A Guest Post from Author Terri Long: “An Ode to Bloggers”

You’ll have to excuse the fact that this isn’t a usual Science/Fantasy Monday post, as it has nothing to do with science, science fiction, or fantasy.  However, I have been asked to help spread the word once more for Terri Giuliano Long, who has just released a new edited version of her novel In Leah’s Wake (which I wrote a review for the first time around here: “Disintegration: A Review of In Leah’s Wake.”

To celebrate, Terri Long is running a photo contest on her facebook page from today, Jan 23rd, through Friday, Jan 27th.  Here’s the link to that page: Terri Long’s Photo Contest.  There are two $50 Amazon gift certificates available: one for the best photograph and one for the best caption.  Entrants can take a photograph of themselves with their paperback copy of In Leah’s Wake or showing the book on their ereader or laptop, or perhaps get family members and/or pets involved!  For the really creative, why not recreate a scene from the book?

And now, please enjoy this special guest post from Terri Long herself!

An Ode to Bloggers

Last May, a month or so after I began marketing my novel, In Leah’s Wake, a former agent told me that I would never sell 500 books. A rookie, I had no idea what to expect. When I published the novel, I’d dreamed of selling a 3,000 – 5,000 books, hoping healthy sales numbers would attract the attention of an agent or traditional publishing house for my next novel.

The agent had left New York, but she’d been in the business for a long time, and her words stung. I hung up the phone, heartbroken, depressed. Had I not been in the midst of my first blog tour, I might have pulled my novel off the market that day.

Determined to see the tour through, I soldiered on.  On the tour, I met wonderful, caring people, book bloggers, whose kindness buoyed and sustained me.

Over the next few months, In Leah’s Wake appeared on hundreds of blogs. Bloggers opened their hearts and spread the word about this quiet literary novel. In August, In Leah’s Wake hit the Barnes & Noble and Amazon charts. Now, seven months after my talk with that agent, the book has been in the Amazon top 200 for over five months, and we’ve sold just shy of 80,000 copies.

Book bloggers rock! I don’t know how to say it any better. Book bloggers are the fairy godmothers and godfathers of the literary world. They invest their talent, their energy, and their time into reviewing and promoting books – and keeping dreams alive.

Even today, traditional media refuse to recognize or review indie books. In this very real sense, book bloggers are the heart and soul of the indie revolution.  Their vision, their energy, and their determination have enabled this amazing populist movement to take hold.

Today, we have the great good fortune of hearing the funny, poignant, intelligent voices of new authors from around the world – voices that, just a few years ago, might have been silenced by the gatekeepers of the old guard. These voices reach into hearts and minds, forging connections, uniting us in a community of readers and writers, searching for and finding, through words, the better part of ourselves. Because, truly, at heart, this is what reading and writing is all about.

Here’s to you, book bloggers! You are and always will be my heroes!

AUTHOR BIO

Terri Giuliano Long is the bestselling author of the award-winning novel In Leah’s Wake. Her life outside of books is devoted to her family. In her free time, she enjoys walking, traveling, and listening to music. True to her Italian-American heritage, she’s an enthusiastic cook. In an alternate reality, she might be an international food writer. She lives with her family on the East Coast and teaches at Boston College. In Leah’s Wake is her debut novel.

Website: www.tglong.com

Blog: www.tglong.com/blog

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tglong

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tglongwrites

This week, Terri and Inspired Quill Press (paperback edition), launch a newly edited edition of In Leah’s Wake. The newly edited novel features a new chapter and several new scenes, adding new connections and insights, and tightens the book, cutting 60 pages – all while maintaining the integrity of the original edition.

For more information, please visit her website: www.tglong.com/blog or any of these retailer sales. (Your local library or bookstore can also order the book through major distribution channels.)

Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/In-Leahs-Wake-ebook/dp/B0044XV7PG/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1306533515&sr=8-3

Amazon Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Leahs-Wake-Terri-Giuliano-Long/dp/1456310542/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1318690782&sr=8-1

Barnes & Noble: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/In-Leahs-Wake/Terri-Giuliano-Long/e/2940011264566?itm=1&USRI=In%2BLeah27s%2BWake

Indie Bound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780975453391

Official Book Trailer for In Leah’s Wake:

Disintegration: A Review of In Leah’s Wake

Disintegration: A Review of In Leah’s Wake

Title: In Leah’s Wake

Author: Terri Giuliano Long

Where I Got It: free copy from the Blog Tour de Troops

Score: 4 out of 5*

To continue the Novel Publicity blog tour for In Leah’s Wake by Terri Giuliano Long, here is my review.  I’ve had this book on my To-Be-Read List for awhile now.  I actually received a free ebook copy back in May as part of the Blog Tour de Troops for Memorial Day.  I finally sat down to start reading it last Friday, literally minutes after turning in my final grades and finishing the semester.

In Leah’s Wake opens with a seemingly perfect family: Zoe and Will are happily married, with rewarding careers, and two wonderful daughters.  Leah – the sixteen-year-old soccer star, and Justine — the twelve-year-old budding scientist, who also happens to be devout Catholic.  But the old saying “too good to be true,” proves real as Leah quickly spins out of control.  Tired of her family’s constant push for perfection, and with a new older boyfriend introducing her to the world of drugs, alcohol, and partying, Leah decides that it is time to turn her entire life on its head.

Soon, her rebellion becomes disintegration.  And as her parents struggle to prevent their daughter from ruining her life, the situation shakes loose deep-seated regrets, anxieties, and dissatisfactions in Zoe and Will as well.  Everything around them seems to be falling apart.  And their younger daughter Justine gets caught in the cross-fire.  Fighting to keep her family together, fighting to keep the sister she loves and admires, and fighting to be seen in the midst of a situation that has rendered her invisible, Justine slowly starts to disintegrate as well.

Throughout the novel, questions fill the text: how can this family possibly survive?  What will become of Leah?  And, even more importantly (at least to me), what will happen to Justine?  As the tagline asks: What happens when love just isn’t enough?  And that is a very good question, because sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you love someone or how much you want to save them, if they don’t want to be saved.

What I Liked:

I really enjoyed this novel.  It is a powerful drama about a family in crisis.  The title character, Leah, is a very believable teenager.  Her choices, reactions, and thoughts are convincing, and show that Terri Long’s writing is clearly grounded in a real understanding of life as a teenager (so many adults seem to forget…).  I wouldn’t say she is sympathetic exactly… some of the things she says and does, though unsurprising coming from a teenager, are so stupid I want to smack her.  Of course, this is coming from one of those teenagers who never rebelled (I was that one who never drank, smoked, got into fights, went to bad parties, or got anything less than As and Bs).

I definitely identify more with Justine, the one who has always been good, who is tempted to follow her sister into rebellion on occasion, but who is, for the most part, too afraid to do so. (I suppose you could call this novel a lesson in why that’s the right choice.)  She is the truly sympathetic character, the one you care for and worry about the most.  While I was curious to see what happened with Leah, and with the parents, it’s Justine I’m hanging around for.  I spent most of the novel terrified that she was going to end up all screwed up like the rest of them, and I needed to get to the end to find out what happened to her.

That’s not to say the parents aren’t complex, well-written characters.  For the most part, they are.  Zoe, especially, is a fascinating character with a list of faults and virtues that made for intense reading.  But I spent a lot of the book annoyed with them, just as I was annoyed with Leah.

What I Didn’t Like:

(Be prepared for a slight rant)

I’ll be honest, one of the things that is still bothering me is the father, Will, at the beginning of the novel.  His initial reaction to Leah’s boyfriend is violent, excessive, and completely out of place.  It comes out of nowhere, with (at least in my opinion) no clear motivation.  It doesn’t help that it comes in Chapter 2, before the reader has had a chance to get to know Will at all, but even based on what you later learn about his temper, this initial explosion still seems unbelievably excessive.  If Will had already known about the boyfriend and warned Leah to get rid of him, it might have made sense.  If she had had a bad history of missing curfew, etc, it might have made sense. But at the beginning, Leah has only stayed out late a couple times, this is the first time Will has met the boyfriend, he knows nothing about him and has no idea about Leah’s drinking.  It would make sense for Will to be angry, it would make sense for Will to demand to know who the boyfriend is.  It does NOT make sense for him to explode and get physically violent.

Another thing that really bugged me — and I know this is small, but it really bugged me the whole novel — is the use of the words “kid” and “dude.”  Everyone single one of the characters thinks/calls every single teenager/young adult “kid.”  And almost all teenagers use the word “dude.”  Seriously.  Okay, let’s get one thing straight.  Yes, adults often call children and teenagers and even young adults “kids.”  And yes, some teenagers use the word “dude” a lot.  But not to the exclusion of everything else.  I know it’s hard to find other words to use, but when even the teenagers call other teenagers “kid” in the narration, there’s a problem.  Leah even calls her own boyfriend “kid.”  And he’s four years older than her!  Also, not every teenager uses the word “dude.”  In fact, while that was a very common word in the 90s, it has mostly fallen by the wayside in the current decade.  Just ask my 17- and 18-year old students when I accidentally say “dude” in class.

Finally, another thing that bothered me was the amount of detail.  Now, don’t get me wrong, obviously detail is important.  Detail helps us to understand the characters, to see the setting, to get a real sense of the world the characters inhabit.  However, here the detail was often excessive and unnecessary.  Detail is most important when the readers are unfamiliar with a setting and need to really see it.  But most of us have seen a bar.  A few details are enough to give us a good idea of the bar and the people in it, and our imaginations/memories do the rest.  Paragraphs of description are unnecessary.  I cannot tell you how many sections of detail I ended up skimming over in search of the point, the dialogue, the action. It’s wonderful that the author knew so much about her characters, and could see the settings so clearly, but much of it was stuff we the readers simply didn’t need to know.

Now let me reiterate (since after that bit of a rant you may have forgotten): I really enjoyed this novel.  Yes, there were some things about it that really bugged me.  But the characters are compelling and the story is intense.  You will care about the fate of this family.  You will get angry at the stupid things they do, and you will cross your fingers that they don’t screw up next time.  You will worry about the characters (if you’re like me, you’ll mainly worry about Justine).

Buy In Leah’s Wake.  Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  Read it.  I promise, you’ll enjoy it.  …And you probably won’t be as neurotic as I am about the overuse of “kid.”

Also, remember:

  1. Fill-out the form on Novel Publicity to enter for the prizes
  2. Visit today’s featured event; you may win an autographed copy of the book or a $50 gift card!
  3. BONUS: If you leave a comment on this blog post, you have another chance at $100!
  4. And when you fill out your form, remember to vote for my blog to give me a chance to win $100 as well.

*Please note: I’m starting a new rating system.  Please see the new “About Book Reviews” page for an explanation.

Announcing the In Leah’s Wake Social Media Whirlwind Tour!

Announcing the In Leah’s Wake Social Media Whirlwind Tour!

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the In Leah’s Wake eBook edition has dropped to just 99 cents this week.

What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes, including Amazon gift cards of up to $500 in amount and 5 autographed copies of the book. Be sure to enter before the end of the day on Friday, December 16th, so you don’t miss out.

To Win the Prizes

  1. Purchase your copy of In Leah’s Wake for just 99 cents on Amazon or Barnes & Noble
  2. Fill-out the form on Novel Publicity to enter for the prizes
  3. Visit today’s featured event; you may win an autographed copy of the book or a $50 gift card!
  4. BONUS: If you leave a comment on this blog post, you have another chance at $100!

…And I can win too!

Over 100 bloggers are participating in this gigantic event, and there are plenty of prizes for us too. The blogger who receives the most votes in the traffic-breaker poll will win a $100 gift card as well. So when you visit Novel Publicity’s site to fill-out the contest entry form, don’t forget to say that I referred you, so I can get a point in the poll.

The Featured Events include:

Monday, Radio Interview with Novel Publicity! We’re kicking-off on the Novel Publicity Free Advice blog. We interviewed Terri on our radio show Sunday night and have embedded the full podcast and blogged about its highlights. Give it a listen and then leave a comment on the blog post. This is a great chance to get to know more about this inspiring and friendly author. One commenter will win an autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake. Don’t forget to enter for the other contest prizes while you’re over there!

Tuesday, Twitter sharing contest! A tweet is tiny, only 140 characters. But on Tuesday, it could win you $50. Send the following tweet across the twittersphere, and you just may win a $50 Amazon gift card. An autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake is also up for grabs. The winner will be announced Wednesday morning. Here’s the tweet: In Leah’s Wake has taken the publishing world by storm. Get the book for just 99 cents http://ow.ly/7WP5H #whirlwind

Wednesday, Google+ sharing contest! Yup, there’s yet another awesome opportunity to win a $50 Amazon gift card, and this time it just takes a single click! Visit Google+ and share Emlyn Chand’s most recent post (you’ll see the In Leah’s Wake book cover included with it). On Thursday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. An autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake is also up for grabs. Three chances to win! How about that?

Thursday, Facebook sharing contest! Stop by Novel Publicity’s Facebook page and share their latest post (you’ll see the In Leah’s Wake book cover included with it). It’s ridiculously easy to win! On Friday morning, one lucky sharer will be $50 richer. An autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake is also up for grabs.

Friday, special contest on the author’s site! Win a $500 Amazon gift card, simply by leaving a comment on Terri’s most recent blog post. Yup, you read that correctly—$500! How easy is that? An autographed copy of In Leah’s Wake is also up for grabs.

Remember, it’s all about the books!

Terri Giuliano LongAbout In Leah’ Wake: The Tyler family had the perfect life – until sixteen-year-old Leah decided she didn’t want to be perfect anymore. While her parents fight to save their daughter from destroying her brilliant future, Leah’s younger sister, Justine, must cope with the damage her out-of-control sibling leaves in her wake. What happens when love just isn’t enough? Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About the Author: Terri Giuliano Long grew up in the company of stories both of her own making and as written by others. Books offer her a zest for life’s highs and comfort in its lows. She’s all-too-happy to share this love with others as a novelist and a writing teacher at Boston College. She was grateful and thrilled beyond words when her award-winning debut literary novel, In Leah’s Wake, hit the Barnes and Noble and Amazon bestseller lists in August. She owes a lot of wonderful people – big time! – for any success she’s enjoyed! Visit her on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Now please enjoy this excerpt from the new edition of In Leah’s Wake…

Leah’s head felt like a beach ball. She’d stay in bed all day if she could, cocooned in the blankets and sheets, but she had to pee. She dragged herself up, shivering as she threw off the covers. She’d never been this sick in her life. She probably had cancer. Oh God, she was going to barf. She dropped her head between her knees, staying put until her stomach had settled, and dragged herself to the bathroom.

She could hear her father in the kitchen, fixing breakfast. The odor of maple bacon drifted upstairs, making her gag. In a minute, he would be up here, ordering her downstairs to eat. Her team had a game this morning, at ten, which meant she had to be on the field—she checked her alarm clock—in an hour. She flopped back onto her bed, and pulled the covers defiantly over her head. No way was she playing soccer today. Not after last night, after her father freaked out.

She turned onto her side, burying her face in her pillow. Around midnight last night, Todd had retrieved a blanket from his truck, and spread it over a pillow of pine needles and leaves. She pictured him on his elbows, staring down at her, the planes of his face accentuated by the shadows. He pushed her hair away from her face.

His hand slid from her shoulder to her hips.

Todd, she whispered. Todd.

Her shades snapped up, startling her. In the harsh light, Todd’s face vanished. Hearing her name—Todd?—she rolled onto her back.

When she looked up, her father was standing over her bed.

“Time to get up, Leah. The Harvard coach is coming today.”

The nerve of that man.

She curled into a ball, pulling the covers over her head. Her father’s hand slid under the covers, and he wiggled her big toe, the way he used to when she was little. She yanked her foot back.

“Come on, kiddo,” he coaxed. “You have to get up.” He’d made blueberry pancakes. As if his stupid pancakes made up for last night.

“Go away,” she spat, her words garbled by the mountain of blankets and sheets.

“Leah, your team is—”

Who cares if you’re tired? She heard in her head. The competition is practicing, even when you’re not . . . “depending on you, Leah.” . . . dedication is what counts . . . “talk to you, honey.” . . . suck it up . . . get up, get up . . . do it . . . time to get up . . . time for soccer . . . time . . . practice . . . do it . . . just do it . . . Just do it.

Leah clapped her hands over her ears. “Go away,” she cried. “Get out. Get away from me.”

Why did her father do this to her? Why couldn’t he let her be?

“I’d like to talk to you, Leah. Please.”

“I’m not playing.” She threw off the covers. “And you can’t make me.”

The toilet flushed in the bathroom between her room and Justine’s. The faucet sputtered, and water splashed into the sink. Leah’s sister was washing her hands. Now she was brushing her teeth. Perfect little angel, never in trouble. Perfect little dork. Leah hated her sister. She hated them all—her mother, her father, Justine. Her parents didn’t care about her. They cared about controlling her. They expected perfection, wanted perfect robots for kids. Well, guess what? She wasn’t a robot. They’d have to be satisfied with just one.

“Fine.” Her father, sighing, sat on her bed. “Stay home, if that’s what you want.” He leaned forward, dropping his hands between his knees. “I blew it, baby,” he said, staring at the floor. “I’m sorry.”

Good. She had him right where she wanted him. Leah pulled the covers over her head, and raised her elbows, creating an air tunnel so she could breathe. She’d forgive her father. Eventually. First, she planned to make him suffer.

Her father’s weight shifted. She felt the spring of the mattress.

No. This wasn’t the way it went. Her father wasn’t supposed to give up. He never gave up. They talked until they’d worked things out. “Dad?” Leah shot of bed and darted out to the landing.

“Dad,” she called, leaning over the railing. “Daddy?”

By the time Zoe reached the office park, she’d worked herself into a funk. She parked her Volvo by the service entrance behind the building, in a spot reserved for tenants. Normally, she walked to her second floor office, a penitent’s offering to the exercise god she’d forsaken. This morning, anxiety fueling her fatigue, she waited for the elevator.

She’d worked for Cortland Child Services for eight years. She used to love this job. Physicians trusted her, and rewarded her with a constant flow of referrals. Too popular for a while, she’d been temporarily forced to close her practice to new patients. Now she dreaded coming to work.

Five years ago, patients treated her with respect; they’d listened eagerly and followed her advice. Today, everybody knew everything. Parents, armed with information from the Web, came to her seeking validation, letters attributing their child’s misbehavior to brilliance, drugs to give their child an edge. Zoe’s education and experience meant nothing. She was a service provider. She was tired of that game.

If she and Will could afford it, she’d leave the counseling center, build her seminars and branch out, write a book, go on the lecture circuit, where she could help thousands of people. But that was a pipedream.

She accidentally pressed “Down,” forcing her to ride to the basement and back up.

The stress at home had ratcheted her anxiety, adding to her unease. The small things she used to let slide had begun to get her: a missed appointment, a defiant gesture, an insolent remark. Doing a half-assed job made her feel crappy; these days, she felt like crap most of the time.

Zoe’s mood lifted as she opened her office door. This office, with its soft coral walls, was her sanctuary. Sunlight filtered through the blinds on the picture window, the flecks of sand in the carpet around the turtle-shaped sandbox glittering. Zoe’s grad school books lined the top shelf of a wall-to-wall bookcase. On the lower shelves were toys for the kids: cars and trucks, picture books, puzzles, stuffed animals, dolls.

From her iPod, she selected a soothing Thai instrumental piece, and logged onto her antiquated desktop computer. Her refusal to upgrade to a laptop was a running joke in the office. Zoe still handwrote her notes and transcribed them at the end of each day, the inconvenience a small price to pay for the ability to give her patients her undivided attention.

In no time, she’d printed and scanned her notes.

With ten minutes to spare before her first appointment, she decided to run check on the Corbett boy. (Last night, in her drunken stupor, Leah had blurted his name.) Zoe typed Corbett’s name in the Google dialogue box; feeling guilty, she immediately back-spaced. A Google search felt invasive, like reading her child’s diary or listening to a phone conversation. Yet how else was she to obtain information? She could hardly rely on Leah to fill her in. Other parents Googled their kids’ friends. “I do all the time,” Sheila Li, a colleague, had confided one day. “Can’t be too careful these days.” Corbett had gotten her daughter drunk and driven her home at three a.m. That revoked any right to privacy.

She tapped her desk, impatient for the page to populate.

On the first page she spotted an entry, dated July 10, 1998, the keywords Corbett and Massachusetts emboldened. Something about a drug arrest. The URL linked to an article on the Dallas Star website. Dallas? Drugs? Had to be a mistake, a misnamed file, an erroneous entry.

She hit the link, her pulse racing as she scrolled down the page.

MASSACHUSETTS MAN ARRESTED IN TEXAS DRUG BUST

EL PASO, Texas – A Massachusetts man was arrested early this morning outside the Roadhouse restaurant in downtown El Paso on suspicion of drug possession and trafficking. Todd Corbett, 21, from Massachusetts, works as a sound technician for the alternative rock band, Cobra. Jeff Jones, the band’s manager, was arrested on similar charges in November.

Insufficient evidence in the Jones case forced the district attorney’s office in El Paso to drop the charges. “We expect to hand down an indictment later today,” said Assistant District Attorney Len Ahearn. Ahearn declined further comment regarding the details of Corbett’s arrest, citing a judge’s gag order. If prosecuted, Corbett faces a sentence of up to twenty years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

A later article reported that the charges had been dismissed.

Zoe had expected to find something—a DUI, a petty theft, a drunk and disorderly—nothing like this. Leah pushed boundaries. She’d been drinking last night; she’d come in at three a.m. No way was she was mixed up with a drug dealer. She was a good kid, a talented athlete, with a bright future in front of her. She was too smart to throw it all away.

Zoe clicked back to the first article, reread it, and logged on to boston.com, the website for the Globe. In the “Metro” section of the July 11 edition, she found a single paragraph that began:

“Todd Corbett of Cortland, Massachusetts, was arrested. . .”

Reeling, she logged off. This was impossible. Zoe was a therapist. She worked with teenagers. If her daughter were involved with drugs, she would know. She’d recognize the signs. Moods? What sixteen-year-old girl wasn’t moody? Slipping grades? In high school, Zoe and Will had both flunked biology; maybe Leah had inherited the gene. Leah had missed her curfew a few times, until last night never by more than ten minutes. Granted, Leah had lied about being with Cissy. Yes, Cissy’s being MIA this last month was certainly strange. But girls fight. Junior year, Zoe’s best friend had dumped her cold, all because the girl’s crush had called Zoe “pretty.” Normal teenage behavior—all of this.

Zoe’s stomach went hollow.

Thanks for reading! Please stop by on Wednesday for a full review of In Leah’s Wake!