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Summer’s TBR Lists, V

June 23, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites, Q&A

Thank goodness for summer and its lazy, hazy days of being carried away by a book. Reaching out to discover what our authors/friends would be reading, The Divining Wand asked them:

What’s on your summer “must/want to read” list?

And, in this final wrap-up post, the following writers replied:

~Elise Allen (Populazzi YA coming August 1, 2011):

“The next book I can’t wait to get my hands on is Allen Zadoff’s My Life, The Theater, and Other Tragedies. I recently finished his Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have, and I adored it. He also has a memoir coming out called “Hungry” that I’m… well… hungry to read.

“Big picture though, I have to admit that the book looming over my future doesn’t come out until October: Rick Riordan’s Son of Neptune. My daughter and I devoured every book in the Percy Jackson series so far (and let’s be honest, the “new” series is not a new series — it’s a wonderful continuation of the same series), and we’ve been counting down the months until the next installment. Four more months to go!!!!”

~Robin Antalek (The Summer We Fell Apart):

“Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood, some books by Sue Miller, whom I’ve never read, The Local News by Miriam Gershow, Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt, The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer.”

~Tawna Fenske (Making Waves coming August 2, 2011):

“My reading tastes vary widely, but there’s something about summertime that makes me want to read something fun, frothy, and sexy. The book club I’ve belonged to for 10+ years even makes a special effort to read at least one “summer smut” offering during the warm months. I adore author Victoria Dahl’s sexy, funny contemporary romances and look forward to her string of new releases starting in September. I’m also looking forward to attending Romance Writers of America (RWA) Nationals in June/July so I can scope out all the upcoming releases!”

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

“The moment I can I plan to read Meg Wolitzer’s new book: THE UNCOUPLING. Also, on my catch-up list is CLEOPATRA by Stacy Schiff, MALCOLM X: A LIFE OF REINVENTION by Manning Marable, FAITH: A NOVEL, by Jennifer Haighand SO MUCH FOR THAT by Lionel Shriver. Hmm…I better get some beach books in here.”

~Ivy Pochoda (The Art of Disappearing):

“Hmmm….so very much.

Barry Hannah’s “Long, Last, Happy”
TC Boyle’s “When the Killing’s Done”
I also want to read “The Pale King” this summer by David Foster Wallace

And I’m also planning to reread the four Sherlock Holmes novellas.”

~Allison Winn Scotch (The One That I Want, Time of My Life, and The Department of Lost and Found):

“I have so many books that I’m looking forward to – Elin Hilderbrand’s Silver Girl, Laura Dave’s The First Husband, Courtney Sullivan’s Maine, Gwendolen Gross’s The Orphan Sister, Meg Mitchell Moore’s The Arrivals…it feels like there’s an amazing wealth of smart writing for women these days, and it’s all culminating this summer. There’s also Diana Spechler’s Skinny, which I read an advance copy of, and truly adored.”

~Melissa Senate (The Love Goddess’ Cooking School, The Mosts YA, The Secret of Joy, the rest in Bibliography):

“SO many. My little “‘check out this book'” notebook is full of great sounding books that I can’t wait to laze around with this summer. One in particular: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.”

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

“Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood, some books by Sue Miller, whom I’ve never read, The Local News by Miriam Gershow, Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt, The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer.”

~Wendy Tokunaga (Midori By Moonlight, Love in Translatio , and ebook, Marriage in Translation: Foreign Wife, Japanese Husband [Kindle Edition]):

“I’m looking forward to reading “Bossypants” by Tina Fey who I think is one of the sharpest writers around these days. Also “French Lessons” a new novel from Ellen Sussman that I think comes out this July.”

* * * * *

Announcement: The winners of Making Waves by Tawna Fenske are Julie Mann, Charlene Ross, and Monica B.W.. Congratulations!

Please email diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and your book will be Pre-ordered to be sent on its release of August 1, 2011.

AND

Announcement: The winners of A Pug’s Tale by Alison Pace are Sunny and Jane Cook. Congratulations!

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

Favorite Fictional Worlds, III

May 19, 2011 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites, Q&A

As must be known by now, Eleanor Brown’s (The Weird Sisters) alternative answer for a fictional BFF inspired TDW to ask its other authors her question:

In what fictional world/neighborhood would you like to live? And why?

This final week features responses from the following writers, including Eleanor with a new answer:

~Katie Alender (Bad Girls Don’t Die YA, and Bad Girls Don’t Die: From Bad to Cursed YA coming June 14, 2011):

“I’m too much of a pragmatist (okay, I’ll admit it… I’m a homebody/hermit) to want to stray too far from home for any extended period of time–but I wouldn’t mind spending a week with the Darcys at Pemberley! I’d also be curious to drop in on Galt’s Gulch from “Atlas Shrugged.”‘

~Elise Allen (Populazzi YA coming August 1, 2011):

“Easy — I want to live in Harry Potter’s world. I’d opt for being Hermione — the perfect mix of magic and muggle. Plus I really really want her watch that stops time and gives her extra hours in the day.”

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

“I would love to live in the world JK Rowling created. Even with the evil Voldermort around, it’d be great fun to do magic and fly and see dragons and such. Alternatively, I’d love to create a literary world half as rich as the one she created.”

~Eleanor Brown (The Weird Sisters):

“Maeve Binchy’s Dublin, with all its warm, interconnected characters and cozy homes. Optimally, I’d have Maeve herself as my tour guide, too!”

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

“I’ve always wanted to live in Narnia. One of my favorite books is A HORSE AND HIS BOY. I loved the ideas of talking animals. And although there is war there (and nasty witches, etc.), the kids and animals were seen as wise and valuable members of society. Narnia is a true Utopia where all living things are respected (since the trees themselves could tell you that they didn’t want to be cut down), and any hardships are overcome with friendly help from neighbors.”

~Laura Dave (The First Husband The Divorce Party, London Is the Best City in America):

“I’d like to visit several fictional worlds — and live there temporarily! Top of my list: The fictional town of Meryton in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.”

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

“I’d want to live in Oz, but unlike Dorothy, I would STAY there!”

~Jael McHenrty (The Kitchen Daughter):

“For some reason the first thing that popped into my head is that I’d want to live next door to Meg Murry’s family, from A Wrinkle in Time. Although I suppose that’s cheating since what I really want is to go on all Meg’s adventures, and meet Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, and Calvin O’Keefe… you get the idea. Basically, I want to be a Murry.”

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

“As I thought and thought on this, I realized why I was coming up blank. I am drawn to dark novels of dysfunctional families that they make me grateful to stay in my own dysfunctional world. Maybe that’s a blessing, or maybe that’s why I read them: there but for the grace of God go I, and thank God that my life isn’t that bad. Every sunny novel I read makes me incredibly jealous. I remember as a kid swooning in envy over LITTLE WOMEN and wanting to be in the bosom of that family. Another one was CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN. Having a tiny family, somehow that seemed like the height of happiness–being surrounded by 11 other siblings.”

~Melissa Senate (The Love Goddess’ Cooking School, The Mosts YA, The Secret of Joy, the rest in Bibliography):

“I’d like to live with the March sisters and their wonderful Marmee. I’d help Jo with the school, and Amy would teach me to paint.”

~Wendy Tokunaga (Midori By Moonlight, Love in Translatio , and ebook, Marriage in Translation: Foreign Wife, Japanese Husband [Kindle Edition]):

“When I think of a fictional world or neighborhood I go back to the books I loved as a child. And the one that comes to mind is “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I’d love to be able to stow away into a private, secret magical garden perhaps to write or just enjoy the sunshine.”

~Emily Winslow (The Whole World):

“I will now confess a guilty pleasure of my youth: Sweet Valley High novels! Okay, I wouldn’t want to *live* in Sweet Valley, but it would be a hoot to visit. I think I would be friends with Winston Egbert.”

* * * * *

Announcement: The winners of Julianna Baggott’s (Bridget Asher novel), The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted, are Janel and Jane Cook. Congratulations!

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

Best Writing Exercises, Part II

October 21, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites, Profiles

Once again, whether it’s to warm-up, jumpstart, or let their imaginations wander, many of our authors/friends use a writing exercise. Being interested in what works for them, The Divining Wand asked: What have been some of the best writing exercises you’ve used in your writing process?

The following replies lead off with Eleanor Brown, 2011 Class Member of The Debutante Ball:

Eleanor Brown (The Weird Sisters coming February 17, 2011):

“I have a few character interviews, gleaned from books and workshops I’ve taken over time that generally prove useful to me, but the most important question in them is asking my characters, “What do you want?” The follow-up is then, “Well, what’s stopping you?”. With those two questions, I generally get a good idea of who the character is at her core and what kind of plot points are going to come along to disrupt her journey.”

Eileen Cook (Unpredictable, What Would Emma Do? YA, Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood YA, The Education of Hailey Kendrick YA coming January 4, 2011, and Fourth Grade Fairy ages 9 – 11 coming April 19, 2011):

“One of the best exercises I’ve done is to take a book I really liked and for each chapter made a note with information such as:
– what characters are in this scene
– what is the conflict in the scene
– what happens in the scene/ what is the purpose of this chapter

It is interesting to see how another author structures a book, the choices they make and how that shapes the narrative. This also works if you do it with a book you really hated. It helps me sort out what exactly didn’t work for me.”

Jael McHenry (The Kitchen Daughter coming April 12, 2011):

“At last year’s The Muse and the Marketplace conference in Boston, Anita Shreve walked us through a set of exercises that I’ve found very handy ever since. You take a scene you’re not happy with and rewrite it in several different ways. If it’s in the past tense, make it present. If it’s in third person, make it first. If the word choice is flowery and elegant, make it sharp and terse. I find the shift shakes something loose. You may or may not end up with text you can “‘use.'” in the book, but it’s a great way to break a stuck scene open.”

Randy Susan Meyers (The Murderer’s Daughters):

“While I’ve not used writing exercises, when I am in the midst of a novel draft, one of the methods that suits me well for starting each day’s writing is to begin each day by smoothing over the previous days work. While I don’t consider this rewriting in any major way, it’s a method for reintegrating myself back into the world of my story and also a minor tool for revision.”

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

“I like to talk out the storyline/plot of my novel-in-progress to a friend, explaining the motivations of the characters and what happens next. I have her ask questions when things don’t make sense or aren’t clear and I find this very helpful. And sometimes she comes up with suggestions I’ve never thought of. And we usually do this while taking a walk so this exercise also involves exercise. :-)”

Also there’s Wendy’s Good News – “I’ve been having a blast teaching an online course for the Writer’s Online Studio at Stanford University’s Continuing Studies called, So Not Chick Lit: Writing Novels About Women’s Lives, which filled up quickly. And I just found out that I’ll be teaching this course again in the Spring Quarter, which starts April 4. Since it’s online anyone anywhere in the world can take this class. If you want to plan ahead, start checking this website early next year:

“And if you’re interested, I did a recent blog post on why Mad Men inspires me as a novelist.”

To be continued….

* * * * *

Announcement: The winners of The Love Goddess’ Cooking School by Melissa Senate are Suzanne and Dee. Congratulations!

Please email diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and I’ll pre-order your book, releasing and shipping on Tuesday .

Current and Coming Attractions

September 16, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Advance News, Book Trailers, News

Although The Divining Wand authors have been busy writing, publishing, and keeping TBR books piled high, it’s only natural to wonder what’s next for our favorite writers. And what follows is a tasty sampling to whet your reading appetite.

* * * * *

As of today, Thursday, September 16, 2010, Eileen Cook (Unpredictable, What Would Emma Do? YA, Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood YA, releasing in paperback September 21, 2010, The Education of Hailey Kendrick YA coming January 4, 2011, and Fourth Grade Fairy ages 9 – 11 coming April 19, 2011) celebrates the paperback release of Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood with the first video in a series of six.

As Eileen explains:

“The idea behind the videos is that the snotty Lauren Wood has her own video blog where she offers popularity tips. You can probably imagine what great advice Lauren has! I am going to have videos come out every couple days until all six are up. Please visit Lauren’s new website and click on the You Tube icon.

And now for the future:

~Robin Antalek (The Summer We Fell Apart):

“I’m currently working on a book set on a private island off the west coast of Florida about a woman who has experienced the premature death of her mother and sets out to find the family she never knew while her mother was alive. Tentative title: The Blooms of Ella Island.”

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

“Working on a new book that is a real departure for me, much more mainstream fiction. It is a questing story of a young woman who may or may not be dying, and how it explodes her quiet life.”

~Melanie Benjamin (Alice I Have Been):

“I’ll be appearing at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, TN, October 8-10. The paperback release of ALICE I HAVE BEEN is December 28th and I’ll be touring for that in January, dates & locations TBA. I’ve been blogging for the Huffington Post, and just joined a new group blog called the Girlfriends’ Book Club. My next historical fiction will be released by Random House in August of 2011; I’ll be announcing the title of the book very shortly!”

~Meg Waite Clayton’s The Wednesday Sisters, The Four Ms. Bradwells coming March 22, 2011):

“The Four Ms. Bradwells, coming March 22 from Ballantine. And my first novel, The Language of Light, will be reissued in paperback in the summer.”

The flap copy:

Meg Waite Clayton’s national bestseller The Wednesday Sisters was a word-of-mouth sensation and book club favorite. Now the beloved author is back with a page-turning novel that explores the secrets we keep, even from those closest to us, and celebrates the enduring power of friendship.

Mia, Laney, Betts, and Ginger, best friends since law school, have reunited for a long weekend as Betts awaits Senate confirmation of her appointment to the Supreme Court. Nicknamed “the Ms. Bradwells” during their first class at the University of Michigan Law School in 1979—when only three women had ever served full Senate terms and none had been appointed to the Court—the four have supported one another through life’s challenges: marriages and divorces, births and deaths, career setbacks and triumphs large and small. Betts was, and still is, the Funny One. Ginger, the Rebel. Laney, the Good Girl. And Mia, the Savant.

But when the Senate hearings uncover a deeply buried skeleton in the friends’ collective closet, the Ms. Bradwells retreat to a summer house on the Chesapeake Bay, where they find themselves reliving a much darker period in their past—one that stirs up secrets they’ve kept for, and from, one another, and could change their lives forever.

Once again, Meg Waite Clayton writes inspiringly about the complex circumstances facing women and the heartfelt friendships that hold them together. Insightful and affecting, The Four Ms. Bradwells is also a captivating tale of how far people will go to protect the ones they love.

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

“I’ve just finished up the third Lydia McKenzie mystery, tentatively called “‘An Artful Death.'” Lydia is hired by a real estate company to help catch illegal tenants. She finds an elderly Russian woman murdered in her apartment and suspects that the landlord got impatient. In the midst of her investigation, her parents arrive with another mystery to solve.”

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

“I’m working on a novel set in an underwater-themed amusement park. The main character is an eighteen-year-old former competitive figure skater whose now skates in the park’s ice show wearing a full-body jellyfish costume. One of the most fun parts of writing this so far is brainstorming ideas for amusement park rides! (My five-year-old daughter has been helping me.)”

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

“I’m working on my new novel, A THOUSAND CRANES.”

~Allie Larkin (Stay):

“I’m working on a piece for an anthology of dog-related essays that Wade Rouse is editing called I’M NOT THE BIGGEST BITCH IN THIS RELATIONSHIP. Published in 2011, proceeds will benefit The Humane Society and other animal causes.”

~Kate Ledger (Remedies):

“I’ve begun a new novel. If it were a pregnancy, I’m in that hesitant phase of the first trimester, and I’m not ready to discuss too much. I can tell this: The next novel also centers on family relationships and has medical themes because that’s what I’m interested in. Having finished a book, I feel I have a good sense of the arc of a novel, the overall shape it will take. I also know how long and hard the process is. My hope is that this gestation will be briefer than the last.”

~ Shana Mahaffey (Sounds Like Crazy):

“I am working on my second novel right now. I can tell you that the book is about a woman who has to correct a mistake she doesn’t know she made and guiding her through this process is her best friends dead brother.”

~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.”

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

“I’m working on a non-fiction book called “‘Marriage in Translation: Interviews with Foreign Wives of Japanese Husbands,'” which takes an intimate and sometimes surprising look at the rewards and challenges of cross-cultural relationships. I’m also teaching an online class this Fall through Stanford University Extension called “‘Writing Novels About Women’s Lives.”‘

* * * * *

Announcement: The winner of Leah Stewart’s Husband and Wife is Shannon. Congratulations!

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

And thank you all for entering. If my wand was truly magical, there would be a book for everyone.

Fan Mail: An Author’s Most Memorable Reward

August 05, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Favorites, Contests

Meeting and greeting their readers at book signings/speakings, book clubs, or through a random encounter is a thrill for any author, yet what usually makes the most lasting and satisfying impression? Reading fan mail, of course! To know their work has successfully reached out to affect someone…well, that’s why writers write. And, with that in mind, The Divining Wand asked its authors: What’s been your best/most memorable fan mail?

Here are several responses:

~ Alicia Bessette (Simply from Scratch):

“I got my first official fan mail just recently, from a bookstore employee in Massachusetts, who thanked me for “‘finding the true souls” of my characters. I love that.

Another nice fan mail came from a bookstore employee in Germany, who wrote, “‘The right Book for an evening for two: my couch and me.'”

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

“I love hearing from readers! Writing is such a solitary occupation that it seems like magic to hear from someone and realize that people (non friends and family!) are reading your books. I think my favorite letter came from a reader who said “‘you write teens so well, it’s like you were one once.'” I love that line.”

~ Allie Larkin (Stay):

“I’ve been so lucky to get a lot of email, tweets, and Facebook posts with photos of people’s dogs with their copy of STAY, and I absolutely love it. It’s such a gift to get a peek into the lives of the people who read my book and I feel honored to get to see their best friends.”

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

“I’ve received a number of heartbreaking letters from women who’ve been victims of domestic violence. The saddest was from an Australian women whose sister was killed by her husband, who was making a bid to see the two little girls left behind. I hope I was able to give her the help she needed, in regards to places she could turn for help.

“While the letters are sad, I am also heartened by the help many women have felt by seeing a version of their story in print. One father wrote to ‘friend’ me on Facebook, hoping I would be a person who could understand the pain of losing a daughter to domestic violence.

“The more these stories are out there, the more attention I hope they will receive.”

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

“A Japanese woman wrote to me and said that my novel ‘”Midori by Moonlight”‘ was so much like her real life that she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry as she read it.”

~ Therese Walsh (The Last Will of Moira Leahy now in Trade Paperback and also chosen as a TARGET Breakout Book):

“Most memorable fan mail: I was told that Last Will of Moira Leahy helped 
someone in a dark hour who had been having suicidal thoughts. I also learned 
that Last Will was the last story read by a terminally ill woman who’d been
 having trouble finding a book to capture her interest. Her daughter said her 
mother finished LWML and “‘loved it.'” Isn’t that what it’s all about?”

Attention: Have you heard that Therese Walsh is celebrating The Last Will of Moira Leahy’s trade paperback release with A Big, Fat 51-Author (102 Book) “My Sister and Me” Contest – THE OFFICIAL RULES, THE OFFICIAL LIST?

Therese explains:

I’m thrilled to be able to kick off this mega “My Sister and Me” contest in conjunction with the trade paperback release of The Last Will of Moira Leahy.

There are 51 authors participating, and there will be more than 51 winners. Each winner will receive TWO copies of one of the books listed below–one to keep and one to share with a sister or friend. The contest will close 8/10 at midnight EST.

Please click the above link for more details.

* * * * *

Announcement: The winner of Alicia Bessette’s debut novel, Simply from Scratch, is Bailey. Congratulations!

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

Our Authors Journey, IIII

June 10, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Profiles

Ever since the week of March 29th The Divining Wand’s posts have been filled with success. New/debut book releases can be found on these pages, fulfilling dreams for authors and rewarding enjoyment for readers….with more yet to come. However it’s a fact that “getting published” doesn’t just happen. Instead the road to publication is a journey down a rather unpaved path.

How do some travel this area better than others? Four more of our successful, published authors answer the questions of how they handled rejection and what kept them going to reach their destination?

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

“The publishing process is long–even for overnight sensations. And it’s not for the feint of heart, so you’ll have to be patient. It took me about a year and a half to write a book that I thought was pretty good. I started looking for an agent. Then I joined a writing group that brought me back down to earth. It was going to take a lot of fixing to make it decent. But I had an even better plot idea for the same characters. So I wrote my second book in about a year which became POSED FOR MURDER. I entered it in the SMP/Malice Domestic Best Traditional First Mystery competition, and had to wait 9 months to hear. Meanwhile, I continued looking for an agent and wrote a screenplay. Then I found out I won. But it was another almost two years before my book came out. It took a lot of patience, but I also realized that only one person (granted, an editor or agent) needs to fall in love with your book. You just have to find that person.

“If you do not love to write, don’t become a writer. That doesn’t mean that some days writing feels painful, but something inside you must drive you to continue. You have to believe it will happen and inspire yourself to continue. The only way to guarantee that you don’t get published is to give up.”

Ivy Pochoda (The Art of Disappearing):

“I submitted my book to ten agents and eight accepted it. Then my agent submitted it to twenty publishers and I received twenty rejections. I decided to rewrite the book and finally it sold. It took a year and a half. I never entertained the notion that my novel wouldn’t get published. I just kept going, started writing a new book. And when I began my new book, the original novel sold!”

Allison Winn Scotch (The Department of Lost and Found, Time of My Life and The One That I Want):

“I was writing for magazines before I wrote fiction, so my path has been littered with rejection for years. 🙂 That said, I wrote a manuscript that got me agent representation but that said agent couldn’t sell. After writing what would eventually go on to be my debut novel, said agent also told me that “it would be doing my career more harm than good,” to go out with that novel, and we promptly parted ways. I found new representation within weeks, and we got four offers on the book a few weeks later. So…all in? From the beginning of my agent search to selling that second manuscript? Hmmm, I’m not sure, but I’d say about a year, a year and a half.”

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

“I started writing novels seriously in around 1994 and didn’t get my book deal until 2006, so that’s a dozen years. And my “debut” novel was the fifth novel I’d written. Several things kept me going. I can’t not write so there is no way I would have stopped. And as I took classes and consulted with teachers about my writing I began to garner more ‘“positive”’ rejections from agents and this showed me I was at least getting somewhere. Supportive writer friends also were a comfort and inspiration.”

* * * * *

Announcement: The winners of Tish Cohen’s The Truth About Delilah Blue are Rebecca and Wendy Kinsey.

AND

Keetha is the winner of Allie Larkin’s Stay.

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

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!

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

April 29, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Q&A

Today’s post is the continuation of how authors responded to a recent question posted on The Divining Wand’s Q & A page:

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?

Also please welcome The Divining Wand’s latest about-to-become author, Allie Larkin, who leads off with:

Allie Larkin (STAY coming June 10, 2010):

“The final version of STAY is around 100,000 words. The first draft was just short of 70,000, and then grew through the revising process, as the story became more layered and I developed the characters further. I don’t think word count should be a concern in the first few drafts of a book. Those drafts are about creating the framework of the story and getting to know the characters. Obviously, there are ideal lengths for books, but I think reaching an ideal word count should be more of an organic process than a goal to meet. You never want to add words just for the sake of adding them. So, even if it’s necessary to add 10-20,000 words to make the book a marketable length, I think the focus should be more about figuring out a way to grow the story and grow the characters, than trying to hit a certain number.”

Melanie Benjamin (Alice I Have Been):

“This is a good question. Before ALICE, I always aimed at 80,000; my earlier contract, for my 2 contemporary novels, stipulated that should be the approximate word count. When I moved to historical fiction, however, I found that there’s more leeway, and ALICE came in at around 100,000 words, and nobody blinked an eye. That’s the word count I have in mind for my next historical novel, too.

“However – word of advice. Let the story develop as it needs to and try not to obsess about the word count until it’s finished. Revisions always change things. If you finish and you find you’re way under the typical word count (which is, yes, anywhere from 70,000 to 100,000, depending on the genre as I said above), then you may have to decide whether or not the work would be better off as a short story. If you’re way over, you can edit and perhaps divide the work into 2 novels. So – try not to obsess while telling the story, but at the end of the day, word count does matter.”

Judy Merrill Larsen (All the Numbers):

“Ooh, I definitely think about word count as I’m writing . . . my novels tend to be in the 75,000 word range, which is a bit on the short side. And I NEVER get to that in my first draft. My goal in a first draft is to get to 65,000 words because I know that in revising (which to me means mostly adding and rearranging), I’ll get in that magical realm of 70,000-80,000 words.”

Holly LeCraw (The Swimming Pool):

“Mine is about 80,000 words. I didn’t think about word count as I was writing, but assumed I would come in at 300ish pages. As it turned out, mine is 307. I tend to like books that are tightly constructed and not overlong, although there are always exceptions.”

Lauren Baratz-Logsted (most recent Crazy Beautiful YA, Sisters 8 series with Book 5: Marcia’s Madness coming May 3, 2010):

“Since I write for pretty much every age group imaginable, I’m all over the place on this. Each volume in The Sisters 8 series for young readers comes in at about 22K. My one middle grade was 35K. My adult novels range from 70-100K. Even within YA, I’m all over the place, with most coming in at 45-50K while The Twin’s Daughter (due out on Aug 31) is a whopping 96K! It all depends on what the individual book demands, how long it takes to tell the story right.”

Shana Mahaffey (Sounds Like Crazy):

“Sounds Like Crazy weighs in at just over 105,000 words. I wrote without regard to word count and was lucky enough to have my book published under an imprint that believes a book should be as long as it needs to be to tell the story.”

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

“I don’t have the exact number but I believe Looking After Pigeon was just around 80,000 words. The novel I’m working on now is about 85,000 words.”

Sarah Pekkanen (The Opposite of Me):

“The Opposite of Me is 105,000 words (give or take a few). My second novel is about 90,000 words. I do think a little about word count as I write, knowing it would be much harder to sell a book that came in at 60,000 or 200,000 words.”

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

“I had to look this information up. REAL LIFE & LIARS was 85,498 in the pre-copyedited version, and THE LIFE YOU’VE IMAGINED is a little longer at 91,171. My work-in-progress will end up about the same. Since I measure my daily progress in first drafts by word count I suppose I do think about it as I write, but only as a handy way to measure productivity. I do feel very pleased when I hit the big round numbers divisible by 10,000. It’s arbitrary, but it does feel like a milestone and since writing a first draft is so solitary it’s nice to congratulate myself on leaping those hurdles. No one else is going to throw me a party.”

Allison Winn Scotch (The Department of Lost and Found, Time of My Life and The One That I Want coming June 1, 2010):

“All of mine hover around the 85k mark. I do think about WC as I’m writing – I think about the book in a series of acts, and I know when to begin each one (generally), so I can time the action – and the necessary arc of that action – to the word count.”

Barrie Summy (I So Don’t Do Mysteries, I So Don’t Do Spooky and I So Don’t Do Makeup coming May 11, 2010, Ages 9 – 12):

“My novels (tween mysteries) are 52,000 to 55,000 words. Do I think about word count while I’m writing?

“Yes. Yes. Yes.

“I’m a HUGE plotter, and I know where I should be word-count wise for the major plot points, darkest moment, the resolution. This is how I keep the pace up.

“And also how I keep my sanity. I promise myself treats all the way through the first draft. For example, when I reach the first plot point, around 13,000 words, I get to have a package of licorice as a reward.”

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

“I believe that my word counts come out to be around 85,000. I never think about this when I’m writing, though. I just write as much as I need to tell the story and it always seems to work out okay in the end.”

Therese Walsh (The Last Will of Moira Leahy):

“My publisher, Shaye Areheart, likes books to come in right at about 90,000 words, which is the word count for The Last Will of Moira Leahy.

“I keep tabs of word count using Word, but I don’t stress about it much while drafting a story. I tend to trust that the word count will fall near the right mark in the end. Word count definitely becomes more important during editing, though. I find it easier to edit a “fat” story down to size rather than add new beef.”

And a final word on just the facts….

Randy Susan Meyers (The Murderer’s Daughters):

“According to fictionfactor.com, ‘”Most print publishers prefer a minimum word count of around 70,000 words for a first novel, and some even hesitate for any work shorter than 80,000. Yet any piece of fiction climbing over the 110,000 word mark also tends to give editors some pause. They need to be sure they can produce a product that won’t over-extend their budget, but still be enticing enough to readers to be saleable. Imagine paying good money for a book less than a quarter-inch thick?”‘

“That said, there is much back and forth on this issue. I think the topic is very well covered by agent Colleen Lindsay in her blog, the swivet.”

If you have a question for our authors feel free to post it on the Q & A page or email: diviningwand@gmail.com

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ATTENTION: This site’s rather exclusive sidebar has a new addition under the category of Must See. ArounderTouch is an iPhone app from Arounder.com. The virtual reality site — featuring gorgeous 360-degree panoramas of the world — is what I frequently used on Seize A Daisy’s “Friday Getaways.” It’s a first-class ticket for your travel plans or imaginary flights of fancy, please check it out.

Announcement: The winners of Quick’s debut YA novel, SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR, are Keetha and Beth. Congratulations! Please send your mailing addresses to: diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com, and I’ll have your copy sent out promptly. Many thanks to everyone who entered.

Good News about and from Our Authors

February 25, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: News

The Diving Wand loves sharing good news about its authors and this post offers quite a collection.

For Wendy Tokunaga (Midori By Moonlight, Love in Translation) BookPage Reviews’ Friendship and family in a foreign land is a Web exclusive by Sheri Bodoh.

Katie Alender (Bad Girls Don’t Die YA) was thrilled and flattered by this terrific book trailer for Bad Girls Don’t Die made by a reader/fan. Do watch.

Melanie Benjamin watches her foreign rights sales soar for (Alice I Have Been), along with requests for essays, interviews, and op-ed pieces on “Alice.” With the movie of “Alice in Wonderland” coming out next Friday, Melanie is enjoying perfect timing.

Also to be noted: The Audio Book of Alice I Have Been was Audiofile Magazine’s hot pick for the week of February 10th.

Randy Susan Meyers and The Murderer’s Daughters is traveling the world too with the book now to be published in Turkey, Israel, France, Germany, Britain, Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Taiwan, Poland, Portugal, and Holland.

Would you like to hear Randy? Listen to her Author Magazine Interview

And the “hip and current” Daily Candy has chosen The Murderer’s Daughters as one of the Best New Winter Books.

Meredith Cole has received a 2009 Agatha nomination for Best First Novel, Posed for Murder. The Awards will be presented on May 1st with Meredith’s second novel, Dead in the Water, in bookstores May 11th!

Carleen Brice (Orange Mint and Honey, Children of the Waters) is overjoyed and thanks one and all because, according to BlackVoices Entertainment Newswire, “Sins of the Mother” was “the second highest rated program in key woman demographics in the network’s 12-year history — bested only by the 2009 ‘Natalie Holloway’ movie.”

And Alicia Bessette offers her literary website, her debut novel’s cover, and the opportunity to Pre-order Simply from Scratch coming August 5, 2010.

Congratulations and well done, everyone!

Happy Holidays from Alicia Bessette, Wendy Nelson Tokunaga, and Kristy Kiernan

December 16, 2009 By: larramiefg Category: Authors' Holidays

animated_christmas_background
‘Tis time for tradition and today two authors reflect on their favorite holiday movies, while another asks Santa to grant her wish.

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Alicia Believes It’s a Wonderful Life

AliciatmbMy favorite holiday tradition and favorite holiday movie are one and the same: “It’s a Wonderful Life,” starring James Stewart and Donna Reed.

As with many Frank Capra films, “It’s a Wonderful Life” strongly resonates with me. I love the idea of a community coming together in support of a good person or a good cause, and that theme is echoed in my debut novel, Simply from Scratch. Whether such group support truly happens in “real life,” or whether it’s an ideal we strive for, I think modern storytelling could stand to see more of that sort of unity.

Something else that really speaks to me is George Bailey’s internal struggle. He’s reluctantly rooted in his hometown, seemingly trapped by the obligation to carry on his father’s legacy of bettering Bedford Falls. And yet George dreams of traveling the world and achieving greatness. Like Dorothy Gale, his turmoil and longing are so blinding, he doesn’t see the gifts all around him.

Every December when I watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” — as if upholding tradition — my tears come at precisely the same two moments: near the beginning, during ten-year-old George’s tearful pledge to the despairing pharmacist, Mr. Gower; and of course, at the end, as the people of Bedford Falls stream into the Bailey’s living room, singing and emptying their pockets — and especially when George’s brother, war hero Harry Bailey, bursts through the front door to great fanfare. Gets me every time.
Alicia Bessette (Simply from Scratch coming in August 2010)

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Wendy Enjoys a Judy Garland Christmas

WendytmbThe Wizard of Oz, the classic film made in 1939 and starring Judy Garland is not about Christmas and has no yuletide scenes. But it is one of my favorite Christmas movies. In the days before DVDs and plasma screen TVs, The Wizard of Oz was shown on television every year during the holiday season. This was the only broadcast and its airing was a big event. My family watched it together for years. As time went on, we’d say we were going to skip it. How many times had we seen that yellow brick road or heard “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” sung by adult midgets made to look like children? But then we’d turn it on and get sucked in again, as if seeing it for the very first time, and watch it until Judy Garland proclaimed, “There’s no place like home.”

Judy Garland also plays a role in another of my favorite Christmas movies and a favorite Christmas song. Meet Me in St. Louis, made five years after The Wizard of Oz, is a charming film about the four beautiful daughters of the well-to-do Smith family in the early 1900s set against the backdrop of the St. Louis Fair. The sisters are devastated when their father is set to be transferred to a new job in New York, forcing them to say good-bye to their beloved St. Louis. Knowing that it is the last Christmas in their hometown, Judy Garland sings “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” to her little sister Tootie, played by Margaret O’Brien. While the lyrics are rather upbeat as with most Christmas songs, they take on a melancholy tone under the circumstances, rendering the performance poignant and wistful, which is sometimes the way we can feel during the holidays, despite the cheeriness of the season.
Wendy Tokunaga (Midori By Moonlight, Love in Translation)

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Kristy’s Wishlist

KristytmbI only have one thing on my holiday wishlist this year: a permane
nt place to lay my head and decorate my tree. Against all odds, we’ve sold our home, and we’ll be closing on December 16th. Despite everything you read in the papers and hear on the news, it’s not as easy to find a home as you’d think. Now, if you want a 720 square foot 40 year-old-home with no air conditioning (it’s been stolen), appliances (they’ve been stolen), countertops (they’ve been…you get the idea), with a woman who raises geese on one side (have you ever heard the noise that 300 geese can make?), and a family of all-terrain vehicle/swamp buggy fans on the other…well, those are available in spades. Come on down and invest in a few. But the good stuff? Those go in about 20 minutes to cash buyers, though the bank won’t tell you that for 6-8 weeks, sometimes longer.

I’d like to be in a new home for Christmas. But it’s beginning to look like our Christmas decorations will be spending December 25th in storage, and we’ll be…somewhere, I assume. So, Santa, reach in that big red velvet bag and whip out a house for us, won’t you? (I believe, I believe, I believe.)
Kristy Kiernan (Catching Genius, Matters of Faith and Between Friends coming April 6, 2010)

[Note: Today is December 16th and Kristy and her husband do have a home. Yes it’s a temporary one but only for the time it takes to build their new house! Always believe…in Santa.]