The Divining Wand

Discovering authors beyond their pages…

Presenting Debutante Tawna Fenske
and Making Waves

June 20, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books

By her own admission it took Debutante Tawna Fenske a while to find her literary voice (see Finding Where You Fit Is Harder Than It Looks) but — once she discovered that her humor and love of romance combined perfectly together — it was full sail ahead for her debut novel, Making Waves, available August 1, 2011.

The result is a delightful, warm-hearted, endearingly twisted tale of romance and adventure, complete with hijinks….though the goal was a hijack. Yes it’s sexy but in a classy, sophisticated way. In fact Tawna’s first book is reminiscent of the classic romantic comedy movies — with an added dash of spice and lust — to satisfy true blue romance readers.

Although the idea of writing a quirky, updated version of the traditional pirate-themed romances was inspired by a sailing trip off the Queensland coast of Australia, the author says:

“It wasn’t until the economy hit the skids and a lot of people started losing jobs that the pieces of the story started to come together in my mind. I started mulling the crazy extremes someone might go to after being kicked to the curb by an unscrupulous boss. Under what circumstances might it be OK – even funny – to set out on a pirate mission to reclaim your pension, your life, and your dignity?”

Staying on course, the storyline evolved into the following synopsis:

A high-seas heist wasn’t part on their unemployment plan

There are normal ways to cope with job loss, and most don’t involve plotting a revenge-fueled diamond heist in the Caribbean with a crew more suited to the boardroom than the poop deck.

But Alex Bradshaw isn’t feeling very normal when his unscrupulous boss kicks him to the curb after 20 faithful years as an executive with the world’s largest shipping company. Alex wants payback, and maybe a chance to reclaim his dignity and his pension while he’s at it. Assembling a team of fellow corporate castoffs, he sails to the Caribbean to intercept the boss’s illegal diamond shipment. None of them counted on a quirky blonde stowaway with a perplexing array of talents, a few big secrets, and an intoxicating romantic chemistry with Alex.

And while Juli Flynn certainly didn’t plan to be a part of the most dysfunctional high seas caper in history, it’s a rare chance for her to feel like she belongs. She’s spent a lifetime being “different” from everyone else, though the reasons for that are something she’d prefer not to share with her newfound shipmates. Juli just wants to be normal for a change, but as she finds her place with the misfit crew – and in Alex’s heart – she discovers normal isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And sometimes, being weird can be wonderful.

Now meet both Juli as well as Alex and his “pirates” in this Excerpt: Chapter One.

Juli’s “weirdness” is brilliant and certain to keep readers guessing, while Alex’s human imperfections make him genuine and lovable. Both have their secrets and issues with trust but Cody, Jake, and Phyllis — former fellow co-workers turned pirate crew members — don’t bother to conceal their obvious quirks. Stereotypical characters? Not even close. And perhaps the most refreshing factor is the maturity of each individual. Ranging in age from thirty-seven to fifty-four, they all have lived just as they are….honestly (though not meant to be) funny.

The ability to write humor is Tawna’s natural gift. She credits that talent to having been born into a family where everyone has a ridiculously good sense of humor, much better than hers. In fact it took her agent to adamantly urge the author to stick with humor by saying: “You make it look easy, but it’s something very few people can do well.”

Although the book is enormously entertaining, it conveys a strong message — accepting and following one’s heart — and The Divining Wand asked Tawna how she was able to balance the two elements?

“My number one objective is to entertain, but if I didn’t have some sort of message, the book would just be one long string of cheap jokes. I won’t claim I started out with some big moral message to convey, but you’re right that Making Waves centers around the importance of marching to the beat of your own drummer (something my mother has accused me of doing my whole life). When my agent and editor and I sat down to brainstorm marketing “‘hooks'” that would sum up the type of books I write, we settled on the line, “‘normal may be nice, but weird is wonderful.'” That line appears on the cover of Making Waves, and it’s at the center of all three of my contracted romantic comedies.

In other words this novel has heart, offering romance on a realistic level. The plot twists with some steamy scenes that put things into place, then veers off in an unexpected turn that changes everything. It’s situational comedy at its best because the author has a sense of direction for the storyline but doesn’t outline, explaining:

“I don’t tend to write in a very linear fashion, which means I’m constantly going back to earlier chapters to weave in details I’ve figured out along the way. There’s a fairly big plot twist near the end of the book. I honestly had no idea the twist was coming until I started writing the scene and thought, “‘oooh, that would be good!'” Then I had to go back through all the earlier chapters and work that thread into the rest of the story.”

And that is only one example of how Making Waves stays real, romantic, and seriously funny. Having already confessed (in a previous book presentation/review) to not being a love story fan, this Fairy Godmother adored the novel and, again, claims that it has to be the classiest romantic read around.

Tawna Fenske’s Making Waves debuts on August 1st so, if you want the ultimate beach read, please consider Pre-ordering now. Then you’ll be among the first to cast off on a high seas adventure where romance and fun become wonderfully weird…enjoy!

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. 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.

Guest Tawna Fenske on
Finding Where You Fit Is Harder Than It Looks

June 14, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Good writing requires more than the ability to write a good story. In fact more often than not it’s the author’s voice and/or personal choice of genre that attracts and sustains a reader’s attention. As a writer-by-trade, Tawna Fenske (Making Waves coming August 2011) knew this and — in today’s guest post — she shares the journey of discovering her author’s niche.]

Finding Where You Fit Is Harder Than It Looks

I’ve been blogging at The Debutante Ball since last August, so I guess you could say I’ve become a familiar voice there.

Several weeks ago, I wrote about my early forays into fiction writing and how it took me awhile to figure out romantic comedy was where I fit best.

Based on commenters’ reactions, I might as well have confessed it took me 36 years to discover I had toes. How could I not know I should be writing humor?

Hey, I never claimed to be the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Yes, I’ve been the class clown since I was old enough to string sentences together. Sure, I’m always the one to break up boring meetings by making sex jokes. OK, I’ll admit I could probably find the humor in a funeral if I tried hard enough.

But it really didn’t dawn on me in the early days that I could use that to build a writing career.

I’ve always written for my supper, but in a much different capacity than what I’m doing now with novels. I caught the journalism bug in high school, and used my experience as editor of the school newspaper to land college scholarships, work my way up to editor of the college paper, and to eventually find post-college work as a newspaper reporter.

Once the appeal of long hours and lousy pay wore off, I moved on to tech writing before transitioning to a career in marketing and public relations.

All of those jobs involved writing. A lot of it, in fact. But none involved making stuff up.

That’s probably why it was such a funny feeling the first time I sat down to take a stab at fiction writing in 2002. I kept checking over my shoulder, certain the word police were going to come and arrest me for lying.

In a way, I was disappointed that never happened. I really looked forward to those handcuffs.

Though the first novel I wrote was a romance, it was barely recognizable as such. Because I’d grown so accustomed to doing vast amounts of research in the writing I did for my day job, that’s what I did for the novel, too. Looking back, that book probably could have had footnotes.

Nothing says “sexy romance” like a bibliography.

Fortunately, my first couple stabs at writing fiction weren’t read by many people who weren’t either family members or drinking buddies (or both – hi, Dad!)

But my third book did sell.

I know we’re classifying Making Waves is my debut novel, and it’s true it will be my first published book. However, it’s technically not the first book I ever sold for publication. That honor goes to a book called Avalanche. I wrote it for a line of women’s action/adventure/romance novels published by Harlequin/Silhouette several years ago under the Bombshell label.

I sold the book, spent the advance check, and had already written two follow-up novels that hadn’t yet made it to contract when my editor called on my 32nd birthday to tell me the line was being cancelled one month before my scheduled debut.

This was also the same day my cat died. Oh, and the same day my employer said they’d fire me within a week if I continued to disobey the company’s hosiery policy (I did. They didn’t).

At some point near the end of that day when I walked out onto my back deck with a glass of wine in my hand, I thought, “this is really pretty damn funny if you think about it. What are the odds of all of this happening on the same day?”

I won’t say that was an epiphany, per se, but I will tell you that within a few days I sat down and began writing something new. Something different. Something funny. Something that screamed, “if I can laugh on a day like that, I can find the humor in damn near anything!”

And though that book didn’t actually sell, it did land me an amazing agent, who eventually landed me a three-book deal for my romantic comedies.

So that’s the roundabout route I took to find my voice. Do I wish it had been quicker? Absolutely! Was it worth it for the experience I gained? I think so. Does the slowness of my journey to finding my voice indicate I need professional help and perhaps a tutor?

Don’t answer that.

* * * * *

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Populazzi by Elise Allen in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Presenting Debutante Elise Allen and Populazzi. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, June 15, 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.