The Divining Wand

Discovering authors beyond their pages…

Interview with Joëlle Anthony on
The Right & the Real

April 26, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Books, Interviews

[Happy Book Birthday to Joëlle Anthony’s (Restoring Harmony) second YA novel, The Right & the Real, celebrating its publication today.

Once again Joëlle tells an entertaining, edge-of-the-seat story, of girl power….with the help of terrific secondary characters. For those who may have missed the synopsis in Picture the Book: The Right & the Real, the book can be described in this lead sentence: Kicked out of her home for refusing to join a cult, 17-year-old Jamie must find a way to survive on her own.

Being a reader/fan of YA, the author knows her audience and offers a terrific adventure complete with a love story too. In the following interview though, Joëlle provides more background to the storyline and her philosophy on life as well.]

TDW: Restoring Harmony was a successful dystopian novel but now you’re back in the present with The Right & the Real, is there any reason other than that’s where the storyline worked best?

J. A.: I never set out to write a dystopian, it just caught a wave. A bit of luck on my part, really. With Restoring Harmony, my plan was to tell a story set after an economic collapse, and to do that, I had to set it in the future somewhat. I’ve always considered myself a contemporary YA writer.

TDW: Where did the idea for The Right & the Real come from, what’s the backstory?

J. A.: I’m from Portland and I used to see the sort of motels around that are in the book. I couldn’t go past them without wondering who lived in them. I actually came up with one of the other characters in R&R, LaVon, several years ago when I was working on a book that I’ve since abandoned. I always liked him and when I was looking for a new book idea after Restoring Harmony, he kept saying, “Choose me!” so I thought about who might live in a motel next door to him, and why she might be there.

TDW: In both novels the plot spotlights fighting against control and oppression to gain freedom and independence. Is this a personal cause?

J. A.: I hope it is for everybody! Actually, I think it’s more that I really want to create young characters who are strong and determined. It’s almost my obligation or responsibility. If kids are going to read my books, I want them to feel empowered, like they could be in that situation and handle it, even if they aren’t equipped for it now. It’s more about doing the right thing than fighting anyone.

TDW: Is your idyllic life on the island in B.C. a way to live as freely as possible?

J. A.: Living on such an idyllic island is both a reflection of living my beliefs, and also, a little bit of me sticking my head in the sand. I know that the rest of Canada and the world is not the way it is here, and on a larger level, I worry about that. But on a local level, I do what I can to make this part of the world better. I don’t like the idea of fighting unless you have to, so I try to live here, in a responsible, peaceful way, so that I’m happy and also so I have as little negative impact on the Earth as I can.

TDW: Your protagonists have both been intelligent, strong-willed young adults who are not blind to romance, how do you balance the romantic element and still maintain the character’s independence?

J. A.: I am a total romantic, and I’m not sure I even knew it until people started calling RH a romance! However, it’s important to me that it’s one element of any story I tell, not the whole story. There are places for complete romances, but my writing is not that place. I think we all love romance to some degree, and I can use that in my writing to show my character growing – dumping the wrong guy, standing up for the right one, being on her own if that’s what’s necessary. It has to be one facet of the story, not the be all and end all. The other thing that’s important to me is for the guys to act like guys. My husband watches over them to make sure they don’t do anything too girly!

TDW: Your writing also contains wonderful pacing and believable action, does this come from your theatre background? Do these scenes play out in your mind?

J. A.: I can definitely see every scene as if it were a movie. These movies play in my head all the time when I’m writing. I do think this comes from my theatre background, but it’s hard to say for sure to what extent because I don’t see much separation between writing and theatre/acting. It’s all just part of me. There is a certain amount of scene structure that I learned while studying directing, and I think that helps me create visual scenes.

TDW: Your secondary characters could be stars in their own right and I appreciate how fully developed they are, yet how do you manage to give them that much life in such limited appearances?

J. A.: It’s very nice to hear you say that because secondary characters are my biggest challenge! When I write a first draft, everyone except my main character tends to simply prop up the story. I always mean to make the supporting cast fantastically rounded from the beginning to save myself some work, but it never happens. Once I have a draft, I go back and combine characters, cut others, and try to find ways to use small characters again later in the story. After I’ve done that, I spend time with each one, figuring out what they want in each scene, and in their lives, their likes and dislikes, even what they look like.

I read recently, and I’m sorry I don’t recall where, that every character in every book thinks that the author is telling their story, that they are the most important character in it. As I work on each one, I try to keep that in mind. It really helps.

TDW: Besides being entertained, what would you like readers to take away from R&R?

J. A.: Mostly, I just want them to be entertained. Actually, that’s all I want. A good story can teach you what you need to know, but I consider that a bonus. Some books you read for information, some you read to change your life, and some you read so that you can be sucked into the narrative. That’s what I aim to write…books that grab you and don’t let you go. I like books that make you wonder afterward what you would do if that happened to you. Like my mentors, Nevil Shute and John Rowe Townsend, I’m just trying to tell a good story.

Indeed Joëlle Anthony tells an excellent story and you can discover that by reading The Right & the Real available now.

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of The Right & the Real by Joëlle Anthony– in a random drawing — to anyone who leaves a comment on this post by 11:59 p.m. EDT tonight! The winner will be notified by email tomorrow.

Picture the Book: The Right & the Real

April 18, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Book Trailers

Successful YA novelist Joëlle Anthony (Restoring Harmony) returns to bookstore shelves on April 26th with her second book The Right & the Real.

With another bright, brave, and bold teenage heroine, the author tells the tale of how easily life can spin out of control and how difficult it can be to do what’s right.

Kicked out of her home for refusing to join a cult, 17-year-old Jamie must find a way to survive on her own.

Jamie should have known something was off about the church of the Right and the Real from the start, especially when the Teacher claimed he wasn’t just an ordinary spiritual leader, but Jesus Christ, himself. But she was too taken by Josh, the eldest son of one of the church’s disciples, and his all-American good looks. Josh is the most popular boy at school too, and the first boy outside the drama geeks to give Jamie a second look. But getting her Dad involved in a cult was not part of the plan when she started dating Josh. Neither was her dad’s marriage to the fanatic Mira, or getting kicked out, or seeing Josh in secret because the church has deemed her persona non grata.

Jamie’s life has completely fallen apart. Finding her way back won’t be easy, but when her Dad gets himself into serious trouble, will Jamie be ready to rescue him, and maybe even forgive him?

The Right & the Real Advanced Praise:

“Fast pacing and a strong first-person narrative voice combine to make this coming-of-age story a harrowing page-turner.” – PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY

“Nail biting tension and a plot that just won’t quit. The Right & the Real is a romance with attitude and a romp with heart.” – Tim Wynne-Jones, award-winning author of The Uninvited and the critically acclaimed, Blink & Caution

“The Right & the Real has everything a reader could want: a gutsy heroine, romance, betrayal, and a pace that will keep you reading late into the night. Anthony’s character shows us what it takes to survive in a gritty urban landscape when all you have are some unlikely allies, your own wits, and belief in your future.” – Eileen Cook, author of The Education of Hailey Kendrick and Unraveling Isobel

However Joëlle knows that, since a picture is worth a thousand words, the following Book Trailer could well be priceless for gaining attention.

(If the video doesn’t appear on your monitor, please view it here.)

The Divining Wand has scheduled an interview with Joëlle Anthony for Thursday, April 26th — release day for The Right & the Real, available for Pre-order now.

Summer’s TBR Lists, II

June 09, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites, Q&A

A-h-h summer, how do we love thee for HOT, lazy days — the perfect reason to relax and get lost in a book? And, since summer book lists are currently being published, The Divining Wand decided to ask its authors:

What’s on your summer “must/want to read” list?

This week the following writers replied:

~ Joëlle Anthony (Restoring Harmony YA):

“As for books, I’m anxiously awaiting Nova Ren Suma’s new book, IMAGINARY GIRLS. And Deb Caletti has a new book out, STAY.”

~Julie Buxbaum (After You, The Opposite of Love):

“I cannot wait for Laura Dave’s THE FIRST HUSBAND.”

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

“My reading list:
Laura Ryder’s Masterpiece – Jane Hamilton
Once Upon A Time There Was You- Elizabeth Berg
The Red Thread – Ann Hood
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption – Laura Hillenbrand
Bossypants – Tina Fey”

~Kristy Kiernan (Between Friends, Matters of Faith, and Catching Genius):

“My TBR pile looks a little heavy right now: Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro; Moll Flanders by Defoe; Candide by Voltaire; Middlemarch by Eliot; Crossing the Safety by Stegner; Disgrace by Coetzee.”

~Kate Ledger (Remedies):

“That list seems to get longer every week. There are so many great books out there. I’m currently reading a lot of books about medicine and the lives of doctors as research for the novel I’m writing now. But two I’m looking forward to for pure intrigue and the love of the journey are: Randy Susan Meyers’s novel about a family surviving domestic violence, The Murderer’s Daughters, and Mitchell James Kaplan’s novel set during the Spanish Inquisition, By Fire, By Water.”

~Meg Mitchell Moore (The Arrivals):

“Can’t wait to read for these new releases: The Bird Sisters, The Kitchen Daughter, The Art of Forgetting and The Violets of March. Also so excited for Kate Atkinson’s Started Early, Took My Dog and for a long time now I’ve been meaning to read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Oh, and Townie by Andre Dubus III. And of course the newest Elin Hilderbrand novel, Silver Girl. I’ll be first in line for that one.”

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

“I can’t wait to read LORD OF MISRULE, the National Book Award winner Jaimy Gordon who lives here in West Michigan. I was lucky enough to meet her — she’s charming, funny and down-to-earth — and the book sounds amazing. My autographed copy is tempting me right now, but I have some library books in the queue first…”

To be continued….

* * * * *

Announcement: The winners of From Bad to Cursed by Katie Alender are Eileen and Jessica Stanton. Congratulations.

Please email diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and your book will be pre-ordered to be sent out next week.

Favorite Fictional Worlds, I

May 05, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites, Q&A

When Eleanor Brown (The Weird Sisters) responded earlier this year with an alternative answer for her fictional BFF, it was simply too good (and intriguing) to pass up. And so, with a grateful nod to Eleanor, TDW asked its other authors:

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

This week the following writers replied:

~ Joëlle Anthony (Restoring Harmony YA):

“I would definitely want to live in Deep Valley, Minnesota with Betsy and Tacy and the Crowd. This would be circa 1906-1910. I know Minnesota is FREEZING in the winter, and BOILING and HUMID in the summer, but they made it sound so nice and cozy with their wool dresses (and wool long underwear!) and furs (of course, my furs would have to be faux). Walking to school through the snow, or downtown to Heinz’s for hot chocolate all sounds so dreamy to me! And spring and summer sound so fun…swimming in the lake (again, in wool!) and eating lots of fresh peach pie. And picnics on the Big Hill. Sign me up! For those of your readers who are not as obsessed as I am with Betsy and Tacy, I am referring, of course, to the Betsy-Tacy book series by Maud Hart Lovelace.?

~Julie Buxbaum (After You, The Opposite of Love):

“I’d love to live in The Secret Garden. Okay, not in the garden itself, but I think it would be so much fun to live in the huge manor behind it and play on the moors all day with Dickon and Mary and frolic in that fictional and magical world. I don’t get to frolic enough in real life.”

~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):

“This is a hard question to answer- I can think of millions of books I would love to visit. I’d swing by Jane Austen’s drawing room, take a wander through the museum in The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and put my feet up at Hogwarts and enjoy a cup of Butterbeer with Harry Potter.”

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

“Is it just too predictable to say- in Harry Potter’s world, specifically Hogwarts? I’ve always wanted a little magic in my life; and I don’t mean the magic of spring. I want to twitch my nose or blink my eyes and be the witch or genie of my television youth. When I was 7 or so, I was sure, with the right amount of determination and focus, I would be able to levitate, turn bullies into pigs and disappear. I started small, I concentrated on pencils first, sure I could move them to my side. I think now, if only I’d turned that single-minded energy into punctuation or say my abs, I’d be amazing. There would be no need for my wizard fantasies. No need to pine for a wand. But I do pine. I fantasize about joining forces with Harry; smiting evil, silencing gossips, saving the world. I would so happily bow to a Hippogriff and ride off to find terrorists; anything to get me away from grocery shopping and making meal after uneaten meal for the picky eaters in my family. Truth be told, drudgery is my terrorist so I suppose it’s predictable that I want to live in a place where food appears out of nowhere and a room of requirement exists (you know, other than Costco).”

~Beth Hoffman (Saving CeeCee Honeycutt):

“Right now I wished I lived on a deserted island (like the Swiss Family Robinson) so nobody could find me! I’m trying to stay focused on writing my new novel and if I could only hide for a while, I’d be able to get a lot more done.”

~Ad Hudler (Man of the House, All This Belongs to Me, House Husband):

“When my daughter was going through her mopey, teenage years, unhappy with the world around her, we came up with a game that we’d play while driving in the van: We invented our own perfect planets that we would create and rule over. Planet Ad was a pleasant place indeed: Every structure would be painted in bright, Caribbean colors. There would be no rap music, no cigarettes, no rudeness, no slow drivers in the left-hand lane, no laugh tracks on TV sitcoms. There would be no cell phones; people would actually talk to each other in person.”

~Kristy Kiernan (Between Friends, Matters of Faith, and Catching Genius):

“I would like to live on my own creation–Big Dune Island from Catching Genius. Sun, sand, the Gulf of Mexico, shrimp…ahhh, happiness.”

~Holly LeCraw (The Swimming Pool):

“I confess I am too entranced by the ordinary world around me to want to go anywhere else. Truth.”

~Lauren Baratz-Logsted (most recent The Twin’s Daughter YA, and middle grade addition The Sisters Eight Book 6: Petal’s Problems, The Education of Bet YA, Crazy Beautiful YA, Sisters 8 series Book 5: Marcia’s Madness):

“The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. There needs to be another female character in there to give Eilonwy some competition for Taran’s heart. Plus, I’m pretty sure I’m less strident than she is.”

~Kristina McMorris (Letters From Home):

“I’m a huge fan of The Tudors, so would love to experience life as part of their royal court — but just for an evening of elegant gowns, delicious wine, and charming folk dances. In other words, not long enough to be sentenced to a beheading.”

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

“Can I cheat a little on this question with a neighborhood that isn’t fictional but is probably very different today? I’ve always loved the neighborhoods described by James Herriott in his “All Things Bright and Beautiful” series – pubs, rolling green hills, friendly neighbors (and since I adore animals it would have been fun to go on veterinary rounds with him). But I’d have to go back in time…”

~Lori Roy (Bent Road):

“I would choose to live on Melrose Island, South Carolina, the childhoold home of Tom Wingo from THE PRINCE OF TIDES (abscent the tragic childhood.) Why would I want to live there…because Pat Conroy made it irresistible.”

To be continued….

* * * * *

Announcement: The winner of Exposure by Therese Fowler is Jennifer Downing. Congratulations!

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

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.


Presenting Debutante Sarah Pekkanen and The Opposite of Me

Jenny Gardiner and Winging It


Kristy Kiernan and Between Friends

Holly LeCraw and The Swimming Pool

Matthew Quick and SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR


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


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.

Presenting Debutante Joëlle Anthony and Restoring Harmony

May 12, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books, Debs

While getting to know Debutante Joëlle Anthony through her Friday posts, visitors to this season’s Debutante Ball have been treated and enlightened by somewhat of a Renaissance woman. Truly it’s difficult to imagine a challenge this writer can’t resolve (in a practical or unique way) and one needs only to read her YA novel, Restoring Harmony, debuting tomorrow — May 13, 2010 — for proof positive.

Of course by introducing herself with “Deb Joëlle’s real talent is…,” expectations were set high:

“My name is Joëlle Anthony, and I’m pretty sure I was chosen to be a Deb because I know how to make butter. It’s true. You see, when I applied, there was a section on the application for ‘“other things we should know”’/ or something like that, and since I didn’t really think I should admit right then that I have trouble with commas, I decided to explain how to make butter. I am thinking that the 09 Debs read that and thought, ‘“Now there’s a well-rounded girl.”’ Or not.” More…

Her comma trouble (there’s an editor for that) became a non-issue for this superb storyteller who read an excerpt from James Kuntsler’s book, The Long Emergency, that predicted the end of oil and discussed a transition period. Joëlle’s interest wasn’t in the end of oil but of the time period where people dealt and bounced back from it.

The idea for Restoring Harmony was born from that, although Joëlle believes Mr. Kuntsler would say the world she created is much too tame.

Here’s the synopsis:

The year is 2041, and sixteen-year-old Molly McClure has lived a relatively quiet life on an isolated farming island in Canada, but when her family fears the worst may have happened to her grandparents in the US, Molly must brave the dangerous, chaotic world left after global economic collapse—one of massive oil shortages, rampant crime, and abandoned cities.

Molly is relieved to find her grandparents alive in their Portland suburb, but they’re financially ruined and practically starving. What should’ve been a quick trip turns into a full-fledged rescue mission. And when Molly witnesses something the local crime bosses wishes she hadn’t, Molly’s only way home may be to beat them at their own game. Luckily, there’s a handsome stranger who’s willing to help.

Restoring Harmony is a riveting, fast-paced dystopian tale complete with adventure and romance that readers will devour.

The critical literary reviews are glorious despite the fact that some have categorized this as a dystopian novel. For Joëlle tends to disagree by noting: I think of dystopian as some sort of natural disaster or something that happens way off in the future, in a different world. Restoring Harmony is set only thirty years from now, and is very much this world. The problems people are dealing with are mostly from economic collapse, not something wild or futuristic.”

Also one reviewer pointed out that in most dystopian novels it’s the collapse of technology that affects the characters’ daily lives, not new technology. And as this debut author says, “…that’s why I never thought of it as dystopian. It seems like things are sliding backward in RH, instead of moving forward.”

Indeed, backwards to core family values. In fact Joëlle Anthony describes her book in this one sentence: “It’s an adventure story about music, family, and food.”

And the Book Trailer — featuring musician/model Sarah Tradewell with photography by Victor Anthony — captures the storyline perfectly.

The October 16, 2009 post, Leap by Deb Joëlle, tells:

“Writing Restoring Harmony was one of the biggest chances I’ve ever taken. It is a departure from everything I’d ever written before. I had been a safe writer. I’d taken “Write what you know” to heart and never strayed from the familiar path of my own self-knowledge and life experiences. But Molly’s story is different. It’s an adventure. It required research. It made me work.”

Those words piqued my interest and remembering them long after reading The Advanced Reader Copy, I asked the author what type of research she did for this amazingly authentic adventure tale and if she ever considered changing Molly into a Michael? Her response is amazing too:

“I did actual physical research, like traveling Molly’s route. And I listened to a lot of fiddle music. I chose tunes I knew for the book, not just random fiddle tunes. Although one serendipitous thing happened as far as the tunes go. There is one in the book called Peekaboo Waltz. When I lived in Tennessee, I heard it on a CD of my husband’s and I asked him to learn it on guitar because I liked it so much, and he did. When it came time to pick a waltz for the book, I knew exactly which one to choose. What I didn’t know is that, ‘“every Western Canadian fiddle player knows the Peekaboo Waltz.”’ I sat in on a fiddle workshop with the master fiddle teacher Gordon Stobbe, and that was what he told his students. And then he taught it to them. I knew it was a traditional tune and played all over, but I didn’t know it was considered something any Western Canadian fiddler should definitely know. That was pure luck.

Also, pretty much all the gardening in the book was research. I now know a lot about gardening as we’re growing a lot of our own food, but at the time I wrote RH, I didn’t know anything about gardening.

Molly was always Molly. I do think that it’s interesting that while most children’s writers are women, a strong female character is considered noteworthy. It seems to me that as a woman, it’s my responsibility to write strong female characters. It doesn’t mean I can’t tell a story from a boy’s POV, but I do consider gender roles very carefully when writing. Like the principal of a school is so often a man, but why? Habit. That’s something I like to challenge with my writing.”

Simply put, I adored this book and Joëlle’s writing of Molly. This realistic character — imbued with enough innocence to be a 16-year old “farm girl” — is also bright, resourceful, caring, hardworking, brave and ready for anything. The truth is that the more YA novels I read, there’s more feeling of hope restored. Molly restored harmony, changing the lives of so many, by her own confident optimism and action. No supernatural powers were necessary, no gimmicks, Molly was merely being the best she could be and what a message to convey to adolescents. Or, for that matter, to anyone.

The world had changed, yet Molly only knew the good times of family, truth, and thoughtfulness. Perhaps that’s what is so compelling about this YA adventure as it takes us back to similar childhood and adolescent years.

How good to be reminded of what we had and how good of Deb Joëlle Anthony to share what our children still might recapture. Restoring Harmony, the book, can be yours tomorrow…while restoring harmony, universally, remains a work in progress.

* * * * *

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Joëlle Anthony’s Restoring Harmony in a random drawing to anyone who comments on this post today, before the deadline of 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in tomorrow’s post. If you enter, please return tomorrow to possibly claim your book.


Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Meredith Cole’s Dead in the Water in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Meredith Cole and Dead in the Water. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is tonight at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in tomorrow’s post. If you enter, please return tomorrow to possibly claim your book.

Guest Joëlle Anthony Fiddlin’ Around

May 04, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[ Joëlle Anthony debuts next week with her YA novel, Restoring Harmony — a riveting tale of how a resourceful teen survives, and even finds romance, in a future world where no one is as they seem. To add another dimension to her main character, the author also gave her the gift of music as she explains in this guest post.]

While I’ve been a writer for a long time, it wasn’t until I moved to Tennessee to live with my then boyfriend/now husband that I was able to quit my job and focus on writing full time (about 6 years ago). Victor is a musician, and living with someone who plays guitar, mandolin, banjo, and ukulele, sings, and relishes his old vinyl record collection and turntable changed my life. Unfortunately, I did not become a great musician, but I did become an astute listener.

What was most surprising (and really shouldn’t have been) about living with a songwriter is that he didn’t sit around playing his own music every night. I’m not sure why I thought he would. I mean, at the end of the day, I don’t settle into the reading chair with Restoring Harmony, do I? Uh, no. I read other people’s books. So what happened, living with Victor, was instead of getting a personal concert of my favourite songs that he wrote each night, I got an old-time traditional music education.

While Victor’s own music is more a mix of bluesy-jazzy-Lyle-Lovett-Tom-Waits type stuff, his true love is old-time traditional music. You’re probably more familiar with bluegrass than what constitutes old-time, so I’ll give you a very rudimentary tutorial, which probably stems more from my observation, than from actual fact. Bluegrass is played FAST, the faster the better. And in a circle of musicians, they tend to move around, each taking a solo, each trying to play faster and outdo the person before them.

In old-time, it’s much more an ensemble situation. And it’s not unusual for a circle of musicians to play the same tune over and over for ten, fifteen, or even twenty minutes, the whole thing becoming something of a meditation as the energy increases and melds together, going on and on and on until the fiddler (who is essentially the leader) kicks up his or her foot indicating it’s time to take a break for a beer. There’s more singing in bluegrass too, although there are plenty of old-time songs as well. In bluegrass, the choices tends to lean towards gospel, while in old-time it’s more about killing your lover, or leaving the farm, or missing your lover who died because you left the farm and returned too late.

Anyway, the more music I had around me, the more I found it seeping into my writing. I have two manuscripts tucked away, probably never to be published, about a girl who plays old-time music on guitar and lives in a house similar to ours on the lake in TN. And as you probably know, Molly McClure, the main character in Restoring Harmony is a fiddle player.

I chose to have Molly play the fiddle for several reasons. First of all, I’d played violin as a child and so I have a bit of a feel for the instrument, even though I don’t play now. Also, it’s a portable instrument, perfect for a road-trip. Another reason is because while Victor really is only a beginner fiddler, and couldn’t help me too much on the technical aspects of fiddle playing, he did know all about the music and could assist me there. Also, some of our friends in TN are “top of the heap” fiddlers too. They would come to our house and sit on our covered porch and raise the roof with their playing, which made me want to “participate” somehow and the only way I could think of was with writing.

Molly could’ve played a mandolin. Victor plays one well and so he could’ve easily been my expert, but there’s something about fiddlin’ that is just brash and brazen and brave and so like Molly. And by making Molly a fiddler, I have experienced a most amazing thing. I’ve drawn into my life, Sarah Tradewell – Canadian teen fiddler extraordinaire. SarahFiddle Oh, and did I mention that I met her while my book was out on submission, not before I wrote it, and yet she physically looks exactly like I imagined and described Molly? The story of how we met is too long to include in this post, and many of you have heard it, but if you haven’t, check out this video.

I think what I find most amazing about Restoring Harmony is how I’ve been able to weave music through it, when only 6 years ago, I had no idea what it was like to be a musician. Living with live music truly is a gift and I hope that by incorporating it into my writing, I can inspire others to pick up instruments, share their talents, or just start listening to something they might never have listened to before.

To hear several of the tunes and songs from Restoring Harmony, performed and sung by Victor and Sarah, check out my website. I’d love to hear what you think of the music! And thanks, Larramie, for having me here.

* * * * *

[Book Giveaway:] The Divining Wand is giving away the five books of the Sisters 8 series, including the latest — Marcia’s Madness. Anyone leaving a comment on this post will be entered into a random drawing with the winner receiving ALL five books! The deadline for this giveaway is Wednesday, May 5, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced in Thursday’s post.

The Revealing of Joëlle Anthony

April 27, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

GuestJoelleOn Thursday, May 13, 2010 Joëlle Anthony debuts as a YA author of Restoring Harmony. Addictive, adventurous, and amazingly honest are all adjectives that apply to this novel, however also read what Kirkus says: “Suspense dominates this absorbing and believable near-future dystopic novel about a girl sent to rescue her grandparents from the United States ten years after ‘”the Collapse.”‘ The author’s vision of a future America following the failure of the oil-based economy makes realistic sense and keeps interest high. Highly readable; very well done indeed.”

The Divining Wand has scheduled a presentation/review of Restoring Harmony on Wednesday, May 12, 2010, yet — in the meantime — let’s meet the about-to-be author by reading her “official” bio:

Joëlle currently lives on a tiny island in British Columbia with her musician husband, Victor Anthony. As for the future, their only plan is to avoid real jobs, write and play guitar in front of the wood stove, and live happily ever after. Look for her debut novel, Restoring Harmony, in May 2010 from Putnam.

Did that pique your interest? Well here’s more of Joëlle revealed:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: Blessed, happy, food, love, nature, books, writing, music

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: Everything always works out for me.

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: My life – more specifically, a life filled with the things I want to do, surrounded by people I love, with a couple of cats thrown in for good measure, and lots of homegrown food and live music.

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: Having to work in retail again.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: Right here, right now. I’m pretty much a bloom where I’m planted sort of girl.

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: Well, Betsy Ray. I mean, I know she’s a fictional character, but we are a lot alike (from the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace).

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: That’s easy. My husband!

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases
A: To be honest…, I’m just going to read for a minute and then I’ll make dinner…, and If you ask me… (usually when no one has actually asked me).

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: I would be able to sing really well.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: Well, I’m still working on it, but learning to be quiet on the inside. I can do it when I really need to, but I’d like to have it be more of an everyday thing. I suffer from what is called “monkey mind.” In other words, my brain rarely stops for a rest.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: See above!

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

Q: What do you regret most?
A: I really try to live in my here and now, so regrets aren’t part of my life. However, if I could re-do anything from my past, I probably would’ve gotten a better education. Especially in high school. I really only did what I needed to do to get by.

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: Me. No doubt about it. I love being me.

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: My smile. I am almost always smiling.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Betsy, of course!

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Oh, that guy in Meg Cabot’s Mediator series. Paul. He is just so unbelievable horrible and arrogant.

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: Oh, definitely Joe Girardi. He’s my favourite baseball player (now manager). I would say to him, “Why aren’t you working for the Cubs? You should be working for the Cubs.”

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: People (especially writers who should know better) who spell the words “a lot” as alot. Also, ok for okay, and alright for all right. I’m a traditionalist.

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: It’s a toss-up between walking and cooking. I get a lot of peace from walking, but I get a lot of yummy food from cooking!

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Singing old-time ballads and music in a band with my husband.

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Honesty, humour, kindness.

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Well, I guess it would have to be salty, because that’s what I like, and somewhat nutritious if I were going to eat it for forever, so I’ll go with chips and guacamole.

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: True Blue Baby – Victor Anthony
Picture in a Frame – Tom Waits
Brianna’s Reel – Sarah Tradewell
Whiter Shade of Pale – performed by Annie Lennox
Last Train From Poor Valley – Norman Blake

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
The Betsy-Tacy series counts as one, right?
Trustee From the Tool Room – Nevil Shute
The Summer People – John Rowe Townsend
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
And just to add something recent into the mix (because there really are so many anyway that five is just random) Dirty Little Secrets – the new YA release by C.J. Omololu

Diversely talented, clever, and very kind, Joëlle will surprise you in so many ways. Discover how by following her on Twitter and becoming a friend on Facebook.

* * * * *

[Book Giveaway:] The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR in a random drawing of all comments left on this post. The deadline is Wednesday, April 28, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please visit on Thursday to possibly claim your book. Good luck!

Our Authors’ Go-To Writing Books, I

March 11, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Q&A

When the following thoughtful question was posted on The Divining Wand’s Q & A page — rather than select a few authors to answer this query –, it was sent out to everyone.

I wondered, what do your authors read in the way of writing books? Do they have favorites they refer to again and again? Do they read the classics like, Bird by Bird, or Writing Down the Bones, or do they favor books on craft like, Save the Cat?

Reading (and writing) minds want to know!

As might be expected there were duplicates mentioned, however the authors’ overall choices are impressive for any writer’s library:

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

“I am sure you will get a slew of the best book titles, but my true fav is the Scene Book by Sandra Scofield — wonderful for fiction and narrative writers of all kinds.”

Sarah Pekkanen (The Opposite of Me):

“I have my writing bibles up on my website under the “Writers I Love Link” and I also did a piece for NPR’s “All Things considered” on the 3 books that helped me learn to write a book – it’s on the main page of my website.”

Lauren Baratz-Logsted (most recent Crazy Beautiful YA, Sisters 8 series with Book 5: Marcia’s Madness coming May 3, 2010):

“My favorites over the Years: Forest from the Trees, Betsy Lerner; On Writing, Stephen King; The Mythic Journey, Christopher Vogler; The Art of Dramatic Writing, Lajos Egri.”

Ad Hudler (Man of the House, All This Belongs to Me, House Husband):

“I might be in the minority here, but I never read books about writing. Instead, I learn by critically reading other writers’ novels and essays and memoirs. If I like something I say, “‘Now … what makes this work so well?” And if I don’t like it I say, “Now … why didn’t this work? What’s wrong with it?'” But writing books per se? Nah.”

Joëlle Anthony (Restoring Harmony YA coming May 13, 2010):

“I’ve never been that big on books about writing, although I’ve read a few – Bird by Bird comes to mind. However, I like craft books. Ones that tell me what to do, like how to plot a mystery or write comedy or edit the first five pages. My favourite one, and the only one I really turn to over and over, is Donald Maas’ workbook that accompanies his book WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL. While I don’t have dreams of being the next Dan Brown, this book and workbook has taught me so much about the craft of writing. And I use some of his exercises when I teach writing too. It’s a must-have for every writer’s library, if you ask me. No matter what your genre or aspirations.”

Therese Fowler (Souvenir, Reunion)

“My personal go-to books are the following:

By John Gardner: On Becoming a Novelist and The Art of Fiction
Stephen King’s On Writing
Janet Burroway’s Writing Fiction (the best instructional book I’ve found)
Robert Olen Butler & Janet Burroway’s From Where You Dream

Each fills a different need. Gardner’s books are a bit dated, but his clear-eyed assessments and advice have always spoken to me.”

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

“Stephen King has a wonderful book, On Writing. But for me — the best way to learn about writing is to read (over and over again) the books that I love. I try to absorb what these writers have done with characters, dialogue, plot, voice, etc. Then I write and write and write.”

Jenny Gardiner (Sleeping with Ward Cleaver, Winging It: Twenty Years of Caring for a Vengeful Bird Determined to Kill Me coming March 16, 2010)

“Loved Bird by Bird and Stephen King’s On Writing. I think Save the Cat is a fabulous book that anyone who is putting pen to paper to tell a story should
read. Blake Snyder was a wonderful, smart, and generous person who shared so much great
information for anyone and everyone. I was so sad that we lost him so young. And really bummed because he was to blurb my book and I know it would have been a lovely one.”

To be continued…

Announcement: The winners of Sarah Pekkanen’s debut novel, The Opposite of Me, are Janel and Kristen. Congratulations! Please send your mailing address to diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com and I’ll get the books to you as soon as possible. Thank you for playing everyone.

Our Authors’ Spring/Summer Book Releases

March 04, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Advance News, Books

Have you heard, new books are coming? That’s been my refrain throughout the winter but it’s only the truth. And the new releases begin appearing next Tuesday when Sarah Pekkanen (hmm, ever heard of her?) debuts with The Opposite of Me.

Rather than tell of all the others, let me show you what will soon be in bookstores as well as here on The Divining Wand.

March 9, 2010:
Sarah Pekkanen debuts with The Opposite of Me

March 16, 2010:
Jenny Gardiner (Sleeping with Ward Cleaver) launches her memoir, Winging It: Twenty Years of Caring for a Vengeful Bird Determined to Kill Me.WIT

April 6, 2010:
Kristy Kiernan (Catching Genius, Matters of Faith) gifts us with her third novel, Between Friends.BFsm

Holly LeCraw debuts with The Swimming Pool.TSWMPs

May 3, 2010:Lauren Baratz-Logsted (most recent Crazy Beautiful YA, Sisters 8 series) adds to the SISTERS 8 with with Book 5: Marcia’s Madness.MAMAD

May 11, 2010:
Meredith Cole (Posed for Murder) gives us more chills with her second mystery, Dead in the Water.DItWsm

Barrie Summy (I So Don’t Do Mysteries, I So Don’t Do Spooky) has yet another detective case for preteens with I So Don’t Do Makeup Ages 9 – 12.ISODDMAKE

May 13, 2010:
Joëlle Anthony debuts with Restoring Harmony YA.RESHAR

May 25, 2010:

Emily Winslow debuts with The Whole World.TWHWORLDsm

Thaisa Frank (A Brief History in Camouflage, Sleeping in Velvet) offers a gem with Heiddegger’s Glasses.HEIDGLAS

June 1, 2010:
Allison Winn Scotch (The Department of Lost and Found, Time of My Life) assures us that her third novel is The One That I Want.TOTIWsm

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

June 22, 2010:
Trish Ryan (He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Love, and Happily Ever After) shares more of her life with A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances.AMAZEGRACE

July 12, 2010:
Lauren Baratz-Logsted (most recent Crazy Beautiful YA, Sisters 8 series with Book 5: Marcia’s Madness) returns to YA with The Education of Bet.TEDoB

August 5, 2010:
Alicia Bessette debuts with Simply from Scratch.SIMSCR

August 17, 2010:
Kristina Riggle (Real Life & Liars) promises another “a la Anne Tyler” novel with The Life You’ve Imagined.

All of these authors will be revealed and their books presented, in addition to a few surprises. Remember, it begins this Monday with The Opposite of Me!

[Note: This information will be archived on the Debuts page.]