The Divining Wand

Discovering authors beyond their pages…

Barrie Summy’s I So Don’t Do Spooky

December 07, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books

According to the Random House Author Spotlight on Barrie Summy, she and her two younger sisters grew up following their parents’ rules. And the author admits:

“One of the toughest and meanest rules was about books. The mother and father divided books into two groups: meat-and-potato books and dessert books. The rule went like this: You could read as many meat-and-potato books in a row as you wanted, but you had to read at least one meat-and-potato book to get to a dessert book. Nancy Drew mysteries were dessert books.The smartest and bravest and most beautiful daughter (that’s the first daughter, in case you’ve forgotten) loved Nancy Drew mysteries more than anything in world. She vowed to her sisters that she would grow up and write a Nancy Drew mystery. Maybe even two, in a row. She might even write a meat-and-potato book, but she’d definitely start with Nancy Drew. As it turns out, she grew up and wrote I So Don’t Do Mysteries starring thirteen-year-old Sherry Holmes Baldwin. And discovered it was much tougher to write a book than to read ten meat-and-potato books back to back.”

Nevertheless Barrie prevailed and her second Sherry Holmes Baldwin book, I So Don’t Do Spooky, (for middle-grade readers) will be released tomorrow, December 8, 2009, just in time for the holidays which are of course known for their sweets and desserts.

Now are you’re wondering how the author convinces reluctant Sherry Baldwin to give in and do spooky? It’s basically the same reason why she did mysteries — for her mom, a policewoman, who died in a drug bust well over a year ago, and is now a ghost able only to make contact with her daughter. Mom is still on duty, though, trying her best to solve crimes. Since that’s a bit difficult from the spirit world, she enlists Sherry’s real life resourcefulness, determination, and bravery as they become a mother-daughter team. And, while their first solving of a mystery had a more general feel, their spooky adventure is much more personal. Read Sherry’s explanation in this synopsis:

Someone’s out to get Sherry’s stepmom. . . .Can she save her before it’s too late?

Did you know that the main campus of the Academy of Spirits is at a Dairy Queen in Phoenix? Me either. Until now. Some weird stuff has been happening to my stepmother, Paula, and the Academy has asked me, Sherry Holmes Baldwin, to get to the bottom of it. They think someone’s trying to hurt her.

I really don’t want to get involved — my life is way too busy. Josh and I are celebrating two blissful months of togetherness. And my best friend, Junie, is finally showing a teeny bit of interest in clothes and makeup after years of brainiac behavior. But being that my mom is a ghost and all, me, my brother, and my dad rely on Paula a lot. So it’s not like I can just ignore what’s going on. Especially since my mom is competing at the Ghostlympics. If she comes in first place, she earns five minutes of Real Time.

And that means I’ve got to get involved in a creepy, freaky mystery.

But . . . I so don’t do spooky.

Clear, isn’t it, from a typical 13-year old? Now Sherry must help her mom to protect her stepmom from harm. For more clarification, there’s the I So Don’t Do Spooky Book Trailer:

Although it’s been a year since I So Don’t Do Mysteries debuted, I So Don’t Do Spooky picks up only two months later. Within that time frame, though, Sherry has matured to the point of accepting her stepmom. In fact that’s the primary backstory for the book as Barrie explains:

“Part of the trick, I think, in writing a good mystery is to give the detective a strong reason to solve it. A reason more compelling than mere curiosity. There are a few solid reasons for Sherry to buy into a case involving her stepmother. The Ruler is now family PLUS the Academy of Spirits assigns her the case PLUS her mother wants The Ruler safe and able to care for her children.

“As time goes on, Sherry comes to appreciate The Ruler more and more. That said, The Ruler is a parent figure and ALL that entails to a tween! 😉 Hmmm…..and I do like that the reader often sees the truer, gentler side of The Ruler, and it’s Sherry who’s playing catch up.”

Having read the Advanced Reader Copy, what this fairy godmother liked was that a young adolescent could work through her feelings of losing a mother, gaining a stepmother and understanding that — on different levels — they’re both there for her and it all makes sense in a quirky way. Yet Sherry isn’t a quirk character.

Instead Barrie has created a very believable 13-year old who would rather shop than study, stereotypes her peers, and spends far too much time flirting with and kissing her boyfriend Josh. While I’d rather have all of the above left out of the novel (why perpetuate this behavior?), it does allow the reader to accept Sherry as “real” despite her paranormal activities. Also, to be fair, the author redeems her heroine who ultimately gets her priorities straight.

I So Don’t Do Spooky is seriously fun with lessons of life to be learned from a mystery. And, while Barrie Summy’s parents thought of Nancy Drew books as dessert, Sherry Holmes Baldwin books are tasty treats with substance — the perfect choice for gift-giving to any young girl in your life!

Announcement: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Barrie Summy’s I So Don’t Do Spooky. To enter, please leave a comment on this post by Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m. EST. The winners will be chosen from a random drawing and announced here in Thursday’s post.

The Revealing of Barrie Summy

November 25, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

barrie child cropped
Yes that’s a picture of Barrie Summy, a young Barrie — of course — but since she’s the author of humorous middle-grade mysteries…well it seems appropriate. Barrie debuted with I So Don’t Do Mysteries exactly one year ago and her second book, I So Don’t Do Spooky will be released on December 8, 2009 and is scheduled to be presented here on Monday, December 7th.

According to her “official” bio on the backflap book jacket cover:

Barrie Summy grew up in Canada on a steady diet of books and tobogganing. She tries to read a book a week and always breaks for tea and cookies at three o’clock.

Barrie lives in California with her husband and their four children. She’s currently hard at work on her next book.

But now let’s meet the real Barrie or — at least — as much as she’s inclined to seriously reveal:

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: Bird by bird (based on Anne LaMott’s book: Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life)

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: It’s 78 degrees Fahrenheit with a slight breeze. I’m sitting on a decently webbed chair by a lake in Muskoka, Ontario with a good book in my hands and a cup of hot tea and a butter tart next to me. My children are happy and healthy and firmly on the way to figuring out their lives. My spouse is not snoring. My next book is written and in to the editor, ahead of schedule. All I have to do is read. Relax and read.

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: Having to lead an aerobics class

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: Women

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases?
A: Put your dishes in the dishwasher. Is your homework done? The project is due when??

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: A sense of direction.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: Seriously? Ha! I am so not revealing my greatest flaw for all the cyber world to see. I will, however, reveal a lesser flaw. It is this: I have been known to leave my bed unmade for an entire day.

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: A decent sense of humor.

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: My highlights. Of course, anyone can have them. Just pay my hairdresser a visit.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: This changes depending on which book I’m reading.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: I don’t think I have one.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: Drivers who don’t pull forward at the gas pump.

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

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Being on a team of writers for a TV show.

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Honesty, humor, neatness. Hmmm…Originally, I typed “neatness” as a joke, but now I’m thinking that the more my children become messy teens, the more important neatness has become to me!

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

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; The Gate to Women’s Country; Alias Grace; Lives of Girls and Women; Ladder of Years; The Inn at Lake Devine; The Chrysalids, Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging. Oh, oops. More than five. Sorry.

Funny, kind and very thoughtful (after all she just apologized *G*), get to know Barrie even better by becoming her friend on Facebook.


Wishing you all a most happy, healthy and safe traveling Thanksgiving. May it be filled/stuffed with love and warm memories with family/friends!

And remember Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand will be giving away two copies of Love in Translation. To enter, please leave a comment on this post before the deadline of Saturday, November 28th at 11:59 p.m. EST. Due to the busy holiday week, this contest is being extended and the winners — based on a random drawing — will be announced here in the Monday, November 30th post.