The Divining Wand

Discovering authors beyond their pages…

What If….Emily Winslow, Tish Cohen,
Eve Brown-Waite?

July 06, 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?


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

~ Emily Winslow (The Whole World):

“I like Ruth Rendell’s career longevity and vivid characters. I’d love to look back at the end of my career and see a stack of books like hers!”

The Secret History was my favorite book for years. I have no idea if it would still be my favorite if I re-read it now; I read it while an undergraduate myself, so it was a case of perfect timing. But I would love to write something so iconic.”

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

“Elizabeth Strout.” “Olive Kittridge.”

~ Eve Brown-Waite (First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria: How A Peace Corps Poster Boy Won My Heart and A Third World Adventure Changed My Life):

“Amy Tan because she’s such an incredible writer. Or Anne Lamott because she writes just the kinds of books I want to write.”

“FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MALARIA – because I am quite certain that was the book I was always meant to write. And if I never get a chance to write another book, I’ll always be content that I at least got to write that one.”

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Presenting Debutante Emily Winslow and
The Whole World

May 24, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books, Debs

With a BFA in acting from Carnegie Mellon University’s elite drama conservatory, and an MA from Seton Hall University’s Museum Professions program, Emily Winslow adds novelist to her professional background when her literary mystery, The Whole World, debuts tomorrow May 25, 2010.

And the title of novelist may be the most personally rewarding for this member of The Debutant Ball (Class of 2010 ) who moved to Cambridge, England three years ago. Although her husband grew up in the city, Debutante Emily was a foreigner fascinated by “the most physically exquisite places” to which she’s ever been. Further describing Cambridge as “rich with honest, passionate, unsnobbish intellectual curiosity,” she suddenly found words for her new home and created an American protagonist to describe and explain it. Which is is how the novel’s backstory came to be:

Two American girls come to study at Cambridge University. They become best friends, they fall for the same charming grad student…and he disappears.

About the “missing student?” Emily admits, “it’s just one of my favorite plots. It’s a fascinatingly awkward situation for the other characters. How long to keep hoping? When to choose to

She also explains the major theme, format and title of her mystery:

“You know how someone says ‘”That means the whole world to me.”‘ Maybe they’re talking about a job, or a romance, or some kind of victory or achievement. That one fraction of life feels to them to be bigger than everything else, and that skew can lead to poor judgment and disproportionate reactions. I have five narrators sharing the plot, but each of them has only their own small ‘”whole world”‘ fraction of it, limited by their obsessions, assumptions and expectations.”

In The Debutante Ball’s April 5, 2010 post, Backstory Feast, Emily details the goal of backstory for her narrators by writing:

“THE WHOLE WORLD begins with a narrator struggling to get past memories that actively get in her way. For the first two chapters, we watch her struggle against these invisible enemies. Finally, in chapter three, she’s forced to confront them. Only then, when she stops resisting, is the reader let in on what those memories specifically are. Their release into her present consciousness is as present an action as anything physical that had come before.

My hope is to show how the past affects the present for all the characters, how it informs their choices and skews their perspectives.”

Indeed this literary mystery is a first-rate psychological drama that initially has the reader wondering “what happened?” and then eventually “whodunnit?”

From the book jacket:

At once a sensual and irresistible mystery and a haunting work of rich psychological insight and emotional depth, The Whole World marks the beginning of a brilliant literary career for a superb, limitlessly gifted author.

Set in the richly evoked environs of Cambridge, England, The Whole World unearths the desperate secrets kept by five complex people–students, professors, detectives, husbands, mothers–secrets leading to explosive consequences.

Two Americans studying at Cambridge, Polly and Liv, become quick friends, strangers to their new home, survivors of past mistakes. They find a common interest in Nick, a handsome, charming, seemingly guileless graduate student. For a time, the three engage in harmless flirtation, growing closer while doing research for Gretchen Paul, the blind daughter of a famed novelist. But betrayal, followed by Nick’s inexplicable disappearance, brings long-buried histories to the surface.

The investigation raises countless questions, the newspapers report all the most salacious details–from the crime that scars Polly’s past to the searing truths concealed in the photographs Gretchen cannot see. Soon the three young lovers will discover how little they know about each other, and how devastating the ripples of past actions can be.

Would you like a sneak peek into The Whole World? Please read the first page.

For years Emily Winslow wrote logic puzzles for Games magazine, embedding traditional logic into longer and more complex stories. And her debut mystery novel might well be thought of as one jigsaw puzzle pieced together by the five narrators. Occasionally their perspectives overlap in the present time yet the key factor here is that their pasts don’t.

Are there red herrings? Not really, but there are secrets along with evasive behavior. The charm of this story is that it’s set in the elegantly described confines of Cambridge — another whole world unto itself. There, five other whole worlds meet and collide based on almost inevitable, personal motivation. It’s logical yet surprising and, in the end, shocking.

Perhaps the book’s most fascinating aspect is realizing that what happens in The Whole World could happen anywhere at any time…and does. For each individual views their respective circumstances and personal priorities as the whole world — and it’s not.

Intriguing, thought-provoking and entertaining, Debutante Emily Winslow’s literary take on The Whole World is available tomorrow. Do read it to discover how slices of life become entangled to complicate the world as a whole.

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Emily Winslow’s
The Whole World in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to possibly claim your book.


Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Barrie Summy’s
I So Don’t Do Makeup in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Barrie Summy and I So Don’t Do Makeup. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to possibly claim your book.

Guest Emily Winslow’s Open House

May 18, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[As Emily Winslow awaits the launch of her debut novel, The Whole World on May 25th — one week from today –, she reflects on her journey, mixed feelings, and the fact that it is a celebration and you’re invited to the party.]

Getting past the query stage to agency representation, and then a book contract, is huge. I’ve reveled in the relief and then security of those milestones. But there are other kinds of rejection ahead: reviews and sales. Essays and blog posts aimed at aspiring writers have become meaningful to me again, now that my book is about to launch.

An old favorite is Slushkiller by Teresa Nielsen Hayden, which gives an editor’s view of rejection. To the writer, rejection is personal and bloody. To the editor (or agent), it’s necessary, impersonal, and fleeting. The wording in form letters is meant to be kind, but there is no way to make ‘no’ nice to hear. After reading Slushkiller, one learns to empathize with the so-called “gatekeepers” of publishing.

One comment in the long response to that post has always stood out to me. It’s number 109, by someone called Madeline. She writes:

“I think I’ve got the answer to the “why do they take it so personally?” bafflement, though, or at least one good answer… I imagine that everyone reads over their [own] story and thinks, “I think this is great! People like me are going to just eat this up!” Then the rejection comes back: “There are no people like you. We’re all over here, and you’re all by yourself over there, where the wolves will be certain to pick you off first.””

The offense of rejection hurts on many levels, most obviously on the level that you who want publishing are being told you can’t have it. But the realization that Madeline describes, that this story makes profound sense to you but not to others, is emotionally isolating. Like Holly Lisle, I’m keen to avoid the too-common metaphor that a book is like a baby. Nor is a protagonist necessarily an avatar or mouthpiece for the author. But a book is, often, an expression of an author’s view of how people work, how relationships work, how the world works. When it’s rejected, one can feel painfully misunderstood, as a person.

Slushkiller is about rejection from publishers, but rejection comes also in the form of reader reactions (whether in reviews or with their wallets). I feel like I’ve come full circle, from humbly querying agents and editors to humbly peddling my published book to readers. In the month that I think I’m supposed to feel the most triumphant, I feel the most vulnerable.

Am I happy? Yes! Excited, and proud, and pleased, and nervous and self-conscious and exposed. One of the small themes in my book is that emotions don’t dilute each other. You can be “thrilled” and “wary” at the same time, and they don’t mix to create a kind of neutral state. They both just are, side by side. Nor do I believe that the negative of any two emotions is by definition the “honest” one. Often, the positive emotion is interpreted as a “brave face” covering up the “truth” of the negative one. But I don’t think that’s so. I think both can be real, together.

So here I am, in my publication month: thrilled and wary, proud and vulnerable, bold and shy. I’m happy too. Not happy all by itself, but happy along with everything else. It’s not the moment of pure, awesome triumph I imagined when I was querying. It’s a good time, in that real way that’s three-dimensional with self-doubt. It is, for all that, a celebration. It’s an open house. Come on in.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Thaisa Frank’s Heidegger’s Glasses in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Thaisa Frank and Heidegger’s Glasses. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return on Thursday to possibly claim your book.

The Revealing of Emily Winslow

May 11, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

emilywinslowEmily Winslow, waltzing around The Debutante Ball since last August 31st, will soon be introduced to the public when her literary mystery, The Whole World, debuts May 25, 2010.

Emily’s novel has been described as “a sensual and irresistible mystery and a haunting work of rich psychological insight and emotional depth.” And here are a few reasons why:

American students Polly and Liv are giddy over the accents and architecture of Cambridge University. They both fall for the same charming graduate student.

Then he disappears.

Told through five narrators whose personal obsessions limit what each of them sees, THE WHOLE WORLD is the story of the desperation and malice that take them by surprise while they’re all looking elsewhere.

The Divining Wand is scheduled to present/review The Whole World on Monday, May 24, 2010 but, in the meantime, please meet the almost author through her “official” bio:

Emily Winslow is an American in Cambridge, England. She lives in that historic city with her husband and sons in an abruptly modern house.

Now let’s get to know Emily revealed:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: Kids first, then write, love husband’s foot rubs.

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: Try.

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: Wanting what you have.

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: Something terrible happening to the kids, or to us before the kids are grown.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: Here at home.

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: Louise d’Haussonville–privileged, ambitious, flawed.

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: Too many to narrow it down.

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases
A: I say “dude” a lot.

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: Riding a bike.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: Professionally, my debut novel.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: I have lazy food habits.

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: I enjoy life.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: Habitually taking on too much.

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: Indulged housecat.

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: Very loud laugh.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Terry Pratchett’s Sam Vimes.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Margaret from All Is Vanity.

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: I’m ignorant of sports.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: The way that word processing software curls apostrophes at the beginnings of words as if they were single quotes.

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: Relaxing on the couch at the end of a productive day.

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Writing! Lucky me!

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Compassion, idealism, practicality.

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Spaghetti bolognese.

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: This question usually implies “songs you listen to” but I’m going to go ahead answer what 5 songs I most love to sing:
Embraceable You (Gershwin)
How deep is the Ocean (Berlin)
Leaning on a Lamppost (Gay)
I got rhythm (Gershwin)
I’ve got a crush on you (Gershwin)

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Columbine by David Cullen
The Real Life of Sebastian Knight by Nabokov
The whole Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
Ruth Rendell’s standalone novels

A mystery writer who can sing, act, and is an expert puzzle creator is a new author to follow on Twitter, become a fan of on Facebook, and check in on her Blog: Emily Winslow Talks to Strangers.

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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 Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return on Thursday to possibly claim your book.

On The Red Carpet with Debutante Emily Winslow

August 24, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Advance News, Debs, Red Carpet

All this week we’ll be greeting the five about-to-become authors when their first books debut between January and August 2010. As they walk The Red Carpet into The Debutante Ball – in order of their post appearances – The Divining Wand (TDW) will ask them for comments but not introductions. They’ll begin doing that next week Monday and continue throughout the year.

This is your open invitation to attend The Ball and discover these authors beyond their pages.

TDW: Now let’s welcome Emily Winslow (The Whole World Spring 2010). Emily_Winslow Hello Emily, you look wonderful. Please tell us what you are wearing?

Emily: Sweatpants and an oversized top. I’m alternating between the bad postures of hunching over my laptop with playing on the Wii Fit.

TDW:That sounds like you’ve found the writer’s fashion, but you must be excited about your novel being published. Who was the most surprised to learn that you were about to be published?

Emily: Everyone was as supportive and wonderful as I’d hoped and expected them to be, except for one acquaintance who abruptly stopped speaking to me.

TDW: Well it’s true that The Whole World will be your publishing debut, yet what happened to the first book you wrote?

Emily: I’ve written poetry and plays, my favorites of which I printed up for my friends. “The Whole World” is my first completed novel after several false starts and a wretched novella.

TDW: What food or drink did you rely on to get you through to The End?

Emily: Coffee. The baby was waking up twice a night for most of the year I wrote “The Whole World.”

TDW: What did you have on in the background while you wrote?

Emily: DVDs of the US version of “The Office.” I resisted it for years, since I loved the UK version so much. Then I watched a couple episodes on an airplane and got hooked. “The Whole World” is eerie, not funny, so it may seem a weird choice of mood. But I really feel inspired by the compassion “The Office” creators have for their characters. No one is just a buffoon or just a jerk. They’re well-rounded buffoons and jerks who make me root for them. I use multiple narrators in my work, and I aim that kind of compassion myself.

TDW: You must hope that your novel provides a wonderful reading experience, do you have a favorite one?

Emily: Yes reading A.S. Byatt’s “Possession” while disoriented by fever. Normally I wouldn’t attempt such a challenging novel while not at my best, but there were only two books within physical reach. The other one was a child’s picture book about whales, which I read first, multiple times. Finally I cracked open “Possession.” My wooziness from medication, contrasted with the urgent need to relieve the intense boredom of bedrest, combined unforgettably.

TDW: That would be unforgettable. Thank you Emily for stopping to chat and here’s to your debut year, we’ll be following and cheering you on.

A fascinating new author for you to discover at The Debutante Ball next Monday, August 31st.