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Laura Dave: Why I Write

April 24, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Last May, Laura Dave’s (The Divorce Party, London Is the Best City in America) third novel The First Husband (see presentation/review) was published and described as: “A fresh, funny take on the search for a soulmate.” —People.

It’s also brilliant, witty, and poignant yet the best news about the novel is that today it comes out as a paperback! Both the content and the flow of Laura’s writing are so natural that one might stop occasionally and wonder how does she capture that effortless magic? In today’s guest post, the author describes the simple (and successful) reason for why she writes.]

Why I Write

I write because I love to read.

Can it be that simple? Maybe yes, and maybe no. In thinking about the reasons I write, there are so many answers that immediately came to mind. Writing helps me answer questions, it is my primary way of reaching new understandings, it provides me a sense of joy, and it has (long before I did it professionally) helped me figure out my place in the world.

All of those answers are true. But the most true answer is the first one. I write because I love to read. I have loved to read since I was too young to even know what I was reading. For me, writing is the natural extension of reading. It is the other side of the same conversation about what makes our narratives feel special—the unique ways we experience joy, work through relationships and figure out what we want our lives to be. Writing is another way to experience stories, another way to share them.

While working on my novel The First Husband, I often returned to the notebook I’ve kept since I was in High School—which is really a testament to my love of reading. It is a notebook of quotes and ideas from things I’ve read that touched me. Things that I didn’t want to forget. Ideas that came from a variety of reading sources: favorite novels and biographies and memoirs and plays and poetry collections. Bad magazines and beautiful story collections. All the words that stuck with me, like only music or words can.

In thinking about why I write, I opened it again to look through it. One of my favorite quotes (a very apropos one!) popping out at me immediately.

“Keep in mind that the only person to write for is yourself. Tell the story you most desperately want to read.” – Susan Isaacs

And as I start looking through some of the others—Ernest Hemmingway’s advice on writing (“write one true sentence”); Toni Morrison’s thoughts on love (“He can’t value you more than you value yourself”); W.S. Merwin’s thoughts on dreams (“We are asleep with compasses in our hands.”)—I get that familiar desire to sit down and start telling a new story. Or get back to figuring out an old one.

Reading does that. Which is why, when I’m stuck, when I don’t know how to finish a sentence or a chapter or how to begin one, I’ll throw my books down from the bookshelf and sit on the carpet with ten books and have a little reading party. Just to remind myself that reading and writing is a messy, wonderful business.

And that I write because it is.

For more from Laura Dave, please follow her on Twitter, become a friend of on Facebook and enjoy The First Husband available in paperback today!

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of The First Husband by Laura Dave — 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.

Summer’s TBR Lists, IV and
Alison Pace’s A Pug’s Tale

June 22, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites, Book Presentations, Books, Q&A

It’s officially summer — time for relaxing and getting lost in those TBR books. While other summer book lists were being compiled and published, The Divining Wand decided to offer its own lists by asking our authors:

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

This week the following writers replied:

~Katie Alender (Bad Girls Don’t Die YA, and Bad Girls Don’t Die: From Bad to Cursed):

“Unfortunately, a lot of what was on my spring ‘”must read”‘ list has made it through the spring unread (d’oh) and therefore will be joining me this summer. I’m looking forward to Myra McEntire’s “Hourglass,” which came out in May, and Carrie Ryan’s “The Dark and Hollow Places” which was released in March. Also Megan McCafferty’s “Bumped”, released at the end of April. Plus, of course, all the great books I bought recently but haven’t gotten to yet–“Cryer’s Cross,” by Lisa McMann, “Will Grayson, Will Grayson” by John Green and David Levithan, “Please Ignore Vera Dietz” by A.S. King, and “Recovery Road” by Blake Nelson.”

~Eleanor Brown (The Weird Sisters):

“I’m not a big re-reader, but summer means re-reading to me, so I’ll be diving into some of my old favorites: Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, The Stand by Stephen King, Evening Class by Maeve Binchy, and The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy. I always find comfort and inspiration in those books!”

~Laura Dave (The First Husband The Divorce Party, London Is the Best City in America):

“I’m about to delve into an advanced copy of J. Courtney Sullivan’s new novel, Maine. And have been wanting to read Laura Munson’s, This Is Not The Story You Think It Is.”

~Jael McHenry (The Kitchen Daughter):

“Oh, so many books! For starters, Sarah Jio’s The Violets of March, Camille Noe Pagan’s The Art of Forgetting, and Meg Mitchell Moore’s The Arrivals. And there’s a new book out in Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series, so I definitely want to pick that up. I have a tradition of buying those for my mom’s birthday, and sneakily reading them before I give them to her.”

~Camille Noe Pagan (The Art of Forgetting):

“My TBR pile includes Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From The Goon Squad and Sarah Henry’s Learning To Swim. I’m also eagerly awaiting some of this spring and summer’s new releases–Jael McHenry’s The Kitchen Daughter, Rebecca Rasmussen’s The Bird Sisters and Claire Cook’s latest, Best Staged Plans. (I could go on and on!)”

~Emily Winslow (The Whole World):

“Right now I get to read the new Sophie Hannah psychological suspense novel in draft form, which won’t be coming out to the general public for another year. Lucky me!”

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And now a BONUS book for your summer reading pleasure!

Essayist/novelist Alison Pace has followed her highly successful novel, Pug Hill, with the June 7th release of A Pug’s Tale.

This critical Praise describes another wonderful, dog lover’s adventure:

“A charming mystery-lite with abundant personality.”Publishers Weekly

“Pace is the alpha writer of feel-good, girl-in-the-city-with-dog novels….a winningly affectionate tribute to art, love, New York City, and pugs.” Booklist

Here is the synopsis:

There are pugs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art!

Hope McNeill has worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for years, but this is the first time she’s been able to bring along her pug, Max. (Officially at least. Previously she’s had to smuggle him in inside her tote bag.)

The occasion: a special “Pug Night” party in honor of a deep-pocketed donor. Max and his friends are having a ball stalking the hors d’oeuvres and getting rambunctious, and making Hope wonder if this is also the last time she gets to bring Max to the museum.

But when a prized painting goes missing, the Met needs Hope’s–and Max’s–help. In her quest for the culprit, Hope searches for answers with an enigmatic detective, a larger-than-life society heiress, a lady with a shih tzu in a stroller, and her arguably intuitive canine. With luck, she’ll find some inspiration on her trips to Pug Hill before the investigation starts going downhill…

Now read an Excerpt: Chapter One.

And a vlog of Alison talking about A Pug’s Tale:

(If the video isn’t visible on your monitor, please view it here.

To contact Alison online, follow her on Twitter and friend her on Facebook.

Despite this abbreviated book presentation, please know that A Pug’s Tale is smart, wry, and delightfully fun. Best of all, though, it’s a story on intrigue and unconditional friendship….a perfect addition for your summer TBR list!

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Book Giveaway: To celebrate summer The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of A Pug’s Tale by Alison Pace in a random drawing of comments left only on this post and ONLY until tonight at 7:00 p.m. EDT. If you enter, please return tomorrow when the winners will be announced.

AND

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away three copies of Making Waves by Tawna Fenske in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Presenting Debutante Tawna Fenske and Making Waves. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

Favorite Fictional Worlds, III

May 19, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites, Q&A

As must be known by now, Eleanor Brown’s (The Weird Sisters) alternative answer for a fictional BFF inspired TDW to ask its other authors her question:

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

This final week features responses from the following writers, including Eleanor with a new answer:

~Katie Alender (Bad Girls Don’t Die YA, and Bad Girls Don’t Die: From Bad to Cursed YA coming June 14, 2011):

“I’m too much of a pragmatist (okay, I’ll admit it… I’m a homebody/hermit) to want to stray too far from home for any extended period of time–but I wouldn’t mind spending a week with the Darcys at Pemberley! I’d also be curious to drop in on Galt’s Gulch from “Atlas Shrugged.”‘

~Elise Allen (Populazzi YA coming August 1, 2011):

“Easy — I want to live in Harry Potter’s world. I’d opt for being Hermione — the perfect mix of magic and muggle. Plus I really really want her watch that stops time and gives her extra hours in the day.”

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

“I would love to live in the world JK Rowling created. Even with the evil Voldermort around, it’d be great fun to do magic and fly and see dragons and such. Alternatively, I’d love to create a literary world half as rich as the one she created.”

~Eleanor Brown (The Weird Sisters):

“Maeve Binchy’s Dublin, with all its warm, interconnected characters and cozy homes. Optimally, I’d have Maeve herself as my tour guide, too!”

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

“I’ve always wanted to live in Narnia. One of my favorite books is A HORSE AND HIS BOY. I loved the ideas of talking animals. And although there is war there (and nasty witches, etc.), the kids and animals were seen as wise and valuable members of society. Narnia is a true Utopia where all living things are respected (since the trees themselves could tell you that they didn’t want to be cut down), and any hardships are overcome with friendly help from neighbors.”

~Laura Dave (The First Husband The Divorce Party, London Is the Best City in America):

“I’d like to visit several fictional worlds — and live there temporarily! Top of my list: The fictional town of Meryton in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.”

~Caroline Leavtitt (Pictures of You, Girls in Trouble, Coming Back to Me, the rest in Bibliography):

“I’d want to live in Oz, but unlike Dorothy, I would STAY there!”

~Jael McHenrty (The Kitchen Daughter):

“For some reason the first thing that popped into my head is that I’d want to live next door to Meg Murry’s family, from A Wrinkle in Time. Although I suppose that’s cheating since what I really want is to go on all Meg’s adventures, and meet Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, and Calvin O’Keefe… you get the idea. Basically, I want to be a Murry.”

~Randy Susan Meyers ( The Murderer’s Daughters):

“As I thought and thought on this, I realized why I was coming up blank. I am drawn to dark novels of dysfunctional families that they make me grateful to stay in my own dysfunctional world. Maybe that’s a blessing, or maybe that’s why I read them: there but for the grace of God go I, and thank God that my life isn’t that bad. Every sunny novel I read makes me incredibly jealous. I remember as a kid swooning in envy over LITTLE WOMEN and wanting to be in the bosom of that family. Another one was CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN. Having a tiny family, somehow that seemed like the height of happiness–being surrounded by 11 other siblings.”

~Melissa Senate (The Love Goddess’ Cooking School, The Mosts YA, The Secret of Joy, the rest in Bibliography):

“I’d like to live with the March sisters and their wonderful Marmee. I’d help Jo with the school, and Amy would teach me to paint.”

~Wendy Tokunaga (Midori By Moonlight, Love in Translatio , and ebook, Marriage in Translation: Foreign Wife, Japanese Husband [Kindle Edition]):

“When I think of a fictional world or neighborhood I go back to the books I loved as a child. And the one that comes to mind is “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I’d love to be able to stow away into a private, secret magical garden perhaps to write or just enjoy the sunshine.”

~Emily Winslow (The Whole World):

“I will now confess a guilty pleasure of my youth: Sweet Valley High novels! Okay, I wouldn’t want to *live* in Sweet Valley, but it would be a hoot to visit. I think I would be friends with Winston Egbert.”

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Announcement: The winners of Julianna Baggott’s (Bridget Asher novel), The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted, are Janel and Jane Cook. Congratulations!

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

Laura Dave and The First Husband

May 09, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books


With witty, wise, storytelling regarding the complexities of modern love — complemented by her elegantly honest prose –, Laura Dave (The Divorce Party, London Is the Best City in America) offfers readers her third novel, The First Husband, available Thursday, May 12, 2011.

How good is it really? In its May 2011 issue, Marie Claire designated The First Husband as a “NEED TO READ” decadent novel noting: “What distinguishes Dave from her peers are her keen observations about the difficulty of creating lasting love in a freedom-obsesses society, and her willingness to follow her characters into the grayest areas of their emotional lives…”

The author accomplishes just that by first introducing Annie Adams, a thirtysomething travel columnist, who watches her five-year committed relationship dissolve within an hour. After five years with someone she loved and thought would be her life partner, what does Annie do? Well that was the question that inspired the novel — how do we not live our lives in reaction? Also how do we operate from a place of agency?

As for the title, Laura explains: “In today’s age, I feel like many of my friends have such serious relationships before marriage (decade long relationships) that in some ways this person they end up parting with is a first husband. I liked that the title could speak to that a bit.”

Indeed it does and the storyline evolved into the following synopsis:

A savvy, page-turning novel about a woman torn between her husband and the man she thought she’d marry.

Annie Adams is days away from her thirty-second birthday and thinks she has finally found some happiness. She visits the world’s most interesting places for her syndicated travel column and she’s happily cohabiting with her movie director boyfriend Nick in Los Angeles. But when Nick comes home from a meeting with his therapist (aka “futures counselor”) and announces that he’s taking a break from their relationship so he can pursue a woman from his past, the place Annie had come to call home is shattered. Reeling, Annie stumbles into her neighborhood bar and finds Griffin-a grounded, charming chef who seems to be everything Annie didn’t know she was looking for. Within three months, Griffin is Annie’s husband and Annie finds herself trying to restart her life in rural Massachusetts.

A wry observer of modern love, Laura Dave “steers clear of easy answers to explore the romantic choices we make” (USA Today). Her third novel is packed with humor, empathy, and psychological insight about the power of love and home.

After three months Annie is married and starting over in rural Massachusetts?! Granted, Griffin seems to be wonderful and his small town, though isolated, is quaint and charming, albeit a bit off the beaten path. But is Annie being impulsive or reactive to finding “a ready made life” there? Because the truth is that this world travel columnist has a lack of self-worth baggage that she’s been dragging around though her mother’s numerous marriages and divorces. In other words, Annie has never had the stability to prove to herself that she deserved stability. This is one of the major themes of the novel and it’s also an issue that Laura Dave shows a brilliant take on as she says:

“I think she was deeply scared to even hope for it or ask for it — because then she would have to acknowledge how much she had longed for it. Watching Annie start to trust herself and gain a sense of self-worth (and choose a man who honored who she truly was) was a great joy for me as a writer.”

Perhaps the simple fact that Annie realizes she enjoys being with someone completely different than she’s used to –even loves him enough to marry him — makes The First Husband both insightful, delightful, and fresh. And all that likely comes from the author’s writing process. Because, when writing, Laura doesn’t know what’s going to happen….at times. Although she doesn’t follow a major outline, there are mental ideas as to where her characters are headed. However how they get there is both poignant and fun, creating a naturally human flawed storyline.

Without giving away *spoilers*, The Divining Wand asked the writer if she knew when, where, and how Annie would meet Griffin? And Laura admitted:

“I knew Annie was going to meet someone that night, and at some point I decided certain things about Griffin. But the joy for me is letting the characters talk to each other and say crazy things and be surprised myself as that meeting transpires on the page. When I feel surprised myself, I know my readers will feel that surprise too.”

Not only will there be that feeling of surprise, there will be “Aha,” and even “too close for comfort” feelings as well. For Laura Dave’s goal is to present her best possible writing by putting it first, the story second. Believing that good writing is rewriting, after the first draft, she often writes a dozen more. It’s in these drafts that the author finds what puzzle pieces are missing, what changes are needed, and what interesting bits of the story deserve more attention.

During the past decade, hundreds of novels have been written about twenty/thirtysomething women searching for happiness in quest of “Mr. Right.” TRUTH: The First Husband is not one of those novels. Instead it’s a tale of a thirtysomething woman searching for love within herself and the happiness that comes from learning where she can grow and belong. Modern love may throw in complications but it remains a universal story of self-acceptance. Which is why The First Husbandis a stunning, thoughtful, hopeful read for all ages because loving oneself is a lifelong journey. Enjoy!

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of The First Husband by Laura Dave in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

Guest Laura Dave on REBOOTED:
How My Worst Writing Moment Became My Best

May 03, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[A published author is of often defined as a writer who never gave up. In today’s guest post, Laura Dave (The Divorce Party, London Is the Best City in America, and The First Husband coming May 12, 2011) shares an experience that tested and challenged her “author dream.”]

REBOOTED:
How My Worst Writing Moment Became My Best

Right before my twenty-sixth birthday, I moved to New York City. I’d been living in small towns, for the last several years, working tirelessly on my first novel. I was living on fellowship funds, getting up at 4:30 AM to write, and working a variety of odd jobs. They were challenging years. But I was hopeful that they’d paid off: I was heading to New York with two hundred pages of a book.

But, less than a week after I arrived in Manhattan, I spilled water on my computer and lost the entire thing. All two hundred pages.

Gone.

I spilled one glass of ice water, and the entirety of my work—all of those years worth of struggle and hope—seemed to disappear. I was devastated. I remember lying on the floor of my childhood bedroom, my father standing in the doorway, asking me what I was planning to do next. And I remember my answer.

“Well, I am going to start again,” I said.

The words were out of my mouth before I even thought about them. Much to my surprise, I knew, immediately, that they were the truth. There would be no taking this accident as a sign I was meant to do something else. (Except perhaps learn how to utilize a back-up system.) I would lie on the floor for a few more hours, feeling sorry for myself. Then I would pick myself up and get back to work.

As crazy as it may sound, I often look back at that moment with gratitude. Because it was in that moment that I became a writer. Whatever pitfalls I experience along the way now—whatever bad days make me want to put the pen down—I have lost fear that I will give up on my work. If I didn’t quit then, in the face of such loss, I figure I have no excuse to give up in the future.

But just in case: in my new home in Los Angeles, I have two back-up systems saving every word.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Exposure by Therese Fowler in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Therese Fowler and Exposure. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

The Revealing of Laura Dave

April 27, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

Laura Dave, highly acclaimed for her first two novels [with the most intriguing titles] — The Divorce Party and London Is the Best City in America –, offers readers her latest book, The First Husband in bookstores on May 12, 2011.

In a one sentence synopsis, The First Husband is described as: A savvy, page-turning novel about a woman torn between her husband and the man she thought she’d marry.

And the novel has garnered this early praise:

“Dave presents an inspiring account of a woman who ceases her external travels to become her own compass. I have more insight into my own life after reading this book, and I thank Laura Dave for that gift.”—Connie Kalter, Publishers Weekly

“Positively shines with wisdom and intelligence. What truly sets Dave apart is her ability to convey the contradictions and imperfections, the inherent impossibility of true love, and yet somehow still make you believe in it.”
Jonathan Tropper, New York Times Bestselling author of This is Where I Leave You

“In an honest and heart-felt tale, Laura Dave masterfully explores the big questions: should you have said yes? Waited? Answered that call you ignored? Filled with sparkling wit and pithy observation, The First Husband is everything I love about contemporary women’s fiction.”
Jen Lancaster, New York Times Bestselling author of Bitter is the New Black and My Fair Lazy

“For anyone who wonders if she has found ‘the one’, The First Husband is a wonderfully witty novel about love and loss, and about how to find a happy home. I loved every moment, every page, and you will too.”
Allison Winn Scotch, New York Times Bestselling author of The One That I Want and Time of my Life

The Divining Wand has scheduled a presentation/review of The First Husband for Monday, May 9, 2011 however, in the meantime, let’s meet the author through her “official” bio:

Laura Dave is the author of the novels The Divorce Party and London is the Best City in America. She is also a journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Glamour, and NPR’s All Things Considered, among others. Her first novel was optioned for film by Reese Witherspoon and her second novel was optioned for film by Jennifer Aniston. A New York native, she now lives in Los Angeles.

And now it’s time to get to know Laura, upclose and personal:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: Happy, busy, blessedly full of family and friends

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: Just breathe!

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: My family being happy and healthy.

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: My mother is southern, and scared me away from ever answering that question. Don’t test the universe!

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: Exactly where I am. Truly.

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: Such a good question, and one I can best answer by altering it a bit. A person I most admire? Jane Austen.

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: My mother.

Q; What are your most overused words or phrases?
A: “Oh no!”

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: I’d love to be able to dance. I mean really, really dance.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: I take care of the people I love, and I do my best to live a life I love.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: I worry. (And when I’m not worrying, I worry about that.)

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: I am very loving.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: No regrets. Not allowed.

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: I’m working on that answer being me. It’s still a work in progress though.

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: I’m pretty much always wearing a gray sweater. I rotate among five or six of them—one more cozy and soft than the next. I am getting married in the fall, and I’m fairly certain one of them will make an appearance at the wedding.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Clarissa Dalloway, Mrs. Dalloway

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Whoever the ‘bad guy’ is that I’m currently writing about. And finding a way to make him good.

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: Funny enough, I used to write freelance pieces for ESPN the Magazine. And I got to meet many amazing athletes who I admire.

Nowadays, I’d like to meet the starting lineup on the Philadelphia Phillies. And tell them to “please win!” so my house stays peaceful!

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: Mean people.

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: Cooking. Or spending the morning at the farmer’s market, picking out what I’m cooking that night.

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Being a novelist still feels like a great fantasy to me!

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Humor, Goodness, openness.

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Salad. I know that’s the world’s most boring answer, but I love a salad! But before I seem too good, cheese would be a very close second.

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: I love music so much, it’s hard to pick just 5. But I made a playlist for The New York Times when The Divorce Party came out.

That’s a good place to start!

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: Slouching Toward Bethlehem, The Great Gatsby, Pride and Prejudice, The Feast of Love, and whatever I’m just starting for the first time.

Multi-talented, unique, and engaging, Laura Dave is a terrific author to follow on Twitter and become a friend of on Facebook.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of The Violets of March by Sarah Jio in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Presenting Debutante Sarah Jio and The Violets of March. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is tonight at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in tomorrow’s post. If you enter, please return tomorrow to see if you’re a winner.

Go-to Writing Books, III

April 07, 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. Yet not all motivation or inspiration comes from books on writing, in fact favorite novels are just as likely to be kept close at hand. With this in mind, The Divining Wand asked its authors:

What books do you keep nearby or go back to as you’re working?

And this week the following authors — including Laura Dave, the most recent addition to TDW — replied:

~Claire Cook (Seven Year Switch, Must Love Dogs, Life’s A Beach, and the rest in Bibliography, and Best Staged Plans coming May 31, 2011):

“I think of it as self-medicating with writing books. I keep a pile of them beside me as I write a novel, and flip through them as needed, not really for specific info but for their calming properties. The two I pick up again and again are Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird and Carolyn See’s Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and other Dreamers.”

~Laura Dave (The Divorce Party, London Is the Best City in America, and The First Husband coming May 12, 2011):

“Slouching Toward Bethlehem, The Great Gatsby, Pride and Prejudice, The Feast of Love, The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing, Everything Changes, Something Borrowed, The Lost Legends of New Jersey and On Writing.”

~ Shana Mahaffey (Sounds Like Crazy):

“I keep books of poetry by W.B. Yeats, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Mathew Arnold to read when I need beautiful words to inspire me. I always have my online dictionary and reference website open. I consult both, but especially the latter, often throughout the process. For regular reading, I try to keep a good mystery by my side, and if there are none, I will always go back to The Chronicles of Amber* by Roger Zelazny.”

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

“I always keep Mary Oliver’s poems close to me when I’m writing. Sometimes I read a poem or two before I get started on my own work to remind myself to be mindful of my word choice and to enjoy the process even when it is frustrating me. Mary Oliver often celebrates life in her writing, from birds and trees to people and great loves, sometimes losses, which is what I am trying to do in mine.”

~Lori Roy (Bent Road):

“I have a well worn copy of Janet Burroway’s WRITING FICTION A GUIDE TO NARRATIVE CRAFT. The pages are highlighted, paperclipped and flagged with sticky notes. I also have several novels from favorite writers that I will open at random and read from whenever I find myself stuck.”

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

“It depends on the book I’m writing. For my last, because it was first person and relationship-driven, I kept looking at Nick Hornby’s HIGH FIDELITY, Curtis Sittenfeld’s PREP, and Richard Ford’s THE SPORTSWRITER.”

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Announcement: The winner of Friendship Bread by Darien Gee is Janel. Congratulations!

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