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Therese Fowler and Exposure

May 02, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books


As easily as Therese Fowler (Souvenir, Reunion) accepts the fact that her third novel, Exposure — in bookstores tomorrow, May 3, 2011 –, was meant to be, she also shrugs off early reviews that describe her writing as brave.

Every fictional story begins with an idea of truth and, while the author’s truth came from her son’s arrest for what the media dubbed a sexting crime, Exposure is entirely fictional. However Therese is a Mother, sociologist, and novelist who knows the power of words and what books can do. Writing this cautionary tale was necessary not only to address human mistakes but to hopefully make a difference in what happens afterwards. Also she wanted to provide hours of good reading.

Randy Susan Meyers’ quote describes how well the novelist succeeded: “Headlines rarely reveal the truth. Exposure does. I couldn’t put it down.”

Here’s the synopsis for Exposure:

In Exposure, Therese Fowler has written her most gripping novel to date—a ripped-from-the-headlines story of ardent young love and a nightmarish legal maelstrom that threatens to destroy two families.

Amelia Wilkes’s strict father does not allow her to date, but that doesn’t stop the talented, winsome high school senior from carrying on a secret romance with her classmate Anthony Winter. Desperately in love, the two envision a life together and plan to tell Amelia’s parents only after she turns eighteen and is legally an adult. Anthony’s mother, Kim, who teaches at their school, knows—and keeps—their secret. But the couple’s passion is exposed sooner than planned: Amelia’s father, Harlan, is shocked and infuriated to find naked pictures of Anthony on his daughter’s computer. Just hours later, Anthony is arrested.

Despite Amelia’s frantic protests, Harlan uses his wealth and influence with local law enforcement and the media to label Anthony a deviant who preyed on his innocent daughter. Spearheaded by a zealous prosecutor anxious to turn the case into a public crusade against “sexting,” the investigation soon takes an even more disturbing and destructive turn.

As events spiral wildly out of control and the scandalous story makes national news, Amelia and Anthony risk everything in a bold and dangerous attempt to clear their names and end the madness once and for all. 
 
A captivating page-turner, Therese Fowler’s Exposure is also a deftly crafted, provocative, and timely novel that serves as a haunting reminder of the consequences of love in the modern age.

Now an Excerpt — The first three chapters of the novel.

A love story, a coming-of-age story in the 21st century, Exposure works because Therese created two honest-to-goodness adolescents who — though anything but average — are still in the developing stage of life. In other words, they have a great deal to learn. Anthony has a slight chip on his shoulder but his kindness and determination to succeed prevail. And Amelia, for all she has, hides her own background flaws. Both are real, likable, and even understandable. But where did they come from? The Divining Wand asked the author and she said:

“The teens were inspired first by a good friend’s daughter who lives in Amelia’s world of dance and drama, combined with my own past (community) theater experience. Because I love Shakespeare and because I knew this would be a story about young love, I used a Romeo and Juliet framework, and that helped shape the parents’ roles. But the particulars of each character–Anthony’s chip, Amelia’s stutter, Harlan and Kim’s pasts and occupations and beliefs–arrived organically.”

Another significant characteristic is the shared individual passion/dream that both teens have for life. This energy and goal-oriented perspective makes them a bit different from their classmates and inevitably attracts them to each other. It’s an essential message to note, explaining why the book is about the powerful bond of pure, first love rather than sex. In fact sex, except for the criminal charges of sexting, is neither steamy nor seamy. There is no reason it needs to be.

Instead the compelling elements of Exposure focus on Amelia and Anthony’s love, parental (over)reaction, others’ assumptions, and the law’s interpretation. When these things collide, the plot takes on an out-of-control force of its own. And, to the author’s credit, she guides the events that follow without getting in the way. For the truth is that this author’s Fairy Godmother was stunned when, with merely fifty pages left to read, there appeared to be no resolution in sight.

While Therese admits that the book almost flowed by itself, she also says:

“I should note that in some ways the teens were also responsible for how dire the situation became–their youth and naivete led them in a direction that made sense to them but may not have been so wise. We think we know so much at that age…”

Adolescents think they know as do parents, educators, and the legal system. However, in this brave new world, do any of us know how to maintain privacy and protect ourselves from blurred lines?

Indeed it requires caution, yet is there a solution when caution isn’t taken?

According to the author, “Every situation will demand its own solution. Foremost, I would say everyone involved should take a step back and look at what’s really going on. The consequences of overreaction from any quarter are potentially huge.”

“Huge” is also THE word to describe Exposure. With perfect timing of telling life behind sensational headlines, Therese Fowler has written her BEST novel yet. Remember this “must read” is fiction, yet oh too true!

[For those who may not know, Therese and Exposure were featured/reviewed — Fowler gives ‘Exposure’ to dangers of teen sexting — in USA Today last Thursday, April 28, 2011.]

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Exposure by Therese Fowler in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

Guest Therese Fowler on
Coincidences and Connections

April 26, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[In life — and including the sometimes difficult to understand word of publishing — there are those events/experiences that make one believe. In today’s guest post, Therese Fowler (Souvenir, Reunion) shares the unexpected, favorable events surrounding her latest novel, Exposure, in bookstores next Tuesday, May 3, 2011.]

On Coincidences and Connections

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Exposure, my third novel, is a book that seems to have been meant to be. My cynical side (yes, I have one) says that’s a dopey thing to claim. My spiritual side (yes, I have one of those, too) says otherwise. So I’ll let you be the judge. Here’s the evidence:

Due to scheduling matters, in early 2009 my publisher pushed the publication date of my next book from 2010 to 2011, which stretched my deadline as well. That summer (’09), I was hard at work on the book I’d thought would be my third when my son was arrested for what’s come to be called a “sexting” crime—in his case a misdemeanor charge, but one that had potentially very serious consequences. The issues surrounding his arrest troubled me so much that they inspired a new story idea, a kind of modern Romeo and Juliet tale. Because of that extended deadline, I was able to set aside the book I’d been writing and write the story that became Exposure instead.

A year later, when Exposure was done and being sent out for author endorsements (aka “blurbs”), I had some time on my hands, so I succumbed to peer pressure and joined Twitter. I was just getting familiar with the site when I saw a friend’s re-tweet of Jennifer Weiner’s tweet about the New York Times reviewing a debut novel Jen said she “might actually want to read.” (This was a slam against the Times, not debuts.) I read the review, thought the book sounded fabulous, and re-tweeted. That tweet included the book’s author, Eleanor Brown, who then sent me a message to thank me and say she was a fan of mine! A day or two later, I realized that her novel and mine had a connection: Shakespeare. On a whim, knowing she was on book tour and probably way too busy to read and possibly endorse Exposure, I asked anyway. She said she’d try—and she did, and her fabulous quote now graces the back cover!

Around that time, a bound manuscript of Exposure that included the cover art was sitting on my literary agent’s kitchen counter when her twenty-one-year-old daughter came home during holiday break from college. The cover caught her daughter’s eye—especially the image of the girl. She said, “Hey, that’s Emily!” Emily: a good friend who is a model and actress and whose image just happened to be the exact right one chosen by the Ballantine Books publishing team for a novel soon to be published by Emily’s friend’s mother’s client (me).

On March 26th, about a week before finished copies of Exposure would be sent out for media review and feature coverage, the Times ran this front-page article about teens and sexting. My first job as an author is to simply tell a compelling story the best way I can so that readers feel they’ve gotten their time and/or money’s worth. But I’d hoped that Exposure, which is a cautionary tale, might also help prevent future crises for other families. I never imagined it would land at the very moment the issue got “hot.”

What happens now? Now the book goes out into the world to be whatever it will be. Que sera, sera. Will there be other happy or interesting coincidences? I’ll be waiting to see.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this last interesting connection: four years ago, a generous blogger who loves books and was interested in emerging authors began visiting the blog I used to write. I was about to see my first novel, Souvenir, released in the UK, seven months ahead of its North American release. That blogger bought UK copies of my book for herself and a few other eager readers, then blogged about and reviewed the book, an act that led me to dub her “an author’s fairy godmother.” Today I come to you via her remarkable website, The Divining Wand.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of The Violets of March by Sarah Jio in a random drawing of comments left only on this specific post, Presenting Debutante Sarah Jio and The Violets of March. Comments left on other posts during the week will not be eligible. The deadline is Wednesday, April 27, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to see if you’re a winner.

Go-to Writing Books

March 24, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites, Profiles, Q&A

At one time or another, before as well as during her/his writing career, a published author has likely read more than a few books on the art and craft of writing. Whether it’s for motivation or inspiration, favorites must exist to be read and reread whenever the need arises. With this thought in mind, The Divining Wand asked its authors:

What books do you keep nearby or go back to as you’re working?

And this week the following authors replied:

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

“Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott, Story by Robert McKee, Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.”

~Therese Fowler (Souvenir, Reunion, and Exposure coming May 3, 2011):

“I like to read John Gardner’s On Becoming a Novelist every now and then, along with Stephen King’s On Writing. They’re conversant and inspirational. I like Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer, Anne Bernays’ What If?, and Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway. Then there are the novels that I pull from the shelves when I need to remember what gorgeous writing looks like–we all need role models, after all: Bel Canto by Anne Patchett is a favorite.”

~Ann Wertz Garvin (On Maggie’s Watch):

“It changes. I fall in love with authors every week. I’m in no way a monogamous reader. I’d hate to be my reader girlfriend because I could never commit. So sometimes I read Erma Bombeck, Nora Ephron, Elizabeth Berg and other days it’s Jackie Mitchard, Jane Hamiliton, Elizabeth Strout. I use books to get permission for oddities in my writing. Since grammar and punctuation is often beyond me (my spell check program is so totally superior and snarky), I like to get the nod from authors who take liberties with language.”

~Sarah Jio (The Violets of March coming April 26, 2011):

“For fiction, nada. I rely on my brain and sometimes good ol’ Google to check a fact. (Though when I’m researching a new book (or even just a book idea), I try to get my hands on every relevant book I can find on my subject/time period. This is the fun part! For instance, recently, I have been researching the 1920’s and loving the book “Flapper,” for a new novel I’m working on). But when I’m doing a magazine story, I’m always referring to the latest and newest nonfiction books—self-help, diet, fitness, etc. I have a huge stack of these books on my desk at any given moment.”

~Caroline Leavtitt (Pictures of You, Girls in Trouble, Coming Back to Me, the rest in Bibliography):

“John Truby, The Anatomy of Story. Brilliant structural advice.”

~Kristina McMorris (Letters From Home):

“When it comes to an author’s voice, I connect most with Jodi Picoult. Her lyricism, analogies, and often simple statements that convey profound beauty are a great inspiration, specifically whenever I find myself struggling to write after being away from a manuscript too long. And the opening sentences of her novels? Wowsers. I dare any reader to stop after reading only the first line.”

To be continued….

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Announcement: The winner of Bent Road by Lori Roy is karenk. Congratulations!

Please email diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and your book will be Pre-ordered for its release one week from today.

Fictional Characters as Best Friends Forever, III

March 03, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites, Profiles, Q&A

At times a book offers a surprise bonus — those special characters that create an immediate personal bond and, if only real, would be chosen as our BFF.

With this in mind The Divining Wand wondered who the authors felt close to, and asked:

What fictional character would you choose to be your BFF and why?

And this week’s authors replied:

~Eleanor Brown (The Weird Sisters):

“Less than specific people, there are entire fictional worlds I’d like to live in – the dramatic romance of Diana Gabaldon’s Scotland in Outlander, the rebuilding of America in Stephen King’s The Stand, the wild sadness of the Greasers in S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, the sweeping epic future of Atlanta in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. Each of my favorite books is populated with amazing characters who live in a world too delicious to pluck just one of them from.”

~Tawna Fenske (Making Waves coming August 2011):

“I would probably choose Fred the dog from Jennifer Crusie’s ANYONE BUT YOU. I think he’d get along nicely with my menagerie of pets (two dogs, three cats) and his fondness for stealing lingerie could help me find my bras when they go missing.”

~Therese Fowler (Souvenir, Reunion, and Exposure coming May 3, 2011):

‘Ask me on a different day and I might have a different answer, but the character who comes to mind today is Linda Voss, the protagonist and narrator in Susan Isaac’s wonderful novel Shining Through. Linda’s funny and genuine and smart and loyal–and when you need her to, she’ll tell it like it is. Who doesn’t want a friend like that?”/

~Meg Mitchell Moore (The Arrivals coming May 25, 2011):

“I would like to be friends with most of the characters in Elin Hilderbrand’s novels. She *really* nails certain things about marriage, children, families in a way I very much admire.”

~Ivy Pochoda (The Art of Disappearing):

“Hal Incandenza from David Foster Wallace’s “‘Infinite Jest.'” I’m not sure Hal and I would get along so well now, but I’m sure we would have been best friends as teenagers. It takes one truly athletic nerd to appreciate another.”

~Rebecca Rasmussen (The Bird Sisters coming April 12, 2011):

“I would love to hang out for eternity with Jo March of Little Women. To me, Jo is the quintessential early feminist and, dang, she’s just so full of life and personality. Who else would say no to Laurie?”

To be continued….

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Announcement: The winners of Confessions of a Rebel Debutante by Anna Fields are Gayle Lin and Tiffany D.. Congratulations!

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

Writing, Rituals, Secrets, and Superstitions, IV

February 03, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles, Q&A

True or False? For every writer there are intangible elements — personal habits — that allow the mind to roam and find its comfort zone when the words aren’t flowing. To discover the truth, as well as what some of these practices include, The Divining Wand asked its authors:

Do you have any unusual writing rituals, secrets or superstitions that always work when all else fails?

And this week among the authors who replied are returning TDW favorite Therese Fowler and new member Cari Kamm:

~Therese Fowler (Souvenir, Reunion, and Exposure coming May 3, 2011):

“Thankfully, I’ve never reached a point with my writing when “all else fails,” maybe because the strategies I adopted when I began are sure-fire ways to keep getting the words onto the page. Those strategies: create a word-count goal and stick to it; edit the previous day’s writing before moving forward into new scenes; make copious use of a writing journal–this is where I write, long-hand, all my questions, notes, and thoughts about the work-in-progress.”

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

“I just sit my ass down and write every morning, for better or worse. I guess that “is” my superstition? I don’t walk around the room three times and incant a prayer or read Rumi. I just write.”

~Cari Kamm (Fake Perfect Me):

“No secrets or superstitions, just tons of yellow post-it notes! I only use yellow post-its and a bright orange sharpie to create the outline, Acts, and characters of Fake Perfect Me. I’m currently “‘wallpapering'” my office now for my 2nd book. Not sure why these colors, but I find comfort in them. Also, complete silence. I can be in a cafe or at home listening to music when creating themes or characters, but to actually write I need complete silence. ”

~Judy Merrill Larsen (All the Numbers):

“When I’m stuck, I let my characters start talking. They can almost always talk me out of being blocked. Usually by saying something I never expected or by starting an argument. Or, I jump ahead to a scene I’m dying to write and then go back and fill in the gap. Coffee and chocolate help too!”

~Karen McQuestion (A Scattered Life, Easily Amused coming September 21, 2010, and Celia and the Fairies for ages 7 – 11, and Favorite YA coming April 1, 2011):

“The library is my secret weapon. When all else fails, I go to my local library and settle into a comfortable chair with a spiral notebook and pen. Even if I’m really stuck, something always comes to me. It’s magic, my library.”

~Randy Susan Meyers (The Murderer’s Daughters):

“I wish I had a no-fail secret! The only ritual I use when I am feeling unmotivated is this lecture: Write! It’s your job. Does your doctor get to say she’s not feeling particularly medically creative on the day of your appointment? I wish I could say that this always works, but it does on most days. I try very hard to remember that it’s getting in the chair and putting my hands on the keyboard that’s the trick and that writing may be creative, but it’s still a job and I have to show up to succeed.”

To be continued….

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Announcement: The winners of Caroline Leavitt’s Pictures of You are Colleen Turner and Carmela Francisco. Congratulations!

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

Fan Mail: An Author’s
Most Memorable Reward, II

September 23, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites, Q&A

Last month’s post on how much fan mail meant to authors surprised some visitors, while inspiring others to finally write their own personal messages. The written word is powerful in expressing heartfelt gratitude and here are more author responses to memorably touching fan mail:

~Tanya Egan Gibson (How to Buy a Love of Reading):

“A man wrote to say that my depiction of alcohol and drug addiction (in a teenage character, Hunter Cay) felt very real. He’d finished my novel between classes and had been crying when his sixth grade students came in. He wrote, “Thanks for touching my heart.” Which, in turn, touched mine. It is so wonderful and kind for people to take the time to write and share like that.”

~Kate Ledger (Remedies):

“One tremendously moving piece of fan mail came from a woman who wrote that REMEDIES had resonated with her own personal tragedy. I got teary at my computer when I read her note. Like the characters in REMEDIES, she and her husband had lost a child. She wrote that the effects of that loss have continued to ripple through her marriage. She wrote that the novel had been difficult to read, and also, ultimately, comforting, and that even though her own outcome was still in progress, the book had come along at exactly the right time.”

~Meredith Cole (Posed for Murder, Dead in the Water):

“These days you receive more emails than mail, I’m afraid. I did get a request from a girl to sign my photo and send it to her for her scrapbook. It made me feel like a teen rock star, so of course I did it. I’ve really enjoyed hearing from people. It means a lot when someone tells me that they stayed up half the night, or were late because they simply had to finish my book. It makes me feel like I’ve done my job right.”

~Melanie Benjamin (Alice I Have Been):

“They’re all memorable, because I’m touched every time a reader takes the time to let me know how much they loved my book.”

~CJ Lyons (Lifelines, Warning Signs, Urgent Care, and Critical Condition coming November 30, 2010):

“I’ve gotten several letters from fans facing painful medical crises, including one woman whose cancer pain kept her up at nights, unable to sleep or get comfortable. They have written thanking me for providing them with escape from the pain of their lives as they read my books.

The fact that my stories have been able to help these people facing their diseases with dignity and courage brought me to tears…truly better than any award my books could ever win!”

~Therese Fowler (Souvenir, Reunion):

“I’ve had so many amazing letters from readers world-wide; one that I loved came from the mother of seven-year-old twin girls who, after reading SOUVENIR, was inspired to create a journal for their future benefit, and to buy each of them a copy of SOUVENIR, which she was storing away in their “hope chests” to be read when they’re teens. A recent letter of praise from a woman who is a Medical Social Worker and who deals every day with patients in heartbreaking situations was also very rewarding.”

~Stacey Ballis (Good Enough to Eat, The Spinster Sisters, Room for Improvement, the rest in Bibliography):

“The young woman who wrote to say that she was able to finally extricate herself from both her dysfunctional marriage and her ongoing affair with her also-married boss because she read “Inappropriate Men”. She wrote from her fabulous new job, where she had met her fabulous (and single!) new boyfriend who worked in the same building. She said that she had felt completely trapped and that the book helped her find her spine. That e-mail gave me goosebumps.”

~Leah Stewart (Husband and Wife, The Myth of You and Me, Body of a Girl):

“My most memorable wasn’t my best, but a long letter quoting all the passages from my first book that had anything to do with sex and suggesting that I and the letter writer would really understand one another. (Oh, dear.) I also remember one I got after my second book, which was about female friendship, from a woman who’d lost her best friend in Iraq. That one was lovely and very sad.”

~ Beth Hoffman (Saving CeeCee Honeycutt releasing in Trade Paperback October 26, 2010):

“I received a letter from a 93 year-old woman who said that she loved my book and was so glad it was available in large print. She went on to say that she read it twice because, at her age, she was running out of time and didn’t know if she’d be around if/when the movie came out. It was so touching.”

~Robin Antalek (The Summer We Fell Apart):

“I think it would have to be after I published a short story in a literary journal that was put out by a university in Florida years ago. It was handwritten – a page and a half long – from a young woman who claimed to have read the story so many times she felt like the characters were people she knew. She went on to tell me she had written a paper on the story for her English seminar class. It was a pretty cool ego boost for a struggling writer who wrote late at night after work.”

~Katie Alender (Bad Girls Don’t Die YA):

“I love every bit of fan mail I get. From the adorable one-line emails just telling me how much they enjoyed the book to the detailed breakdowns of all of the elements they liked (and why). I get a lot of emails saying I’ve inspired them to write (very flattering), a lot saying that they can relate to Alexis and her sense of outsiderness (very touching), and a lot with interpretations of the book that reflect a cinematic mind at work (very interesting). I am convinced that I have the brightest and funniest fans of any book, ever! I must say, I especially love getting snailmail (as TDW might be aware).”

~Kristina Riggle (Real Life & Liars and The Life You’ve Imagined):

“One of my favorite notes was from a reader who enjoyed my debut with a stiff drink and added, “Only wished I had a joint to join Mira” who is, as constant TDW readers will know, the flower child grandmother protagonist. I think my favorite fan interaction was in person, at my book launch event. A woman I didn’t know told me she went out and scheduled her mammogram after reading about how my protagonist delayed her own, with severe consequences. I was so touched and honored that my book prompted her to take such an important step, and that she felt moved to share that with me.”

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Announcement: The winners of Jenny Nelson’s debut novel Georgia’s Kitchen are Keetha and Maria M.. Congratulations!

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

What’s Next for Our Authors?

August 19, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Advance News, Books

Throughout this past year The Divining Wand has presented and, perhaps, introduced you to new favorite authors. Yet, after reading and enjoying their novels, how many wonder what’s the next book and when?

Here’s a sneak peek into the future from several TDW authors:

~Therese Fowler (Souvenir, Reunion):

“EXPOSURE, set for a late-April release, preceded by REUNION in trade paperback, probably mid-March. There is an EXPOSURE excerpt posted on my website. Cover art for both titles is in the works but not finalized yet…”

~ Beth Hoffman (Saving CeeCee Honeycutt releasing in Trade Paperback October 26, 2010):

“I’m working on a new novel titled Looking For Me.”

~ CJ Lyons (Lifelines, Warning Signs, Urgent Care):

“I have two books coming up in the near future:
CRITICAL CONDITION is the finale of my Angels of Mercy series from Berkley/Jove and will be out 11/30/10. Here’s the skinny:”

This New Year’s resolution? Stay alive….
“Harrowing…irresistible.”—New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs on Lifelines

Critics praised the national bestseller Lifelines as “breathtakingly fast-paced” (Publishers Weekly), Warning Signs as “exhilarating” (Genre Go Round), and Urgent Care as “riveting” (Pittsburgh Magazine). Now CJ Lyons returns to an ER under attack as the lives of four very special women hang in the balance…
With Pittsburgh snarled by a New Year’s Eve blizzard and Angels of Mercy Hospital cut off from the outside world, staff and patients are at the mercy of armed gunmen. Their target is Dr. Gina Freeman, who is holding vigil over her wounded fiancé, Detective Jerry Boyle.

Trapped inside with her are ER charge nurse Nora Halloran and fourth-year medical student Amanda Mason, on the last night of her ICU rotation—if not her life. Stranded outside the hospital walls is ER physician Lydia Fiore, whose past holds the secret the hitmen are willing to kill for.

With patients, staff, and loved ones held as hostages, the power out, and cold-blooded killers in control, no one may live to see the New Year…

“And coming March 1, 2011 from Vanguard/Perseus is ROCK BOTTOM co-authored with Erin Brockovich (yes, THE Erin Brockovich, how cool is that!!!)”

Ten years ago, Angela Joy Palladino left home as a pregnant seventeen year old in trouble. Now, after winning and losing a career as an environmental activist, dubbed by the media as “The People’s Champion,” she hopes to start over by taking a new job with a lawyer who is fighting to stop a mining company’s mountain top removal in an effort to save the only place she’s ever called home.

As a single mom of a special needs nine-year-old boy, Angela is happy for any work she can get, even if it means returning to the West Virginia hometown she left in disgrace. But when her new boss turns up dead and his daughter’s life is threatened, Angela discovers that her own secrets aren’t the only ones her mountain hometown has kept buried.

Hitting rock bottom, Angela must face the betrayal of those once closest to her and confront the harrowing past she thought she had left behind. The question remains, will she be able to outwit the killer and save the town she once cherished, all the while keeping her family, her sanity, and her new life in one piece?

~Randy Susan Meyers (The Murderer’s Daughters):

“The paperback edition for THE MURDERER’S DAUGHTERS will be coming out in February 2011. In the meantime, I just finished my next book, a story of infidelity and how it spills far wider in it’s damage then we ever imagine.”

~Sarah Pekkanen (The Opposite of Me, and Skipping a Beat coming February 22, 2010):

“SKIPPING A BEAT will be published by Atria Books/Washington Square Press on Feb. 22, 2011. Skipping a Beat is similar in tone and genre to my debut novel, The Opposite of Me, but the story is totally new. It’s about a woman named Julia Dunhill who discovers that her husband has turned into a completely different man after a sudden, shocking medical trauma – and now he wants to rewrite all of the rules of their marriage. Julia, who sees pieces of her life in scenes from the world’s great operas, has three weeks to decide if she should stay with Michael or leave him.”

~Leah Stewart (Husband and Wife, The Myth of You and Me, Body of a Girl):

“I’m working on a book about adult siblings. It started out being about location and identity (I was going to call it ELSEWHERE) but it’s gotten further and further away from that theme to become about all the complex emotions of siblinghood. Which, alas, probably means I have to think of a new title.”

~Therese Walsh (The Last Will of Moira Leahy chosen as a TARGET Breakout Book):

“What’s coming up, what’s happening: I’m currently writing my second book
in a two-book deal with Random House. I don’t want to say much about it yet,
but I can tell you that it’s about a legally blind woman trekking across 
West Virginia to find the end of her dead mother’s story. It’s been a
challenging book, in part because of the legendary scary factor associated
with writing the Second Book, but also because one of the leads is a
sense-deprived character. But I’m happy to report it’s coming along nicely.
I may have an entirely different report tomorrow!”

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Announcement: The winners of Kristina Riggle’s The Life You’ve Imagined are Amy Goodrow and Janel. Congratulations!

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

Thank you ALL for entering the contest and your overwhelming support!

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

April 22, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Q&A

A recent question posted on The Divining Wand’s Q & A page sounded simple enough and an overwhelming number of authors responded to answer:

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?

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

“Great question (I can’t wait to see all the answers). My latest manuscript Swimming Lessons is 75,656. But some of mine go up 10 109,000. the shortest was 65,000 or so.”

Emily Winslow (The Whole World coming May 25, 2010):

“THE WHOLE WORLD was about 80k when I submitted it, and about 90k after editing. (I know for most writers, editing involves taking away. I write sparely, and am more likely to add scenes in editing.) I’m very conscious of word count as I write. I generally break it down to a certain number of words for each chapter, and sometimes even scene. I don’t force conforming to that goal, but it helps me keep a sense of proportion as I craft the whole.”

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

“I’d say for commercial fiction around 90K words is good. Used to be they wanted lots of words but with publication costs, etc, over the past few years it’s been downsized–in fact something w/ 100K words or more would definitely give an editor/agent pause.

“I’m not sure about YA fiction but I’m thinking 45 – 60K (I’m sure YA authors can tell you more precisely).”

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

“My biggest advice for word count is to write your book and then when it is done figure out where you are in terms of word count. My two YA novels (What Would Emma Do? and Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood) have been around 65k words. My adult title, Unpredictable was just under 80k words and the middle grade I am writing now will come in at about 27k words.

“The only thought I give to word count when I’m writing is measuring my progress. I have set weekly word count goals based on a rough idea of the estimated length of the book, otherwise I ignore word count until I’m done.”

Therese Fowler (Souvenir, Reunion):

“Word count “requirements” (I use the term loosely because there are always exceptions) vary by genre. I write mainstream/women’s fiction, aiming, as I write, for about 100k-115k words–which, if I’ve done my job, means I’ll have produced a layered, complex story with subplots in place. My first drafts tend to be pretty complete, but not every writer works that way. Some like to put down a fast “sketch” and then go back in to fill things out. I’m not saying that my first drafts don’t need a fair amount of revision, just that the word count doesn’t change dramatically from one draft to the next.”

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

“I’m very word-count oriented, thanks to my magazine/newspaper background. Whenever I get a freelance assignment, my first question is, How many words?

“As I wrote Simply From Scratch, I stayed conscious of my goal of 80,000 words, give or take 5,000. My agent later told me 80,000 words is the perfect length for upmarket women’s fiction.

“A previous, unpublished fantasy novel I wrote was less than 60,000 words, and several agents told me that was far too short for the adult fantasy genre. Each genre seems to have what is generally considered an ideal length. But then again, there are notable exceptions. The Harry Potter books are often singled out as exceptions, because they’re longer than average children’s books.

“I’m curious to know whether other novelists keep word count in mind as they write, or if it’s more of an editing goal.”

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

“My word count for Orange Mint and Honey was something like 76,000 and for Children of the Water 81,000. I absolutely think about word count as I’m writing. It’s definitely helpful. One way it’s helpful is if parts of the book that should carry a lot of weight are much briefer than other parts. Or if you have more than one POV character that should have equal weight in the story, are their word counts about the same? ”

Robert Gregory Browne (Kill Her Again, etc. and Down Among the Dead Men coming May 25, 2010):

“My typical word count is about 100,000 to 125,000 words. And yes, I do think about word count because I’m contractually obligated to turn in a book at that length. Word count differs, however, depending on the editor and how he or she actually counts the words. Some still use the old method of 250 words a page, while others rely on computer count, which seems to be the trend these days. I consider this less accurate because it doesn’t take into consideration the space on each page, the way old method does.”

Meg Waite Clayton (The Wednesday Sisters):

“The Wednesday Sisters is about 93,000 words. And yes, it’s something I keep an eye on. When I was writing the first draft of my new one, The Four Ms. Bradwells (Ballantine, March 2011), I celebrated the halfway point at 40,000 words. At 80,000 I began to panic as the end was nowhere in site. At 120,000… And the complete first draft was 140,000 – yikes! My contract with Random House contemplates a novel of approximately 100,000 words. The final version – just put into production last week – is a bit longer than that, but closer far closer to it than to 140,000. I like to think I shoot for 80,000 words, although obviously I miss the mark on a regular basis.”

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

“I never think about word count. Nor have I had a single editor bring it up. The Truth About Delilah Blue likely runs about 90,000 words or about 450 book pages– the longest of my books so far.”

Katie Alender (Bad Girls Don’t Die YA):

“I write YA, and my first book was about 68,000, which seems to put me just on the longer side. My next book will be a few thousand words more. Some authors don’t think about wordcount at all, but I use it to gauge my progress and make sure I’m getting enough work done–typically on a first draft, I shoot for 2,000 words a day (and come out at about 1200-1600 most days).”

Robin Antalek (The Summer We Fell Apart):

“Word count is one of those things that is in the back of my mind — but not something I’m aware of until the manuscript is finished and my computer gives me the number. The Summer We Fell Apart comes in at 115,103 words give or take and that final word count was based upon when I thought the novel was done — not some magic number I thought I needed to reach. When I was writing more short stories and submitting them — I was more aware of not exceeding a certain number since some journal requirements are fairly specific — and I have a tendency to cram a novel’s worth of information into a short story. Writing novels gave me the luxury of writing long and I suppose, given my word count on Summer, you could say I embraced it.”

To be continued…

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.