The Divining Wand

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Presenting Debutante Tawna Fenske
and Making Waves

June 20, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books


By her own admission it took Debutante Tawna Fenske a while to find her literary voice (see Finding Where You Fit Is Harder Than It Looks) but — once she discovered that her humor and love of romance combined perfectly together — it was full sail ahead for her debut novel, Making Waves, available August 1, 2011.

The result is a delightful, warm-hearted, endearingly twisted tale of romance and adventure, complete with hijinks….though the goal was a hijack. Yes it’s sexy but in a classy, sophisticated way. In fact Tawna’s first book is reminiscent of the classic romantic comedy movies — with an added dash of spice and lust — to satisfy true blue romance readers.

Although the idea of writing a quirky, updated version of the traditional pirate-themed romances was inspired by a sailing trip off the Queensland coast of Australia, the author says:

“It wasn’t until the economy hit the skids and a lot of people started losing jobs that the pieces of the story started to come together in my mind. I started mulling the crazy extremes someone might go to after being kicked to the curb by an unscrupulous boss. Under what circumstances might it be OK – even funny – to set out on a pirate mission to reclaim your pension, your life, and your dignity?”

Staying on course, the storyline evolved into the following synopsis:

A high-seas heist wasn’t part on their unemployment plan

There are normal ways to cope with job loss, and most don’t involve plotting a revenge-fueled diamond heist in the Caribbean with a crew more suited to the boardroom than the poop deck.

But Alex Bradshaw isn’t feeling very normal when his unscrupulous boss kicks him to the curb after 20 faithful years as an executive with the world’s largest shipping company. Alex wants payback, and maybe a chance to reclaim his dignity and his pension while he’s at it. Assembling a team of fellow corporate castoffs, he sails to the Caribbean to intercept the boss’s illegal diamond shipment. None of them counted on a quirky blonde stowaway with a perplexing array of talents, a few big secrets, and an intoxicating romantic chemistry with Alex.

And while Juli Flynn certainly didn’t plan to be a part of the most dysfunctional high seas caper in history, it’s a rare chance for her to feel like she belongs. She’s spent a lifetime being “different” from everyone else, though the reasons for that are something she’d prefer not to share with her newfound shipmates. Juli just wants to be normal for a change, but as she finds her place with the misfit crew – and in Alex’s heart – she discovers normal isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And sometimes, being weird can be wonderful.

Now meet both Juli as well as Alex and his “pirates” in this Excerpt: Chapter One.

Juli’s “weirdness” is brilliant and certain to keep readers guessing, while Alex’s human imperfections make him genuine and lovable. Both have their secrets and issues with trust but Cody, Jake, and Phyllis — former fellow co-workers turned pirate crew members — don’t bother to conceal their obvious quirks. Stereotypical characters? Not even close. And perhaps the most refreshing factor is the maturity of each individual. Ranging in age from thirty-seven to fifty-four, they all have lived just as they are….honestly (though not meant to be) funny.

The ability to write humor is Tawna’s natural gift. She credits that talent to having been born into a family where everyone has a ridiculously good sense of humor, much better than hers. In fact it took her agent to adamantly urge the author to stick with humor by saying: “You make it look easy, but it’s something very few people can do well.”

Although the book is enormously entertaining, it conveys a strong message — accepting and following one’s heart — and The Divining Wand asked Tawna how she was able to balance the two elements?

“My number one objective is to entertain, but if I didn’t have some sort of message, the book would just be one long string of cheap jokes. I won’t claim I started out with some big moral message to convey, but you’re right that Making Waves centers around the importance of marching to the beat of your own drummer (something my mother has accused me of doing my whole life). When my agent and editor and I sat down to brainstorm marketing “‘hooks'” that would sum up the type of books I write, we settled on the line, “‘normal may be nice, but weird is wonderful.'” That line appears on the cover of Making Waves, and it’s at the center of all three of my contracted romantic comedies.

In other words this novel has heart, offering romance on a realistic level. The plot twists with some steamy scenes that put things into place, then veers off in an unexpected turn that changes everything. It’s situational comedy at its best because the author has a sense of direction for the storyline but doesn’t outline, explaining:

“I don’t tend to write in a very linear fashion, which means I’m constantly going back to earlier chapters to weave in details I’ve figured out along the way. There’s a fairly big plot twist near the end of the book. I honestly had no idea the twist was coming until I started writing the scene and thought, “‘oooh, that would be good!'” Then I had to go back through all the earlier chapters and work that thread into the rest of the story.”

And that is only one example of how Making Waves stays real, romantic, and seriously funny. Having already confessed (in a previous book presentation/review) to not being a love story fan, this Fairy Godmother adored the novel and, again, claims that it has to be the classiest romantic read around.

Tawna Fenske’s Making Waves debuts on August 1st so, if you want the ultimate beach read, please consider Pre-ordering now. Then you’ll be among the first to cast off on a high seas adventure where romance and fun become wonderfully weird…enjoy!

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. 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.

Anna Fields and
Confessions of a Rebel Debutante

February 28, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books

Successful playwright, television writer, and comedienne, Anna Fields dishes out a Southern-fried memoir about growing up too smart and rebellious for her North Carolina small town in Confessions of a Rebel Debutante.

During childhood the author claimed the “tomboy” label, only then to describe her adolescent self as being “outspoken” and “bookish” rebelling against the strict rules at her private all-girls finishing school. Anna tried to be a proper Deb, even making it through the first Cotillion. Yet, when viewed as too “liberal” and “uppity,” she didn’t make the cut for the ultimate Debutante Ball.

That’s the backstory and this is the synopsis of Confessions of a Rebel Debutante:

A strict regimen of Southern-belle grooming should have prepared Anna Fields for a lifetime of ladylike behavior.

But it didn’t.

As it turned out, Anna—a smart, outspoken, bookish girl—was a dud at debbing. After being kicked out of cotillion classes, the “Rebel Deb” left North Carolina to seek her fortune. Her first stop was Brown University —right in the heart of Yankee-land—and then the crazy world of Hollywood talent agencies and celebrity-packed restaurants. After a disastrous stint as Diana Ross’s personal assistant, Anna headed off to the Big Apple, where she worked for one of Bravo’s Real Housewives. It’s a rollicking, unlikely success story from a natural-born storyteller.

Sharp, sweet, and sassy, Confessions of a Rebel Debutante proves you can take the girl out of the South, but you can’t take the South out of the girl!

Please take a look at the glowing Press.

The South is known for its storytellers and Anna Fields is another talented one as she writes her “rags-to-riches,” almost Cinderella-like story. Of course there isn’t a wicked step-mother or even step-sisters in this tale, but all of Anna’s quirky relatives are much more entertaining and — more importantly — they’re real!

Written in a chronological format, this memoir has a distinct stream-of-conscious feel as the rebel deb’s voice delights with humorous details or becomes serious in relating past problems. For this book applies to every girl — living below or above the Mason-Dixon line — who didn’t quite fit in and was proud of it.

As Anna shares her sweet, bittersweet, and deeply poignant tales, she often refers to her role model of Scarlett O’Hara and frequently asks herself, “what would Scarlett do?” The answer is usually anything that will maintain the rebel deb’s strong confidence in herself. Because, when interviewed by BUST Magazine in May 2010, the author defined a rebel debutante as:

“She’s a woman who will bake a cake, clean a rifle, and drive a stick shift with a smile. She’s a mix of masculine and feminine, strong and soft—like all real women.”

However one strong tenet, revealed in the memoir, is that a rebel deb will not be content to simply stay home and birth babies. Oh no, she’s first destined to be true to herself. And where does that energy and determination come from? Within that same BUST Magazine article, Anna admits:

“I keep my eye on the ball. I stop worrying about what bad things can happen and start taking risks. I consider these to be investments in myself and in my happiness, instead of in fear. I stop competing with others, wondering what others are thinking about me, or what they’re doing. My self-love, my self-confidence, does not depend on others—it comes from God, and it lives within me. With that in mind, I know that I can overcome anything.”

Indeed she can and does, proving herself time after time by coming out on top. And, for the most part, the author accomplishes it all with her polite southern charm intact. For as the book’s description explains:

You can take the girl out of the South, but you can’t take the South out of the girl!

With her homespun tales and smart, experienced wisdom, Anna Fields’ story, though rooted in North Carolina, can resonate with any reader, anywhere. Every region of our country has its own distinct identity passed down by generations of ethnic family traditions. Unique, eccentric, and larger-than-life lovable relatives can be found at almost any holiday gathering. Embarrassing secrets are shared and scorned as younger generations seek to rebel against their past if only to say they can succeed on their own.

Confessions of a Rebel Debutante takes readers on the author’s journey, while nudging out our own personal, growing-up memories along the way. So travel down south with Anna who never took that final deb curtsy but realized that “You can’t bend the rules without learning them first.”

* * * * *

[Eleanor Brown’s The Weird Sisters not only remains on The New York Times Bestseller List but has moved from #15 to #14 this week. Have you read it yet? If possible, do treat yourself….it’s delicious!]

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Anna Fields’ Confessions of a Rebel Debutante 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, March 2, 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.