The Divining Wand

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What Better Season for Turning These Pages

July 01, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Books in Review

On March 4, 2010 The Divining Wand’s post presented, Our Authors’ Spring/Summer Book Releases. Now, at the July 4th mid-summer break, let’s review those books you may have missed and belong in your TBR tote bag.

MARCH

Presenting Debutante Sarah Pekkanen and The Opposite of Me

Jenny Gardiner and Winging It

APRIL

Kristy Kiernan and Between Friends

Holly LeCraw and The Swimming Pool

Matthew Quick and SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR

MAY

Lauren Baratz-Logsted and Marcia’s Madness

Meredith Cole and Dead in the Water

Presenting Debutante Joëlle Anthony and Restoring Harmony

Barrie Summy and I So Don’t Do Makeup

Presenting Debutante Emily Wiinslow and The Whole World

JUNE

Allison Winn Scotch and The One That I Want

Tish Cohen and The Truth About Delilah Blue

Allie Larkin and Stay

Carey Goldbergy, Beth Jones, and Pamela Ferdinand with Three Wishes

Trish Ryan and A Maze of Grace

Robin Antalek and The Summer We Fell Apart

Of course there are more books to come, including Alicia Bessette’s Simply from Scratch debuting on August 5th and Kristina Riggle (Real Life & Liars) second novel The Life You’ve Imagined releasing August 17th. Yet for a lazy, hazy holiday break, there’s more than enough great reading here. Enjoy!

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Announcement: The winners of Robin Antalek’s The Summer We Fell Apart are Keetha and Jenny.

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

Trish Ryan and A Maze of Grace

June 21, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Book Presentations, Books


Memoirist/Essayist Trish Ryan took readers along on her quest to find “Mr. Right” in her debut memoir, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Love, and Happily Ever After, and tomorrow — June 22, 2010 — she continues to share her life’s journey in A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances.

The idea for chronicling the continuation of the author’s now five years of married life came at the insistence of a friend who never realized that daily wedded experiences could be “Great!” Yet that’s how things “by some crazy miracle” seemed to end up for Trish and Steve. And so she shares their ups and downs as encouragement, noting in a disclaimer: “I’m under no illusion that Steve and I have mastered some “‘spiritual”‘ right way to do life.” However, by asking for God’s input in places they’ve been stuck has provided ideas, suggestions and alternatives to their personal struggles including: infertility, depression, body image, and sex.

Yes Trish talks to God, even about THAT subject. Now for those unfamiliar with He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, please don’t raise your eyebrows. Because the first book is “the story of how a new-age dabbler turned to Jesus for relationship advice and ended up with a “‘happily-ever-after'” husband and a newfound Christian faith.” Considering God offered her sound, practical, and miraculous advice back then, it’s only natural for this author to keep asking for and following His guidance.

Yet to share even more of herself… In the Monday, May 17, 2010 blog post, Good News from Publishers Weekly, Trish admits her relief and joy by writing:

“I just saw the Publishers Weekly review for A MAZE OF GRACE. And it’s fabulous!!! I’m shaking right now, all teared up & soggy. I hadn’t realized how nervous I was about this until I read the review (and then re-read it six or seven times). The relief is unbelievable.

“Here’s why: MAZE was a tough book to write. It’s super-personal, even more so than HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOT. It’s real and raw and (in a few places) heartbreaking, even for me. But it’s also–like me–fun and funny, and a little absurd. Which was a weird balance in the midst of the process. Not to mention that life while I was writing was rather tumultuous, and my editors and I were adding and deleting scenes right up until the very last moment. By the time the book was finalized, I’d sort of lost touch with whether it was “good” or not, in the big-picture sort of way: Was it entertaining and encouraging…and something you’d want to give to all your friends? I hoped (and I certainly prayed) so. I’m tearfully grateful to report that he folks at Publishers Weekly say yes:

Ryan (He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not) returns with another spiritual memoir, bringing back her trademark wit, humor, and honesty. Her first book portrayed her journey toward love after a promise to take Jesus seriously; this sequel chronicles her spiritual and romantic life during the first five years of her marriage. Each chapter focuses on a unique struggle or revelation, from the joys and challenges of marriage to body image and politics; as a result, the book reads more like a compilation of short essays or long blog entries rather than one continuous narrative. Most admirably, Ryan, currently part of the pastoral staff of Vineyard Church, is able to present herself as a believing Christian who recognizes that spirituality can be both simple and complex, a universal experience that can be felt in an infinite number of ways. Ryan does not evangelize, instead humbly and humorously offering her own experience for interpretation. Readers of all faiths can enjoy this memoir for its humanity and its honest exploration of relationships and religion, showing how those two things can often intertwine. __Publishers Weekly

And, of course, there’s this praise:

“Trish Ryan is the rare writer who can range from the deepest questions of the soul to hilarious moments of everyday life…This engaging account of a spiritual journey will resonate with readers of all backgrounds.”
–Gretchen Rubin, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness Project

Interested? Well now you can Browse Inside This Book.

Having read He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not and then following Trish’s life through her blog posts, I appreciated the Advance Reading Copy that Hachette Book Group sent. A Maze of Grace does not disappoint. In fact Publishers Weekly “got it” so right…and more.

Perhaps the book’s appeal is simply Trish. She is both honest and brave in revealing her faith, confusion, opinions and less than sterling homemaking attempts at cooking and cleaning. Yet she tries to find the right way or method.

Her talks with God are most impressive because — though a gentle, loving Father — He doesn’t allow Trish to whine or take the easy way out of a situation. While you may not believe and agree with His teachings or wonder why an intelligent adult woman — complete with a law degree — would believe and abide by seemingly archaic traditions, the fact IS that the author DOES. And she takes full responsibility for that course of faith.

This memoir begins after Trish and Steve’s wedding reception and follows in chronological order through their first few months of the “Honeymoon period.” After that it is a maze of dealing with “life happens.” However, through it all, there is communication with God and between each other. Also there is love.

In reading the post, Guest Trish Ryan on Your Life, Starring You!, you learn that the author doesn’t see herself as the main character in her books, instead “LOVE is the main character — that urge inside of us that keeps us looking and hoping for romantic partnership….” After reading both books, I disagree. Love could be considered the main characters in Trish’s books however it is SELF LOVE — the need within all of us to like ourselves, to be the best of ourselves, and to accept ourselves…that’s what the writer really finds along her way. And everyone can benefit from a good measure of that love found in A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances and in our own lives.

IMPORTANT: Trish Ryan is offering a BOGOF plan until 11:59 p.m. tonight!

Here’s her plan:

“Buy a copy of A Maze of Grace before the official launch date of tomorrow, June 22nd.

Send a copy of your receipt (scanned store receipts count, too) to Trishryanonline AT gmail.com. Include your mailing address (no worries…I won’t use for any other purposes) and I’ll send you a FREE copy of my first book, HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOT.”

Source: TRISH’S DISHES’ Tuesday, June 15, 2010 post, BOGOF.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away a copy of Trish Ryan’s latest memoir, A Maze of Grace 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, June 23, 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 Trish Ryan on Your Life, Starring You!

June 15, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Trish Ryan (He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Love, and Happily Ever After), — like many recent featured authors — admits to having a messy but interesting life. Ever likable, vulnerable, and oh so human, Trish shares both the joys and blahs of her first five years of marriage in A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances to be released on June 22, 2010.]

Your Life, Starring You!
Thoughts on being the main character

Larramie asked if I’d blog about what it’s like to be the main character in my own books. Her question caught me off guard—I’d never thought about it in those terms.

You’d think it would take a surreal combination of determination and hubris to believe that your life is sufficiently unique and wonderful to keep people turning the pages of not just one, but two memoirs. But truth be told, not even I think my story is all that unique and/or wonderful. Just the opposite, in fact. Until fairly recently, it—and I—was a complete disaster. But here’s the thing: In the midst of my struggles, I always knew I wasn’t the only person out there wrestling with big questions: What is love? How do I get it/give it/absorb enough of it to keep going? Does God play a role? How much is my responsibility? How can I make better choices if I can’t think of any options other than what I’ve already tried? What if self-help doesn’t help? My books are about my search for answers.

I spent my twenties and early thirties in a dizzying try/fail cycle of dating that might be unique if only for it’s breadth and scope. I married so badly that I had to run away to escape. The police were involved on more than one occasion. At some level, I had to admit that not only were my strategies not working, I was out of ideas of new things to try.

The answer to this dilemma surprised me. It was spiritual, and way outside my comfort zone. That surprise—with the good results that followed—made up my first book, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Hope, and Happily Ever After. I thought that other women in my shoes (the ones who hear Stevie Nicks sing, I climbed a mountain and I turned around and think, “That’s the story of my life…”) might find it encouraging to have another option to consider, and comforted that the door hasn’t closed on Happily Ever After…It’s still out there, still possible.

My second book is about looking at these same questions from the other side of the alter, as a newlywed struggling to imagine a marriage better than the warnings I saw in books and magazines. Our culture makes you feel like a special little flower when you’re a bride, but the moment you’re back from your honeymoon, the fantasy wilts. No one tells you how awesome your new life will be; they warn you. You hear the phrase, “The honeymoon is over” muttered in low, dire tones. I didn’t think I was the only wife out there hoping that more was possible, and thus Book #2, A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances, came to be.

So perhaps my answer to Larramie’s question is that I don’t see myself as the main character in my books. As hokey as it sounds, I think LOVE is the main character—that urge inside of us that keeps us looking and hoping for romantic partnership far beyond the point when the more reasonable choice would be to give up, buy a cat and a condo, and find a few new hobbies. Most of us want more than pets and hobbies. As the band Sugarland puts it, “From the beginning, we’re all looking for a happy ending…” My books are about this process.

Thanks, Larramie, for getting me thinking about this question! And blog readers, let me ask you: How do you feel about being the main character in YOUR story? Would you re-write the script? Does your plot need a twist? Are you at the place where all hope is lost (which is, according to writing tradition across genres, ALWAYS when the hero arrives…)? Consider sharing in the comments below. You might not be the only one wrestling with these questions.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away a copy of the triple memoir Three Wishes by Carey Goldberg, Beth Jones, and Pamela Ferdinand in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Carey Goldberg, Beth Jones, and Pamela Ferdinand with Three Wishes. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is Wednesday, June 16, 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.

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The Divining Wand celebrates its first anniversary today. After one year and 219 posts, the site has grown, evolved, and is successfully connecting authors and readers beyond book pages.

Thank you authors/friends/readers, all!
Larramie

The Revealing of Trish Ryan

June 09, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

Trish Ryan closed her debut memoir, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Love, and Happily Ever After, after exchanging wedding vows with “Mr. Right.” But rather than that being the end of her journey of self-discovery through the help of faith/beliefs, it was only the beginning as the authors recounts in A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances to be released June 22, 2010.

The popular Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, shares her praise for this second memoir:

“Trish Ryan is the rare writer who can range from the deepest questions of the soul to hilarious moments of everyday life. Most striking is her honesty about her struggles – with her faith and her penchant for Ann Taylor clothes, with her marriage and her weight. This engaging account of a spiritual journey will resonate with readers of all backgrounds.”

The Divining Wand has scheduled a presentation/review of A Maze of Grace for Monday, June 21, 2010 but today let’s meet Trish through her “official” bio:

TRISH RYAN lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband, Steve, and their genetically improbable mixed-breed dog.

And now, in what she described as “fun,” Trish reveals her true self:

Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: Unexpected, hopeful, ridiculous, hilarious, sparkly, fun, adventurous, candid.

Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: “Things tend to get done.” (From my law school friend Jon, who napped while the rest of us studied, came to exams in his bathrobe, and—to my eternal consternation—ended up with the same GPA as me.)

Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: When life exceeds my expectations.

Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: Heights. My career as a high school gymnast was a sad and funny thing to behold.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: Cambridge in early summer is rather beautiful, so right here. Maybe outside under a tree, instead of in my office.

Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: This sounds preposterous, but ever since I was a little girl I’ve been fascinated by Harriet Tubman. She was so brave, and did impossible things with some regularity. At the end of my life if I’ve done something even a little bit along those lines, that would be great.

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: My husband, Steve. Nothing phases him, and he’s incredibly awesome and consistent. The three favorite personal qualities I describe below? All him.

Q: What are your most overused words or phrases?
A: I have a love/hate relationship with adverbs. Whenever I need to cut my word count in a manuscript, I do a search for “ly.”

Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: I would love to be hospitable—to know instinctually how to welcome people and take good care of them, to enjoy food and cooking. I’m so focused on people and conversations that you can sit in my living room for four days before I even think to offer you a beverage.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: I was a state champion baton twirler when I was 12. That combined all the words I listed above to describe my life (Unexpected, hopeful, ridiculous, hilarious, sparkly, fun, adventurous, candid) much more than anything I might say about passing the bar exam or writing 2 books.

Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: Discouragement. If I’m not careful, I can see all the things that could go wrong with every dream or plan.

Q: What’s your best quality?
A: Being encouraging (Oh, the irony!) When I’m on my game, I have a lot of faith for impossible things, despite seeing what could go wrong.

Q: What do you regret most?
A: Not staying in touch with certain friends from different phases of my life.

Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: For a day, I’d be the President of the United States. I like to know how things work—people, organizations, systems—so as a former poli sci major, it would be incredibly cool to understand the Presidency from the inside.

Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: I laugh a lot. Everyone in my family has a great sense of humor, and finding a way to laugh is our default response to almost everything.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: When I was little, I loved this collection of books about a girl named Trixie Belden who solved mysteries with her friend Honey. I’m not sure why they had porn star names, but those girls were awesome.

Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Cat Woman.

Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: This was the toughest question! I love sports, so presenting me with a pretend opportunity to meet a favorite athlete sent me into a tizzy ☺ In the end, though, I realized that I’d LOVE to have a conversation with Billy Jean King. She did so many amazing things in her years as a player, but what I really love is that she has ongoing vision for how to move her sport forward. Her life is only partly defined by her years as an athlete. So I’d ask her how she maintains vision and energy to keep pushing forward.

Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: Being late.

Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: I do a lot of speaking about spirituality & relationships. That’s really fun because my romantic past was such a complete disaster that EVERYONE feels more hopeful once they’ve heard that things worked out okay for me.

Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Choreographer/judge on So You Think You Can Dance.

Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Consistency, Honesty, Humor

Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
Baloney sandwiches…with mayo, mustard, American cheese, and cucumber. So delicious.

Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: Around the Sun by Ryanhood
Happy Ending by Sugarland
Rock & Roll Heaven’s Gate by The Indigo Girls
The Long Way Around by The Dixie Chicks
Help Me Believe by Nichole Nordeman

Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: I’ll stick with non-fiction here, because that’s what I write:
Truth & Beauty by Ann Patchett
Redeemed by Heather King
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
The Woman at the Washington Zoo by Marjorie Williams

Trish Ryan is an example of grace by being warm, funny, wise and incredibly human. To become even better acquainted, follow her on Twitter and visit her blog, Trish’s Dishes.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away a copy of Allie Larkin’s Stay in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Allie Larkin and Stay. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is tonight, June 9, 2010 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.

AND

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Tish Cohen’s The Truth About Delilah Blue in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Tish Cohen and The Truth About Delilah Blue. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is tonight, June 9, 2010 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.

Blogs Favored by Our Authors

May 06, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

Enlightening or entertaining, what type of blogs would our authors favor on a daily basis? Of course it’s a bit of both and you might enjoy following along with:

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

~ Unclutterer – http://unclutterer.com/

~ Post Secret – http://postsecret.blogspot.com/

~ Sew, Mama, Sew! – http://www.sewmamasew.com/

~ Sew at Sea, by my hilarious friend Laura – http://sewatsea.blogspot.com/

~ Pub Rants – http://pubrants.blogspot.com/

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):

~ Gretchen Rubin offers a great mix of practical and personal tips that guarantee me a smile, every time I click on her blog.
http://www.happiness-project.com/

~ Brilliant writing advice from a wide array of authors.
http://writerunboxed.com/

~ It’s like People Magazine with a focus on the spiritual adventures of celebs.
http://blog.beliefnet.com/idolchatter/

~ A bunch of Borders employees are trying various resolutions found in books. The one I like best is the guy going for the adult version of the President’s Physical Fitness Challenge. I didn’t know that was an option, but I want my badge!
http://bordersblog.com/resolution-solutions/

~ One of the first blogs I followed, and still one of the funniest. I’ve met “Swishy” and she’s every bit as great in person as she is online.
http://swishygirl.blogspot.com/

~ I met Amy Julia at a writer’s conference. Her perspective on faith, family & life makes me think…and feel.
http://amyjuliabecker.blogspot.com/

Kristy
Kiernan
(Catching Genius, Matters of Faith and Between Friends):

~ GalleyCat http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat (industry news)

~ Backspace http://www.bksp.org (writers’ discussion board $40/year)
~ The Divining Wand http://www.thediviningwand.com (no, really!)

~ A Good Blog Is Hard To Find http://southernauthors.blogspot.com (southern authors rotate blogging)

~ Toastiest http://toastie.st (personal blog of David Seidman that I used in my research for BETWEEN FRIENDS and came to care about)

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

~ Obviously, the Debutante Ball!
http://www.thedebutanteball.com

~ Literary Mama, where I’m co-editor for fiction, which features really exciting, fresh work by mother-writers.
http://www.literarymama.com

~ My agent’s blog, Pub Rants.
http://pubrants.blogspot.com/

~ GalleyCat, an industry blog which combines great information with a biting wit
http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/?c=rss

And a non-writing blog, Generation Xpert, by my friend Suzanne Kart. Speaking of biting wit, she uses hers to blog about Generation X.
http://genxpert.blogspot.com/

Lauren Baratz-Logsted (most recent Crazy Beautiful YA, Sisters 8 series Book 5: Marcia’s Madness, and The Education of Bet YA coming July 12, 2010) :

~ Backspace: http://bksp.org/

~ Book Balloon: http://bookballoon.com/

~ BiblioBuffet: http://bibliobuffet.com/

~ Teen Fiction Cafe: http://teenfictioncafe.blogspot.com/

~ Read Short Fiction: http://www.readshortfiction.com/

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

~ The Book Deal: An Inside View to Publishing by editor Alan Rinzler – this guy really knows his stuff.
http://www.alanrinzler.com/blog/

~ Internet Movie Database (whenever I see a film, I look it up here afterwards to get the scoop on the actors, trivia, awards, etc.)
http://www.imdb.com

~ Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent – Nathan works for Curtis Brown and always offers useful and cutting edge info on getting an agent, the publishing industry, the editorial process, etc.
http://blog.nathanbransford.com/

~ Yahoo News – I find this site the easiest as far as layout and content to quickly keep up with the news of the day as it changes by the minute.
http://new.yahoo.com

~ Perez Hilton – Yes, it’s cheesy gossip, but I admire how Mario Lavendeira (aka as Perez Hilton) built a highly successful website from humble beginnings with only a laptop and an “office” at the local Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Cafe. He’s also an amusing writer.
http://www.perezhilton.com

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Announcement: The winner of The Sisters 8 Series is Susan. Congratulations! Please email diviningwand@gmail.com with your mailing address and the books will be sent out promptly. This is definitely an occasion where I wish everyone could have won but thank you ALL for entering!

More of Our Authors’ Journeys

April 08, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

In the past weeks — and those yet to come — The Divining Wand’s posts have been filled with success. New/debut book releases are fulfilled dreams for authors and rewarding enjoyment for readers yet, remember, “getting published” doesn’t just happen.

The January 25, 2010 post, Our Authors’ Journeys, told how long it took before Kristy Kiernan, Lauren Baratz-Logsted, Kristina Riggle, and Emily Winslow were published? And how they handled rejection, what kept them going as they kept writing? Today’s post features four more authors with their personal tales. All are debut authors (though Trish Ryan’s memoir sequel will be published at the end of June) and please welcome the site’s most recent author, Robin Antalek, in the lead-off spot.

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Robin Antalek (The Summer We Fell Apart):

“I’ve been doing this forever—literally – all of my adult life and I am 48! I began to publish fiction here and there in my twenties in small journals. For money I wrote press releases, grants, radio scripts, a column on Healthy Kids for a food co-op – basically anything that wasn’t fiction! It wasn’t until I submitted a story on a lark to the Writer’s Institute at the State University of New York at Albany – where a guest author was running an invitation only fiction workshop— that I seriously considered fiction. When I got into the workshop, he changed my entire way of thinking and I went on to win a few contests. That I was a finalist in a few “good” contests gave me enough nerve to tackle a novel that promptly went in a drawer. As did the follow-up novel. Novel three I felt was good enough to go out and started to query agents. I did everything they tell you to do about queries – matched my novel with their lists – read the acknowledgement pages of novels I admired that were similar in vein to my own for leads and I perfected a one page query letter that neatly summarized my manuscript. I had a half dozen agents request full to partials all to no avail. So then I decided I would send to the few remaining houses that accepted slush pile manuscripts. Months (and I do mean months) later I get a phone call just as I am walking in the house from picking my daughters up at elementary school – it’s an editor who wants to buy my book but she thinks I need an agent to help with negotiations. She offers to send it to a friend of hers who has just left a prestigious agency to strike out on her own. Her friend, the agent, calls me the next afternoon to tell me she stayed up all night reading and loved it. It was like talking to an old friend. She offered me representation and as it goes in publishing, that book did NOT end up selling to the original house. Or any other. After extensive edits my agent and I mutually agreed to pull the manuscript out of circulation. She told me to go back, take my time, and write what I really felt. A year and a half later The Summer We Fell Apart was the result and it sold to Jeanette Perez at HarperCollins.

“Why did I keep going all those years? Because I had so many stories to tell. Because of all the “jobs” I’ve ever had in my life—it was the one job where I could forget who I was and where I was and the possibilities seemed endless. I’ve tried to quit in dark moments of self-doubt – but I was more miserable not writing. Oddly enough, the magic moment, for me anyway, was when I made peace with the fact that I might be writing stories only for myself – the rest – as they say—is history.”

Holly LeCraw (The Swimming Pool):

“I was writing for years before I was published. I began with stories and had a couple published, but then turned to novels; I am not good at working on multiple projects at a time, much less multiple genres. I also realized, as soon as I began writing a novel, that I needed the longer form.

“To be completely concrete: I began writing seriously when I was 22. Took several detours into publishing and grad school; had three kids; now I am 43. I kept going because I am very very stubborn, and I knew I would be worse off if I stopped trying.

“But I would like to note that I didn’t try to get published until I thought I had something publishable. The struggle wasn’t to get published. The struggle was to get good enough.”

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):

“I’m not sure exactly how long it all took, as I’m not sure where to begin counting. Confession: long before I wrote He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, I wrote a truly awful self-helpish book, and looked for representation. I wasn’t paying attention to the rules (non-fiction sells on proposal, not finished product) and thought that my book was so unique & wonderful that I didn’t have to. Silly girl. Not surprisingly, that book never got off the ground. I filed it away forever (and am thankful now it was never published!).

“A couple of years later, when I was pulling together my query for what became He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, I was much more careful to think about the agent/author relationship, and consider what might be a good fit, and how to approach agents in a professional way. It was almost exactly two years from my agent took me on and when my memoir hit shelves.

“Are there tips for handling rejection? It hurts. I think you get through it by finding that fine line between confidence in your writing and being open to recognize and recalibrate when you’ve made a mistake.”

Therese Walsh (The Last Will of Moira Leahy):

“The first version of my book, The Last Will of Moira Leahy, was rejected, so I completely rewrote it. Total elapsed time = 6 years. (This included time spent revising, polishing, trying to find an agent, pouting—that sort of thing.)

“I had to do a lot of soul-searching after the first round of rejections. I also had some positive rejections to keep me going, but mostly I believed at a deep level that the story needed to be told; that’s what kept me going.”

Announcement: The winner of Holly LeCraw’s debut novel, The Swimming Pool, is Sarah. Congratulations! Please send your mailing addresses to: diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com, and I’ll have the book sent out promptly. Many thanks to everyone who entered.

Our Authors’ Spring/Summer Book Releases

March 04, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Advance News, Books

Have you heard, new books are coming? That’s been my refrain throughout the winter but it’s only the truth. And the new releases begin appearing next Tuesday when Sarah Pekkanen (hmm, ever heard of her?) debuts with The Opposite of Me.

Rather than tell of all the others, let me show you what will soon be in bookstores as well as here on The Divining Wand.

March 9, 2010:
TOPoM
Sarah Pekkanen debuts with The Opposite of Me

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

April 6, 2010:
Kristy Kiernan (Catching Genius, Matters of Faith) gifts us with her third novel, Between Friends.BFsm

Holly LeCraw debuts with The Swimming Pool.TSWMPs

May 3, 2010:Lauren Baratz-Logsted (most recent Crazy Beautiful YA, Sisters 8 series) adds to the SISTERS 8 with with Book 5: Marcia’s Madness.MAMAD

May 11, 2010:
Meredith Cole (Posed for Murder) gives us more chills with her second mystery, Dead in the Water.DItWsm

Barrie Summy (I So Don’t Do Mysteries, I So Don’t Do Spooky) has yet another detective case for preteens with I So Don’t Do Makeup Ages 9 – 12.ISODDMAKE

May 13, 2010:
Joëlle Anthony debuts with Restoring Harmony YA.RESHAR

May 25, 2010:

Emily Winslow debuts with The Whole World.TWHWORLDsm

Thaisa Frank (A Brief History in Camouflage, Sleeping in Velvet) offers a gem with Heiddegger’s Glasses.HEIDGLAS

June 1, 2010:
Allison Winn Scotch (The Department of Lost and Found, Time of My Life) assures us that her third novel is The One That I Want.TOTIWsm

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

June 22, 2010:
Trish Ryan (He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Love, and Happily Ever After) shares more of her life with A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances.AMAZEGRACE

July 12, 2010:
Lauren Baratz-Logsted (most recent Crazy Beautiful YA, Sisters 8 series with Book 5: Marcia’s Madness) returns to YA with The Education of Bet.TEDoB

August 5, 2010:
Alicia Bessette debuts with Simply from Scratch.SIMSCR

August 17, 2010:
Kristina Riggle (Real Life & Liars) promises another “a la Anne Tyler” novel with The Life You’ve Imagined.

All of these authors will be revealed and their books presented, in addition to a few surprises. Remember, it begins this Monday with The Opposite of Me!

[Note: This information will be archived on the Debuts page.]

Our Authors’ True Love of the Writing Process, II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Therese Fowler (Souvenir, Reunion):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Randy Susan Meyers (The Murderer’s Daughters:

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

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

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

Trish Ryan (He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Love, and Happily Ever After, A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances coming June 22, 2010):

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

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

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

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

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

Our Authors Favorite Love Stories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Therese Fowler (Souvenir, Reunion):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Randy Susan Meyers (The Murderer’s Daughters):

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

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

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

Trish Ryan (He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Love, and Happily Ever After, A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances coming June 22, 2010):

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

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

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

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

To be continued…next week.

Our Authors’ Best Advice

February 04, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

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

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

What follows are several of our authors’ responses:

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

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

Judy Merrill Larsen (All the Numbers):

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

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

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

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

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

Ivy Pochoda (The Art of Disappearing)

“Write fearlessly. Avoid adverbs.”

Trish Ryan (He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Love, and Happily Ever After, A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances coming June 22, 2010):

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

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

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

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

AND

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

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