The Divining Wand

Discovering authors beyond their pages…

Suzanne Anderson: Why I Write

May 01, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Although Suzanne Anderson (Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure in paperback and Kindle Edition) had enjoyed success in competitive sports and business, she became aware that her life needed something more. But what?

In today’s guest post, the author reveals how she discovered why she writes.]

Why I Write

On a warm summer afternoon in 1994, as I walked home from my job as Assistant Vice President in Corporate Finance for a Japanese Investment Bank, I paused, looked at the wall of skyscrapers that surrounded me, and had an epiphany. As much as I loved working on Wall Street, I suddenly understood that when it was my turn to retire, my absence would not be noteworthy. There would simply be someone else to take my place.

Then I thought of my mother who was retiring that year, who’d spent her entire career in early childhood education, and who, upon retirement boarded a plane to work in an international school in the former-Soviet Union. When she got up from her desk, she left a living legacy of children who had learned to read through her efforts.

Then I thought of my brother John, who is a building contractor, who could drive me around his hometown and show me the historic homes that he’d brought back to life, the clients he’d helped to create a dream home. He is an American success story. With his wife Heidi, he’s built a business that operates on principles of integrity and quality work. His legacy is as tangible as the windows that open up to a water view.

My epiphany that day was that I wanted to leave New York and find my own legacy. Of course, at the time, I had no idea of what it would be.

It was actually my other sister-in-law, Kathy, who provided a nudge in the ‘write’ direction. After I’d left New York and spent more time poolside than I care to admit, with a glass of wine in one hand and a book on ‘discovering your perfect career’ in the other, Kathy called and shared a newspaper article she’d read about romance authors and suggested that since I obviously liked to read, perhaps I should try writing.

Did I start to write just because Kathy told me to? No. Actually, I wrote my first book at the age of 5 and have had a life-long love affair with writing. However, Kathy’s encouragement was the impetus to overcome a history of what Brenda Ueland called ‘helpful criticism’, in her classic work, “If You Want to Write”. As my mother loved teaching, as my brother loved building, I have always loved books. But after one high school teacher discouraged my early writing efforts, I buried the revelation I experienced when I read a book, the singular desire to ‘do that too’, for the more practical pursuit of a career in business.

Unfortunately, recognizing a desire is not the same as creating a new life. I spent the next several years writing, submitting, getting rejected, and getting discouraged. I wrote four novels and several children’s books. And while I loved writing, my books found no home, so back I went into business.

Then last year with a desire to simply see my work in print, I took the plunge into self-publishing. I published Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure in a much edited form, changing the setting from World War Two Budapest to a dystopian European city, changing the First Person POV to Third Person, and completely eliminating the original spiritual message. All in the name of creating what I thought would be a more commercial version of the book I’d originally written. And as what happens when something is not its true self, it went nowhere.

In February of this year, I re-published Mrs. Tuesday in her original version and finally discovered my authentic writer’s voice….a cross between literary fiction and religious fiction, a contemporary woman who loves God passionately, but sometimes wonders if He’s really listening. As a result, I discovered that this was the underlying voice in all of my books and one that I was ready to share. Once I embraced this authenticity, I felt more confident about my work and my purpose.

Finally, let me leave you with two quick illustrations of Why I Write: The other day I was reading Cynthia Rylant’s children’s book The Heavenly Village. Its unflinching beauty brought tears to my eyes and filled me with an overwhelming hope that I will someday write a book that will have a similar impact. And then, a week before, I was at my desk working on the final draft of my next book and as I looked up from my desk and out the window, I realized that if I had a week to live, this is how I would choose to spend it. I would want to publish my next two books. These books would be my legacy. I have finally found the answer to the question I asked nearly twenty years ago on the Brooklyn Bridge.

To learn more about Suzanne, please follow her on Twitter, become a friend on Facebook, and experience her story of Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure in paperback or Kindle Edition. In fact, this novel as an ebook will be available in a Free Giveaway this Friday, May 4 – Monday, May 7.

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one paperback copy of Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure by Suzanne Anderson — 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.

Picture the Book: Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure

April 17, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Book Trailers

If the book title, Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure, sounds familiar there’s a good reason. For on March 14, 2011, the presentation/review — Suzanne Anderson and Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure — appeared here as the author’s first ebook. And, although it was a well-written story, Suzanne wasn’t satisfied and knew she could improve on her work.

Truth be told, Suzanne Anderson did much more than rewrite. She chose a new cover, published the new Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure in paperback and Kindle Edition, and also created a Book Trailer to capture her revision.

Why? First there was the luxury of being able to do so with an ebook and foremost there was her personal need for a “do-over.” Suzanne explains the differences in the novel:

“Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure, in its original form, was quite a bit different from the book I recently published in some important ways:

First it was written in the First Person Point of View, which gave it a much more intimate feel, which as it turns out, was the right POV for a story about a family experiencing the most terrifying moments of war.

Second, it was actually set in Budapest, Hungary during World War Two, not in the fictional other-world it was thinly disguised as.

And finally, it had a spiritual element that explored a particular element of religious faith that has always perplexed me….the challenge of believing in something we cannot see.

Here’s the synopsis:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for…

Hungary’s fragile alliance with Germany kept Natalie, a renowned children’s book author, and her family out of harm’s way for most of the war. Now as the Führer’s desperation grows during the waning years of the conflict, so does its threat. Natalie’s younger sister, Ilona, married a Jewish man, putting both her and her young daughter, Mila, in peril; Natalie’s twin sister, Anna, is losing her already tenuous hold on reality. As the streets of Budapest thrum with the pounding boots of Nazi soldiers, danger creeps to the doorstep where Natalie shields them all.

Ilona and her husband take the last two tickets to safety for themselves, abandoning Natalie to protect Anna and Mila from the encroaching danger. Anna’s paranoid explosion at a university where was once a professor, sparked by delusions over an imagined love triangle, threatens their only other chance for escape. Ultimately, Natalie is presented with a choice no one should ever have to make; which of her family will she save?

An inspirational story of faith and family, strength and weakness, and the ultimate triumph of love over hate. Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure demonstrates the power of faith to light even the most harrowing darkness.

… faith is the evidence of things not seen.

The book/ebook has garnered enthusiastic readers as well as the the following critical praise:

“A study in character development, Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure is a mesmerizing historical fiction for WWII readers. Highly recommended!” ~ The Kindle Book Review

Yet Suzanne also wanted a Book Trailer to reflect the feel of the era that held a personal significance, echoing her own European ancestry. Mixing the style a Pathé newsreel and sweeping musical score, the author worked with Three Moon Bay to picture her book of emotional, historical fiction and truth.

(If the video does not appear on your monitor, please view it here.)

This book now embodies Suzanne Anderson’s faith and belief in herself. The new Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure in paperback and Kindle Edition is a hauntingly impressive first novel with its story’s unique spiritual — yet universal — feel. The author took control over this book, allowing her characters to do the same with their lives. For those who both believe and wonder at the power of faith, this is your book.

Suzanne Anderson and
Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure

March 14, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books

The lovely, idyllic cover of Suzanne Anderson’s ebook debut, Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure [Kindle Edition], holds the promise of a children’s story filled with adventure. And, on one level, that hold true even though the other story told in this book within a book format provides a dramatically opposite tale.

In her ambitious, action-packed, suspenseful first novel, the author combined the following two thoughts:

1. A brilliant, talented person knowing she suffered from Alzheimer’s and would slowly lose her mind.

2. Being 1/4 Jewish in Nazi Germany was a sentence to a death camp.

And then added her personal interest in reading about WWII, particularly the city of Budapest — her maternal grandparents’ home.

The result, according to Suzanne:

“Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure originally started as a story about a family caught up in the terrors of World War II Budapest. However, I changed the particulars of the story, choosing to refer to the Nazis as the ‘Black and Reds’, and never naming the actual city but simply alluding to the fact that it was a European city. I made these changes because I wanted the story to focus on the relationships within the story, because to me that was the real point. How do the dynamics of relationships between siblings change in the face of illness? How do we react under the ultimate stressful situations? How do we express our loyalty? How far are we willing to go to save those we love?”

In answering those questions, the story evolved and is described in this synopsis:

On a cold winter morning, twin sisters race to a train station to save the life of a child who has been abandoned by her parents. Seventy years in the future, an old woman finds a package that reveals the key to the child’s safety.

So begins a race against time. Set against the backdrop of war, Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure is a tale of undying love and a mother’s betrayal. In order to survive, those left behind must make their way through a frightening landscape where the rules are constantly changing even as one sister’s loosening grip on reality threatens them all. Is their only means of escape real or a flight of one writer’s creative fantasy?

Yes, even as the other questions play out in the novel, one question remains for readers to decide. Intentionally choosing this option, Suzanne Anderson used the literary device of a book within a book not to confuse but rather offer the possibility of a hopeful ending.

Fast-paced and vividly descriptive, there is also a genuine warmth to Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure that comes from the family bond that holds the twin sisters — Kate and Lily — and their 12-year old niece, Mila, together. Through the use of flashbacks the sisters’ background and consequential sibling rivalry is told and explained. In fact, it is here that the author truly shines as she describes their father, a master of manipulation, who likely sealed their personalities and fate in adolescence. Jealousy, anger, and mistrust exist between the two now grown adults yet, despite all, the bond of love remains.

In this fluidly written book, the main message is that there are times when we are willing to risk everything for the ones we love. And Suzanne’s themes of fear, loyalty, and impossible choices — woven throughout the story — highlight that message in a believable light. The characters’ tension and terror feel as real as a successful escape appears hopeless. Still it’s the humanity of war that tends to bring forth surprising heroes.

Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure [Kindle Edition] is an exciting, entertaining, and impressive first novel with its story’s unique perspective as original as the book’s cover. Suzanne Anderson took control over her lifetime dream of writing and publishing a book by self-publishing an ebook. Its reviews have earned 4 1/2 stars and readers are (pleasantly) surprised at its universal appeal. The truth is they would like to read more. If you own a Kindle, do download this emotionally haunting story.

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[While Eleanor Brown’s The Weird Sisters remains on The New York Times Bestseller List, another TDW author’s novel is being popularly acclaimed. Sarah Pekkanen’s (The Opposite of Me) latest book, Skipping a Beat, garnered a lovely review in People Magazine (the Oscar issue) and in The Washington Post. In addition, it’s an O Magazine pick for April and Harper’s Bazaar magazine put Skipping a Beat on it’s “hot list” for March. Sarah’s novel is also a Doubleday Book Club pick. And Foreign Rights have sold in Italy and Australia. Since it went into a second printing before publication, could a third and fourth run be far behind?

Ah, there’s nothing better than a good news Monday!

Book Giveaway: For those readers who have Kindles, The Divining Wand will honor the first 10 comments left only on this specific post — until Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EDT. — with a download of Suzanne Anderson’s Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure. Please include the email address used to download and the ebook will be gifted to you promptly.

Guest Suzanne Anderson on
Procrastinating? Do the Thing You Fear

March 08, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Putting off until tomorrow, what could be done today is a common human habit. But why do too many of those tomorrows stretch beyond weeks, months, or even years? In today’s guest post, Suzanne Anderson (Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure [Kindle Edition]) — having experienced her share of procrastination — offers a daring solution. ]

Procrastinating? Do the Thing You Fear

I have a problem with procrastination. I procrastinate about everything. Buying my first house took me fifteen years. I’m currently trying to decide between two breeds of dogs for adoption and it will probably take me a month to choose. It’s taken over my writing life as well. Now that Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure is finished, I’m mulling over two ideas. Instead of testing the waters with either project, I’ve done nothing. I thought about them a great deal, but taken action? Not so much as opening a Word document. Which is why procrastination is really so perfect: You can’t fail at something you never start.

As for the two choices, they’re both wonderful. Over the last six months I’ve become hooked by historical romances and wanted to try my hand at writing one of my own. Instead of coming up with a captivating hero and heroine, I decided that I really needed to do more research. The reality was that while I did all this busywork, I never actually created the characters or even the premise of my own historical romance. I was paralyzed by the fear that if I started I would get it all wrong and fail to create a believable period piece.

The second project under consideration is a book I wrote fourteen years ago, after my father died. I have a clear image of what I want the book to be, and yet when I consider the work of re-crafting it from its current form, I am convinced that I’m not talented enough to translate the vision in my mind to the page. Compounding the prospect of my future with the book is my past with its current incarnation. You see it’s the book that almost was. I completed the book, the manuscript was requested by a VERY prominent agent in the business, and then rejected. And then rejected again and again. My heart was broken.

A few nights ago as I unpacked the book boxes I’ve had in storage for more than the past decade, I came across numerous drafts of A Map of Heaven. Then I came across a journal entry describing the hope I felt as I waited to hear from another agent. Finally, I discovered the many, many books I subsequently bought on the craft of writing. Many is an understatement. It would be safe to say that I own at least fifty books on how to write a bestseller, create compelling characters, land an agent, and get published. I bought all of these books for the same reason I now spend hours on Facebook pretending that I am building my brand, instead of doing the one thing I really need to do.

And that’s what brought about the epiphany. I was using my indecision about which project to start as a reason not to begin either one. In the end, it doesn’t matter which project I choose. It only matters that I get started. Procrastination is a symptom of fear in all its glorious forms: fear of starting, fear of finishing, fear of failure. Originally, I thought the solution was simply to do something. Anything. But as I unpacked all those books about writing, I realized action was not enough to overcome fear. The only real antidote to procrastination is to do the one thing we fear the most. Instead of reading, blogging, or tweeting about the book I wanted to write, what I really needed to do was simply sit down and start writing.

Yes, I know it’s scary to do the thing I fear the most. But here’s the good news: once I start, I’m always amazed at how quickly my fears diminish and how rapidly my confidence grows. My new mantra is: When in doubt, do the thing I fear.

I know what that means for me, what does it mean for you?

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Catherine McKenzie’s Arranged in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Catherine McKenzie and Arranged. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, March 9, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EST 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 Suzanne Anderson

March 02, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

For the past two and a half years, Suzanne Anderson has held court at her blog, Table 1, with a contemporary perspective on cultural, literary, and political news. Of course she’s also shared a lifetime dream — that of becoming a published author.

Motivated by Karen McQuestion’s attitude and success for writing, then sharing her novels as ebooks at Amazon, Suzanne took the leap on October 1, 2010 and self-published Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure [Kindle Edition].

Here is a one sentence description of the novel: Amidst the background of World War, this is a tale of love and betrayal, of one frightening reality and a promise of safety that may only be the creation of the artist’s imagination.

And readers’ praise:

“Anderson’s book is so full of tension, dismay, fears–and hopes–that the reader is caught up and swept along in its flow, from the beautiful cover right down to its rather stunning end. A good read.” __Karl G. Larew, Ph.D.

“Ms. Anderson’s masterful use of description places the reader among the chaotic feelings of the time. The characters are real enough to jump out at you, and their powerful dialogue is not less than enthralling.” __Dana Palladino, author of the middle-grade book, The Day My Parents Became My Kids

The Divining Wand has scheduled a presentation/review of Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure for Monday, March 14, 2011 but, until then, let’s get to know the author through her “official” bio:

Suzanne Anderson was born in Fort Lauderdale, attended the University of Michigan on an athletic scholarship for swimming and then worked on Wall Street. She left the bright lights of the big city fifteen years ago and traveled the world. She now lives in the mountains of Colorado, where she pursues her dream of writing novels.

And, now, it’s time to learn more about Suzanne, upclose and personal:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: insatiable, optimistic, insecure, generous, romantic, determined, inquisitive, grateful

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: When in doubt, do something!

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: Right here, right now, with a productive writing career. (Oh, and a really alpha, sweet, love of my life, husband would be pretty terrific too!)

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: My greatest fear is not reaching my ultimate potential.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: In a hot air balloon at dawn, cruising over a herd of elephants in the Masai Mara in Kenya, with a glass of champagne in one hand and a camera in the other.

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: Everyone who has chosen to pursue their own impossible dream and made it happen.

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: My mother, who literally can make applesauce out of apples.

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases
A: I’ve been told that I often substitute ‘hmmm’ in place of real conversation.

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: To be a talented writer would be heaven

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: Leaving Wall Street in 1994 to pursue a new adventure. Best decision I ever made.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: Procrastination, I can stare out a window better than anyone!

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: Generosity.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: Buying GM stock instead of Ford when they both hit $1/share. Doh!

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: A cross between Georgette Heyer and Anne Stuart.

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: Physical? My eyes. Emotional? My laugh (it’s comes out as a very un-ladylike guffaw when I’m really happy!).

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Levin from Anna Karenina, he was the epitome of the soul searching for love.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Raskolnikov, the main character from Crime and Punishment. I suppose if murderers are villains, he would qualify.

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: As a former competitive swimmer, I’d love to go to the Olympics someday and watch the swimming competition in person.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: Mean people. Especially those who wrap hurtful comments in a smile and say, “What? I didn’t mean a thing!”

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: Travel and reading. Ultimate fantasy: taking my well-stocked Kindle reader on an around-the-world cruise.

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Bestselling author of A Map of Heaven and many, many, racy historical romance novels.

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Loyalty, integrity, and optimism….and a great sense of humor!

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Haagen Dazs Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream…breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: O Holy Night (the Christmas carol)
Ave Maria sung by Andrea Bocelli
Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings
Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 In G Major played by Yo-Yo Ma
Back in the Saddle by Aerosmith

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz series
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina
Julia Child’s My Life in France
My own as yet unpublished A Map of Heaven

With a well-versed background and “can do” ethic, Suzanne Anderson is a dreamer who not only wishes but reaches for goals. To watch how a writing career unfolds, follow her on Twitter and become a friend on Facebook.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Anna Fields’ Confessions of a Rebel Debutante in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Anna Fields and Confessions of a Rebel Debutante. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is tonigt at 7:00 p.m. EST with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.