The Divining Wand

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What If….Maud Carol Markson and Lauren Baratz-Logsted?

July 14, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites

What a day — or more — for a daydream in the summer heat of July. In fact it feels like the perfect time to wonder “what if” The Divining Wand possessed magical powers and could grant authors, who create their own magic with “what if,” the following two questions:

Based only on their writing, what author would you want to be?

AND

If given the opportunity to have written ONE book in your lifetime, what would that title be?

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

“I don’t know what author I would want to be because I can’t help but think about their “‘real'” lives. My father always taught me that “‘the grass is probably greener on my own lawn regardless to how it looks from my side of the fence.'” However, I truly love Anne Tyler and if I could write just one of her novels, I would feel blessed. As for the one book– I would love to have written To Kill A Mockingbird! But Harper Lee only wrote one book– I am sure that was difficult for her.

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

“Arturo Perez-Reverte. He’s a terrific writer and it’s always so clear he’s having fun.”

“The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald.”

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Our Authors Journey, IV

June 17, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

Beginning with a late January post, The Divining Wand has revealed how its successful authors have traveled their personal road to publication. And now the remaining five answer the questions of how they handled rejection and what kept them going to reach their destination?

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

“Years passed between the day I really got serious about writing, and the day I signed a publishing contract. There is no general time-line for when you “should” have something published. Everyone’s on her own path. It takes some writers decades to achieve publication.

“During the submissions process, I became very familiar with rejection. What kept me going? A husband who believes in me, and an inner refusal to quit. Too, I surrounded myself with positive people who made me feel as though I was bound to succeed. And I tried to avoid negative people whose comments, questions, or attitudes made me second-guess myself.”

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

“I’ve been very lucky. Very lucky. My first book was nonfiction and I sold it myself, getting a publisher only after a handful of rejections. My first novel was sold about 4 months after it went on submission. That is remarkably fast. However, it didn’t feel that way at the time, and the novel was rejected by about a dozen publishers. As those rejections were coming in, it felt awful. I started to lose hope. I am a Gemini so I feel uniquely qualified to be on submission. Half of me has complete faith that I will be successful and the other half completely believes I’m a big fat failure. What kept me going is the optimistic half of me. That and my agent’s belief in me, and my husband and my friends.”

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

“The answer to this question depends on when you want to start the clock ticking. I always wanted to write and my parents have one of my earliest “works” dating back to second grade. If we use that as the starting point then it took me a looooooong time. If we start from the time I finished Unpredictable, it took me about five months to find an agent and about six months with her between revisions and when I sold. Once I sold it was two years before the book came out. This is my way of pointing out that writing makes a lousy get rich quick plan.

“Rejection is a part of the publication process. When writers gather they show off their rejection scars like old war veterans. My approach to rejection was to feel sorry for myself for a maximum of 24 hours and then pull up my big girl panties and move forward. There is a saying that the difference between an unpublished writer and a published writer is perseverance. Rejection was just the world’s way of trying to figure out how serious I was about this publication plan.”

Judy Merrill Larsen (All the Numbers):

“From the day I wrote the first sentence of my first draft, to the day my book was available in stores was almost exactly 7 years. I learned to have a very thick skin to deal with the rejections (teaching high school and having kids had already helped me with that!), and I even learned to use the rejections as inspiration to keep going, to get it right. My friends and family also helped, encouraging me every step of the way. And I also knew that giving up simply wasn’t an option–this mattered, my story mattered, and I had to keep going.”

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

“How long did it take before you finally got published? And how did you handle rejection, what kept you going? My first novel got published very quickly, but then it took me twenty years until my next novel was published. I handled rejection by getting very involved in other endeavors– not simply seeing myself as a writer.”

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Have you heard?

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

The Mother of All Giveaways

On her Wednesday, June 16, 2010 blog post, Allison writes:

“Yes, I use those words intentionally. Because today, I wanted to give shout-outs to some women writers (okay, they’re not all mothers) who have in some way been kind or helpful to me throughout my career, and well, throughout certain times of my life. Writing is a very solitary endeavor, but thanks to some of my friends, I always feel like I have a wide network of support. All of these women are generous – with blurbs, with advice, with open ears when we just need to complain, and just as importantly, all of them have (relatively) new books out. 🙂 And I’m grateful for them, not just for their brilliant words that go onto the page, but for their friendship.

SO.

Here’s the deal:

To enter the contest, click over to my Facebook page, where this contest is announced. Click “like,” on the giveaway or leave a comment underneath the announcement. You’ll be entered. Just like that. I’ll leave it open until Friday at 3pm EST, when I’ll choose the winners, each of whom will receive one of the fabulous books listed below. Oh, and did I mention that each copy will be signed? Yes, the lovely ladies will be sending their autograph too.

Here are the goods that you’ll be up to win:” (Scroll down.)

* * * * *

Announcement: The winner of Three Wishes by Carey Goldberg, Beth Jones, and Pamela Ferdinand is Stacey.

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

The Facts and Factors of A Novel’s Word Count, II

April 29, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Q&A

Today’s post is the continuation of how authors responded to a recent question posted on The Divining Wand’s Q & A page:

Here’s another question for your authors: What is the word count of most of their novels?

I know that we here all sorts of estimates of what a novel should be, 70,000 to 100,000 words. But what is the actual count for the novels featured here, and do your authors think about word count as they’re writing?

Also please welcome The Divining Wand’s latest about-to-become author, Allie Larkin, who leads off with:

Allie Larkin (STAY coming June 10, 2010):

“The final version of STAY is around 100,000 words. The first draft was just short of 70,000, and then grew through the revising process, as the story became more layered and I developed the characters further. I don’t think word count should be a concern in the first few drafts of a book. Those drafts are about creating the framework of the story and getting to know the characters. Obviously, there are ideal lengths for books, but I think reaching an ideal word count should be more of an organic process than a goal to meet. You never want to add words just for the sake of adding them. So, even if it’s necessary to add 10-20,000 words to make the book a marketable length, I think the focus should be more about figuring out a way to grow the story and grow the characters, than trying to hit a certain number.”

Melanie Benjamin (Alice I Have Been):

“This is a good question. Before ALICE, I always aimed at 80,000; my earlier contract, for my 2 contemporary novels, stipulated that should be the approximate word count. When I moved to historical fiction, however, I found that there’s more leeway, and ALICE came in at around 100,000 words, and nobody blinked an eye. That’s the word count I have in mind for my next historical novel, too.

“However – word of advice. Let the story develop as it needs to and try not to obsess about the word count until it’s finished. Revisions always change things. If you finish and you find you’re way under the typical word count (which is, yes, anywhere from 70,000 to 100,000, depending on the genre as I said above), then you may have to decide whether or not the work would be better off as a short story. If you’re way over, you can edit and perhaps divide the work into 2 novels. So – try not to obsess while telling the story, but at the end of the day, word count does matter.”

Judy Merrill Larsen (All the Numbers):

“Ooh, I definitely think about word count as I’m writing . . . my novels tend to be in the 75,000 word range, which is a bit on the short side. And I NEVER get to that in my first draft. My goal in a first draft is to get to 65,000 words because I know that in revising (which to me means mostly adding and rearranging), I’ll get in that magical realm of 70,000-80,000 words.”

Holly LeCraw (The Swimming Pool):

“Mine is about 80,000 words. I didn’t think about word count as I was writing, but assumed I would come in at 300ish pages. As it turned out, mine is 307. I tend to like books that are tightly constructed and not overlong, although there are always exceptions.”

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

“Since I write for pretty much every age group imaginable, I’m all over the place on this. Each volume in The Sisters 8 series for young readers comes in at about 22K. My one middle grade was 35K. My adult novels range from 70-100K. Even within YA, I’m all over the place, with most coming in at 45-50K while The Twin’s Daughter (due out on Aug 31) is a whopping 96K! It all depends on what the individual book demands, how long it takes to tell the story right.”

Shana Mahaffey (Sounds Like Crazy):

“Sounds Like Crazy weighs in at just over 105,000 words. I wrote without regard to word count and was lucky enough to have my book published under an imprint that believes a book should be as long as it needs to be to tell the story.”

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

“I don’t have the exact number but I believe Looking After Pigeon was just around 80,000 words. The novel I’m working on now is about 85,000 words.”

Sarah Pekkanen (The Opposite of Me):

“The Opposite of Me is 105,000 words (give or take a few). My second novel is about 90,000 words. I do think a little about word count as I write, knowing it would be much harder to sell a book that came in at 60,000 or 200,000 words.”

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

“I had to look this information up. REAL LIFE & LIARS was 85,498 in the pre-copyedited version, and THE LIFE YOU’VE IMAGINED is a little longer at 91,171. My work-in-progress will end up about the same. Since I measure my daily progress in first drafts by word count I suppose I do think about it as I write, but only as a handy way to measure productivity. I do feel very pleased when I hit the big round numbers divisible by 10,000. It’s arbitrary, but it does feel like a milestone and since writing a first draft is so solitary it’s nice to congratulate myself on leaping those hurdles. No one else is going to throw me a party.”

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

“All of mine hover around the 85k mark. I do think about WC as I’m writing – I think about the book in a series of acts, and I know when to begin each one (generally), so I can time the action – and the necessary arc of that action – to the word count.”

Barrie Summy (I So Don’t Do Mysteries, I So Don’t Do Spooky and I So Don’t Do Makeup coming May 11, 2010, Ages 9 – 12):

“My novels (tween mysteries) are 52,000 to 55,000 words. Do I think about word count while I’m writing?

“Yes. Yes. Yes.

“I’m a HUGE plotter, and I know where I should be word-count wise for the major plot points, darkest moment, the resolution. This is how I keep the pace up.

“And also how I keep my sanity. I promise myself treats all the way through the first draft. For example, when I reach the first plot point, around 13,000 words, I get to have a package of licorice as a reward.”

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

“I believe that my word counts come out to be around 85,000. I never think about this when I’m writing, though. I just write as much as I need to tell the story and it always seems to work out okay in the end.”

Therese Walsh (The Last Will of Moira Leahy):

“My publisher, Shaye Areheart, likes books to come in right at about 90,000 words, which is the word count for The Last Will of Moira Leahy.

“I keep tabs of word count using Word, but I don’t stress about it much while drafting a story. I tend to trust that the word count will fall near the right mark in the end. Word count definitely becomes more important during editing, though. I find it easier to edit a “fat” story down to size rather than add new beef.”

And a final word on just the facts….

Randy Susan Meyers (The Murderer’s Daughters):

“According to fictionfactor.com, ‘”Most print publishers prefer a minimum word count of around 70,000 words for a first novel, and some even hesitate for any work shorter than 80,000. Yet any piece of fiction climbing over the 110,000 word mark also tends to give editors some pause. They need to be sure they can produce a product that won’t over-extend their budget, but still be enticing enough to readers to be saleable. Imagine paying good money for a book less than a quarter-inch thick?”‘

“That said, there is much back and forth on this issue. I think the topic is very well covered by agent Colleen Lindsay in her blog, the swivet.”

If you have a question for our authors feel free to post it on the Q & A page or email: diviningwand@gmail.com

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ATTENTION: This site’s rather exclusive sidebar has a new addition under the category of Must See. ArounderTouch is an iPhone app from Arounder.com. The virtual reality site — featuring gorgeous 360-degree panoramas of the world — is what I frequently used on Seize A Daisy’s “Friday Getaways.” It’s a first-class ticket for your travel plans or imaginary flights of fancy, please check it out.

Announcement: The winners of Quick’s debut YA novel, SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR, are Keetha and Beth. Congratulations! Please send your mailing addresses to: diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com, and I’ll have your copy sent out promptly. Many thanks to everyone who entered.

Our Authors’ Go-To Writing Books, I

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

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

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

Reading (and writing) minds want to know!

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

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

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

Sarah Pekkanen (The Opposite of Me):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Therese Fowler (Souvenir, Reunion)

“My personal go-to books are the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued…

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

Our Authors’ True Love of the Writing Process, II

February 18, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites, Profiles

As promised here is a continuation of authors’ responses to the question of: What do you love most about the writing process?

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

“For the most part, my writing process is arduous. Often when I’m struggling to find the right words or simply the courage to keep on typing, I hear Matt typing away in the next room, or hear him lean back in his chair and sigh. I’m married to a writer, and no one understands my struggles better. It’s an inspiring reminder of the miracle of our own love story, and it’s what I cherish the most about my writing process.”

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

“What I love most about writing is when I get it right. It’s very satisfying to use just the right word or image to describe something or write a beautiful sentence. Which is why I usually enjoy rewriting more than writing.”

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

“I love the new idea stage. I haven’t had a chance to ruin anything or realized why certain things won’t work. I’m convinced the idea is brilliant and I can’t wait to get started.”

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

“What I love most about the writing process is that rare moment when your isolated ideas start to mesh into something more whole. It happens when you least expect it and it is always astonishing as the first time.”

Therese Fowler (Souvenir, Reunion):

“The magical feeling of seeing a scene in my mind and transmitting it into words as if I’m taking dictation from the gods–with the result being characters and events that become absolutely real to me. That’s certainly not an every-day event, but knowing that it can happen and does happen thrills me.”

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

“I’m having my favorite writing moment today actually. There’s a point in the manuscript when my fingers are flying, when I don’t even look at the screen, when there is hard rock on in the background and I hear nothing else. I don’t even realize that I’m breathing, I don’t feel hunger, I’m not cold, I’m not hot, I don’t feel my body at all. The Apocalypse could be raging outside, but all I am is flying fingers and story and music. THAT is a happy Kristy Kiernan.”

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

“Those moments when you go in a completely unexpected, intuitive direction.”

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

“I love it when I am at just the editing state– just working on a sentence or a paragraph here and there– finding the beauty in the words and the language, and the truth in my characters.”

Randy Susan Meyers (The Murderer’s Daughters:

“What don’t I love about my writing process? I feel like the luckiest person in the world to be writing full time. Now, what do I love most? Bringing a story to life—reaching into the ‘what if’ of life and breathing energy into the first imagined bones—is the most exciting (and yet most difficult) part of writing. My second love is revision. It feels great having a finished draft—to have jumped the first hurdle—and be able to dig it and made it as good as I can.”

Sarah Pekkanen (The Opposite of Me, coming March 9, 2010):

“I love hunkering down on the couch, with my laptop and mug of tea nearby, and re-reading what I’ve written the day before, tweaking and polishing, before I move on to a fresh page. For me, re-writing is the best part of writing!”

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):

“What I love most about the writing process is the way it helps me figure out how the different ideas in my head connect in the larger scheme of life. Writing about the things I care about is surprisingly revealing for me. Sometimes I’ll find myself someplace entirely different than where I thought a chapter was going…and it’s almost always better than what I’d planned. I love that there’s an element to writing that we don’t control…that as authors, we get to be surprised, too.”

Barrie Summy (I So Don’t Do Mysteries, I So Don’t Do Spooky Ages 9 – 12):

“What I love most about my writing process:
I was going to answer “typing The End” when I’ve finished the first draft. But I don’t really type The End. Although it is true that I’m very very happy to be done with the first draft, which is the most difficult part of writing for me.”

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Reminder: This Sunday, February 21st at 8:00 p.m. EST LIFETIME MOVIE NETWORK presents “Sins of the Mother,” based on Carleen Brice’s debut novel, Orange Mint and Honey. The movie has already received glowing reviews which can can be found in the post, Sins of the Mother Party Watch Checklist!

Announcement: The two winners, receiving a signed copy of Judy Merrill Larsen’s debut novel, All the Numbers, are Ellie Ann and Sue. Congratulations! Please email: diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and the book will be sent out promptly. And thank you to all who entered.

Our Authors Favorite Love Stories

February 15, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites

Although February celebrates Black History Month, Heart Month and Valentine’s Day, it also offers a quiet time in book releases. Now, of course new books are appearing on bookstore shelves, but the real flurry of spring/summer titles begins next month and almost overwhelms in April, May, June…

To take advantage of this quiet, cozy, snowbound time as well as to extend the warmth of Valentine’s Day, what would be better than a good love story? Our authors agreed and have chosen to share their favorites with you.

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

“Pride and Prejudice…I know, not very original, but it’s the one book I can honestly say that when I read the last word, I just wanted to start all over again.”

Alicia Bessette (Simply from Scratch coming in August 2010):

“My favorite love story is Roland Merullo’s A LITTLE LOVE STORY. Here’s what The New York Times wrote about it; I couldn’t agree more, and I couldn’t say it better myself: “Thoughtful, restrained (yet very sexy) … Merullo captures what it feels like when you meet ‘the one’–and what you’re willing to do to hold onto that person.” If you’re looking for an utterly romantic, highly readable, bittersweet page-turner, with a beautiful, redemptive ending, do yourself a favor and buy this book.”

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

“My favorite love story is the one in What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage. It’s between a woman who has recently learned she’s HIV-positive and a man who was formerly in prison when he was a drug addict. They are both good people, clean and sober now, and very sweet. The guy has beautiful dreadlocks and drinks green tea and does yoga, so, of course, he’s my kinda guy!”

Therese Fowler (Souvenir, Reunion):

“Forgive me, this will sound like a shameless plug, but my honest answer is the story I’ve just finished writing, THE REMEDY (due out in early ’11). I am absolutely in love with my lovers, and so sympathetic toward their plight…

“One of the reasons I write love stories is because I’ve found few in contemporary literature that suit my desires as a reader–and I l-o-v-e a love story. It’s easier for me to name favorite love stories on film: SOMMERSBY, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, and THE THORN BIRDS come to mind. And yes, I know the latter two are books as well–and I love the books–but the stories are even better-realized on film.”

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

“I have so many, but two that spring to mind right now are THE GOOD HUSBAND by Gail Godwin and EVIDENCE OF THINGS UNSEEN by Marianne Wiggins, both novels of long-term love and devotion.”

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

“Very very difficult to pick…one of many is Love in the Time of Cholera.”

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

“Any novel by Anne Tyler — she deals with love and relationships so beautifully and so truthfully.”

Randy Susan Meyers (The Murderer’s Daughters):

“In Before and After, author Rosellen Brown writes about the depth of family love and the love between a husband and wife, offering spectacular prose, a page-turning plot, and non-stop insight into the character’s hearts. This story of a family caught in the most awful of circumstances—with a teenage son accused of an appalling crime—Brown manages to let the reader see every side of the story, feel sympathy for all, and most impressive, she presents a family at terrible odds with each other’s views, still fighting to stay together. At it’s heart, this is a love story, and it is my favorite.”

Sarah Pekkanen (The Opposite of Me, coming March 9, 2010):

“I can’t pick just one… there are so many great love stories out there!”

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):

“My favorite love story is pretty much any tale where we get to watch someone learn who they are and how to love better than they thought they could. My favorite novels in this category are too numerous to narrow down…the best example I can think of is the movie “How To Lose A Guy In 10 Dates or Less.” Kate Hudson’s character thinks she wants one thing in life (to write “real” articles about serious subjects) but discovers that life is bigger than she expected when love is added into the mix. By the end of the film, she wants more from life than she would have asked for in the beginning. (Also, I’m a sucker for a happy ending involving a chase scene!)”

Barrie Summy (I So Don’t Do Mysteries, I So Don’t Do Spooky Ages 9 – 12):

“My favorite love story: Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Mars Freedman”

Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much a heart can hold.
~Zelda Fitzgerald

To be continued…next week.

Our Authors’ Best Advice

February 04, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

While experience is often the ultimate teacher, there are usually words of wisdom that guide an author through the process of writing. What words might those be? This Fairy Godmother asked:

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

What follows are several of our authors’ responses:

Alicia Bessette (Simply from Scratch coming in August 2010):

“Write what you write, and don’t compare your writing to others’.”

Judy Merrill Larsen (All the Numbers):

“Wow, lots of advice. Don’t give up. There’s no such thing as writer’s block (I mean, do plumber’s have plumber’s block? Lawyers have lawyer’s block? No. I’m a writer, so I write.). You can’t fix a blank page. Give yourself permission to write crap. It’ll get better upon revision. Write from the heart. And, Of course it’s not always easy. If it was, everyone would do it. And few things that really matter are easy. But it’s who I am, so I write.”

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

“The best advice I ever received was to keep writing, and to write the kind of work that I myself would want to read. So I continue to write for the reader who is like me.”

Sarah Pekkanen (The Opposite of Me, coming March 9, 2010):

“Keep on writing, no matter what. Don’t stop. Aim for 1,000 words a day, at least. Never give up!”

Ivy Pochoda (The Art of Disappearing)

“Write fearlessly. Avoid adverbs.”

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):

“Stephen King: ‘“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”’ One of the last things I do before submitting to my editor is run a search for all words ending in LY. Typically cuts my word count WAY down, and I don’t miss the deleted words.”

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

“Read your work aloud. This is so helpful in figuring out what works and what doesn’t in terms of word selection, dialogue, the rhythm of the prose, etc.”

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Announcements: The two winners of Shana Mahaffey’s debut novel, Sounds Like Crazy, are Rebecca and Steve. Congratulations!

AND

The winner of Carleen Brice’s two novels, Orange Mint and Honey, Children of the Waters, is Wendy. Congratulations to you too!

Now, if you will all please send your mailing addresses to: diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com, I’ll get these books out to you as promptly as possible. And my thanks to everyone who entered.

Happy Holidays from Maud Carol Markson

December 25, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Holidays

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Merry Christmas! Here’s an author’s very personal experience that is actually universal — celebrating the holiday of your own for the first time away from home.

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Christmas in California

MaudtmbWhen I moved out to California fifteen years ago, I did not go home for Christmas. Instead of cold and snow and a gray day that pressed up against an early dark night, my Christmas was suddenly filled with sunlight, and the deep blue skies that exist in the winter in Northern California. This was the first Christmas that I had not spent with my parents and the rest of my extended family. And rather than feeling sad or nostalgic, I felt as light as the day.

I come from a big family and Christmas was always chaotic with lots of food, lots of presents, and always lots of hurt feelings, disappointments, anger, tears. So I found it particularly liberating to make my own Christmas traditions that year, to not be restricted by what I had eaten or done all the years before. Since my husband’s family did not celebrate Christmas, I was truly free to make this day our own. We selected our tree—a large Noble Fir that filled our living room with its pine scent and its lights. I baked all my favorite cookies the week before, and our house smelled delicious every day. I chose my own menu for our large breakfast and then for a simple dinner. I hung stockings not just for our son, but also for our dog. I gave our son new pajamas that Christmas Eve (and have done so every year since) so that on Christmas morning he would look good for the photographs. In the afternoon, we all went for a long walk, our dog’s red velvet collar strung with bells jingling all the way. There were few expectations that Christmas; it was quiet, relaxed (although there was still plenty of food and presents), and joyous.

I miss my large family on the East Coast, I miss the beautiful manger under the tree, and the ornaments that have stood the test of time. I miss my mother’s spicy gingerbread cookies with the sweet icing, and the chestnuts my father roasts in the fireplace. I miss the prayers at midnight mass. And I miss the noise of all those people gathered together at one table. Oh, but I love my new Christmas traditions—I love that they are ours, and I love the peace I feel inside when I wake up each Christmas morning since I arrived in California. And I love feeling thankful for my small family celebrating beside me and my larger family celebrating far away.
Maud Carol Markson (When We Get Home, Looking After Pigeon)

[Please note that readers who purchased The Help also purchased Looking After Pigeon.]

For Holiday Gift Giving: An Autographed Book

November 05, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Uncategorized

More than likely those visiting this site would agree that books are among the best holiday gifts with autographed ones being perfection! Autographed, is that possible without going to a book signing?

Indeed it is and, with the holidays only more than a month away, this Fairy Godmother contacted authors who had had a new book released within the past six months to ask, “Do you autograph by mail?” So anyone searching for that unique, reasonably priced, perfect present, here are what some of our authors do:

Arrangement with a local bookstore:

Eve Brown-Waite (read Presenting Debutante Eve Brown-Waite and First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria) says:

” Via a special arrangement with my local bookstore I can purchase, personalize, autograph and send a copy of FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MALARIA to anyone in the USA for just $25. That would be the cost of the book itself in most stores. This book would make a great gift for any world traveler, do-gooder, or Peace Corps-type on your holiday list (also, anyone who just loves a good read). I don’t make any money on this, but it certainly helps spread the word about my book and supports a great, independent bookstore. I need all orders by BY NOVEMBER 15 in order to ensure delivery by the holidays. Anyone interested can contact me at Evebwaite@comcast.net.”

Therese Fowler (Souvenir, Reunion) offers:

“I made an arrangement with my local indie, Quail Ridge Books & Music — 800-672-6789 — in Raleigh. When a reader calls and orders an inscribed copy, the store lets me know and I drop by to inscribe it before they ship the book. For basic autographed copies, they ship from signed stock that they keep on hand.”

Ivy Pochoda (see Ivy Pochoda’s The Art of Disappearing) says:

“If you’d like autographed copies of my book, contact my local bookstore BookCourt — 718-875-3677 — in Brooklyn.”

Books in the mail:

Mia King (Mia King and Table Manners is doing a holiday special – $20 for a signed/dedicated book of choice and ceramic “live simply” plaque. $5 shipping. Contact mia@miaking.com

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

“If people send me a book with return postage, I will autograph and send it back. But let’s say for the holidays return shipping is on me. They just have to buy the book and send it to: Carleen Brice, P.O. Box 7108, Denver, CO 80207.”

And Jessica Barksdale Inclan (Being With Him, Intimate Beings, The Beautiful Being) offers the same. Contact jbarkinclan@gmail.com

Maud Carol Markson (Looking After Pigeon) provides two options:

“I could send out personalized book plates or if the person prefers, he/she could purchase the book directly from me and I could send it to them ($20.00 would probably cover the cost of the book and the packaging and shipping to anywhere in the US).) Contact MaudCarol@aol.com

Book Plates:

Tish Cohen (Little Black Lies,Town House):

“I do mail out signed book plates, as well as sign books mailed in to me.” Contact tish@tishcohen.com

CJ Lyons (Urgent Care):

“I offer my readers customized signed bookplates.

I’ve sent dozens of these all over the US and abroad, even had a few people ask for several, all personalized to various friends they were gifting with my books.” Contact cjlyonswriter@yahoo.com

And with this early planning you can do the same!

Our Writers’ Myths or Not

September 24, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

Writers, creative by nature, are well-known for comforting themselves on their lack of productivity (or success) by citing writing myths which include:

*There’s No Such Thing as Writer’s Block
*I Have to be in the Mood to Write
*I Need the Perfect Space to Write
*I Need the Perfect Tools to Write
*I Have no Time to Write

Wondering how true these were, The Divining Wand asked two of its established authors and two of its debut authors what one writing myth didn’t apply to them?

Mia King (Table Manners, Sweet Life, Good Things):
“That it’s next to impossible to get published without an MFA.”

Maud Carol Markson (Looking After Pigeon, When We Get Home):
“I don’t know any writing myths…. (are they out there and I’ve missed them?!)”

Ivy Pochoda (The Art of Disappearing):
“Writers Block is something I’ve never suffered from and it is something I don’t quite understand. I always have a little too much going on in my mind, much of it irrelevant. I can certainly procrastinate translating ideas into words, but I never suffer from lack of inspiration. I may write in circles and into dead ends, but I’ve never sat down and said to myself, “‘I can’t think of a single thing to write.'” As Alice Mattison once told me,”’Don’t be afraid to invent hundreds of possibilities for what comes next. Make lists of events.'”

Lara Zielin (Donut Days):
“I’ve heard that “’a writer writes every day’” but that’s just not true for me. With a full-time job and a busy schedule, I can’t hack it. So instead I carve out bigger chunks of time on the weekends and I write then. I also take “’writing vacations’” where I do nothing but write for days on end. I would argue that my productivity level is just as high as someone who writes every day.”

And, finally for this week, the winner of the Looking After Pigeon Book Giveaway is Debutante Alicia Bessette! Congratulations. Please contact me with your mailing address and Pigeon will be winging her way to your home.