Eleanor Brown began visiting The Debutante Ball during its first Season of 2007, it’s doubtful that she ever imagined being one of the most honored Debs well before her book launched. But this Thursday, January 20, 2011, the author will hopefully stop pinching herself and simply revel in the debut of her novel, The Weird Sisters.

Described by as a major new talent, Deb Eleanor has written a literary/commercial book focusing on the complicated relationship of sisters, the powerful influence of books in our lives, and what we finally come to accept as home. For this, Publishers Weekly has given it a starred review “…bright, literate debut, a punchy delight”. Barnes & Noble has chosen the novel to be part of its Discover Great New Writers program beginning February – May. Amazon.com has selected it as one of the Best Books of the Month, January 2011, and it’s also been mentioned in USA Today. Of course that’s in addition to the other sparkling Praise and Press.

Duly impressed yet still wondering why The Weird Sisters is considered that special? To better understand, please know that there’s nothing weird about the sisters. In fact they even proclaim from the book’s front cover: See, we love each other. We just don’t happen to like each other very much.Now how normal does that sound for three female siblings?

The choice of the title is a logical one since it comes from Macbeth’s three witches, also known as the “weird sisters,” who represent both fate and destiny. And, since the novel focuses on the sisters’ questioning what they thought they were destined to be and struggling against what reality has dealt them, the title is a perfect description.

In writing her October 5, 2010 post, Deb Eleanor on Change and Saturn’s Return, the author explains how important she believes change is for characters:

“I believe good fiction is all about change. If there’s no difference between the characters at the beginning and the end of a novel, a memoir, even a non-fiction screed, I’m likely to end up dissatisfied. I want the characters to go through discomfort and maybe even a little pain, and to come out the other end reborn through the experience.

“Though it’s never mentioned in the book, when I wrote The Weird Sisters, I did a lot of research on Saturn’s Return.

“I call The Weird Sisters a belated coming-of-age novel. There is a reason my characters are 27, 30, and 33- I wanted them to be on the cusp of great change, to be pushed into places where they confront the lives they have created and acknowledge – and change – the pieces that aren’t working.”

Still it’s not only how the three sisters change but where they change as the author writes in her October 19, 2010 post, Deb Eleanor’s Favorite (Fictional) Place:

“….one of the things that I love most about books is their ability to transport you somewhere. In The Weird Sisters, one of my goals was to create a living, breathing town, a place that you felt you had seen before, or might be able to stumble upon, and I hope I’ve done that in the town of Barnwell, Ohio.”

Indeed Deb Eleanor has succeeded in giving the small college town of Barnwell a hometown feeling – a place where readers want to linger, while the sisters want to flee. And the combination of characters and location provides for the novel’s synopsis:

There is no problem that a library card can’t solve.

The Andreas family is one of readers. Their father, a renowned Shakespeare professor who speaks almost entirely in verse, has named his three daughters after famous Shakespearean women. When the sisters return to their childhood home, ostensibly to care for their ailing mother, but really to lick their wounds and bury their secrets, they are horrified to find the others there. See, we love each other. We just don’t happen to like each other very much. But the sisters soon discover that everything they’ve been running from – one another, their small hometown, and themselves – might offer more than they ever expected.

This debut novelist, as the youngest of three sisters, has been frequently asked which of the weird sisters — Rose (Rosalind – As You Like It), Bean (Bianca – The Taming of the Shrew), and Cordy (Cordelia – King Lear) — is she? Her response is that “there’s a little bit of me in each of the characters” and The Divining Wand has exclusive proof of that from three Q&A’s in The Revealing of Eleanor Brown:

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: Complacency.

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: Enthusiasm.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: Hurting other people.

No *spoilers* here, but every one of these three answers describes one of the three sisters. It’s true, the author is delighted to admit. And, oh yes, the major theme of the book is revealed in:

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: Having the courage to build a life I want to live.

However what may be the most vital and magical element of The Weird Sisters is the narrator’s omniscient first person plural voice. Using “we” rather than “I,” the voice is privy to all the sisters’ thoughts, feelings, and secrets. It will pull readers into this triangular sisterhood, allowing one to feel as if they too belong…and never want to leave. In other words, it’s highly effective as well as pitch perfect.

As an Amy Einhorn book, the Uncorrected Proof of The Weird Sisters I received had an introductory letter from Ms. Einhorn in which she confesses:

The Weird Sisters is a novel I would shout about from the rooftops and urge everyone to read if I could.”

And, if that were possible, I would be among the first to join Ms. Einhorn. Yet what is possible for me to tell here is that this will be the book you reluctantly bookmark after each reading, muse about the characters as your mind wanders during the day, and rush back to its pages with anticipation only when you have a good chuck of time to spend in Barnwell, Ohio with the charming, weird sisters.

Since The Weird Sisters does not debut until Thursday, Amazon.com is featuring the novel at a Pre-order price — that costs little more than a Trade paperback — for a few more days. If you can, please take advantage of this opportunity. . . .and enjoy!

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Eleanor Brown’s The Weird Sisters in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EST with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

Guest Eleanor Brown on
An Open Letter to My Books

January 11, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[As much as we love to read, visit libraries, and browse bookstores, who knew there would come a day when how to read would cause a moral dilemma? In today’s guest post, Eleanor Brown (The Weird Sisters coming January 20, 2011) shares a heartfelt confession and offers a compromise to her true love.]

An Open Letter to My Books

Dear Books:

I’ll admit it. I’ve been cheating on you.

No, it’s not with that disturbingly large television we just bought (frankly, it kind of creeps me out, what with the HD making everyone’s pores visible – I just don’t feel I want to be that close to anyone unless we’re kissing).

It’s with e-reader.

I know, I know, when I first met e-reader, I was underwhelmed. The pages took too long to turn, I couldn’t really fall into the story, it just didn’t feel right.

And then I decided to re-read one of my favorite books on it. And I fell in love. It turns out that the device hadn’t been the problem to begin with, it was the content. It wasn’t the medium, but the message.

The thing is, Books, you’re still special to me. We’ve got a history, you know? But I can’t take you everywhere – I always have to factor your size into any purse shopping I do. When i go on vacation, you selfishly take up half my suitcase, and often cost me money in overweight fees at the airport.

I do love you, Books, I do. You’re easier to use than my cell phone, you’re better-looking than e-reader, and you hold the stories I want to read. And heaven knows I buy enough of you – I don’t think there’s any danger of the bookstore down the street going out of business while I’m around.

But why can’t I search inside you by keyword when I’m trying to write a book review or find a glorious sentence I remember? And why don’t you just appear on my bedside table, waiting for me when I finish the one before you? Why can’t I lie on my side and flip the pages with one hand while I read the way I can with e-reader?

And why, when I’m done with you, don’t you just go away? I’ve got to find something to do with you, and there’s never enough room. And you look kind of messy when there are too many of you, you know?

Listen, Books, I don’t want to break it off entirely. We’ve got a lot in common, you and me. You like to hang out in bookstores, and so do I. We both hate waiting in line, but you definitely make the time go faster. You never run out of batteries, you’re good-looking, you invite conversation when we’re out in public together, and we’ve been together a long, long time. We’ve got good memories, and I can’t just let you go.

So, what do you say, Books? Are you willing to open this relationship up a little? You, me, and e-reader? There’s enough room in my heart for both of you.

I promise, you’ll always be my first love.

Eleanor

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Book Giveaway: For those readers who have Kindles, The Divining Wand will honor the first 10 comments — left on this specific post, Dee DeTarsio and The Scent of Jade, until Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EST. — with a download of The Scent of Jade.

The Revealing of Eleanor Brown

January 05, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

The actual debut of Eleanor Brown’s first novel, The Weird Sisters, may still be two weeks away on January 20, 2011, but it’s already received tremendous praise and attention.

Yet how could it not when both author and book are described as:

A major new talent tackles the complicated terrain of sisters. A winsome novel that explores sibling rivalry, the power of books, and the places we decide to call home.

Then the trade praise:

“…bright, literate debut…a punchy delight…” Publishers Weekly

“…lovely debut…creative and original…” Library Journal

Followed by the announcement that The Weird Sisters has been chosen as part of Barnes & Noble’s Discover Great New Writers program!

The Divining Wand has scheduled a presentation/review of The Weird Sisters on Monday, January 17, 2011 however, between now and then, let’s meet the author through her “official” bio:

Born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area, Eleanor Brown has lived in St. Paul, San Francisco, Philadelphia, South Florida, and Oxford, London, and Brighton, England. She lives in Colorado with her partner, writer and new media superstar, J.C. Hutchins.

Eleanor’s writing has appeared in anthologies, journals, magazines, and newspapers. The Weird Sisters, her first novel, will be published by Amy Einhorn Books on January 20, 2011.

Now knowing the facts about the author, it’s time to get to know the real Eleanor as she reveals:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: Better than I ever expected it to be.

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: A good book, J.C., my cat, and a nice, comfy chair.

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: Living without J.C. and my cat.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: Right here is pretty darn good, but I wouldn’t mind a being on a beach in Hawaii with a great book.

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: Julia Child. Except I hate to cook. Otherwise, we’re exactly the same.

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: Any great teacher working to make a difference.

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases?
A: In life? OMG, “I heard about that on NPR!”
In writing? Perhaps, just, seems.

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: I’m in such awe of people who can dance – I wish I were graceful like that.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: Having the courage to build a life I want to live.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: Complacency.

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: Enthusiasm.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: Hurting other people.

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: A pampered house cat.

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: I am very, very tall, and very, very loud.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Atticus Finch – if only we all had that much honor and compassion.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Iago, from Othello.

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: I’d like to meet a professional football player and ask why what they do is worth so much darn money – I’m genuinely curious.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: Gum-chewing. UGH.

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

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Nail technician – I’d love to have that much patience for detail.

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: A good sense of humor, intelligence, and thoughtfulness.

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

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: Taking the Long Way – Dixie Chicks
Angels – Robbie Williams
Rock with You – Michael Jackson
Silent Night
Oklahoma – Oklahoma!

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: Evening Class, Maeve Binchy
The Lords of Discipline, Pat Conroy
Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
The Stand, Steven King
The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton

Thoughtful, clever, and oh so talented, Eleanor Brown is likely to soon become your new favorite author. To share in her company become a follower on Twitter, a friend on Facebook, a regular reader of her Blog, and a visitor to the The Debutante Ball where she posts every Tuesday.

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

Winter/Spring 2011 Coming Attractions

December 09, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Advance News, Books

The year of 2010 has been a glorious one here at The Divining Wand. With our authors/friends providing first-class quality through their books and more, how much better could it be?

Well, beginning Monday, January 3, 2011, when Eileen Cook’s (Unpredictable, What Would Emma Do? YA, Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood YA) latest YA novel The Education of Hailey Kendrick — already earning a Kirkus starred review — is presented/reviewed, it will launch our exciting winter/spring season.

Look for other of your favorites to return, including:

~Sarah Pekkanen (The Opposite of Me) with her second novel, Skipping a Beat coming February 22, 2010, and praised by Emily Giffin.

~Meg Waite Clayton’s (The Wednesday Sisters) highly anticipated The Four Ms. Bradwells releases on March 22, 2011.

~Claire Cook (Seven Year Switch, Must Love Dogs, Life’s A Beach, and the rest in Bibliography) celebrates with her 8th book, Best Staged Plans, on May 31, 2011.

And, of course, there will be more!

During the past few months many about-to-be authors have been introduced to you, but now let’s put their names and titles into order of debut appearance:

~Eleanor Brown (The Weird Sisters coming January 20, 2011)

~Kristina McMorris (Letters From Home coming February 22, 2011)

~Lori Roy (Bent Road coming March 31, 2011)

~Jael McHenry (The Kitchen Daughter coming April 12, 2011)

~Rebecca Rasmussen (The Bird Sisters coming April 12, 2011)

~Sarah Jio (The Violets of March coming April 26, 2011)

~Meg Mitchell Moore (The Arrivals coming May 25, 2011)

TRUST: There’s great buzz about each one of these authors. Please explore their websites and/or Pre-order their books.

Here’s to new authors/friends and great reading in the New Year!

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Announcement: The winners of What I Thought I Knew by Alice Eve Cohen are Mary Quackenbush and Ruthie Congratulations!

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

AND

Announcement: The winners of Slim to None by Jenny Gardiner are Dee and Sarah Congratulations!

Please email diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and your book will be sent out promptly OR indicate you’d like the Kindle Edition.