The Divining Wand

Discovering authors beyond their pages…

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….

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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.

Current and Coming Attractions

September 16, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Advance News, Book Trailers, News

Although The Divining Wand authors have been busy writing, publishing, and keeping TBR books piled high, it’s only natural to wonder what’s next for our favorite writers. And what follows is a tasty sampling to whet your reading appetite.

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As of today, Thursday, September 16, 2010, Eileen Cook (Unpredictable, What Would Emma Do? YA, Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood YA, releasing in paperback September 21, 2010, The Education of Hailey Kendrick YA coming January 4, 2011, and Fourth Grade Fairy ages 9 – 11 coming April 19, 2011) celebrates the paperback release of Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood with the first video in a series of six.

As Eileen explains:

“The idea behind the videos is that the snotty Lauren Wood has her own video blog where she offers popularity tips. You can probably imagine what great advice Lauren has! I am going to have videos come out every couple days until all six are up. Please visit Lauren’s new website and click on the You Tube icon.

And now for the future:

~Robin Antalek (The Summer We Fell Apart):

“I’m currently working on a book set on a private island off the west coast of Florida about a woman who has experienced the premature death of her mother and sets out to find the family she never knew while her mother was alive. Tentative title: The Blooms of Ella Island.”

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

“Working on a new book that is a real departure for me, much more mainstream fiction. It is a questing story of a young woman who may or may not be dying, and how it explodes her quiet life.”

~Melanie Benjamin (Alice I Have Been):

“I’ll be appearing at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, TN, October 8-10. The paperback release of ALICE I HAVE BEEN is December 28th and I’ll be touring for that in January, dates & locations TBA. I’ve been blogging for the Huffington Post, and just joined a new group blog called the Girlfriends’ Book Club. My next historical fiction will be released by Random House in August of 2011; I’ll be announcing the title of the book very shortly!”

~Meg Waite Clayton’s The Wednesday Sisters, The Four Ms. Bradwells coming March 22, 2011):

“The Four Ms. Bradwells, coming March 22 from Ballantine. And my first novel, The Language of Light, will be reissued in paperback in the summer.”

The flap copy:

Meg Waite Clayton’s national bestseller The Wednesday Sisters was a word-of-mouth sensation and book club favorite. Now the beloved author is back with a page-turning novel that explores the secrets we keep, even from those closest to us, and celebrates the enduring power of friendship.

Mia, Laney, Betts, and Ginger, best friends since law school, have reunited for a long weekend as Betts awaits Senate confirmation of her appointment to the Supreme Court. Nicknamed “the Ms. Bradwells” during their first class at the University of Michigan Law School in 1979—when only three women had ever served full Senate terms and none had been appointed to the Court—the four have supported one another through life’s challenges: marriages and divorces, births and deaths, career setbacks and triumphs large and small. Betts was, and still is, the Funny One. Ginger, the Rebel. Laney, the Good Girl. And Mia, the Savant.

But when the Senate hearings uncover a deeply buried skeleton in the friends’ collective closet, the Ms. Bradwells retreat to a summer house on the Chesapeake Bay, where they find themselves reliving a much darker period in their past—one that stirs up secrets they’ve kept for, and from, one another, and could change their lives forever.

Once again, Meg Waite Clayton writes inspiringly about the complex circumstances facing women and the heartfelt friendships that hold them together. Insightful and affecting, The Four Ms. Bradwells is also a captivating tale of how far people will go to protect the ones they love.

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

“I’ve just finished up the third Lydia McKenzie mystery, tentatively called “‘An Artful Death.'” Lydia is hired by a real estate company to help catch illegal tenants. She finds an elderly Russian woman murdered in her apartment and suspects that the landlord got impatient. In the midst of her investigation, her parents arrive with another mystery to solve.”

~Tanya Egan Gibson (How to Buy a Love of Reading):

“I’m working on a novel set in an underwater-themed amusement park. The main character is an eighteen-year-old former competitive figure skater whose now skates in the park’s ice show wearing a full-body jellyfish costume. One of the most fun parts of writing this so far is brainstorming ideas for amusement park rides! (My five-year-old daughter has been helping me.)”

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

“I’m working on my new novel, A THOUSAND CRANES.”

~Allie Larkin (Stay):

“I’m working on a piece for an anthology of dog-related essays that Wade Rouse is editing called I’M NOT THE BIGGEST BITCH IN THIS RELATIONSHIP. Published in 2011, proceeds will benefit The Humane Society and other animal causes.”

~Kate Ledger (Remedies):

“I’ve begun a new novel. If it were a pregnancy, I’m in that hesitant phase of the first trimester, and I’m not ready to discuss too much. I can tell this: The next novel also centers on family relationships and has medical themes because that’s what I’m interested in. Having finished a book, I feel I have a good sense of the arc of a novel, the overall shape it will take. I also know how long and hard the process is. My hope is that this gestation will be briefer than the last.”

~ Shana Mahaffey (Sounds Like Crazy):

“I am working on my second novel right now. I can tell you that the book is about a woman who has to correct a mistake she doesn’t know she made and guiding her through this process is her best friends dead brother.”

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

“I’m working on a book about adult siblings. It started out being about location and identity (I was going to call it ELSEWHERE) but it’s gotten further and further away from that theme to become about all the complex emotions of siblinghood. Which, alas, probably means I have to think of a new title.”

~Wendy Tokunaga (Midori By Moonlight, Love in Translation):

“I’m working on a non-fiction book called “‘Marriage in Translation: Interviews with Foreign Wives of Japanese Husbands,'” which takes an intimate and sometimes surprising look at the rewards and challenges of cross-cultural relationships. I’m also teaching an online class this Fall through Stanford University Extension called “‘Writing Novels About Women’s Lives.”‘

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Announcement: The winner of Leah Stewart’s Husband and Wife is Shannon. Congratulations!

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

And thank you all for entering. If my wand was truly magical, there would be a book for everyone.

How Authors Bid Their Characters Adieu

August 12, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Q&A

Knowing that memorable characters linger in readers’ minds well beyond the last page of a novel, The Divining Wand wondered about the authors’ experience in letting them go. After creating and living through them for months, years….the question was asked: How do you say “goodbye?”

Here are several responses:

~Katie Alender (Bad Girls Don’t Die YA):

“I don’t think I do say good-bye to characters. Because they’re mine, I get to carry them around in my head and watch them live out their lives. It’s very different from being a reader and finishing a book and feeling that sense of loss–I feel that a lot when I finish my favorite books. Thankfully, as a writer, I am the Supreme Authority over my characters, where they go, what they do, and all that. I’m pleased to report that they all lived happily ever after!”

~Robin Antalek (The Summer We Fell Apart):

“I haven’t yet said goodbye to the characters in THE SUMMER WE FELL APART—book groups – (I just visited my 53rd) have kept these characters alive for me much longer than I ever dreamed. Even though in my writing world I have moved on to another set of characters – readers have allowed me to keep tabs on the Haas siblings – and I love that.”

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

“I don’t. When I finish a book, I always keep open the possibility that I’ll get to revisit with them at some point. Since I really and truly love all my characters–I feel like they are my friends–and at the same time, also spend somewhere around three hundred pages torturing them in the name of that annoying thing called “‘plot'”, I sometimes feel like it’s merciful when I leave them alone for a while.”

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

“I can’t say goodbye, I still think of them and will most likely bring them back in future works in cameo appearances.”

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

“You mean if I don’t kill them? I let them go gently. I try to give them new emotional tools–empathy, or fortitude, or simply hope–and then place them gently into their new surroundings…without me.”

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

“I think of the last lines of my books as their goodbye, and my goodbye to them. If I can get the last line right I feel I’ve given them a fitting send-off.”

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Announcement: The winners of Julie Buxbaum’s “signed” copies of After You are Jenny and Colleen Turner. Congratulations!

Please email diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and Julie will send out your book as soon as possible.

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!

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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.

Blogs Favored by Our Authors

May 06, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

Enlightening or entertaining, what type of blogs would our authors favor on a daily basis? Of course it’s a bit of both and you might enjoy following along with:

Katie Alender (Bad Girls Don’t Die YA):

~ Unclutterer –

~ Post Secret –

~ Sew, Mama, Sew! –

~ Sew at Sea, by my hilarious friend Laura –

~ Pub Rants –

Trish Ryan (He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Love, and Happily Ever After, A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances coming June 22, 2010):

~ Gretchen Rubin offers a great mix of practical and personal tips that guarantee me a smile, every time I click on her blog.

~ Brilliant writing advice from a wide array of authors.

~ It’s like People Magazine with a focus on the spiritual adventures of celebs.

~ A bunch of Borders employees are trying various resolutions found in books. The one I like best is the guy going for the adult version of the President’s Physical Fitness Challenge. I didn’t know that was an option, but I want my badge!

~ One of the first blogs I followed, and still one of the funniest. I’ve met “Swishy” and she’s every bit as great in person as she is online.

~ I met Amy Julia at a writer’s conference. Her perspective on faith, family & life makes me think…and feel.

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

~ GalleyCat (industry news)

~ Backspace (writers’ discussion board $40/year)
~ The Divining Wand (no, really!)

~ A Good Blog Is Hard To Find (southern authors rotate blogging)

~ Toastiest (personal blog of David Seidman that I used in my research for BETWEEN FRIENDS and came to care about)

Kristina Riggle (Real Life & Liars and ) The Life You’ve Imagined coming August 17, 2010):

~ Obviously, the Debutante Ball!

~ Literary Mama, where I’m co-editor for fiction, which features really exciting, fresh work by mother-writers.

~ My agent’s blog, Pub Rants.

~ GalleyCat, an industry blog which combines great information with a biting wit

And a non-writing blog, Generation Xpert, by my friend Suzanne Kart. Speaking of biting wit, she uses hers to blog about Generation X.

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

~ Backspace:

~ Book Balloon:

~ BiblioBuffet:

~ Teen Fiction Cafe:

~ Read Short Fiction:

Wendy Tokunaga (Midori By Moonlight, Love in Translation):

~ The Book Deal: An Inside View to Publishing by editor Alan Rinzler – this guy really knows his stuff.

~ Internet Movie Database (whenever I see a film, I look it up here afterwards to get the scoop on the actors, trivia, awards, etc.)

~ Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent – Nathan works for Curtis Brown and always offers useful and cutting edge info on getting an agent, the publishing industry, the editorial process, etc.

~ Yahoo News – I find this site the easiest as far as layout and content to quickly keep up with the news of the day as it changes by the minute.

~ Perez Hilton – Yes, it’s cheesy gossip, but I admire how Mario Lavendeira (aka as Perez Hilton) built a highly successful website from humble beginnings with only a laptop and an “office” at the local Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Cafe. He’s also an amusing writer.

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Announcement: The winner of The Sisters 8 Series is Susan. Congratulations! Please email with your mailing address and the books will be sent out promptly. This is definitely an occasion where I wish everyone could have won but thank you ALL for entering!

News From and About Our Authors

April 19, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Advance News, News

This rare Monday, without a book to present/review, is a perfect time to catch up on our authors and their recent (or upcoming) releases.

Congratulations to Therese Walsh (The Last Will of Moira Leahy)

Although this debut novel crossed over many genres, The Last Will of Moira Leahy has become a RITA finalist in RWA’s Best First Book category, 2010. While yours truly described it as an “adult fairy tale,” if Romance Writers wish to embrace “Moira” as romantic, so much the better. And, if you have yet to read this novel, please treat yourself now!

Sarah Pekkanen (The Opposite of Me) was featured on April 7, 2010 in the USA TODAY’S New Voices: Sarah Pekkanen, ‘The Opposite of Me’ by Carol Manning.

And now Sarah is thrilled to announce she has a new, two-book deal with editor Greer Hendricks at Atria Books/Washington Square Press, an imprint of Simon&Schuster.

Her second book — with the current working title FROM THE HEART — is the story of 32-year-old Julia Dunhill, who wakes up one morning to discover her husband has changed into a completely different person because of an extraordinary experience. Julia, who also sees pieces of her life in the world’s great operas, has three weeks to decide if she should stay with her husband – or leave him. Publication dates are Spring 2011 for the second novel and Spring 2012 for the third.

Holly LeCraw (The Swimming Pool) and her debut novel are everywhere, including these sightings:

The Swimming Pool in PEOPLE.

Entertainment Weekly: The Swimming Pool is “difficult to put down.”

“A stunning debut!” The Swimming Pool is This Week’s Hot Reads at The Daily Beast.

And The Swimming Pool is featured in Marie Claire and Elle Canada – on newsstands now!

Alicia Bessette (Simply from Scratch coming August 5, 2010)

Alicia’s new Facebook Fan Page is up and running. She hopes you’ll become a fan! Alicia also cordially invites you to sign up for her email newsletter here to receive news related to Simply From Scratch.

Amy MacKinnon (Tethered) offers the following glowing endorsement for Alicia’s debut novel: “Readers will fall for the characters of this New England town who try to rescue the worn-through heart of one of their own. Told with equal parts warmth, hope, and humor, SIMPLY FROM SCRATCH is destined to be passed among friends who’ve shared in each other’s grief, and honored it with love and compassion. It’s a triumph of the heart.”

Allison Winn Scotch (The Department of Lost and Found, Time of My Life and The One That I Want coming June 1, 2010) is thrilled that The One That I Want has been chosen
by both Redbook and Cosmo as a summer read and will be in the July issues.

And then there are the literary reviews:

“[A]n aching, honest look into the death and rebirth of relationships….a wise, absorbing narrative.”-Publishers Weekly

“Scotch specializes in heroines at a crossroads, questioning their life choices and preparing to embark on journeys of self-discovery. . . . [She] creates eminently relatable characters, with a particularly excellent understanding of the way sisters interact, and has the ability to craft scenes of real emotional weight.” –Booklist

“Well-told, fast-paced, and packs a satisfying emotional punch.” –Library Journal

Before embarking on her book tour, Kristy Kiernan (Catching Genius, Matters of Faith and Between Friends) posted this Comment on Facebook:

“Just got this from a reader who finished BETWEEN FRIENDS: ‘”I am not proud to say this, but I am not currently an organ donor. I plan to change that after reading this story.”‘ Uhh, does it GET better that that?!”

Ah, the power of words…

Our Authors’ Best Writing Advice

April 01, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

Two months ago, several of our authors/friends shared words of wisdom that help guide them through the writing process. And, in today’s post, many more answer:

What is the best advice about writing that you’ve received/read AND put to use?

Katie Alender (Bad Girls Don’t Die YA):

“It’s so hard to narrow it down to the individual pieces of advice, because I’ve absorbed all of them into the “stew” of my writing process. “Just do it” is a big one. Also, letting a first draft be just paint thrown at a wall, basically.

“A fantastic writer I worked with once taught greatly by example. He was the boss, and he’d written a script and asked for notes on it. I went through carefully, picking a few things apart and giving general and page notes. As we went through, he would contest my notes and ask about my justification. When we came to a point he didn’t agree with, he said, “I don’t agree with you, but I can tell you’ve invested yourself in this, so I’m going to think harder about that idea.” It taught me that people who are involved in your creative process, like your editor, and your agent, deserve a level of respect and input when they put in the hours. Writing a book, like so many other things, is often the result of collaboration. And I welcome and embrace that. In fact, it’s one of my favorite parts of the process. It’s tremendously flattering that people would devote themselves to making my book better, and highly interesting to read their perspectives on the material. Also, once you establish yourself as a person who’s open to collaboration, the times when you do dig in your heels mean more.”

Meredith Cole (Posed for Murder, Dead in the Water coming May 11, 2010):

“I write in bits here and there since I also work and have a family. The best advice I got was from a screenwriting teacher who told me that when I’m not writing, but sitting at a traffic light or dropping off to sleep, I need to think about my book. I run it through my head like a movie and find the weak points. I imagine different scenarios and subplots. And so when it’s time for me to sit at the computer again, my story feels fresh and I’m raring to go.”

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

“…….Assign yourself a mental goal of BLANK pages to write every day, and don’t do anything else until you’ve reached that quota. Also, disable your browser while you’re working on this….for obvious reasons.”

Kristy Kiernan (Catching Genius, Matters of Faith and Between Friends coming April 6, 2010):

“George Pelecanos once told me: “Hey, don’t worry so much.” Sounds simple, but it’s not. It is, however, incredibly important to allowing creativity more room to work. If I could influence one beginning writer to set aside some of the agony and just write, I would feel I’d done them a tremendous service.”

Holly LeCraw (The Swimming Pool coming April 6, 2010):

“This is not advice per se, but my favorite quote from a writer, and one that has sustained me (because if he thought it, then maybe I am not such a screwup after all): “Writing a novel is like a one-armed man trying to build a chicken coop in a hurricane.”‘–William Faulkner”

Allison Winn Scotch (The Department of Lost and Found, Time of My Life and The One That I Want coming June 1, 2010):

“After my first manuscript failed to sell, a very kind editor friend, who had read the manuscript, called me up and said, ‘“Look, you have enormous potential, but you have to hone your craft.”’ We had a lengthy conversation, and the crux of it was that I wasn’t as good as I thought that I was. 🙂 What I mean by that is that I think a lot of aspiring writers think that their first go out of the gate is genius, but there is an unlimited learning curve in our craft, and even now, on my fourth book, I learn new things each time I tackle a project. I took her advice to heart, went out and read a lot of authors whom I admired and hoped to emulate, and tried, tried again. There are two ways to take criticism: the first is to dig in your heels and refuse to believe it, and the second is to understand that it’s a great tool for improvement. Thank goodness I chose the latter.”

Therese Walsh (The Last Will of Moira Leahy):

“My blog partner, Kathleen Bolton, told me years ago, ‘“Commit to the work and then never waver. Your book will be so welcome in the world.”’ I took her advice! Another bit of advice I’ve taken: Read, at least occasionally, above your writing level.”


Announcements: The two winners of Kristy Kiernan’s Between Friends are Colleen and Sunny Bravin. Congratulations! Please send your mailing addresses to: diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com, I’ll Pre-order your books. Many thanks to everyone who entered and may you Pre-order or purchase the book next week.

Kristy Kiernan and Between Friends

March 29, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books


From the book’s front cover:
“A new star in
contemporary women’s fiction.”
__South Florida Sun-Sentinel

After debuting in April, 2007 with the award winning novel, Catching Genius, Kristy Kiernan (Matters of Faith 2008) established herself as a voice for “Everywomen” facing daily life in a complicated world. Known for her gifted storytelling of timely issues, the author offers us her third novel, Between Friends, next Tuesday, April 6, 2010.

Described as, A provocative new novel about birth, death, and the stuff in-between, this could only be a story written of friends and family — those who love you through the good, the bad, and the challenging times of life.

The challenging times? To better understand — without *spoilers* –, please read the synopsis:

There was a time when Ali Gutierrez would have been forced to give up her dreams of motherhood. But thanks to modern reproductive technology—and the gift of her best friend’s eggs—Ali is now the mother of fourteen-year-old Letty.

Now, yearning for a second child, Ali asks her best friend’s permission to use another of the frozen embryos that have been stored away, awaiting this decision. But Cora has a secret that could not only change Ali’s plans for the future, but tear apart her life right now….

In this thoughtful, complex novel, Kristy Kiernan shows us two women struggling with life-changing decisions—and explores both timely moral issues and timeless truths about the definition of family.

The subject of infertility could not be timelier or more personal, yet — in reviewing Between Friends for Ft. Meyers Magazine –, Philip K. Jason writes “It’s Complicated” and discloses when and how the author first had the idea:

“The interest in in-vitro fertilization preceded Between Friends by 10-15 years. While on a trip to Gainesville to visit a friend, Kiernan noticed ads inside public restrooms offering money to women who would sell their eggs. She wondered if the young University of Florida women who made money this way had considered the long-range consequences of their decisions.

“As with the food allergy interest [in Matters of Faith], the author had no idea that a novel would draw upon the facts she began storing away. Years later, a conversation with a friend about kidney donation led Kiernan to explore how that process worked. More time passed, and she began to wonder how the two issues might complicate one another. What if the egg donor had a disease that could be transmitted to her genetic child? Kiernan’s ‘what if’ led her to discover PKD – and then she had the building blocks for Between Friends.”

However there is more to this backstory. For, according to her website’s Frequently Asked Questions (see left sidebar), Kristy describes that her interests “come together as a rather violent and random smashing together of ideas in my mind…much like bumper cars. Every once in a while they get stuck together, and I decide they’re a novel.”

Now logically it would seem that, since Kristy is doing the smashing, she would be in control of timing. But when asked, she said:

“I don’t decide on the timing at all. I’d like to be able to say that I pay attention to rising trends or hot topics and then pluck a few ideas I have hanging around and put them together to write a novel, but the fact is, that smashing, much like a real accident, is always a surprise to me. And, again much like a real accident, once it happens, I have to deal with it. When the novel becomes a full idea in my mind, I sit down and write it. I don’t wait for a more opportune moment. And it so happens that my topics are timely, fabulous…and accidental.”

Actually it’s sheer genius because the ideas work through the author’s empathetic writing of fully drawn characters. Like Every(wo)men, they’re selfish, imperfect, and make decisions that leave readers wondering what were they thinking?

And Kristy admits this is intentional by giving her characters free rein in decision-making even when she, “…might not personally agree with the decision, but when I’m writing it, I’m not thinking like me…I’m thinking like them. And that seems to be a frighteningly easy thing for me to do.”

Although Between Friends is filled with decisions galore, there is not one issue presented as purely black or white. Instead this writer knows the gray area of life — where there are at least two sides to every situation — and she voices both (or more) by giving alternating chapters to Ali, Cora, and sometimes the third person narration of Letty. In addition there are the very real secondary characters that bring a reality check to this novel. And Kristy acknowledges: “I always try to incorporate friends into my characters’ lives. Very few people live in a vacuum, but I keep reading books that seem to concentrate only on the main characters, and it never seems very realistic to me. We all have outside influences.”

Interestingly enough, those outside influences also affect the characters’ respective choices. For the real truth of Between Friends is what might feel and appear to be a personal choice affects everyone. The fact of this overlapping, universal connection isn’t original but the author makes it so.

Kristy confirms that truth of connection by sharing: “It’s the major theme of my whole life, Larramie, as it is everyone else’s, even if they don’t think about it that way.”

Between Friends will make you aware of that message as well as much more. While the writing flows effortlessly, the dialogue echoes in one’s mind, and the details transform fiction into reality, it is impossible to read this novel. Instead you will live within the pages and remember the characters’ experiences as a personal memory between friends.

Between Friends is available for PRE-ORDER, allowing for delivery next week. Already pre-ordered? Perhaps another copy as a gift…for your friend.

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Between Friends in a random drawing of all comments left on this post. The deadline is Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return on Thursday to possibly claim your book.

Kristy Kiernan on Inconceivable Questions

March 23, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

Last month Publishers Weekly was the first to review Kristy Kiernan and her third novel, Between Friends coming April 6, 2010, and THE literary trade journal said:

Kiernan (Catching Genius, Matters of Faith) again demonstrates her ability to portray true-to-life relationships between women. Ali Gutierrez is mother to 15-year-old Letty thanks to the egg donation of her best friend, Cora. Ali wants to have another child, but first has to convince her husband, Benny, and then Cora, to endure the process one more time.

Cora, a free-spirit who’s just returned to America from a teaching excursion in Chile, has news of her own—she has a debilitating genetic kidney disease, and she’s not sure how to break the news to Ali. Meanwhile, Letty’s going through growing pains with her bad-news boyfriend, and when poor choices begin endangering her life, it takes all three of her parents—Benny, Ali, and Cora—to try to save her.

With realistic dialogue and pinpointed emotions, Kiernan paints a persuasive portrait of the bonds between mothers, daughters, and friends in this inspiring, heartbreaking tale.

Intriguing storyline? Kristy’s (early) readers thought so and, in today’s guest post, the author writes about their curious and inconceivable questions.

* * * * *

The most frequent question I get from women who’ve read BETWEEN FRIENDS is if I have dealt with fertility issues or I’ve had personal experience with in-vitro fertilization. I’m sure the fact that I don’t have children makes them even more curious, especially since all of my books have focused heavily on parent/child relationships.

Writers who don’t write women’s fiction always seem to be a bit stunned when I tell them the questions that are asked of me when I go to a speaking engagement or book club. And I’d be willing to be that James Patterson doesn’t have readers asking him if he’s tied up and sexually assaulted women in any underground bunkers.

But this kind of deeply personal exchange is exactly what I love most about the genre I write in and what I love most about my readers.

When readers get so involved in a story that they ask personal questions, it means that they felt the characters (whether they liked them or not) and the situations (whether they’re happy about them or not), were realistic enough that they think I surely must have a deep personal connection to them.

There could not possibly be a higher compliment paid to a writer.

And when friends express dismay about how personal the questions I sometimes get are, I just smile. I might not always choose to answer them, as anyone has the right to choose to not answer personal questions, but I do not consider them an intrusion on my privacy.

They are an honor, and a gift, and I hope to always field them with the dignity that they deserve.

Our Authors’ Go-To Writing Books, II

March 18, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Q&A

Yes there are more of our favorite authors’ writing books for your consideration and, though duplications become more numerous, there are also thoughtful additions to this question:

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!

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

“Definitely Bird by Bird, also Story by Robert McFee and This Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosley”

Judy Merrill Larsen (All the Numbers):

“I love both of the books already mentioned, and I’ve also becoME a big fan of Donald Maass’ books: WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL and THE FIRE IN FICTION. And I also firmly believe my craft improves by reading lots and lots of fiction that’s already out there–both the classics and what’s new, which, of course, rocks because I can claim time spent reading is ‘”work!”‘

Ivy Pochoda (The Art of Disappearing):

‘”The Stuff of Fiction”‘ by Doug Bauer is essential.
I also like James Woods ‘”How Fiction Works”‘
‘”Bringing Down the House”‘ by Charles Baxter”

Randy Susan Meyers (The Murderer’s Daughters):

“If I MUST choose, my favorites would be:

On Writing by Stephen King for the most down-to-earth advice presently like a memoir.

Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner because she’s an instant shrink for writers.

Modern Library Writer’s Workshop by Stephen Koch because it’s an MFA in a book.”

Allison Winn Scotch (The Department of Lost and Found, Time of My Life and The One That I Want coming June 1, 2010)

“I wish I could help but I’ve honestly never read a book on writing! Instead I read what I enjoy.”

Kristina Riggle (Real Life & Liars and The Life You’ve Imagined coming August 17, 2010):

“BIRD BY BIRD is classic and amazing, as much for its practical advice as its humor and commiseration (operative root word being “misery” of course). Whenever I have a bad day I think of KFKD (you have to read the book to get the reference) and I have re-read the Jealousy chapter more than once when I’m chewing on my own spleen about something.

“I’m a big fan of Sol Stein’s books ON WRITING and HOW TO GROW A NOVEL. Also, I read the classic SCREENPLAY by Syd Field in preparation for writing a film treatment of an earlier book. I don’t plan to walk down the screenwriting road but there were lots of plot tips in that book which helped me focus on my novels.

“Really though, the best education is to write more. Writing is a ‘”learn by doing”‘ affair.

Eileen Cook (Unpredictable, What Would Emma Do? YA and Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood YA):

“Speaking for myself – I have a zillion craft books. Whenever I’m stuck I seem to buy a new one. I think I buy them in the hope it will help me figure out my problem! My favorites include:

On Writing by Stephen King
Save the Cat by Snyder
Writing the Breakout Novel by Maass
The Writer’s Journey by Vogler”

Kristy Kiernan (Catching Genius, Matters of Faith and Between Friends coming April 6, 2010):

“My top three: The Forest For The Trees by Betsy Lerner. On Writing by Stephen King. And yes, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.”

To be continued…


Announcement: The winner of Jenny Gardiner’s memoir, Winging It, is Cathy Carper and the winners of Ad Hudler’s novel, Househusband, are Dera and Katie Alender. Congratulations to all of you! Please send your mailing address to diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com and the books will be sent out promptly.