Monday, April 30, 2012



Blog Tour: In LEAH'S WAKE by Terri Giuliano Long: REVIEW and Q&A

To follow the tour via CHICK LIT PLUS chick HERE

As a mother your worse fear is losing a child, but what happens when the loss is not that of death, but of emotional and physical loss.  Children will rebel and lose their way, but when the struggle to bring them back nearly breaks what lengths would you go to bring your child back?  That is what the Tyler's have to grapple with in the novel IN LEAH'S WAKE.  Heartbreaking and poignant this novel will force parents to look a bit closer, to love a bit more, to reflect on their own struggles of youth and offer understanding and insight to their children.  I am still reeling from this novel.  It will resonate with me for months to come.  This debut novel from Terri Giuliano Long is a must read and earned a 4 stars rating.

In Leah's Wake

Book Description

 October 1, 2010
***Newly Edited by Sara-Jayne Slack, Inspired Quill Press (2/12)
  • Recipient of the CTRR Award for excellence
  • 2011 Book Bundlz Book Pick
  • Book Bundlz 2011 Book Club Favorites - First Place
  • Reviewer-nominated for 2012 Global eBook Awards

A Story of Love, Loss, Connection, and Grace

The Tylers have a perfect life—beautiful home, established careers, two sweet and talented daughters. Their eldest, Leah, an exceptional soccer player, is on track for a prestigious scholarship. Their youngest, Justine—more responsible than seems possible for her 12 years—just wants her sister’s approval. With Leah nearing the end of high school and Justine a seemingly “together” kid, the parents are set to enjoy a peaceful life…until Leah meets Todd, a high school dropout and former roadie for a rock band.

As Leah's parents fight to save their daughter from a world of drugs, sex, wild parties, their divided approach drives their daughter out of their home and a wedge into their marriage. Meanwhile, 12-year-old Justine observes her sister's rebellion from the shadows of their fragmented family - leaving her to question whether anyone loves her and if God even knows she exists.

Can this family survive in Leah’s wake? 

Tracy Riva, Midwest Reviews, calls In Leah's Wake "an astounding story of a family in transition.”

When happens when love just isn't enough?


Terri Giuliano Long is a frequent blog guest. A contributing writer for IndieReader, she’s written for news and feature articles for numerous publications, including IndieReader, the Boston Globe and theHuffington Post. She lives with her family on the East Coast and teaches at Boston College. In Leah's Wake is her debut novelFor more information, please visit her website:

Connect with Terri! 

Thank you so much for hosting me, Emily! It’s an honor to be here today!

Q.  What inspires your writing?

A. I grew up in the sixties and seventies, while women were fighting for equal rights. As a young girl in a patriarchal Italian family, I felt those struggles intensely. The prejudices faced by the family in the play A Raisin in the Sunresonated with me. My novel-in-progress, Nowhere to Run, deals with racism. While my struggles pale in comparison to those faced by many African Americans and other groups, I feel that prejudices and challenges are part of the human story; in stories about overcoming them, I find hope and inspiration – and stories about facing adversity, good people struggling to get by, inspire my writing.

Years ago, I wrote a series of feature articles about families with drug- and alcohol-addicted teens. The moms talked candidly about their children, their struggles. Their heartbreaking stories stayed with me.  As a parent, I knew how it felt to be scared, to be concerned for your children’s future. Although I didn’t think about it at the time, I now see this as a primary inspiration for In Leah’s Wake.  

Q.  What is your favorite thing about being an author?

A. I’m passionate about writing. I enjoy every aspect of the process, from the initial burst of inspiration through the painstaking, often frustrating, months or years of revision. But it’s that aha moment that keeps me writing – that moment when the work suddenly comes together, you understand what you’re writing about, you see the relationships among the various parts – chapters and scenes – and the connections make sense. You feel as though you’ve been through a storm; suddenly, the fog lifts and, for the first time in a long time, the sun comes out.

Last year, my husband and I lived in California part time. In southern CA, every day is sunny and gorgeous and warm. I always joke that in New England we have three perfect days a year. But those days, because they’re so rare, are magnificent. You feel optimistic, alive, bursting with energy. Those aha moments make me feel the same way. I can’t imagine not writing. Writing transports me. I lose myself in the process.

Q.  What is the toughest part of being an author?

A. The toughest is marketing. To succeed today, whether indie or traditionally published, authors must take responsibility for marketing their work. While I enjoy reaching out and connecting with people, I’m uncomfortable with calling attention to myself.

For six months after publishing In Leah’s Wake, I did no marketing at all. Not even my parents knew that I had published the book. Naturally, I sold very few copies. Realizing that I could either market or watch my book die, I held my nose and jumped in. I enjoy hosting fun, creative activities – games and contests, for instance – that market while giving back to participants. I’ve also given away over 300 paperbacks and 500 eBooks. This builds name recognition without me tweeting or posting about my book 24/7 and I think people appreciate this. I also try to support other authors. Reaching out to people--building connections and enhancing relationships--makes marketing enjoyable.

Q.  If you could not be author, what would you do/be?

A.   I can’t imagine not writing. I’ve been writing throughout my entire career and I’ve taught writing for 16 years. Years ago, I taught aerobics and, at one point, I managed a fitness department at a health club. Even then I wrote – I edited a journal for fitness professionals and wrote a fitness column for the regional paper. I’m a passionate traveler and foodie. If I were not a fiction writer, I might be a travel or food writer.  Whatever I did, I’m sure it would somehow involve writing.

Q.  What would the story of your life be entitled?

A. It would be The Little Engine That Could, like the book. In Leah’s Wake is a quiet literary novel. When I began marketing, a former agent told me she’d found the book boring and assured me that I’d never sell 1000 copies (my goal). I was distraught; had I not been in the midst of a blog tour, I probably would have taken the book off the shelf. The bloggers had been gracious enough to read my novel and give me a spot on their blogs; I felt I owed it to them to finish the tour. There were many days when I questioned myself, wondering why I’d published the book. Those four words, I think I can, drove me on. I’ve done this same thing many times in many situations throughout my life and it’s always paid off in some way. If you think you can—accomplish whatever your goal—you’re right. You truly can!

Q.  What is your favorite book of all time?

A. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. This powerful novel transports us to a harsh post-apocalyptic world, where humans have been reduced to animal instinct—for the inhabitants of this world, murder and cannibalism are a means of survival.
In this unforgiving environment, McCarthy gives us a tender, elegantly rendered father and son. In their travels, the man and his son meet horrific challenges and hardships, yet they face each challenge with dignity and grace. Near death, the man says to his son: "You have my whole heart. You always did.” Years after reading the novel, the love of this father and son—their amazing bond—awes and inspires me. This stunning work ends unexpectedly, with a promise of rebirth and renewal.

Q.  Which part of your book(s) was the easiest to write?

A. The first draft. I wrote the first draft for my MFA thesis, so I was under the gun. The writing was dreadful, but it was a breathy 3-month process; when I finished, I knew the characters and the novel had a general shape. It was an adventure, and I loved every minute. This isn’t usually the case for me. Generally, I’d much rather revise than face a blank screen. It was a struggle to write the first draft of my new novel, Nowhere to Run. Every book is different. That’s part of what makes the process so exciting!

Q.  Which part of your book(s) was the hardest to write?

A. For me, sustaining belief—not in the project, but in myself—was and is, by far, the biggest challenge. I wonder if I’m on the right track, constantly second-guess myself. I’ve taught writing for 16 years, and this is my first book. There were many nights – and days – when I wondered what I was doing, and I seriously considered giving up. Dory, the little blue surgeonfish in the film Finding Nemo, says, “Just kept swimming.” That really is what I’ve done.

 Q.  Which character from any book are you most like?

A. I don’t really see myself as a character outside myself. Maybe Wendy Darling in Peter Pan. Like Wendy, I was the eldest child and I grew up feeling a sense of responsibility. I love Wendy’s sense of adventure. She wants to be a mom and mothers the Lost Boys, but she’s also feisty and adventurous.

Q.  Which character from YOUR book(s) are you most like?

A. I don’t identify with or consider myself much like any of the characters - although part of me lives in all of them. As writers, we’re like method actors - when I write, I inhabit my characters. I reach down into myself and imagine – if I were this person, faced with this set of circumstances – how I might act or react. This helps me achieve authenticity. It also helps me empathize. All my characters are flawed; no one is entirely good or bad. They all have good and bad traits; while they make mistakes and often make bad decisions, at heart they’re decent people. I can relate to their struggles - and I hope readers can too.

 Q.  What is your favorite season?

A. On a bright sunny day, any season feels perfect. I’ve spent much of my life in the Boston area and currently live in Vermont. There is nothing quite as stunning as a clear fall day in New England, with the warm sun and colorful leaves. But spring is my favorite. In spring, as the days get longer, I feel hopeful and alive.

Q.  Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book(s).

A. At a reading in Ann Arbor, a seventy-year-old woman raved about In Leah’s Wake and said it should be required reading in every high school. I was and am deeply touched by this. A day later, an Amazon reviewer called In Leah’s Wake the most boring book she’d ever had the misfortune of reading. To me, this is interesting because the responses are so far apart and funny because of the irony - it’s such a great lesson in why we should never allow good reviews to go to (or bad reviews get into) our head.

Q.  Are you working on something new?

A. I’m currently at work on a psychological thriller with a historical twist. Nowhere to Run takes place in the White Mountains in northern New Hampshire.

After the brutal unsolved murder of her six-year-old daughter, award-winning writer Abby Minot had put her laptop away. A year later, emerging from a deep depression, she accepts her first assignment, a human-interest story on the wealthy and powerful Chase clan, the immediate family of Matthias Chase—a wildly popular congressman from northern New Hampshire.

Congressman Chase—a self-described "new Republican," fiscally conservative, socially just—has built his platform on unsubstantiated claims that his ancestors were abolitionists. When a subterranean chamber is discovered under a barn on the family property, the Chase estate is declared an official stop on the Underground Railroad. Soon after, Chase launches a campaign for the presidency.

After accepting the assignment, Abby and her two surviving children travel to the Chase estate in the White Mountains for a month-long stay. In her initial research, she glimpses darkness under the shiny veneer. Digging deeper, she uncovers a shocking web of lies and betrayal, dating back to the nineteenth century. Abby soon finds herself trapped-between an editor obsessed with uncovering the truth and the town and family who will stop at nothing to ensure it stays hidden.

Q.  Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?

A.  Thank you! Time is precious, and you have millions of rich, entertaining, beautiful books to choose from. I appreciate your interest in mine. For me, connecting with readers is the most important reason for writing. I’d love to hear from you! Here are a few places where we can connect:

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Blog Tour: BLUE STRAGGLER by Kathy Lynn Harris: Q&A and Guest Post

Kathy grew up in rural South Texas — and comes from people who work hard, love the land and know how to have a good time on a Saturday night. As a writer, Kathy was lucky to have been surrounded by exceptional characters throughout her life, many of whom have lived their lives exactly the way they wanted. The rest of the world could take `em or leave `em! Inspiring, to say the least.

In 2001, Kathy made the move from Texas to the Colorado Rockies to focus on her writing and soak up All Things Mountain. She lives in an authentic log cabin near the southernmost glacier in North America, at 10,500 feet above sea level, with her husband and son, plus two fairly untrainable golden retriever mixes. It is there that she writes.

Read more from Kathy on her blog, You Can Take the Girl Out of Texas but...

Add Blue Straggler to your Goodreads Shelf
Follow Kathy on Twitter 
Follow Blue Straggler news on Facebook
Blue Straggler is available on Amazon in eBook and paperback format now!

Follow the tour via Chick Lit Plus HERE

Q.  What inspires your writing?

Luckily, I can usually find inspiration anywhere … from a crowded, noisy coffee shop to people-watching on a quiet small-town main street. But mostly, ideas seem to come at me from all directions when I’m out alone, hiking on a secluded mountain trail. There’s just something about the rawness of the mountains—the wildlife, the flora, the rock formations, the pine and aspen trees—that seems to fuel my brain, even if I’m not writing anything nature-related at the moment. And it’s easy for me to get out on those kinds of trails; I live at the top of a mountain in Colorado in a log cabin, with trails out my back door. Not a bad way to live the writerly life!

Q.  What is your favorite thing about being an author?

Feeling such a sense of joy and accomplishment when a reader tells me they enjoyed my work — that it meant something to them. Whether my words and storytelling can make someone laugh or cry or just think a little more deeply, that’s what it’s all about for me. Oh yeah, and royalty checks are occasionally nice, too. Ha!

 Q.  What is the toughest part of being an author?

For me, it is the need to throw myself into publicity once a novel is out into the universe. As my publicist, Laura Pepper Wu says, books don’t sell themselves. That’s especially true for works like mine that are quiet novels, character-based. Promoting my work and myself as an author doesn’t come naturally to me, and I have to force myself to do it! It’s uncomfortable and I’d rather just lock my bedroom door and come out when the book is selling well. I would love to be a famous recluse of a writer some day, like J.D. Salinger. (Hope Laura isn’t reading this.)

Q.  If you could not be author, what would you do/be?

I have two versions of this in my head. One is what I’d be if I wasn’t an author and I didn’t have a family that I have to keep fed and clothed. In that scenario, I’d be a backcountry park ranger who spends her days roaming canyons and mountain trails and every now and then educating Americans about the true treasure we have in our nation’s protected lands. The second scenario is a meteorologist. I’m fascinated by weather and if it weren’t for blasted Chemistry 101 at Texas A&M University (which kicked my butt!), I’d be working for the National Weather Service today, or chasing tornados for The Weather Channel.

Q.  What would the story of your life be entitled?

That’s a tough one! How about: Lucky Mountain Girl, Sassy Texan at Heart

Q.  What is your favorite book of all time?

Another tough one! I could never choose just one. But at the top of the fiction list would Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Anne Lamott’s Hard Laughter and Larry McMurtry’s The Last Picture Show.

Q.  Which character from ANY book are you most like?

Well, I still see myself, as I did when I was a kid, as Pippi Longstocking! But I suppose I’m more like Jo March from Little Women. I also always identified with Pam Houston’s protagonists in her collection, Cowboys Are My Weakness.

Q.  What character from all of your book(s) are you most like?

I’ll admit there’s a good part of Bailey, the main character, in me. For instance, we both share a love of Cool Whip and tequila, and I’m probably just as flawed as she is on any given day.

Q.  What is your favorite season?

That depends! In Colorado, summer and early fall are both amazing and I love, love, love everything about it. I go for hikes every evening and spend entire days and nights on the weekends without ever stepping foot inside my house. But in Texas, summer heat and I do not get along. Back home, spring is my favorite season. I love those Texas wildflowers and spring rains. 

Q.  Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book(s).

Recently, I posted on my blog a funny kind of story … involving my reconsideration of Spanx shapewear in advance of my book tour in Texas. Basically, I felt I needed to warn people who haven’t seen me in 15 years what I now look like. (At least it was supposed to be funny!)

Q.  Are you working on something new?

I’m putting the finishing touches on my second novel, A Good Kind of Knowing, which should be released as an eBook this summer, if all goes according to plan. It’s also set in Texas, but this time in a small Central Texas rural town.

Q.  Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?

Thanks for reading a little bit more about me. And thanks for considering giving my novel, Blue Straggler, a chance. You can always check out a sample first via Amazon before committing.

The Ups and Downs of Writing a Novel Everyone Thinks Is Autobiographical

Thank you so much to Emily for hosting me here on her outstanding blog. As a fellow mommy booknerd, I’m just thrilled to be a part of your community, and I appreciate you allowing me to guest post!

I thought for this last guest post of my CLP Blog Tour, I would tackle a subject that’s been on my mind a lot lately as I attend book promotion events and interact with old and new friends: the fact that everyone wants to know if Blue Straggler is autobiographical. Is the main character, Bailey, really me? Are Rudy and Idamarie, two of the other central characters in the novel, based on real people? Did I actually live in a barn at some point?

My answer time and again is no, Bailey is not me, and Rudy and Idamarie are composite characters, made up purely in my imagination (but likely based on types of people I’ve known).

But some readers don’t believe me, and I have to give them a little credit for their assumptions. After all, I, like Bailey, grew up in a rural South Texas family. I attended Texas A&M, just like Rudy and Bailey did. And I left Texas and landed in the mountains of Colorado on a search for what truly made me happy. And yes, for the record, I enjoy vats of wine, Cool Whip and coffee about as much as Bailey does in the novel. My journey and my upbringing in some ways are quite similar to Bailey’s, and I was able to leverage the old adage “write what you know” as I developed the storyline and characters. But that’s where the crossroads of Bailey and me, the author, end. (I promise!)

It all begs the question, though: Is it a bad thing to have readers believe with all their hearts that the book is about your life? Let’s sort this out.

Pros: We humans are profoundly curious about other people’s lives. Read: We are damn nosy! That curiosity, I’m sure, has brought me a few book sales here and there from people who have known me in various stages of life and want some scoopage. And hey, a sale is a sale! Plus, I’ve had friends tell me that they loved the novel most of all because they could hear my voice as the voice of Bailey. So this is all good stuff, I think.

Cons: Have I mentioned that Bailey is one messed up and flawed character? I mean, she drinks a lot. And she sleeps around a lot. She smokes. She makes some bad choices. She has a strained relationship with her family. So if readers really believe Bailey is me … my reputation is probably at all-time low. I’m sure my family at this point would love for me to have written under a pseudonym.

I haven’t decided yet if the pros outweigh the cons. What do you, readers of this awesome blog, think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

In the meantime, if you decide to give Blue Straggler a try, please keep in mind that a) I have never known anyone whose wife was mauled by a mountain lion, and b) I have never, nor do I intend to, drive a tow truck to make extra money. (I do, however, enjoy Beer Nuts and Dr Pepper regularly.)

Thanks for reading!



Saturday, April 28, 2012

Blog Tour: BLUE STRAGGLER by Kathy Lynn Harris: REVIEW

Follow the tour via Chick Lit Plus HERE

Ok, I have to start by saying this has been a great week for me!  I have read some fabulous books and am really loving being here sharing them with you!

Blue Straggler is a story about a girl, Bailey, who struggled to find her place (never really feeling like the fit was quite right).  She begun growing tired of feeling like a piece was missing, so she was brave enough to go off and search for it via a road trip to Colorado.  Although the trip was not an easy, one with many missteps, Bailey finds herself bit by bit along the way.  The humor, depth of characters and storyline will remain with me for quite some time.  It was honest, beautifully written and well crafted. 

Life is not easy.  It is easier to stay lost, to remain stagnant, to be and do what is expected of us.  Bailey decides to search of the meaning of her life herself.  In the end difficult decisions were made, friendships tested and hope remained.

This story was written with such beauty, intense imagery and insight that I found myself deeply entrenched in the story, wanting to mark passages after passage.  Here are a few of my favorites from the book:

"It dawns on me that maybe, sometimes, the paths we choose can turn out to be only circles.  Bringing us right back where we started. Unharmed but not well." (Blue Straggler, ebook, p. 152)  

" if they're trying to sneak into autumn without us knowing." (Blue Straggler, ebook, p. 169)

"The sun is launching into its evening act, lighting up the clouds and horizon like a magic trick.  The mountains surrounding us seem to be holding onto the light as if they would be flat without it." (Blue Straggler, ebook, p. 189)

"Rapids churning and twisting on each other like children playing in the park. Unorchestrated madness." (Blue Straggler, ebook, p. 190)

There are so many more, so check out this 4.5 star read for yourself.  It is a gift Kathy Lynn Harris has given the world! Enjoy!

Blue Straggler

Publication Date: August 6, 2011

A blue straggler is a star that has an anomalous blue color and appears to be disconnected from those stars that surround it.

But this is not a story about astronomy.

Bailey Miller is "disconnected" from the cluster of her rural south Texas family. She has never quite fit in and now in her early 30s, she finds herself struggling with inner turmoil and a series of bad choices in her life.

Bailey's drinking too much (even for a member of her family), has a penchant to eat spoonfuls of Cool Whip, works in a job that bores her beyond description and can't keep a relationship longer than it takes for milk to expire in her fridge.

Even with the help of her two outspoken friends, Texas lass Idamarie and her quirky college pal Rudy, she's having a hard time.

So she packs up her Honda and heads out of Texas in search of herself and answers to secrets from her great-grandmother's past. The novel takes readers on a journey from San Antonio, Texas, to a small mountain town in Colorado and back again, as Bailey uncovers not only the secrets of her great-grandmother's life, but also some painful secrets of her own. All while finding love along the way.

If you have ever wondered why you got stuck with the family you did, what you are doing with your job and your life, or had a sudden desire to run off to the mountains, sit back and join Bailey for this laugh-out-loud, yet poignant ride.


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