The Divining Wand

Discovering authors beyond their pages…

Presenting Debutante Joëlle Anthony and Restoring Harmony

May 12, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books, Debs

While getting to know Debutante Joëlle Anthony through her Friday posts, visitors to this season’s Debutante Ball have been treated and enlightened by somewhat of a Renaissance woman. Truly it’s difficult to imagine a challenge this writer can’t resolve (in a practical or unique way) and one needs only to read her YA novel, Restoring Harmony, debuting tomorrow — May 13, 2010 — for proof positive.

Of course by introducing herself with “Deb Joëlle’s real talent is…,” expectations were set high:

“My name is Joëlle Anthony, and I’m pretty sure I was chosen to be a Deb because I know how to make butter. It’s true. You see, when I applied, there was a section on the application for ‘“other things we should know”’/ or something like that, and since I didn’t really think I should admit right then that I have trouble with commas, I decided to explain how to make butter. I am thinking that the 09 Debs read that and thought, ‘“Now there’s a well-rounded girl.”’ Or not.” More…

Her comma trouble (there’s an editor for that) became a non-issue for this superb storyteller who read an excerpt from James Kuntsler’s book, The Long Emergency, that predicted the end of oil and discussed a transition period. Joëlle’s interest wasn’t in the end of oil but of the time period where people dealt and bounced back from it.

The idea for Restoring Harmony was born from that, although Joëlle believes Mr. Kuntsler would say the world she created is much too tame.

Here’s the synopsis:

The year is 2041, and sixteen-year-old Molly McClure has lived a relatively quiet life on an isolated farming island in Canada, but when her family fears the worst may have happened to her grandparents in the US, Molly must brave the dangerous, chaotic world left after global economic collapse—one of massive oil shortages, rampant crime, and abandoned cities.

Molly is relieved to find her grandparents alive in their Portland suburb, but they’re financially ruined and practically starving. What should’ve been a quick trip turns into a full-fledged rescue mission. And when Molly witnesses something the local crime bosses wishes she hadn’t, Molly’s only way home may be to beat them at their own game. Luckily, there’s a handsome stranger who’s willing to help.

Restoring Harmony is a riveting, fast-paced dystopian tale complete with adventure and romance that readers will devour.

The critical literary reviews are glorious despite the fact that some have categorized this as a dystopian novel. For Joëlle tends to disagree by noting: I think of dystopian as some sort of natural disaster or something that happens way off in the future, in a different world. Restoring Harmony is set only thirty years from now, and is very much this world. The problems people are dealing with are mostly from economic collapse, not something wild or futuristic.”

Also one reviewer pointed out that in most dystopian novels it’s the collapse of technology that affects the characters’ daily lives, not new technology. And as this debut author says, “…that’s why I never thought of it as dystopian. It seems like things are sliding backward in RH, instead of moving forward.”

Indeed, backwards to core family values. In fact Joëlle Anthony describes her book in this one sentence: “It’s an adventure story about music, family, and food.”

And the Book Trailer — featuring musician/model Sarah Tradewell with photography by Victor Anthony — captures the storyline perfectly.

The October 16, 2009 post, Leap by Deb Joëlle, tells:

“Writing Restoring Harmony was one of the biggest chances I’ve ever taken. It is a departure from everything I’d ever written before. I had been a safe writer. I’d taken “Write what you know” to heart and never strayed from the familiar path of my own self-knowledge and life experiences. But Molly’s story is different. It’s an adventure. It required research. It made me work.”

Those words piqued my interest and remembering them long after reading The Advanced Reader Copy, I asked the author what type of research she did for this amazingly authentic adventure tale and if she ever considered changing Molly into a Michael? Her response is amazing too:

“I did actual physical research, like traveling Molly’s route. And I listened to a lot of fiddle music. I chose tunes I knew for the book, not just random fiddle tunes. Although one serendipitous thing happened as far as the tunes go. There is one in the book called Peekaboo Waltz. When I lived in Tennessee, I heard it on a CD of my husband’s and I asked him to learn it on guitar because I liked it so much, and he did. When it came time to pick a waltz for the book, I knew exactly which one to choose. What I didn’t know is that, ‘“every Western Canadian fiddle player knows the Peekaboo Waltz.”’ I sat in on a fiddle workshop with the master fiddle teacher Gordon Stobbe, and that was what he told his students. And then he taught it to them. I knew it was a traditional tune and played all over, but I didn’t know it was considered something any Western Canadian fiddler should definitely know. That was pure luck.

Also, pretty much all the gardening in the book was research. I now know a lot about gardening as we’re growing a lot of our own food, but at the time I wrote RH, I didn’t know anything about gardening.

Molly was always Molly. I do think that it’s interesting that while most children’s writers are women, a strong female character is considered noteworthy. It seems to me that as a woman, it’s my responsibility to write strong female characters. It doesn’t mean I can’t tell a story from a boy’s POV, but I do consider gender roles very carefully when writing. Like the principal of a school is so often a man, but why? Habit. That’s something I like to challenge with my writing.”

Simply put, I adored this book and Joëlle’s writing of Molly. This realistic character — imbued with enough innocence to be a 16-year old “farm girl” — is also bright, resourceful, caring, hardworking, brave and ready for anything. The truth is that the more YA novels I read, there’s more feeling of hope restored. Molly restored harmony, changing the lives of so many, by her own confident optimism and action. No supernatural powers were necessary, no gimmicks, Molly was merely being the best she could be and what a message to convey to adolescents. Or, for that matter, to anyone.

The world had changed, yet Molly only knew the good times of family, truth, and thoughtfulness. Perhaps that’s what is so compelling about this YA adventure as it takes us back to similar childhood and adolescent years.

How good to be reminded of what we had and how good of Deb Joëlle Anthony to share what our children still might recapture. Restoring Harmony, the book, can be yours tomorrow…while restoring harmony, universally, remains a work in progress.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Joëlle Anthony’s Restoring Harmony in a random drawing to anyone who comments on this post today, before the deadline of 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in tomorrow’s post. If you enter, please return tomorrow to possibly claim your book.


Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Meredith Cole’s Dead in the Water in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Meredith Cole and Dead in the Water. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is tonight at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in tomorrow’s post. If you enter, please return tomorrow to possibly claim your book.

Guest Joëlle Anthony Fiddlin’ Around

May 04, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[ Joëlle Anthony debuts next week with her YA novel, Restoring Harmony — a riveting tale of how a resourceful teen survives, and even finds romance, in a future world where no one is as they seem. To add another dimension to her main character, the author also gave her the gift of music as she explains in this guest post.]

While I’ve been a writer for a long time, it wasn’t until I moved to Tennessee to live with my then boyfriend/now husband that I was able to quit my job and focus on writing full time (about 6 years ago). Victor is a musician, and living with someone who plays guitar, mandolin, banjo, and ukulele, sings, and relishes his old vinyl record collection and turntable changed my life. Unfortunately, I did not become a great musician, but I did become an astute listener.

What was most surprising (and really shouldn’t have been) about living with a songwriter is that he didn’t sit around playing his own music every night. I’m not sure why I thought he would. I mean, at the end of the day, I don’t settle into the reading chair with Restoring Harmony, do I? Uh, no. I read other people’s books. So what happened, living with Victor, was instead of getting a personal concert of my favourite songs that he wrote each night, I got an old-time traditional music education.

While Victor’s own music is more a mix of bluesy-jazzy-Lyle-Lovett-Tom-Waits type stuff, his true love is old-time traditional music. You’re probably more familiar with bluegrass than what constitutes old-time, so I’ll give you a very rudimentary tutorial, which probably stems more from my observation, than from actual fact. Bluegrass is played FAST, the faster the better. And in a circle of musicians, they tend to move around, each taking a solo, each trying to play faster and outdo the person before them.

In old-time, it’s much more an ensemble situation. And it’s not unusual for a circle of musicians to play the same tune over and over for ten, fifteen, or even twenty minutes, the whole thing becoming something of a meditation as the energy increases and melds together, going on and on and on until the fiddler (who is essentially the leader) kicks up his or her foot indicating it’s time to take a break for a beer. There’s more singing in bluegrass too, although there are plenty of old-time songs as well. In bluegrass, the choices tends to lean towards gospel, while in old-time it’s more about killing your lover, or leaving the farm, or missing your lover who died because you left the farm and returned too late.

Anyway, the more music I had around me, the more I found it seeping into my writing. I have two manuscripts tucked away, probably never to be published, about a girl who plays old-time music on guitar and lives in a house similar to ours on the lake in TN. And as you probably know, Molly McClure, the main character in Restoring Harmony is a fiddle player.

I chose to have Molly play the fiddle for several reasons. First of all, I’d played violin as a child and so I have a bit of a feel for the instrument, even though I don’t play now. Also, it’s a portable instrument, perfect for a road-trip. Another reason is because while Victor really is only a beginner fiddler, and couldn’t help me too much on the technical aspects of fiddle playing, he did know all about the music and could assist me there. Also, some of our friends in TN are “top of the heap” fiddlers too. They would come to our house and sit on our covered porch and raise the roof with their playing, which made me want to “participate” somehow and the only way I could think of was with writing.

Molly could’ve played a mandolin. Victor plays one well and so he could’ve easily been my expert, but there’s something about fiddlin’ that is just brash and brazen and brave and so like Molly. And by making Molly a fiddler, I have experienced a most amazing thing. I’ve drawn into my life, Sarah Tradewell – Canadian teen fiddler extraordinaire. SarahFiddle Oh, and did I mention that I met her while my book was out on submission, not before I wrote it, and yet she physically looks exactly like I imagined and described Molly? The story of how we met is too long to include in this post, and many of you have heard it, but if you haven’t, check out this video.

I think what I find most amazing about Restoring Harmony is how I’ve been able to weave music through it, when only 6 years ago, I had no idea what it was like to be a musician. Living with live music truly is a gift and I hope that by incorporating it into my writing, I can inspire others to pick up instruments, share their talents, or just start listening to something they might never have listened to before.

To hear several of the tunes and songs from Restoring Harmony, performed and sung by Victor and Sarah, check out my website. I’d love to hear what you think of the music! And thanks, Larramie, for having me here.

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[Book Giveaway:] The Divining Wand is giving away the five books of the Sisters 8 series, including the latest — Marcia’s Madness. Anyone leaving a comment on this post will be entered into a random drawing with the winner receiving ALL five books! The deadline for this giveaway is Wednesday, May 5, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced in Thursday’s post.

The Revealing of Joëlle Anthony

April 27, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

GuestJoelleOn Thursday, May 13, 2010 Joëlle Anthony debuts as a YA author of Restoring Harmony. Addictive, adventurous, and amazingly honest are all adjectives that apply to this novel, however also read what Kirkus says: “Suspense dominates this absorbing and believable near-future dystopic novel about a girl sent to rescue her grandparents from the United States ten years after ‘”the Collapse.”‘ The author’s vision of a future America following the failure of the oil-based economy makes realistic sense and keeps interest high. Highly readable; very well done indeed.”

The Divining Wand has scheduled a presentation/review of Restoring Harmony on Wednesday, May 12, 2010, yet — in the meantime — let’s meet the about-to-be author by reading her “official” bio:

Joëlle currently lives on a tiny island in British Columbia with her musician husband, Victor Anthony. As for the future, their only plan is to avoid real jobs, write and play guitar in front of the wood stove, and live happily ever after. Look for her debut novel, Restoring Harmony, in May 2010 from Putnam.

Did that pique your interest? Well here’s more of Joëlle revealed:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: Blessed, happy, food, love, nature, books, writing, music

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: Everything always works out for me.

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: My life – more specifically, a life filled with the things I want to do, surrounded by people I love, with a couple of cats thrown in for good measure, and lots of homegrown food and live music.

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: Having to work in retail again.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: Right here, right now. I’m pretty much a bloom where I’m planted sort of girl.

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: Well, Betsy Ray. I mean, I know she’s a fictional character, but we are a lot alike (from the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace).

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: That’s easy. My husband!

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases
A: To be honest…, I’m just going to read for a minute and then I’ll make dinner…, and If you ask me… (usually when no one has actually asked me).

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: I would be able to sing really well.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: Well, I’m still working on it, but learning to be quiet on the inside. I can do it when I really need to, but I’d like to have it be more of an everyday thing. I suffer from what is called “monkey mind.” In other words, my brain rarely stops for a rest.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: See above!

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: I’m kind.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: I really try to live in my here and now, so regrets aren’t part of my life. However, if I could re-do anything from my past, I probably would’ve gotten a better education. Especially in high school. I really only did what I needed to do to get by.

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: Me. No doubt about it. I love being me.

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: My smile. I am almost always smiling.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Betsy, of course!

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Oh, that guy in Meg Cabot’s Mediator series. Paul. He is just so unbelievable horrible and arrogant.

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: Oh, definitely Joe Girardi. He’s my favourite baseball player (now manager). I would say to him, “Why aren’t you working for the Cubs? You should be working for the Cubs.”

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: People (especially writers who should know better) who spell the words “a lot” as alot. Also, ok for okay, and alright for all right. I’m a traditionalist.

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: It’s a toss-up between walking and cooking. I get a lot of peace from walking, but I get a lot of yummy food from cooking!

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Singing old-time ballads and music in a band with my husband.

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Honesty, humour, kindness.

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Well, I guess it would have to be salty, because that’s what I like, and somewhat nutritious if I were going to eat it for forever, so I’ll go with chips and guacamole.

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: True Blue Baby – Victor Anthony
Picture in a Frame – Tom Waits
Brianna’s Reel – Sarah Tradewell
Whiter Shade of Pale – performed by Annie Lennox
Last Train From Poor Valley – Norman Blake

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
The Betsy-Tacy series counts as one, right?
Trustee From the Tool Room – Nevil Shute
The Summer People – John Rowe Townsend
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
And just to add something recent into the mix (because there really are so many anyway that five is just random) Dirty Little Secrets – the new YA release by C.J. Omololu

Diversely talented, clever, and very kind, Joëlle will surprise you in so many ways. Discover how by following her on Twitter and becoming a friend on Facebook.

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[Book Giveaway:] The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR in a random drawing of all comments left on this post. The deadline is Wednesday, April 28, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please visit on Thursday to possibly claim your book. Good luck!

Praise, Interviews, and Peeks at 2010 Books

November 10, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Advance News

The upcoming year of 2010 promises an overwhelming number of excellent offerings by debut and many of our favorite authors. If you’re ready to begin anticipating, please take a look at the following:

Sarah Pekkanen whose novel, The Opposite of Me, debuts March 9, 2010 received this early praise from NYT bestselling author Allison Winn Scotch (The Department of Lost and Found, Time of My Life and The One That I Want coming June 1, 2010): (the novel) “hits the delicious sweet spot in its portrayal of a woman who must lose everything in order to find herself.” This is in addition to the cover quote of “Fresh and Funny and Satisfying.” __Jennifer Weiner

Joëlle Anthony (Restoring Harmony YA coming May 13, 2010) announces that she was one of the debut authors chosen to be interviewed for the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market 2011. She will be part of a series included in the guide under the heading First Books and will be interviewed by editor, Alice Pope.

And, if you haven’t heard yet, Allison Winn Scotch (The Department of Lost and Found, Time of My Life and The One That I Want coming June 1, 2010) has posted an excerpt of Chapter One from The One That I Want on her website. To learn more about the background of the novel, please read here.

Also do remember that the books mentioned and linked in all The Divining Wand posts are available for Pre-order.

On The Red Carpet with Debutante Joëlle Anthony

August 28, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Advance News, Debs, Red Carpet

It’s been exciting as well as a pleasure to greet The Debutante Class of 2010 on The Red Carpet this week. And the multi-talented Deb Joëlle Anthony (Restoring Harmony YA, May 13, 2010) graces us with her presence on this final day.

TDW: My goodness, Joëlle, you look stunning! Who are you wearing?

Joëlle: You’re too kind…In my mind,Joelle I am wearing a fabulous emerald green evening dress that I knit myself after writing each day. If you saw my sweaters, you’d know this is a fantasy.

TDW: Ah but fantasy and creativity work so well together that, although this will be your debut publication, has there been another book written?

Joëlle: I have a metaphorical drawer full of manuscripts. Restoring Harmony is about my seventh novel. Some will stay buried, but I have hopes for one or two (okay, three) of the others. And I’m working on something new too, which I hope will be my next contracted book. Fingers crossed! I will hopefully know later this year.

TDW: Absolutely, fingers crossed. Have you surprised anyone by writing Restoring Harmony?

Joëlle: I’ve never done things the “normal” way. I mean, I started out my adult life as an actress, so people see me as a creative person and no one has ever really reacted to the idea of me writing a book with anything other than, “Great!” My mum’s a writer too, so it’s not like I had that experience where my family was telling me, “Oh, you should have something to fall back on!” Instead they were always really encouraging. In fact, writing is what I fell back on when I got tired of acting!

TDW: What about characters, have you based one on someone you know?

Joëlle: I’ll never tell! I’ve never done this intentionally, but there’s still time. It is true that I steal all my husband’s best lines, but you know…it’s pretty obvious to everyone that knows him that a lot of my male characters are a lot like him. At least all the cool ones. It’s no secret.

[Aside: Deb Joëlle’s husband, Victor Anthony, is both a musician and photographer. In fact, her lovely picture is courtesy of Victor’s talent.]

TDW: Knowing how important music is in your life, what five songs should be on your book’s soundtrack?

Joëlle: Funny you should ask because next week we’re going into the recording studio (by “we” I mean I will just be standing around) to record some of the music from my book. My main character, Molly, is a fiddle player and in the book she plays a variety of fiddle tunes and songs (in case you have always wondered what the difference between a tune and a song is, it’s that a song has words and a tune is simply music). Eventually, these recordings will be available for free download on my website.

The ones we will be recording are:
Peekaboo Waltz
Handsome Molly
Hard Times Come Again No More
Brianna’s Reel (written just for my book by my friend and fiddle player, Sarah Tradewell)

That’s only four, so you could add the Cowboy Waltz to the list because it’s in the book, although we don’t intend to record it.

TDW: What a wonderful bonus! Your imagination appears limitless, yet what if you couldn’t write, what would you most want to do with your life?

Joëlle: Okay, don’t freak out on me here, but I might actually like to be one of those people who do your taxes. I doubt I’d ever go so far as becoming an accountant, but filling in forms floats my boat. I also like the idea of cooking (vegetarian) professionally or possibly being a home decorator (but not all Martha Stewart…more modern).

TDW: Thank you Deb Joëlle, your Friday posts at this year’s Debutante Ball are certain to be filled with surprises, we’ll look forward to them. Also the free download recordings and, on May 13, 2010, your debut as a YA novelist with Restoring Harmony.

Cheers to all the new Debutantes – Emily Winslow, Sarah Pekkanen, Alicia Bessette, Maria Garcia-Kalb and Joëlle Anthony – who have joined us on The Red Carpet this week. These charming ladies are about to enter The Debutante Ball and begin waltzing on Monday. Please join them for The Ball which is the ultimate source in discovering about-to-be authors beyond their pages!