The Divining Wand

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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.

Writing Rituals, Secrets, and Superstitions, V

February 10, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

Yes or no? 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?

This week provides the final responses, including one from new TDW author Catherine McKenzie:

~Stacey Ballis (Good Enough to Eat, The Spinster Sisters, Room for Improvement, the rest in Bibliography):

“Never underestimate the power of a nap, particularly with the television on. The weird midday dreams that sneak in can be very inspiring. And if nothing comes, at least you are well rested.”

~Dee DeTarsio (The Scent of Jade [Kindle Edition]):

It’s “show and tell” on video.

~Tawna Fenske (Making Waves debuting August 2011, Believe It or Not in January 2012, and Let It Breathe August 2012):

“Chianti. Sangiovese. Sometimes Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay.”

~Beth Hoffman (Saving CeeCee Honeycutt):

“I go for a walk in the woods.”

~ Shana Mahaffey (Sounds Like Crazy):

“I have all three. First, because I am inspired by my grandfather, Joseph McGrath, especially since on his deathbed I promised if he’d help me from the “’other side,’” I would dedicate everything I write to him. He was a writer and a coach. At the start of each day, I touch his old IBM Selectric for good writing when I begin. When I begin, I always close my eyes, imagine him there, and then start. For when I am really stuck, I keep his old sweater in my office. I will wrap it around my neck on those occasions where slogging through mud in cement shoes is easier than writing.”

~Catherine McKenzie (Arranged, Spin):

“Nope. I use many things depending on the day. A certain song. A certain place. And to crib from James Frey: When all else fails, I turn to Dylan. And when Dylan fails, I call it a day.”

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

“At one time I would have found this infuriating advice but the one thing that always, no matter what, always works, is writing. Sometimes I take a break from the project I’m working on to do something different, such as write a letter to a favorite teacher or an ode to caramel. I remind myself that playing with words is fun, that writing is fun. Writing something – anything! – helps jolt anything loose that has me hung up: doubts, that evil internal editor, or just a thorny plot snafu.”

~Ivy Pochoda (The Art of Disappearing):

“I stare at my bookshelves.”

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

“I’m not the least bit superstitious about my writing, but I have been known to switch from the keyboard to writing longhand on paper when I’m really stuck. Not so much a secret or a ritual, but it’s a little trick that jumpstarts a sluggish brain somehow.”

~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.”

~Kim Stagliano (All I Can Handle: I’m No Mother Teresa: A Life Raising Three Daughters with Autism):

“I prefer to write on an old laptop while propped up on pillows on my bed.”

~Leah Stewart (Husband and Wife, The Myth of You and Me, Body of a Girl):

“I change my surroundings–go from my office to a coffee shop, say–and switch from the computer to pen and paper.”

~Therese Walsh (The Last Will of Moira Leahy):

“Yes, to never, ever talk about my secret rituals. Just kidding. I don’t really have any—unless lucky pencils count. For The Last Will of Moira Leahy, I used a whole box of natural pencils by Focus (#2s, of course). For my current project, I’ve been using angular soft-to-the-touch pencils by Dixon . When I feel stuck in my manuscript, I almost always transition to pencil and paper to work through the problem.”

* * * * *

Announcement: The winners of Lauren Baratz-Logsted’s The Twin’s Daughter are EJ Knapp and Heather. And the winner of the Sisters 8 Series, including Petal’s Problems is Megan. Congratulations!

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

From: Readers/Friends
To: TDW Authors/Friends

Holiday Greetings!

December 29, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Reader's Holiday Greetings


[During this Season of giving and sharing, The Divining Wand’s readers would like to thank their authors/friends for this past year and wish them Holiday Greetings. The next few weeks will feature universal as well as personal nods to writers who share with us throughout the year. Happy Holidays!]

Kindness Is Always In

Alicia Bessette, author of Simply from Scratch, is a sweetheart. After being introduced to her here at The Divining Wand, I so enjoyed getting to know her through her writing and through the lovely characters in her novel.

In addition to writing, Alicia and her husband, author Matthew Quick, have the Quest for Kindness, a blog devoted to stories of kindness. I love the spirit of that, and I was moved to write my own story there about kindness. I visit the web site frequently and am always, always uplifted and gratified by the stories I read there.

The Quest for Kindness and the characters Alicia Bessette creates are a breath of fresh air in a world with so much snark, disdain, and sarcasm. Thank goodness for such lightness and brightness of spirit.

I wish Alicia all the best of kindnesses throughout the new year.

Keetha DePriest Mosley

From: Readers/Friends
To: TDW Authors/Friends

Holiday Greetings!

December 23, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Reader's Holiday Greetings


[During this Season of giving and sharing, The Divining Wand’s readers would like to thank their authors/friends for this past year and wish them Holiday Greetings. The next few weeks will feature universal as well as personal nods to writers who share with us throughout the year. Happy Holidays!]

Happy Holidays to Kristina Riggle!

I hope this holiday season brings you many things: Fun-filled days with your family. The happy music of giggling children. The scent of cookies made with loving, little hands. A beautiful, white Christmas, without any blizzard warnings, to accompany the merry jingle of Santaís sleigh bells.

In the coming year I hope your writing comes easily and plentifully. May your characters have a multitude of problems to work through, yet be a joy to write about. I hope your creative well will always be full and your books a fabulous success. Thank-you for giving us all the pleasure of reading your novels.

Janel

The Gift of Magic

I’m a seasonal person. I even have dishtowels for spring (robin’s–egg-blue and mint green stripes) and for fall (pumpkin orange and bright yellow), as well as holiday ones packed away with the Christmas decorations.

I’m the same way with books. When I read The Art of Disappearing by Ivy Pochoda, it happened to be in the fall. How lucky was I that the book fell in my lap in October, the perfect time for a book of magic and whimsy with a hint of melancholy?

The novel makes me think of that old Van Morrison song: “Well, it’s a marvelous night for a moondance/With the stars up above in your eyes/A fantabulous night to make romance…And all the night’s magic seems to whisper and hush/And all the soft moonlight seems to shine in your blush.”

I thank Ivy for the dreamy and other-worldly trip. It was quite a ride.

Here’s to her own holiday moondance!

Keetha DePriest Mosley

To Beth Hoffman

Dear Beth,

Thank you for always being so lovely and adorable. I’ve seen you at panels/signings twice now, and you’re irresistibly kind and charming and funny and interesting. As I’m reading CEECEE, I can see and hear you on every page, and that makes me smile.

I hope you have a lovely holiday season with your friends and family — including your “fur babies”! May 2011 bring you all happiness, prosperity, and peace.

Happy holidays!
Kristan

From: Readers/Friends
To: TDW Authors/Friends

Holiday Greetings!

December 16, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Reader's Holiday Greetings


[During this Season of giving and sharing, The Divining Wand’s readers would like to thank their authors/friends for this past year and wish them Holiday Greetings. The next few weeks will feature universal as well as personal nods to writers who share with us throughout the year. Happy Holidays!]

AN ODE OF TO OUR COOKING AUTHORS
AND A RECIPE FOR CHOCOLATE BOURBAN PECAN PIE

By Suzanne Anderson

My love of cooking and books about cooking probably stems from my earliest memory of reading MFK Fisher’s Gastronomical Me, back when I was in my early twenties.

My pleasure in cooking grew when I moved to New York City and lived just a few blocks from the Union Square Farmer’s Market, a place that I looked forward to exploring every Saturday morning. It was there that I discovered lobster bisque delivered each week by a man from Maine. This lobster bisque became the inspiration for one of the best evenings I’ve ever spent with my father, a five hour odyssey in the kitchen with three lobster tails, and four cookbooks, and our attempt to recreate the taste of the lobster bisque I’d discovered in New York.

All of which is to explain why I always perk up when Larramie features a cooking themed novel on The Divining Wand. I know that I will not only find a book that combines my two great loves, cooking and reading, but chances are great that in the author who wrote the book, I will find a kindred spirit, one who knows the joy that can be created in the kitchen to nourish the souls of those we love.

I want to thank Stacey Ballis for writing GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT

I want to thank Jenny Nelson for writing GEORGIA’S KITCHEN

I want to thank Melissa Senate for writing THE LOVE GODDESS’ COOKING SCHOOL

I want to thank Jenny Gardiner for writing SLIM TO NONE

I want to thank Alicia Bessette for writing SIMPLY FROM SCRATCH

And I want to especially thank Keetha DePriest Mosely for writing and publishing CULINARY KUDZE: RECOLLECTIONS & RECIPES FROM GROWING UP SOUTHERN and MORE CULINARY KUDZU: RECOLLECTIONS AND RECIPES FROM GROWING UP SOUTHERN.

Since this is a cyber celebration of the wonderful authors we’ve met on The Divining Wand, allow me to bring the pie.

Not just any pie. My famous Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie, which I’ve made five times in the past month to share with friends and family. Actually this recipe was originally adapted from a recipe I found on Allrecipes.com for Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie submitted by Anital.

Here’s my version:

Ingredients

1 (9 inch) deep dish frozen pie shell
1 cup white sugar
1 cup rice syrup – I use this in place of Karo syrup because the flavor is milder
1/2 cup butter
4 large or extra large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup bourbon
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks
1 cup (or more) chopped pecans

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees F).
2. In a small saucepan gently heat butter, rice syrup, and sugar, stirring constantly until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Cool slightly before adding to other ingredients, so you don’t end up with scrambled eggs.
3. In a large bowl beat together the eggs, bourbon, vanilla, and salt. Slowly add the sugar mixture into egg mixture, starting with one spoonful at a time to temper the mixture and avoid cooking the eggs. Whisk until well combined.
4. Toss chocolate chunks and pecans in the bottom of the pie shell. Pour egg/sugar mixture into pie shell to cover pecans and chocolate chunks…don’t worry, as the pie cooks, the pecans will float to the top and magically arrange themselves in a beautiful pattern on the surface of the pie.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until set and golden. May be served warm or chilled.
Cook’s note: I’ve also melted the chocolate into the sugar mixture at the start of the recipe. Both methods work well.

Merry Christmas Divining Wand authors and readers…..and here’s to a New Year of many more great discoveries on THE DIVINING WAND!

And a special holiday thanks to Larramie, TDW’s tireless creator!

From: Readers/Friends
To: TDW Authors/Friends

Holiday Greetings!

December 13, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Reader's Holiday Greetings


[During this Season of giving and sharing, The Divining Wand’s readers would like to thank their authors/friends for this past year and wish them Holiday Greetings. The next few weeks will feature universal as well as personal nods to writers who share with us throughout the year. Happy Holidays!]

A Gift Slipped Between the Pages, Every Time

Sometimes, and it’s a joy each time it happens, I’m reading along and the book is so engrossing and so perfectly wonderful that a part of my brain is wondering, “How did she do it? How did she tie that plot line so beautifully? How did she drop that one little bit there in the beginning that now makes so much sense? How did she make these engaging characters who feel like my friends?”

Books have always been for me a promise of a trip to someplace special – a warm coffee shop in Paris at night, its windows frosted over with cold or a slow ride down a cotton turnrow on a Sunday afternoon – and even more, a chance to make friends, to get to know people who otherwise, without the book, without the story, I never would have known.

Books take me to different places and even to different times. They let me hang around in a 1920s-era backstage dressing rooms, on battlefields in Europe, in King Arthur’s Court, and in the beauty shop downtown.

It’s incredible when you think of it. Someone sits alone at a computer for hours. Someone pulls out a notebook in a long grocery line. Someone stays up until one o’clock in the morning writing. How do they keep at it?

I sometimes wonder how a novel ever gets written anytime, anywhere, ever.

Novelists must do it because the people in the books matter. Writers hold in themselves a story that they are compelled to tell. It must be that way: writing can, at times, be such a lonely, frustrating, and discouraging endeavor that otherwise, why would anyone do it?

I think a novelist’s job can be a supremely hard one, and also, an honorable one.

I’m so grateful to these people who keep at, who churn the words out, who spin the tales that keep us enthralled and guessing and turning the pages, staying up way past bedtime because we care what happens next. Without those stories, think how drab life would be.

The characters help us stretch our limits. They visit places we may not otherwise ever go, or even know about. They take us by the hand and invite us into their worlds.

Thank you, thank you, thank you all.

Keetha

Best Writing Exercises, Part VI

December 02, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites, Q&A

As The Divining Wand’s quest to discover how our favorite authors/friends perfect their natural skills comes to an end, the last — but not least — responses appear to: What have been some of the best writing exercises you’ve used in your writing process?

This week’s replies offer a variety of exercises and also introduce e-book author Dee DeTarsio and about-to-become authors, Rebecca Rasmussen and Lori Roy.

Robin Antalek (The Summer We Fell Apart):

“I write even without pad and paper or laptop. That means I’ve become very comfortable walking and talking it out. As a matter of fact the very first thing I do in the morning once my family is out the door is go for a long walk. I talk plot points to myself, snippets of dialogue, ask my characters a few questions. I’m sure I’ve had more than my share of strange looks from passing drivers – but it’s the most freeing way I know of working it out. Then I come home and sit at my desk and “’transcribe’” my notes from walking.”

Dee DeTarsio (The Scent of Jade [Kindle Edition]):

“In my writing group, we dissected Robert McKee’s book, Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting. While it can be an intimidating tome, it provides invaluable information on character, plot, action, beats, structure and place. Reading it in a group setting helped make it more manageable.

“One of my favorite takeaways from that is to always keep my eye on my character’s quest: What does she want? It also helps me to map out her journey and not make it easy for her. By looking over a scene, I draw an UP arrow after a sentence that moves her toward her goal, and a DOWN arrow against something that thwarts it. Conflict is king in any drama, and I better make sure I have a lot of DOWN arrows thwarting her desires!”

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

“When writing a long story or a novel, I am afraid of an outline. I usually get a “‘great'” idea and then write at it for a while. Then I can bog down. And I’ve noticed that this happens to my students. I’ve labeled this “‘bog'” as “‘the tyranny of page 156.'” The question is at this point–what to do next.

‘So I do a “‘Twenty Things That Have to Happen'” list. And this is a list that you can write at any time, even before you start to write. So when I land in the bog, instead of drowning in it, I write the list. I know that things need to happen, and there they appear on the list. I grab one, and pull myself out of the bog.

“Why I like this is because it doesn’t scare me like outlines do, and it’s not necessarily in chronological order, so I can even just write a scene and put it in somewhere else. It pushes me forward, even if forward is sideways for awhile.”

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

“I am a big fan of John Dufresne’s writing books, The Life That Tells a Truth and Is Life Like This? Both books have lots of exercises in them. I find that when I really do the exercises, rather than just read them, my writing improves. Go figure!

“I also have Brenda Ueland’s 12 tips (from her book first published in 1938, If You Want to Write) on my bulletin board near my desk. I read them about once a day.”

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

“For the last ten years or so, I have taught creative writing to high school students, college students, adult students – you name them, I have taught them. For a long time, I would assign exercises and then we would share in class. It didn’t occur to me to actually do the exercises along with my students until recently. (I know: duh, right?.) One of my favorite exercises is The Postcard Exercise. Basically, as the teacher I go around gathering up postcards (on vacations, business trips, at little local shops, gas stations, and grocery stores) and each student chooses one. Or me in this case. What I love about this exercise is that everyone ends up with some image/drawing/abstraction he or she wouldn’t usually invoke in writing, which is what makes the stories that follow so freeing and also so interesting. So here are the rules: 1.) pick a postcard, 2.) write a story on the back of it, and 3.) send it to someone. My last postcard story involved a salmon run in Montana. I sent it to my father.”

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

“I have a couple of writing exercises that I use when working on a novel. If I find myself considering a major change in the novel–maybe rearranging the beginning chapters or adding a point of view character–I will save the novel under a new name before making the change. This removes some of the pressure. If I don’t like the change, I can always restore the original file. To date, I have never gone back to the original file.

“Another exercise I use, or perhaps trick is a better name for it, is to put away the computer and pull out a pen and paper if I am stuck on a particular scene. Stepping away from the novel in this way seems to always help when I find myself stumped.”

* * * * *

Announcement: The winners of On Maggie’s Watch by Ann Wertz Garvin are Kristan and Tiffany D. Congratulations!

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

Author News and New Authors

July 29, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Advance News, News

Welcome to The Divining Wand’s last post of July and, while not dismissing summertime in August, there is a feeling of fall around here! That’s correct, fresh and new ideas have either recently launched or will soon, beginning with the multi-talented Katie Alender (Bad Girls Don’t Die YA).

On Tuesday, July 27, 2010, Katie and fellow YA writers took “getting to know authors beyond their pages” to a vlog level. Here’s a portion of the Press Release for AuthorMix:

“AUTHORMIX” WEB VIDEO SERIES TAKES THE TEEN READER-AUTHOR CONNECTION TO A NEW LEVEL
A new web-based video series aims to give teen readers a “fly on the wall” look at their favorite authors.

Los Angeles, CA — July 27, 2010 — In an effort to reach out to their web-savvy readers, many authors now turn to video, releasing video blogs (“vlogs”), book trailers, and even virtual book tours (as recently mentioned in the New York Times: A new web video series takes this one step further by bringing together a group of authors in a roundtable format, letting readers eavesdrop on conversations about life, love, high school, writing, and publication. AUTHORMIX is like listening in on the green room at a book festival–personal, honest, and unrehearsed.

“The whole thing started because I would read blogs or tweets about authors who got together for one reason or another,” says creator/host, author Katie Alender. “And what I really wanted to know was–what do they talk about when they’re just hanging out?”

In an effort to find out, she came up with the idea for an off-the-cuff style video series that would give authors a chance to chat in a relaxed environment.

Participating authors are Melissa de la Cruz (New York Times best-selling author of The Au Pairs and Blue Bloods series of novels for young adults); Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (New York Times best-selling authors of Beautiful Creatures, also one of Amazon.com’s Ten Best Books of 2009); Cecil Castellucci (author of Beige, Boyproof, Queen of Cool, and The Plain Janes series for DC Comics); and Katie Alender (author of the Bad Girls Don’t Die series).

[For more information, please visit the site and follow AuthorMix on Twitter. Congratulations, Katie!]

As for this site’s news, regular visitors may have noticed that TDW recently has featured three “new” authors:

~ Claire Cook (Seven Year Switch, Must Love Dogs, Life’s A Beach, and the rest in Bibliography)

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

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

And, now, I proudly announce the following authors have also joined our community and will be appearing on these pages soon:

~ Kate Ledger (Remedies)

~ TanyaEgan Gibson (How to Buy a Love of Reading)

~ Leah Stewart (Husband and Wife, The Myth of You and Me, Body of a Girl)

~ Beth Hoffman (Saving CeeCee Honeycutt releasing in Trade Paperback October 26, 2010)

~ Katharine Davis (A Slender Thread, East Hope, Capturing Paris)

Also expect more guest author posts and (hopefully) a weekly Q&A with readers asking questions of the featured author. Indeed fall is in the air….

* * * * *

Announcement: The winner of Claire Cook’s Seven Year Switch is Amy Chase. Congratulations.

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

Keetha DePriest Mosley and Culinary Kudzu(s)

July 21, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books


From the Book’s Back Cover

Kudzu. That quintessential Southern vine that seems to envelop everything in its path and can’t be deterred. Much like this indefatigable creeper, Southern culture seems to have ingratiated itself into every aspect of our daily lives. Nowhere is that presence more apparent than in the kitchen. Long have Southerners appreciated and embraced the joys and memorable times that accompany good food and good friends.

Almost five years ago, Keetha DePriest Mosley [formerly Reed] (Culinary Kudzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing Up Southern, More Culinary Kudzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing Up Southern) enjoyed her freelance catering jobs, while working in public relations for her hometown hospital and writing a food/entertaining/growing up life column for the Clarion-Ledger newspaper. She didn’t need Julia Child to be her inspiration for a cooking/essay book, instead it was the favorable responses from her newspaper readers that encouraged her to write
Culinary Kudzu.

The wonderful, visual title…where did it come from, Keetha?

“I don’t rightly remember how I came up with the title. I wrote down a bunch of words, southern words. I knew I wanted the title to be immediately identifiable as being southern. Kudzu is such a strange thing and specific to the Deep South (I believe) and I like alliteration. So it just worked!”

Here’s an example of kudzu from Keetha’s blog post, Don’t stand still.

Now, by reading the book’s description, you’ll understand how perfectly kudzu applies to culinary dishes and times that wrap around one’s heart:

A charming mix of tips and ideas for entertaining and gifts of food, coupled with rich tales of growing up in the small-town South. This lively book reads like a kitchen conversation with an old friend.

It’s homey and loving as both professional and book buyer reviews agree:

“More than a cookbook, [Culinary Kudzu] is a delightful collection of essays with seasonal themes, each one accompanied by a recipe or two…Reed takes readers on nostalgic trips…this book is a winner,” Today in Mississippi

“Culinary Kudzu is a fantastic find. As I read, I was reminded of my own childhood growing up in the south. Reed’s recollections were entertaining, her tips useful, and recipes fantastic. Whether you were reared on such southern foods and stories or just interested in exploring samplings from the region, Culinary Kudzu leaves a satisfying taste. I can’t wait for Reed to serve up seconds,” says Laura in Oxford, Mississippi

Laura in Oxford, Mississippi only had to wait two years for More Culinary Kudzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing Up Southern.

“Keetha DePriest Reed’s second book, More Culinary Kudzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing Up Southern, is as warm and light as a buttermilk biscuit and refreshingly sweet as your grandmama’s iced tea with a sprig of mint…Keetha skillfully and tenderly looks to her past while driving forward to provide the same sense of wonderment and security for her son.” Delta Magazine

Keetha shares her life moments in a conversational tone that jogs the reader’s own memories from everything to catching lightening bugs on a hot summer night, sitting around a Thanksgiving table and listening to relatives tell their stories, and how Fall — though brief in the Deep South — is her favorite season as it well may be yours. And, while she writes without pretense, the author writes with a confidence that comes from honesty and caring. It’s no wonder that the following observations made me smile:

“This book is as sweet as a Smith County watermelon on the 4th of July; as fresh as spring water; as tender as the first greens in winter. Keetha is way too young to be so knowing and so good at what she’s doing. More Culinary Kudzu has terrific recipes combined with wise, finely crafted essays…” says Judy Tucker, writer and playwright.

Ah, regarding the 4th of July, take a look at what Keetha posted on July 5, 2010, as Oh, Yeah:

“Four cups chopped frozen watermelon, 1/3 cup vodka, two mint leaves, and a handful of ice whirred around in the blender until it’s slushy.

Summer in a glass.”

Notice, no cooking required! In fact during summer in the Delta — from April though mid-October — the key is to avoid kitchen “heat” as much as possible. Mother Nature helps with this by providing an abundance of home/state grown fruits and vegetables always ripe for a variety of salads and other cold dishes. Of course exceptions are made and on Sunday, July 11, 2010, the author posted the recipe for Tomato Tart and even confessed:

“Up until I made this tart, I didn’t like tomatoes, not even a little bit. Not on a burger or sandwich or salad. Now, though…”

If you read The Divining Wand’s Guest Keetha DePriest Mosley on Creating Time, you’ll remember the author’s feelings:

“It’s funny about living in a small town, and loving it so much, because when I was younger, I knew Manhattan is where I would live. I would have a sophisticated job and buy flowers from the little carts on the way home. I’d live in a loft and go to art galleries and whatever else it was sophisticated people did. I was going to be fabulous.

I realized – in time – that I could be fabulous right here in Mississippi but finding time, or, rather, making time to do what I really wanted to do was a challenge.”

Keetha DePriest Mosley is making her life fabulous as she turns her sights from writing about real life to pure fictional storytelling. Working now on her first novel — set in the Delta –, she’s on target to finish writing it by the end of the year. Then, she says, “all I have to do is revise, edit, get an agent, and get it published.”

And when that happens, the novel is certain to be fabulous and heartfelt. Yet for now, there are Culinary Kudzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing Up Southern, and More Culinary Kudzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing Up Southern, both to be enjoyed!

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Lauren Baratz-Logsted’s The Education of Bet in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Lauren Baratz-Logsted and The Education of Bet. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. 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.

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The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Keetha DePriest Mosley’s Culinary Kudzu and one copy of More Culinary Kudzu in a random drawing to two separate individuals who comment only on this specific post. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Friday, July 23, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Monday’s post. If you enter, please return Monday to possibly claim your book.

Guest Keetha DePriest Mosley on Creating Time

June 29, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Time can be elusive. One might think that living in a small southern town — as opposed to a big city — that the pace would be slower and offer more time. But, in today’s guest post, Keetha DePriest Mosley [formerly Reed] (Culinary Kudzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing Up Southern, More Culinary Kudzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing Up Southern) explains that even she’s had to learn to create and embrace life’s moments.]

It’s funny about living in a small town, and loving it so much, because when I was younger, I knew Manhattan is where I would live. I would have a sophisticated job and buy flowers from the little carts on the way home. I’d live in a loft and go to art galleries and whatever else it was sophisticated people did. I was going to be fabulous.

I realized – in time – that I could be fabulous right here in Mississippi but finding time, or, rather, making time to do what I really wanted to do was a challenge.

Years ago I read an interview withPeyton Manning. He was asked how was he so successful. One of the things he said was that he used his time. If he had five minutes to look over chemistry notes, he didn’t think, “I can’t possibly get anything done in that time so I won’t try.” He used those five minutes.

I’d heard that advice before. Heard it and ignored it. It was easier to say I don’t have time because I didn’t have a big, pretty block of two hours to write in. I had a messy, jumbled up, untidy, scraggly looking 12 minutes here and four minutes there and that’s not nearly as appealing.

But it works. I find that writing on demand, when an unexpected time opens up works pretty well. I do it fast, without thinking about it and kind of sneak behind my inner critic’s back. I’ve surprised myself by coming up with some decent stuff during those times. Ideas, sentences, topics.

That keeps me busy but it’s a good busy. It always surprises me what I can get done in fifteen minutes.

My mother once said, “You know? Nobody thinks they have enough hours in the day but people tend to do what they want to. If you really want to do something, you’ll figure out a way.”

Finding time is a challenge. Everyone is busy. I don’t know anyone who isn’t. I read a quote once (I love quotes) – I’m paraphrasing – but it was something like, Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have the same number of hours in a day that Benjamin Franklin, Mother Theresa, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Thomas Jefferson had.

A friend of mine told me once that she thought self-discipline is remembering what you really want. I have those words typed out where I can see them every day.

So now I write every day. I’m working on a novel and about halfway through with it. It may well be dreadful – that’s okay. I’m treating this as my own personal intense fiction-writing workshop. By the time I write to the end of it, I’ll know much lot more about crafting a novel than when I began. My second one should be better, and the third one even better.

I almost said that writing fiction is hard. Then I remembered a quote I read by Richard Ford. A Mississippi native, Ford won a Pulitzer. He said that digging ditches is hard. Standing for eight hours in an operating room performing brain surgery is hard. Writing is not hard. I think about that when it feels like it’s too much, that pulling the threads of a story together is too out of my skill level.

Making up stories is the best. I do it all the time. Driving to work, a car will pass me with a man in a business suit. And he’s singing away. I imagine he’s listening to opera. He and his wife’s first date was to opera production in college. Today is their wedding anniversary. Oh and he’s got tickets to Italy he’s going to surprise her with. My husband and I will be in Jackson and he’ll get annoyed because some car cut us off in traffic. I’ll say, Maybe his wife is in labor and he’s on the way to the hospital. Oh, wait – maybe his son is about to play his first t-ball game and he’s late for it. Oh, no, maybe he’s dog has been hit by a car and he’s speeding to the vet’s office. Maybe the guy is a jerk but even if he is, he’s got a story.

The reading life, the writing life, it’s so abundant and marvelous. It makes life – ordinary, every day simple things – seem so full and big. So much to wonder and marvel over – it’s vibrant way of life that I feel so lucky to live.

Note: The movie version of the bestselling novel, The Help, will be filmed mostly in Greenwood, Mississippi, the town where Keetha works. Imagine the behind-the-scenes film making tales she’ll be privy to and might well share in her blog posts at Write Kudzu, so visit often.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Robin Antalek’s The Summer We Fell Apart in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Robin Antalek and The Summer We Fell Apart. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to possibly claim your book.